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

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

...

FSD Resources