“Word-of-mouth marketing remains the most vital source of restaurant discovery. Still, operators should continue to grow their brands in the digital space as it evolves. Diners want to hear more about establishments regarding topics of food quality, new menu items and loyalty rewards and programs. Operators should focus on relaying their messaging through authentic means of communication to attract customers and build stronger personalized relationships.”

– Pooja Lal, Analyst, US Foodservice and Mintel Menu Insights

This report covers the following issues:

  • How operators can attract customers to their establishments during times of financial uncertainty
  • The most influential restaurant discovery sources, including the impact of social media and general consumer perceptions of discovery sources
  • The communication topics diners want to hear about from operators and what would motivate them to try new restaurant menu items
  • How marketers can use loyalty reward programs and promotional offers to further build relationships with diners

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Category outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Utilize digital and virtual opportunities to connect with diners outside of traditional marketing means
      • Figure 2: Restaurant discovery sources, by generation, 2022
    • Social media influencers create opportunity and skepticism
      • Figure 3: Correspondence analysis – Symmetrical map – Perceptions of restaurant discovery sources, 2022
    • Quality is key and should be communicated to diners
      • Figure 4: Communication topics, 2022
    • Revamp the late-night occasion
      • Figure 5: Marketing-related behaviors, 2022
    • Chain restaurants are more likely to encounter trust issues with patrons compared to independent restaurants
      • Figure 6: Restaurant marketing attitudes, 2022
  3. Market Factors

    • Find creative ways to adjust for inflation
      • Figure 7: Percentage changes in CPI for all urban consumers (CPI-U): US city average, 2021-22
      • Figure 8: Maggiano’s Little Italy Instagram post, 2022
    • Sustainability will win in the long run
      • Figure 9: Panera’s Ingredients Carbon Footprint Scale, 2022
      • Figure 10: Brand ethic attitudes, 2021
      • Figure 11: Starbucks story highlight on sustainability, 2022
    • Gen Z diners seek digital connections
      • Figure 12: Population by generation, 2016-26
      • Figure 13: Social media associations – NET, 2021
  4. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • The drive-thru lane becomes segment agnostic
      • Figure 14: Chipotle Instagram post, 2022
      • Figure 15: Sweetgreen Instagram posts, 2022
    • Get personal with rewards and promotions
      • Figure 16: Chipotle e-mail, LONG TIME NO EAT: Your new extra is here, 2022
    • Meet consumers in the metaverse
      • Figure 17: IHOP Instagram post, 2022
      • Figure 18: Shake Shack Twitter post, 2022
      • Figure 19: Wendyverse Wendy’s Instagram post, 2022
    • Communicate how BOH technology improves the overall dining experience
      • Figure 20: Chipotle Instagram reel, March 2022
    • Drive consumer engagement through TikTok
      • Figure 21: Social media usage, at least daily usage, 2020-22
      • Figure 22: Denny’s Facebook post, 2022
  5. The Restaurant Consumer: Fast Facts

    • Diners trust and rely on friends/family for restaurant discovery
    • Connect with diners on social media through shared values and authentic messaging
    • Exchange rewards for personal data to build stronger relationships
  6. Restaurant Discovery Sources

    • Word of mouth remains the most influential in new restaurant trial
      • Figure 23: Restaurant discovery sources, 2022
    • Diversify marketing channels to tap into different generational groups
      • Figure 24: Restaurant discovery sources, by generation, 2022
    • Digital marketing strategies appeal more to parents
      • Figure 25: Restaurant discovery sources, by parental status, 2022
    • Add international flare on social media to diversify and grow your reach
      • Figure 26: Restaurant discovery sources, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
  7. Social Media Platform Discovery Sources

    • Keep up with the continuous evolution of social media apps to stay relevant
      • Figure 27: Social media platform discovery sources, 2022
    • TikTok is ticking its way to the top
      • Figure 28: Social media platform discovery sources, by generation, 2022
    • Leverage social media campaigns to reach Hispanic diners
      • Figure 29: Social media platform discovery sources, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
  8. Perceptions of Restaurant Discovery Sources

    • Encourage written reviews to liven up the dining experience for prospective diners
      • Figure 30: Perceptions of restaurant discovery sources, 2022
    • Restaurant discovery sources and consumer perceptions
      • Figure 31: Correspondence analysis – Symmetrical map – Perceptions of restaurant discovery sources, 2022
  9. New Menu Item Motivators

    • Photos and unique presentation provide broader appeal
      • Figure 32: New menu item motivators, 2022
    • Partner with celebrities and influencers who share your brand beliefs
      • Figure 33: New item motivators, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 34: Taco Bell Live Mas scholarship application details, August 2021
    • Make unique ingredients familiar through education and LTOs
      • Figure 35: Choolah Indian BBQ website
      • Figure 36: New item motivators, by generation, 2022
    • New menu items are driven by recommendations through friends/family and diners seek ingredients that are recognizable but also unique
      • Figure 37: TURF analysis – New menu item motivators, 2022
  10. Marketing-related Behaviors

    • Revisit late-night meal occasions as normalcy returns
      • Figure 38: Marketing-related behaviors, 2022
      • Figure 39: Yard House Happy Hour menu
    • Convert social media scrollers into customers using promotional incentives
      • Figure 40: Taco Bell sponsored ad – Rewards, April 2022
    • Promotional deals encourage dining out occasions for families
      • Figure 41: Marketing-related behaviors, by parental status, 2022
      • Figure 42: Ruby Tuesday’s Halloween Special, October 2021
  11. Communication Topics

    • Diners are interested in hearing more about food quality and new menu items
      • Figure 43: Communication topics, 2022
    • Parents value health messaging, charitable giving and employee initiatives
      • Figure 44: Communication topics, by parental status, 2022
    • Messaging about food quality, safety and personalized perks will have the widest reach
      • Figure 45: TURF analysis – Communication topics, 2022
  12. Restaurant Marketing Attitudes

    • Creating personal connections with diners is essential
      • Figure 46: Restaurant marketing attitudes, 2022
    • To resonate with the Asian/Pacific Island population, cultural representation must be improved
      • Figure 47: Restaurant marketing attitudes, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
    • Millennials will exchange personal data for promotional discounts
      • Figure 48: Restaurant marketing attitudes, by generation, 2022
    • Incentivize parents with rewards to gain personal data
      • Figure 49: Restaurant marketing attitudes, by parental status, 2022
  13. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Consumer survey data
    • Marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  14. Appendix – Correspondence Analysis – Restaurant Marketing Strategies – 2022

      • Figure 50: Perceptions of restaurant discovery sources, 2022
  15. Appendix – TURF Analysis – Restaurant Marketing Strategies – 2022

      • Figure 51: Table – TURF analysis – New menu item motivators, 2022
      • Figure 52: Table – TURF analysis – Communication topics, 2022

About the report

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