Family Dining Category - Emotional Insights Research


To have a broad understanding surrounding the ways the family dining category is evolving, due to mobile apps and the capability to order online, and to include COVID-19. An ideal response would include what (if any) emotional connection people have to diners/family dining experiences, and how that emotional connection shifts as in-restaurant dining trends decrease and ordering online/app purchases increase. In other words, how can a restaurant mimic the emotional connection people have in the restaurant, and leverage that to online. Also, as this project is to present an effective pitch to Denny's, to understand that besides their brand positioning, strong commitment to menu quality improvement, restaurant remodels, competitive value and marketing & technology innovation, whether there are any other reasons people appear to love Denny's.

Early Findings

Denny's Insights

Family Dining Category Evolution

  • According to Restaurant Dive, "experts predict that restaurants will double down on digital offerings and continue to experiment with new brick-and-mortar configurations for quick-service formats."
  • Delivery disruption, a surge in fast casual dining, labor issues, new definitions of value, plant-based menu items, and investing in experience are six areas (back in 2019) that were predicted to impact family dining in the future. Much of this has proved true...but then COVID-19 hit.
  • McKinsey asserts that the restaurant industry can thrive post (and during) COVID-19 by ensuring their top priorities include updating operating procedures, reactivating customers to bring them back into restaurant dining rooms, adjusting menus to address shifts in customer habits and preferences, and enhancing your delivery capabilities. McKinsey also believe that restaurants should create a reopening playbook. "The playbook should include updated standard operating procedures that not only provide a safe store environment but also serve to reassure potentially anxious customers. In other words, simultaneously “go safe” and “show safe.” Ensure that new hygiene and safety protocols are highly visible throughout the restaurant."

Emotional Connections to Family Eating Experiences

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our initial hour of research was spent scanning to see what publicly available sources exist to answer all the questions, and then provided many Denny specific insights, as well as a few insights surrounding the evolution of the family dining category based on mobile apps, the capability to order online, and COVID-19. We also provided an expert take on emotional connections to consumers.
  • We ran into a few roadblocks surrounding some questions. Specifically, there does not appear to be any credible and reliable information, data, and/or statistics surrounding how emotional connection shifts as in-restaurant dining trends decrease and ordering online/app purchases increase. We are not suggesting further research surrounding this, but we have pivoted the research in order to still provide some relevant insights.
  • We assumed a United States focus, even though that was not explicitly stated to us. If a more broad approach is desired, for example, a global focus, this would have to be clearly communicated to us in any reply.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Proposed next steps:

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