Call to Improve Kids’ Meals
EMBARGOED UNTIL 21 OCTOBER 2013
Call to Improve Kids’ Meals
Mirrors International Dining Trend
Kiwi diners still favour quality over quantity
Auckland, 21 October 2013 – The latest American Express dining survey examining the nation’s dining habits shows strong support for restaurant and cafés to improve the nutritional value of children’s meals.
When asked whether they would like to see:
1. Restaurants offering more vegan/vegetarian,
gluten and allergy free meals
2. Outlets providing the nutritional and calorie content of food or
3. Improving children’s meals
Almost three quarters of the survey’s 1,000 respondents were in favour of better menu options for children, says Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand.
“The restaurant sector – both in New Zealand and internationally – is beginning to respond. In the US, healthier menu options for children has been identified as a top dining trend for 2013, and here at home, restaurant operators that have focused on developing kids’ meals, as a way of winning new business, are reaping the rewards.
“Many of our members are already making changes to their children’s menu and we expect that as this trend gathers momentum, more restaurants will respond to customer demand.
“Children are already dining out regularly with their family. They are tomorrow’s frequent diners, and children’s menus that offer more than the usual fare and are nutritionally sound provide a chance for kids to try different foods and flavours and develop their palate.”
Over the past four years, American Express has closely examined and tracked the factors that influence dining choice. The main influencers remain quality food (56%), menu affordability was a close second at 55% and quality service rounded out the top three at 50%. Those that dined less frequently placed even more emphasis on quality food and affordable prices than those that dined most frequently.
Bidois says that dining out is key part of the Kiwi lifestyle.
“Dining out is one of the main ways that New Zealanders celebrate and socialise. A great dining experience always starts with the food, which has to be excellent, but if it isn’t supported by great service and appropriate prices, then customers will take their business elsewhere. It is a real balancing act and continual challenge for operators faced with rising prices and a competitive market to get that mix just right.”
Despite the uptake of digital devices and the popularity of social media, word of mouth through family and friends remains the most widely used source of reference, with 87% of diners saying they used a personal referral to find a place to eat.
The use of online sources – reviews (30%), restaurant websites (30%) and one day internet offers (26%) – lags behind, and remained almost static over the past year. The only exception was the use of social media to find a suitable venue, which experienced strong growth to reach 19%.
With more ways to reach customers than ever before, restaurant operators need to think about how different age groups are accessing information about where to dine, says Bidois.
“Not only do younger diners rely more heavily on online and social media and online sources including one day internet offers to find a place to dine, they are also are just as likely as older generations to make use of more traditional information sources such as restaurant guides, flyers and outdoor signage and window menus and media advertising.
“For smart operators wishing to reach their potential customer base, it’s not a case of traditional or new media; it’s a combination of both.”