Have Internet deal sites become an ingrained consumer behavior, even as the economy slowly improves? Recent research by Technomic seems to point in that direction. For consumers, the prevailing mindset is to stretch every dollar.

But when consumers consider a restaurant's value equation, they're thinking about much more than just price. Technomic's study identified numerous crucial elements versus second-tier factors, as well as how the value equation differs depending on when and where consumers are searching for a meal away from home.

"Our data confirms many general perceptions about value, including the importance of low prices, but that's certainly not where the story ends," says Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic, Inc. "Operators across foodservice segments need to highlight specific menu and concept attributes—whether it's food quality, taste, family recipes, healthfulness, convenience or fast preparation—in order to heighten the perception of good value."

To help foodservice executives understand the latest behaviors, preferences and attitudes of consumers regarding pricing and the value equation, Technomic has published its Value & Pricing Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:

Nearly equal proportions of consumers place a high importance on staggered portion sizes at different prices (45%) and large portion sizes (44%) in creating strong value at restaurants. Deal-seeking behavior has become ingrained: 54% of consumers strongly agree that they are seeking restaurant deals and promotions more often now than they were in 2011.

Customization opportunities help enhance the idea of value: half of consumers polled (51%) indicate that the ability to customize ingredients for their meal is "important" or "extremely important" in creating good value.

"Fresh" and "premium" descriptors can increase consumer price thresholds: nearly half of consumers (48%) say they would be likely to purchase and pay more for food and beverages that are fresh, and 37% say the same for premium food and drink.

Technomic's Value & Pricing Consumer Trend Report provides comprehensive research on the latest menu and consumer trends impacting the value equation and pricing strategies, organized into five major sections:

Menu Insights—uses Technomic's exclusive MenuMonitor data to track menu developments for value-oriented offerings, including combo plates and value meals, at limited-service and full-service restaurant chains in the Top 500 segment.

Consumer Insights—analyzes consumer behavior and attitudes toward value and pricing, based on findings from a nationally representative survey of 1,500 US consumers.

Competitive Insights—examines the 10 limited-service and 10 full-service chains consumers rate highest for overall value as measured by Technomic's Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM) program.

Outlook: Trends to Watch—explores emerging menu, concept and consumer trends that are currently impacting how restaurant operators are promoting value.

Profiles—appendices feature in-depth concept and value-positioning profiles for 10 restaurant brands, illustrating how the leading players for overall value are winning at the value equation in 2013.

Technomic publishes a complete library of consumer trend reports. To learn more, please visit Technomic.com or contact one of the individuals listed below. For Technomic updates, please follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or our blog.