Americans Still Eating Out According to a New National Survey by Dairy Queen

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A recent national survey administered by Harris Interactive® on behalf of Dairy Queen®, a Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA/BRKB) company, revealed that almost half of U.S. adults (46%) are eating out at restaurants about the same or more as they did one year ago.

Celebrities including the Oracle of Omaha himself, Warren Buffett, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also weighed in independently of the survey, which was commissioned to discover just how the economy has affected dining decisions.

Cuban, who several years ago took a challenge to manage a Dairy Queen for a day, says he would most likely take advantage of a value menu when asked about different economic incentives to eating out at a restaurant. He’s not alone according to the survey:

A majority (89%) of those that eat out in restaurants say that when dining out they would take advantage of discounts including value meals, coupons, frequent custom cards/membership programs, etc.

When it comes to choosing a restaurant, almost three quarters of adults (71%) said price and menu variety were the most important factors in determining their choice of restaurant.

“Today more than ever consumers look for value, price and menu variety which is exactly why we introduced Sweet Deals, our new, permanent value menu,” said Michael Keller, chief brand officer for International Dairy Queen, Inc. “Sales have been trending up since we launched Sweet Deals and this survey supports the fact that people still like to treat themselves, but are taking the extra time to find the best value.”

Sweet Deals allows Dairy Queen customers to mix and match nine menu items, choosing two for $3, three for $4 or four for $5. The menu combines both food and treats and gives customers the opportunity to customize their orders, not only in terms of what they would like to order but also how much they would like to order, how much they would like to spend and how much they would like to save. The menu includes a classic cheeseburger, all-beef hot dog, premium chicken wrap, regular sized French fries and onion rings, medium soft drink, side salad, and a small sundae or dipped cone.

What’s Buffett’s classic Sweet Deal? When visiting his favorite Dairy Queen in Omaha, he opts for the four for $5 Sweet Deals meal, a combination of a cheeseburger, chicken wrap, medium beverage and a sundae.

Sweet Deals will be supported by national advertising in May. For more information, visit

Harris Interactive® fielded the study on behalf of Dairy Queen from March 5 – 9, 2009 via its QuickQuerSM online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,852 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey results and a full methodology statement, please contact Chris Feeley.

About IDQ:

International Dairy Queen (IDQ), which is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., develops licenses and services a system of more than 5,600 Dairy Queen® stores in the United States, Canada and other foreign countries, offering world famous dairy desserts, hamburgers, hot dogs and beverages. IDQ is part of the Berkshire Hathaway family, a company run by Warren Buffett, the legendary investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. For more information, visit

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research that is powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit