CHICAGO – Consumers who are first to buy the latest technologies — ranging from smartphones to social media apps — are also avid restaurant patrons, according to Chicago-based Technomic.

Technomic determined by using a modern set of technology adoption attributes in a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers that when it comes to using cutting-edge tech products and Websites, 8% and 15% of respondents can be described as "Innovators" and "Early Adopters," respectively.

These leading-edge consumers are also frequent restaurant patrons, representing an important heavy-user group:

  • 83% of Innovators and 72% of Early Adopters order from a fast-food restaurant at least once a week, compared to 56% for consumers on average;
  • 53% and 35% of Innovators and Early Adopters, respectively, order from fast-casual restaurants (Chipotle, Panera) at least once a week, compared to the average of 20%;and
  • At food stores, 25% of Innovators and 20% of Early Adopters shop at natural and specialty food stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s) at least once a week, compared to the average of 10%.

Research determined a restaurant's presence on a social network, such as a branded "fan" page on Facebook, positively influences their decision to try that restaurant, said nearly double the share of those in both adoption groups (48% compared to 25%, on average).

In summing up what this means, early tech adopters — a group that is highly active in social media sites — may be the first to broadcast their opinions about the latest limited-time offer or new restaurant concept.

"Restaurant chains are working hard to tap into the reach of social networks, but the opportunity is also sizeable for independent and regional chains that develop a strong local following among early adopters," said Erik Thoresen, Technomic’s director of product innovation.