You know how much your grocery bills have risen in recent years. But eating at home is still less expensive than eating out, so a lot of frugal diners have sworn off restaurants – unless they can get a good deal.

Two-thirds of people surveyed in Vericast’s new Restaurant 2024 TrendWatch report said the increased cost of eating out is pushing restaurant dining out of reach. What just might change their mind, is more coupons and savings.

“Deals, discounts, and special offers are pivotal in shaping the dining landscape,” the report declares.

Restaurant tabs are rising faster than grocery bills, Vericast noted, with the cost of eating out climbing more than 5% over the past year. This “is testing the limits of consumer spending,” the report stated. “With menu prices climbing and the simple joy of eating out becoming more of a luxury for consumers, it’s clear that sticking to the old ways of marketing won’t cut it anymore. It’s time for a change.”

So it’s important for restaurants to attract potential diners with deals – in the way that they want them.


35% of survey respondents said they are influenced by restaurant coupons and offers they receive in the mail. That’s up four percentage points from last year, “emphasizing that the appeal of a discount in hand continues to grow,” the report stated. Online discounts and coupons are also important, with 28% of customers drawn to them – up six points from last year. And 26% are influenced by restaurant app coupons and discounts, a three-point climb from last year. App-based deals and loyalty programs “have proven more crucial than ever” for restaurants, as they “represent a smart savings strategy for consumers, offering exclusive discounts, special promotions, and the chance to accumulate points that lead to savings on future meals.”

A separate recent survey by Tillster found that nearly two-thirds of diners belong to at least one restaurant loyalty program. And for them, loyalty is a two-way street. Nearly half said they expect some kind of reward every 3-5 orders. And when they do receive a reward, such as a free item, two-thirds said they’re likely to add an additional item to their order.

For restaurants, then, it’s a give-and-take – the more offers, rewards, coupons and deals they provide, the more loyalty they can encourage. So discounts and freebies can pay for themselves in the long run.

“It’s about connecting with consumers where they are — physically and financially — and serving up experiences that justify the expense,” Vericast’s report concluded. “By presenting a variety of savings opportunities across different channels, restaurants can cater to diverse preferences, ensuring that every diner finds a deal that tempts them back for more.”

If you’re looking to save money, staying home and cooking for yourself is an easy place to start. But if restaurants can make eating out worth the extra expense, by making the experience not quite so expensive, then letting someone else do the cooking every once in a while might be just what deal-seeking diners are looking for.

Image source: Steve Snodgrass

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