How are Canadian diners choosing restaurants?

In 2017, Dalhousie University conducted a survey  of 1,019 Canadians regarding their dining habits – how often they dine out, get take-out or delivery, dine alone or with others, and whether they cook at home. 42% of respondents claimed to buy ready-to-eat meals or dine at a restaurant once or twice a week, and 3% admitted to doing so daily. Experts concluded that the top reason for dining out so regularly is a lack of time to prepare meals at home.

With Canadians dining at restaurants frequently, what is causing Canadians to choose specific restaurants? Caddle set out to determine this in a recent survey, and 39% of respondents cited word of mouth as their top reason. Coupons came in second at 14%, menu options at 13%, online reviews and social media tied at 12% each, then a big drop to newspaper/magazine articles at 3%. What may come as the biggest surprise is that 0% of respondents credited online ads as a prompt to try a new restaurant.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that restaurants should cancel any paid placements – there are good reasons to remain open to advertising and various ways to achieve effective ads. Paid endorsements by social media influencers, Google AdWords to improve your visibility in search, boosted posts on relevant platforms such as Instagram – there are many avenues to consider and explore, regardless of budget.

However, what this research does reveal to restaurants is that above all else – what matters most is the quality of what you’re serving and how you serve it (i.e., customer service). Four of the top five reasons why Canadians choose a certain restaurant revolve around these factors. If you provide a memorable meal and impeccable service, diners are more likely to recommend you to family and friends, potentially leave a positive review, and brag about trying your food to their followers.