NPD research: Students’ satisfaction with on-campus dining lags quick serve restaurant ratings

Students rate taste and flavor of food lower at on-campus dining halls than QSRs.

College and university dining halls have their work cut out for them as young consumers with sophisticated and discerning taste buds expect more from their college dining halls. According to The NPD Group, a market research company that continually tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets, college students give the quality of food and beverages at college dining halls lower satisfaction ratings than chain and campus-based restaurants. Whether the satisfaction ratings are based on perception or reality, there is a significant opportunity for on-campus dining services to improve their customer satisfaction.

College-age students have become savvy about dining out and are among the most frequent restaurant visitors. Quick service restaurants (QSR) have been working to meet the needs of this sought after age group by improving operations and adding higher quality food and beverage items, and yet young adult’s satisfaction with QSRs overall has only increased minimally since 2002, NPD reports. Young adults are even less satisfied with college dining halls, according to NPD’s CREST OnSite® service, which tracks usage of foodservice at colleges and universities, business and industry, secondary schools, hospitals, lodging, recreation, senior care, military, and vending segments.

NPD’s CREST OnSite finds student satisfaction ratings for food attributes -- taste and flavor, quality – at college dining halls under perform compared to the major quick-service chain industry average. Aspects of beverage offerings – choice and quality of beverages – are rated somewhat better but still under perform relative to QSRs. Even on-campus restaurants, both chain and independent, are rated lower than the QSR industry benchmark.

With restaurants shaping young adults’ expectations on what should be available to them when they dine at school, college food providers have tough competition but also the opportunity to reverse negative perceptions by improving the quality of the food and beverages served. It may also be a case of making students aware of the quality of the food with more aggressive marketing such as tastings/sampling, ads, or use of social media. What college and university dining halls have going for them is convenience, which students consistently rank high in customer satisfaction. Students should be continually reminded of this benefit.

NPD-research-March-14

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
change ahead sign large

The reality is that some people don’t like change. But as long as you partner with employees, there shouldn’t be major staff fallout.

It can be tricky to find the balance between listening to your team’s point of view on the changes and avoiding giving your power away. You may accept many or few recommendations, but you need to be able to explain your decisions. Regular department meetings to complete that circle of communication take more time, but it’s more efficient than doing damage control after the fact.

I’ve seen folks refuse to do a job based on their new job...

Ideas and Innovation
fsd marketing ideas

[ View the story "Marketing and operations ideas worth stealing" on Storify ]
Industry News & Opinion

Some Washington, D.C., foodservice operators may soon be required to provide staff with paid leave, as the city council on Tuesday passed one of the most extensive paid leave plans in the nation.

Barring a veto by Mayor Muriel Bowser, the measure mandates that all private sector employers in the district offer workers eight weeks of parental time off and six weeks to care for a sick relative.

While operators will not directly compensate workers—who will be paid 90% of their wages through a government-run insurance program—they will be hit with a 0.62% increase to employer...

Industry News & Opinion

Dallas Independent School District will serve breakfast and lunch over winter break for the first time this year, Dallas News reports.

Any child under 18 will be able to participate in the meal program, which will be offered in 12 cafeterias.

The Texas district will be partially reimbursed for the meals, receiving $3.39 per lunch served and 86 cents per breakfast. The remaining costs, which include paying cafeteria staff and supervisors, will be picked up by the district.

Read the full story via dallasnews.com .

FSD Resources