New Deloitte survey takes a pulse of consumers’ current restaurant habits

Restaurant dining has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, the survey found.

In an era shaped by evolving consumer preferences and an increasing appetite for seamless digital experiences, the restaurant industry is poised for transformation, according to the findings of the Deloitte survey titled “The Future of Restaurants: The New Normal and Beyond,” released on Wednesday.

Deloitte’s report highlights that restaurant dining has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, with 55% of the 750 survey respondents indicating that they are dining out as frequently, if not more, than before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, certain shifts in consumer behavior have emerged.

Among the key insights revealed by the survey:

• 37% of guests who dine in and 40% of customers who opt for takeout are actively seeking affordable options and are drawn to promotions and discounts.

• While high-quality products remain important, their significance has taken a backseat to value. Only 19% of dine-in guests and 15% of takeout customers prioritize quality. Nevertheless, 60% of consumers stated that they are unwilling to compromise on quality when ordering takeout food.

• Although 13% of restaurant patrons currently use third-party apps or websites for delivery or takeout orders, a notable 40% prefer to utilize the restaurant’s own app or website. Deloitte’s analysis emphasizes the importance for restaurants to have control over their digital experiences.

• A substantial majority of consumers, 87% to be exact, believe that a delivery fee of $5 or less is reasonable in exchange for the convenience it provides.

• Over half of the respondents (52%) expressed a willingness to order from ghost kitchens, establishments that solely offer takeout and delivery services.

• Contactless delivery has maintained its prominence even beyond the pandemic, facilitating faster and more efficient deliveries. Approximately 53% of respondents indicated that they receive contactless deliveries more than 50% of the time.

• Younger consumers (aged 18-38) are more inclined to revisit restaurants that employ automation technologies, with 58% expressing their likelihood to do so, compared to 42% of those aged 39 and above.

• Voice-automated ordering systems are gaining acceptance, with 79% of consumers indicating a willingness to use them for drive-thru orders, 74% for phone systems, and 70% for in-person dining.

Jean Chick, Principal with Deloitte Consulting and U.S. Restaurant and Food Service Leader, commented on the survey findings, stating, “The restaurant industry is emerging from the pandemic with a wide array of opportunities to serve its customers, both within the dining room and off-premise. With sweeping changes on the horizon driven by advanced technologies and shifting consumer demands and preferences, we can anticipate that restaurants will undergo significant transformations within the next decade. As a result, restaurants should consider implementing diverse offerings that allow consumers to maximize their dining experience while positioning their operations for long-term growth.”

Deloitte compiled the survey data based on responses from 750 consumers who had ordered from a restaurant within the last three months. The survey was conducted in March 2023, offering a timely snapshot of evolving consumer sentiments.

Original research

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