Consumer Behaviour of Food Allergic Diners

As the Founder of Accommodine, I spent the last part of 2018 surveying and interviewing people with food allergies and dietary restrictions to understand the perceptions, challenges and experiences dining out.

The result was engaging with a total of almost 350 generous people (thank you!) between my online surveys and phone interviews, including parents, adults, and students. This had let me to develop a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour of the food allergic diner, that I believe can help the foodservice industry in how they market and approach food allergy management.

I am officially sharing the results of my research to date in a blog post series on my company website Accommodine.com/blog.

Here are the top insights I’ve developed so far, with more to come!

  1. People with food allergies do not try new restaurants often, especially young adults. The online research supports this - according to X article, 75% of young adults between ages 18-24 don’t eat out.

2. Consumers with food allergies typically rotate between 3 restaurants they trust locally and eat the same items they always order to stay safe.

3. In this way, safety takes priority to taste. When it comes to the Menu, these customers observe typically have much more limited options.

4. Allergen and Nutrition Information upfront are a crucial tool in online research. If the restaurant has ingredient information available for customers, they are more likely to go because it signals to the customer the restaurant has made an investment in allergy management.

5. Word of mouth recommendations are strong decision influencers. Receiving a positive recommendation from online communities and social circles alike are a very strong influence for someone with an allergy.

Does this information resonate with you or someone you love with a food allergy? I know for myself, I realized I followed these behaviours, but also try a lot more new restaurants than the average allergy person.

Kaitlin Colvin