Research from management consultancy Allegra’s new Project Restaurant 2012 report, and its monthly consumer tracking program the EatingOut Panel, shows how vouchers, originally brought in as a way to help restaurants fill up tables during the economic downturn, have become a part of the dining landscape.
According to its research, a third of diners use a discount voucher when they eat out while one in six would stop visiting certain outlets if the operator stopped discounting, highlighting the UK’s dependency on discount vouchers.
During a debate titled ‘Winning the Out-of-Home Consumer’ at Allegra’s Food Strategy Forum in London last week, operators and marketing experts discussed the findings and spoke about better ways of boosting trade and building brand loyalty.
Rob Mosley of digital agency Nonsense, likened the use of vouchers to the use of heroin. He claimed issuing discount vouchers needed minimal effort but gave ‘instant gratification’ to a business’s revenue and said the practice was highly addictive for both diners and restaurateurs with both parties needing more to create the same buzz.
Restaurateur Jamie Barber who prefers hosting special events at his restaurants Cabana, Hush and Villandry to drive visits, said discounting could have serious implications for a restaurant’s brand values. He said having a strong product and experience would have a greater effect on building customer loyalty.
However, restaurants already offering discounts may find it hard to give up. Research by Peach BrandTrack found that a higher percentage - 42 per cent - of diners use vouchers when dining out.
Peter Martin, chief executive of Peach Factory said use of vouchers had become ‘engrained’ in our culture.
“Hunting down the best deal is a way of life for many,” he said. “The people using them are not hard-up pensioners but more likely tech-savvy, educated under-35s”