Restaurant Report Unveils How Consumer Behavior Has Shifted Post-Pandemic

Near, a SaaS leader in privacy-led data intelligence on people, places and products, just published a new report, “The New World of Consumer Behavior: Restaurants 2022,” which highlights a significant shifts in consumer behavior from the onset of the pandemic to today. The report provides an outlook for the future of restaurant dining and outlines how restaurants can best respond to these consumer shifts.

Of course, consumer dining behaviors have shifted significantly since the onset of the pandemic. The restaurant industry was one of the most immediately and profoundly impacted industries, with restaurants forced to pivot when the pandemic hit to keep doors open. One of the report's key findings is that there is no longer one single dining experience, and restaurants must adapt to the new range of options and conveniences that consumers have come to expect.

Diners were surveyed across generational lines to discover dining habits, preferences and loyalties. The survey results were combined with Near's privacy-led human movement data – compliant-collected location data from mobile phones – to get a unique glimpse into dining patterns both at a macro level and also for specific regions and geographies. This includes identifying who today’s diners are, where they eat, how often and how far they're willing to travel.

The report also explores themes including whether people are eating out again or not, top priorities for restaurants, trends to watch, loyalty programs, as well the lifeline for countless restaurants for the past couple of years – takeout and delivery.

Key findings from the report include that 46 percent of people surveyed say outdoor dining is nice to have, and seven percent say it's essential; meanwhile, 57 percent of people say takeout or delivery is nice to have, while only eight percent say it's essential.

The Importance of Loyalty Programs

One of the new priorities as a result of a more digitally-focused dining experience is the increased importance of loyalty programs, according to the report. The survey uncovered some key findings about how different generations perceive loyalty:

  • Millennial and Gen Z diners are 71 percent more likely to participate in Loyalty Programs than Baby Boomers.
  • Younger diners also participate in about 2x the number of programs than the 60+ crowd.
  • 50 percent of respondents overall said they are more likely to eat at restaurants where they're in the Loyalty program – this was 60 percent for Gen Z and Millennials.
  • The top-ranked Loyalty Program in the survey was from a top coffee franchise, with 30.2 percent participation, followed by a food and bakery chain at 29.5 percent, and then a top quick-service restaurant (QSR) with a 20.6 percent participation rate.

Elevating the Dining Experience to Meet Expectations

There is no longer one single dining experience. The most successful restaurants of the past few years are simply the ones that know their customers the best. They know their preferences and have adapted to offer precisely what their diners want. The top dining brands have also leveraged very creative and innovative approaches to build relationships with their customers, through physical and digital touch points.As a result, top restaurants have been rewarded with increased customer loyalty and revenue.

Key findings on consumer preferences around the dining experience include:

  • 72 percent of diners enjoy the traditional waiter experience, compared to just 17 percent enjoying QR code ordering and 18 percent for kiosk ordering.
  • Half of Gen Z and Millennial diners said they're more likely to eat at a restaurant if it's on a delivery app – compared to just 13 percent of respondents over the age of 45.
  • 35 percent of respondents said they plan to dine at restaurants more often when the pandemic is over.
  • 53 percent plan to practice the same habit of dining out, and six percent are unsure.

“Many restaurants and QSRs don't have the data needed to pivot quickly enough to keep pace with rapidly changing consumer behaviors and diners' latest desires for a seamless customer experience,” said Anil Mathews, founder and CEO of Near. “…Restaurants must learn how to turn data into actionable insights to survive in today's constantly evolving world."

Study Methodology

This survey was conducted Feb. 24-27, 2022, with a total of 508 respondents in the United States, census-weighted by age, gender, income and region. Additionally, Near studied pulled human movement data for restaurant locations in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Chicago, Miami, and San Francisco/Oakland between June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022. Reports used included Near Pinnacle's Estimated Visits, Time Spent, Visitor Home and Work Locations Insights, as well as Near's Geosocial Affinity, Estimated Visitors and Cross-Visitation Reports.

To download the full report, visit To learn more about Near, visit

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