Become a Conjoint Pro

hands chefs, pizza and ingredients on wooden background textureIn today’s competitive restaurant industry, good reviews can often mean the difference between a packed house and empty seats with unfilled plates. Word of mouth advertising, recommendations from friends, family and colleagues are quickly being followed up with online mobile searching for locations and reviews. Today’s net savvy users expect to see a full menu and reviews available to them online before they decide on their ultimate dining spot.

Just how influential are these handheld mobile devices when it comes to customers seeking their next culinary experience?

  • 62% are less likely to choose a restaurant if their menu isn’t mobile accessible
  • 81% of consumers search for a restaurant through a mobile app
  • 84% of consumers look at more than one restaurant before making their choice

Okay, we get it, more diners are turning to their mobile device rather than turning pages in a phone directory. But what about restaurant reviews? How important are they when it comes to making a dining decision? According to research, almost half of people still reach out to friends and family first for opinions, but then they turn to:

  • Consumer generated website reviews, like Yelp, Zagat and Urbanspoon (almost 23%)
  • Restaurant food bloggers (over 9%)
  • Food critics in newspapers (almost 8%)
  • The restaurant’s website (over 5%)
  • Google search (around 5 and-a-half percent)
  • The Food Network ( not quite 2%)

The numbers show us that almost half of consumers are turning to the internet for reviews that will ultimately sway their dining choices. But what does all of this have to do with conjoint analysis? How can this help restaurant reviews?

Compliments and Praise

Think of it this way, if you’re at a restaurant and for whatever reason you are unsatisfied with your meal or service, you’re likely to take it up immediately with your server or the management for some type of resolution. If you’re happy with your menu choice, got great service, were pleased with the recipe and ingredients, you’re likely to boast about it online.

But what if you could poll your diners, offering them different choices, types of specials, other ingredients, various price levels, ways to improve your current menu and have more satisfied customers? Enter conjoint analysis.

Culinary Conjoint Analysis

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument and analysis, you own a pizza joint. You want to offer the type of service, choice of ingredients, dine-in, take-out and delivery options that the majority of your customers are seeking. The comparative strategies of conjoint analysis is practically perfect for this type of research since they evaluate these different methods and deliver the desired results, just like the delivery of a pizza!

You can make sure that your customers get exactly what they want, how it is prepared, what ingredients they can choose and how they get the finished product. With conjoint analysis you can query to your customers according to a variety of discrete choices:

  • When dining in, do they prefer a wait staff or to pick it up themselves?
  • Would they enjoy an all-you-can eat salad bar, a house salad or no greens at all?
  • A separate venue at lunchtime or an all-inclusive, all-day menu?
  • Do they want to buy pizza by the slice or other side dishes, like pasta?
  • What types of specials would be profitable for you and affordable for them?

The options are almost endless and you could deliver (pun intended) exactly what your customers want by examining the results from this research.

Do the Math = Higher Profits

Happier diners and less whiners means better reviews. Better reviews will lead to more diners. More diners will deliver higher profits, it’s just that simple. Investing a little bit into conjoint analysis today can mean a big difference in the number of paying customers enjoying your cuisine tomorrow

Zontziry (Z) Johnson is the Community Manager for QuestionPro. With 9+ years experience in the marketing research industry, she is continually enthralled with the ever-changing possibilities behind how to ask people what they think.

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