Tech, Culture, And A Relaxed Night Out

If there’s one thing you can say about Response is that we are an agency full of curious people. We love the food and beverage industry and think about it a lot. So much so, that we fielded our own research to better understand what drives guests to dine out at polished casual dining restaurants. What follows is what our curious minds uncovered.


Work-Life Imbalance

Remember the days when work was left at work and you only attended to personal matters when you were at home? That’s what we called work-life balance–when we saw this rigid distinction between the two. If you were under a deadline at work, you stayed in the office until it was done. If you had a sick child, you stayed at home and cancelled all of your work meetings.

The Cause

Over time, thanks to technology and globalization on a massive scale, the lines between work and personal have blurred. Moving us away from work-life balance and towards to work-life integration. There is no question that we live in a 24/7 business environment. Technology has enabled constant access to work. We check and reply to work emails no matter where we are…the gym, store, and most definitely at home. On the flip side, we also handle personal tasks while at work.

As business people we love that our phones and laptops are constantly connected. It allows us to get work done from anywhere at any time. In all honesty, it’s a bit of an addiction.

A study by Asurion, global tech protection and support company, found that the average person struggles to go a little more than 10 minutes without checking their phone. And of the 2,000 people surveyed, 10% check their phones over 300 times per day! Interestingly, by constantly checking our phones for email, social media, and texts we are actually causing ourselves stress. The American Psychological Association’s report, Stress in America, reveals that “86% of Americans say they check their email and social media accounts ‘constantly,’ and that it’s really stressing them out.”

Work-Life Imbalance Challenges Family Traditions

As it relates to the all-important family meal time, the Pew Research Center found that 40% of people say it’s okay to answer urgent emails at the dinner table. Yet, at the same time, 57% of employees say technology has ruined the modern family dinner. This video by, starring Will Ferrell, exemplifies the issue with humor.

We all relate to this video as social norms tell us that it’s not acceptable to be interacting with your phone instead of your family at the dinner table.

The Chicago Tribune published an article about smart phone etiquette, here’s one of their don’ts. “Don’t: Use your phone at meals, whether with family or at a restaurant. Most adults think it’s rude to use your phone during meals, particularly family dinners.”

A Tech-Free Restaurant Environment

Based on our research, we realized that people are most likely to disconnect when at a restaurant due to the social and family pressure. From our data we learned that 84% of respondents would use the word “relaxed” when describing their feeling of going out to eat at a polished casual dining restaurant, we weren’t very surprised:


And, while this isn’t shocking information, it has shaped our thinking about things marketers of restaurant brands should consider. Our curiosity, backed by research, enables tremendous insights into the audiences we serve, which, in turn, makes us very strong marketers.

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Carolyn Walker
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