Habit is the fastest-growing reason for visiting a foodservice outlet and is now as important as ‘good price’, according to new research from the NPD Group.

The most highly-cited reason for choosing a foodservice operator was convenience of location (37%), but the proportion of consumers naming habitual visits has risen by 10.6% to 24%. This is seven times faster than visit growth in the overall foodservice market (1.5%).

‘Good pricing’ was also named as a key driver by 24% of respondents, the NPD Group research reveals.

People are especially habitual when choosing coffee shops, where one in three consumers (32%) choose an operator because they ‘always/regularly go there’.

Loyalty schemes play a part in this - NPD Group data showed that coffee shops record three times more visits involving a loyalty scheme than is the case across the total Out of Home market.

NPD Group foodservice director UK, Cyril Lavenant, said: “We are all spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out, thanks to innovative foodservice chains opening all the time. The conventional wisdom is that with so many options we are promiscuous consumers, choosing one brand and then another – always experimenting and never settling for a ‘favourite’.

“But our latest data shows that’s not the case. Nearly one in four of us are happy to go on ‘autopilot’ as long as we get good pricing, convenience and the right customer experience. The value of that ‘autopilot’ business is close to £13bn – or nearly one-quarter of the sales value of the entire British foodservice industry so it’s something Britain’s operators should fight for.”