August 21/Chicago//PRNewswire -- 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.

However, when consumers consider a restaurant's value equation, they are 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," said 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.