SINGAPORE: Singaporeans spend more on dining and out-of-home food than anyone else in Southeast Asia, although residents of Hong Kong have overtaken them in the wider Asia-Pacific region, new consumer research has found.

Based on responses from almost 8,000 adult participants in 16 countries at the end of 2013, MasterCard, the financial services group, calculated people in Singapore spent an average US$198 a month on dining out last year.

Even though this represented a fall from the US$262 they spent in the previous year, it was still considerably higher than the regional average of US$140. Moreover, 12% of Singapore respondents said they planned to visit more expensive eateries.

Hong Kong topped the Asia-Pacific market with an average monthly spend of US$218 and Thailand came third, spending US$182 a month on average.

By contrast, the average spend in Indonesia was just US$20 a month and even New Zealand was well below the regional average with a monthly spend of US$103.

Japanese, Chinese and Australian respondents were reckoned to spend US$165, US$163 and US$162 respectively.

With almost all (98%) of Singaporeans reporting that they dined out of the home over the previous six months, the survey confirmed that eating out is an essential part of everyday life in Singapore.

But MasterCard also uncovered some changes in behaviour, including a greater appreciation for fine dining and a willingness to try new types of cuisine.

The influence of word-of-mouth recommendations remained important for Singaporean diners. Almost half (49%) relied on this source of information while 46% checked out online reviews.

Promotions, too, have helped to influence behaviour – over two-thirds said they ask if any card promotions are available when paying their bill, 38% checked for promotions on the internet before going out while 31% bought discounts via apps and coupon sites.

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff