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Research highlights groups to return to eating-out first

Covid-19 has created four distinct consumer groups and they will need reassuring in different ways in order to feel comfortable eating out when pubs, bars and restaurants reopen, new research suggests.

According to CGA Insights Brand Tracker, the first group, biased towards younger consumers, requires the least convincing to return to previous habits. These are consumers who used to eat out at least monthly before lockdown, and they say they will continue to do afterwards. They make up 19% of the population.

The second, and largest group, is made up of those who previously ate out at least monthly, but who will now only return to the market with caution, totalling 45% of the adult population. But they will be persuaded to come back if businesses are able to demonstrate that they are safe places to visit.

Over one in five adults fall into the third group of consumers who suggest they may significantly decrease how often they eat out. These consumers, who make up 21% of the population, used to eat out at least monthly, but now say they will return far less frequently - highlighting the potentially lower demand within any “new normal” even among once regular customers.

The final group contains those who previously ate out less than monthly and who suggest that they will not change that frequency, equating to 1 in 20 adults.

CGA says these groups highlight the probability of decreased footfall post re-opening, even with precautionary measures in place.

Tables spaced apart is the measure most consumers (66%) want to see when returning to eating out, followed by free hand sanitiser and enhanced cleaning regimes. Staff wearing PPE was cited by just 30% of respondents.

The research also reveals that catching up with friends is the occasion that most (64%) consumers will feel comfortable going out to pubs, bars and restaurants for, followed by personal celebrations and romantic occasions.

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