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Consumer Attitudes to Fine Dining - UK - November 2009

This report aims to investigate the question: “Has the recession made fine dining redundant?”

Consumer research for this report looks at issues such as what attracts diners to particular dishes whilst also finding out what UK consumers think about ‘fine dining’.

  • Time and space are of greatest importance to many diners. More than 20m consumers say that basic factors such as being able to take as much time over a meal as you want and spacious seating/ generous space between tables would improve the dining out experience.
  • Although 41% of diners are drawn to traditional dishes made from UK ingredients, 36% of diners believe that something different and interesting draws them to certain dishes: The recession may have prompted consumers to be cautious in their attitudes towards eating out, but that doesn’t mean they’ll settle for boring dishes.
  • Four in ten consumers think that fine dining it too expensive compared to one in five who think that it’s exciting or memorable.
  • Almost 4m consumers have eaten in a celebrity chef-owned restaurant. Despite the trials and tribulations of various celebrity chefs in recent months, it is clear that they continue to represent a significant selling point. For example, during London Restaurant Festival (October 2009), a mystery bidder paid £23,000 to dine in Gordon Ramsay’s pop-up restaurant in one of the London Eye’s capsules.
  • Online review guides now include ‘celeb spotting’ as a search criterion on their sites indicates the demand these restaurants can create if they manage to cultivate a celebrity following. But keeping this in perspective, only 2.7m consumers tend to use reviews by food critics or restaurant guides to help them choose where to eat out.
  • The shift towards more casual dining formats in recent decades is highlighted by the fact that only 1.2m consumers would like to see a more formal dining experience (eg black tie).

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Table of contents

  1. Issues in the Market

      • Main issues
        • Definition
          • Abbreviations
          • Future Opportunities

              • The importance of identity
                • Pick a theme, any theme
                  • Guiding Choice
                    • The (unofficial) frequent diner card
                      • Navigating the menu
                        • ‘Our staff understands you’
                        • Market in Brief

                          • The eating out market
                            • Frequency and expenditure on meals out
                              • Menu enticements
                                • What fine dining means to the consumer
                                • Internal Market Environment

                                  • Key points
                                    • Consumer spending priorities
                                      • Figure 1: Consumer spending priorities, March 2009
                                      • Figure 2: Spending intentions towards selected leisure activities in coming year, July 2009
                                    • Declining enthusiasm for ‘splashing out’ but continued demand for good restaurants
                                      • Figure 3: Trends in eating out habits, 2005-09
                                    • Eating out market, by sector
                                      • Figure 4: Eating out market*, by sector, 2004-08
                                    • Trends in high-end restaurants during the recession
                                    • Broader Market Environment

                                      • Key points
                                        • Fewer consumers feel the recession is having a major impact
                                          • Figure 5: Trends in the impact of the economic downturn on consumers, January-September 2009
                                        • More consumers have money left at the end of the month for luxuries/savings
                                          • Figure 6: Trends in how respondents would describe their financial situation, February-September 2009
                                        • ‘Recession fatigue’
                                          • Figure 7: Trends in consumer sentiment for the coming year, January-September 2009
                                        • Exposing the myth of supermarket meal deals used as replacements to eating out
                                          • Figure 8: Trends in grocery shopping habits, January-October 2009
                                        • Are we really a nation of foodies?
                                          • Figure 9: Trends in attitudes towards foods, 2004-09
                                        • Innovative dishes on menus with a clear identity should appeal
                                          • Figure 10: Trends in cooking habits, May-October 2009
                                      • Celebrity Chefs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

                                        • Key points
                                          • Celebrity endorsement in food
                                            • Figure 11: Impact of celebrity on purchasing behaviour, January-February 2008
                                          • Expectations of celebrity chefs
                                            • The trials and tribulations of celebrity chefs
                                              • Aikens loses control
                                                • The Fat Duck and the polluted oysters
                                                  • Ramsay’s portfolio takes a tumble
                                                    • Administration for AWT
                                                    • Restaurant Guides and Reviews

                                                      • Key points
                                                        • Advertising, advertising, advertising
                                                          • Figure 12: Trends in factors influencing purchasing decisions, 2004-09
                                                        • Consumer use of guides and reviews
                                                          • Figure 13: Factors for choosing where to eat out, April 2009
                                                        • Michelin Guide
                                                          • Round-up of 2009
                                                            • Celebrity haunts
                                                              • Reviews are inherently subjective
                                                              • Experience Enticements for Eating Out

                                                                • Key points
                                                                    • Figure 14: Experience enticements for eating out, January 2009
                                                                  • Does fine dining have to mean formal dining?
                                                                    • Tasting menus
                                                                      • Figure 15: Selected experience enticements for eating out, by detailed demographics, January 2009
                                                                    • Degustation to grazing
                                                                      • Examples of tasting menus:
                                                                      • Frequency of Eating Out

                                                                        • Key points
                                                                          • Figure 16: Frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, October 2009
                                                                        • Fine dining – recession-proof or redundant?
                                                                          • Expenditure on meals out
                                                                            • Figure 17: Expenditure on a special-occasion/treat meal, by gender, age and region, April 2009
                                                                        • What Draws Consumers to Particular Dishes?

                                                                          • Key points
                                                                            • Traditional but intriguing
                                                                                • Figure 18: Enticements towards particular dishes, October 2009
                                                                              • Comforting versus contemporary
                                                                                • Men are from Mars, women are from Venus
                                                                                  • Age agendas
                                                                                    • Frequency-driven menu choices
                                                                                      • Figure 19: Enticements towards particular dishes, by frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, October 2009
                                                                                  • What Fine Dining Means to the Consumer

                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                        • Figure 20: Words associated with fine dining, October 2009
                                                                                      • A poor reputation amongst third agers – has the modern hype around high-end restaurants alienated its traditional consumer base?
                                                                                        • Experience-driven: familiarity breeds affection but high-end venues also need to balance accessibility with aspiration/exclusivity
                                                                                          • Figure 21: Words associated with fine dining, by frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, October 2009
                                                                                        • Brasserie trend should help to counter preconceptions of fine dining formality
                                                                                          • Figure 22: Words associated with fine dining, by most popular enticements towards a particular dish, October 2009
                                                                                        • Less confident diners most likely to think poorly of fine dining
                                                                                          • Figure 23: Words associated with fine dining, by next most popular enticements towards a particular dish, October 2009
                                                                                      • Eating Out Targeting Opportunities

                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                          • Figure 24: Eating out target groups, October 2009
                                                                                        • Incompatibles
                                                                                          • The Unimpressed
                                                                                            • Fine Dining Fanatics
                                                                                            • Appendix – Frequency of Eating Out

                                                                                              • Frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                • Figure 25: Frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, by detailed demographics, October 2009
                                                                                            • Appendix – What Draws Consumers to Particular Dishes?

                                                                                              • Most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                • Figure 26: Most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by detailed demographics, October 2009
                                                                                              • Next most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                • Figure 27: Next most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by detailed demographics, October 2009
                                                                                              • Frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, by most enticements towards particular dishes
                                                                                                • Figure 28: Frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, by most popular enticements towards particular dishes, October 2009
                                                                                              • Frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, by next most popular enticements towards particular dishes
                                                                                                • Figure 29: Frequency of having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, by next most popular enticements towards particular dishes, October 2009
                                                                                              • Most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by enticements towards particular dishes
                                                                                                • Figure 30: Most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by enticements towards particular dishes, October 2009
                                                                                              • Next most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by enticements towards particular dishes
                                                                                                • Figure 31: Next most popular enticements towards particular dishes, by enticements towards particular dishes, October 2009
                                                                                            • Appendix – What Fine Dining Means to the Consumer

                                                                                              • Most popular words associated with fine dining, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                • Figure 32: Most popular words associated with fine dining, by detailed demographics, October 2009
                                                                                              • Next most popular words associated with fine dining, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                • Figure 33: Next most popular words associated with fine dining, by detailed demographics, October 2009
                                                                                              • Other most popular words associated with fine dining, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                • Figure 34: Other most popular words associated with fine dining, by detailed demographics, October 2009
                                                                                              • Words associated with fine dining, by most popular words associated with fine dining
                                                                                                • Figure 35: Words associated with fine dining, by most popular words associated with fine dining, October 2009
                                                                                              • Words associated with fine dining, by next most popular words associated with fine dining
                                                                                                • Figure 36: Words associated with fine dining, by next most popular words associated with fine dining, October 2009
                                                                                              • Words associated with fine dining, by other words associated with fine dining
                                                                                                • Figure 37: Words associated with fine dining, by other words associated with fine dining, October 2009
                                                                                            • Appendix – Eating Out Targeting Opportunities

                                                                                              • Eating out target groups, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                • Figure 38: Eating out target groups, by detailed demographics, October 2009
                                                                                              • Eating out target groups, by enticements towards particular dishes
                                                                                                • Figure 39: Eating out target groups, by enticements towards particular dishes, October 2009
                                                                                              • Eating out target groups, by words associated with fine dining
                                                                                                • Figure 40: Eating out target groups, by words associated with fine dining, October 2009

                                                                                            Companies Covered

                                                                                            • Aldi Stores Ltd (UK & Ireland)
                                                                                            • Antony Worrall Thompson
                                                                                            • Asda Group Ltd
                                                                                            • British Market Research Bureau (BMRB)
                                                                                            • Cadbury Trebor Bassett
                                                                                            • Charles Worthington
                                                                                            • Co-operative Group
                                                                                            • David Lloyd Leisure
                                                                                            • Freeview
                                                                                            • Gordon Ramsay Holdings
                                                                                            • H&M Hennes & Mauritz
                                                                                            • J. Choo Limited
                                                                                            • J. Sainsbury
                                                                                            • Jamie Oliver
                                                                                            • LA Fitness PLC
                                                                                            • Lidl (UK)
                                                                                            • Little Chef
                                                                                            • Market & Opinion Research International (MORI)
                                                                                            • Marks & Spencer
                                                                                            • New Look Group Plc
                                                                                            • Planet Hollywood
                                                                                            • Rosemary Conley
                                                                                            • Somerfield
                                                                                            • Starbucks Coffee Company UK Ltd
                                                                                            • Tesco Plc
                                                                                            • Time Out London
                                                                                            • Topshop old
                                                                                            • Waitrose
                                                                                            • Wm Morrison Supermarkets
                                                                                            • Wolseley plc

                                                                                            Consumer Attitudes to Fine Dining - UK - November 2009

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