Diners desire green restaurants and are willing to pay for them, according to an exploratory survey in Columbus, OH.
Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) found that more than 80% of participants would be willing to pay more to dine at green restaurants and more than 70% believe that it’s good for restaurants to protect the environment.
"It is clear that green practices could be beneficial for restaurants," says Jay Kandampully, co-author of the study and professor of consumer sciences at OSU. "Customers want their restaurants to be environmentally friendly and say they’re willing to pay more for it. It would be a shame if restaurants don’t make use of that support."
The study surveyed 455 customers of 5 independent casual dining restaurants in Columbus, asking a variety of questions about perceptions of green restaurants.
Participants in the survey revealed that they are most interested in restaurants that took actions to protect the environment – such as reducing energy usage and waste and using biodegradable or recycled products.
"The problem is that most of these actions are not visible to diners," says Franziska Schubert, a co-author of the study who conducted the research while a graduate student at OSU. "The customers don’t see what is happening in the kitchen and that is one reason why people are unsure if a particular restaurant is green."
Restaurants taking green initiatives can use the practices as a marketing tool to distinguish themselves from the competition. "Restaurants that engage in green practices should market themselves that way, using that fact as a competitive edge," says Kandampully.