Market Research Options for Restaurants | 10 Methodologies for the Dining Industry

Market Research for Restaurants | 10 Methodologies to Consider for the Dining Industry

Whether your restaurant is well-established on merely a concept, market research can be extremely beneficial to its success. 

Drive Research, a full-service market research firm, has worked with restaurants across the country from fast-food to fine dining. 

Our restaurant market research company has found there is always room for new insights, increased customer satisfaction, and a competitive edge. 

In this blog post, I'll outline ten types of market research establishments in the dining industry should consider.

How Restaurants Can Benefit from Market Research

As with most brands and organizations, restaurants are left to answer key business questions with best guesses and assumptions. They're often left to guess why customers choose a competitor, what specials will draw in new business and other areas of opportunity. 

Here is where market research for the dining industry can help skyrocket business. It provides restaurants with data-driven insights to determine what improvements they can be made.

Here are the popular objectives market research can solve:

  • Restaurant concept testing
  • Measuring and improving customer satisfaction
  • Assessing local competition

Below, you'll find each objective with corresponding market research options that solve each goal.


Market Research for Restaurant Concept Testing

Opening a new restaurant is a huge investment. That’s why before deciding to open one, it’s important to determine its feasibility

Concept testing for a new restaurant allows you to determine the essential factors that ultimately set your new business up for success. 

Market research can help new restaurants with...

  • Determining branding
  • Understanding who their target market is
  • How best to market to target consumers
  • Establishing price points
  • Creating a menu

The list goes on.

Here are some effective ways to understand the feasibility of a new restaurant.

Online surveys

Our national market research firm commonly uses social media to conduct online surveys for restaurant concept testing.

With strategic targeting, we can speak directly to any target audience to collect valuable feedback. 

Intercept surveys

Is there quite a bit of foot traffic near your proposed site?

If so, an intercept survey might be an effective way to collect feedback from your target audience.

This method can also be combined with online surveys to maximize your reach. 

Here is an example of an intercept survey our market research firm conducted to understand customer confusion with a restaurant's local competition.

Competitive assessments

Does the market need a new restaurant? How are your competitors performing? Are there any gaps in the market?

These questions can be answered through a competitive assessment, helping to set your new restaurant up for success from the very start.

This secondary research method can be easily combined with other primary methods such as online or phone surveys

Focus groups

Whether it’s testing a new concept, deciding on menu items, or deciding on branding, a focus group is an extremely effective way to speak directly to your target market.

A restaurant focus group collects a variety of different opinions of many different perspectives, all at once.

Recommended Reading: Restaurant Focus Group Case Study

client viewing room at Drive Research in Syracuse, NY

Focus group facility at Drive Research

Market Research to Measure Customer Satisfaction 

Conducting customer experience (CX) market research lets your restaurant know what it’s doing well and identifies any needed areas of improvement.

Customer satisfaction surveys are useful tools restaurants can use to measure how they’re doing. 

Here are some effective ways to understand customer satisfaction. 

E-mail surveys

Ask those who have provided their email addresses, perhaps through a loyalty program, to take a short survey after each visit. 

Point of purchase survey

After customers pay for their bills using a kiosk, prompt them to take a short survey. This method is effective because the customer experience is still brand new.

If they specifically had a positive or negative experience, they’re most likely to remember important details.  

Receipt survey

Offer customers the opportunity to share feedback by including a code and survey link on the receipt. Often, customers will be rewarded with a coupon for their next visit.

If a customer offers positive feedback or identifies themself as a promoter in a survey, you can always ask them to leave a Google review or a testimonial for marketing purposes. 

Market Research to Gain a Competitive Advantage 

Maybe it’s a sudden lull on Wednesday nights or the Friday night crowd isn’t saying as late as they used to. 

How does your restaurant stack up compared to the competitor down the road?

Market research can help your business stay in the know about what your competitors are doing. 

Here are some effective ways to beat the local competition in the dining industry recommended by our restaurant marketing research company.

Mystery shopping

Mystery shopping for your restaurant essential to understanding what the dining industry is like in your market area.

Subscribe to competitor newsletters, eat at their restaurants, analyze their menus and pricing, and keep track of their promotions. 

Interested in learning more? Here are 4 benefits to mystery shopping.

Track industry trends

Not only should you be keeping tabs on the competitor next door, but you should also be monitoring industry trends to bring new ideas to your market. 

Social listening

As a business, it’s essential to monitor relevant social media and the news. Follow competitors, read reviews, monitor relevant hashtags, and uncover opportunities to engage with potential customers.

Recommended Reading: How to Utilize Sentiment Analysis and Social listening


*Editor's Note: This blog post was originally posted in April 2020 but has since been updated with new content and resources.

Contact Our Restaurant Market Research Firm

Drive Research is a national restaurant market research company. Our team has the knowledge and tools to recommend the best market research study that provides the insights your specific restaurant needs to succeed. 

Interested in learning more about our market research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.


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