With the holidays swiftly approaching, many operators have their eye on catering sales. Technomic’s new 2016 Takeout & Off-Premise Dining Consumer Trend Report reveals that operators will be able to boost catering orders from young consumers and women in particular with methods such as discounts and greater variety and ordering flexibility. However, young men also express notable interest in more detailed, transparent information on catering programs. Here is a closer look at four ways restaurants can appeal to consumers to maximize catering profits.
Deals & discounts
Two-fifths of consumers (39%) say they would order catered meals more often if restaurants offered specials or other discounts. In particular, 43% of both women and consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 say these discount initiatives would boost their catering orders.
Consumers with household incomes over $150,000 are more likely than those who earn less to order catering for personal occasions once a month or more, pointing to a prohibitively high catering cost for many.
About three in 10 consumers (29%) say they would order more often if restaurants offered a wider variety of catering packages. Similar to deals and discounts, women and younger consumers are driving this interest in catering variety. About a third of both women and consumers aged 18 to 34—33% and 34%, respectively—say that more package options would encourage them to order off-premise from restaurants more often.
In line with a demand for different types of catering packages, consumers are also looking for options to satisfy a wider range of occasions. More consumers now (22%) than in 2013 (19%) say offering catering for a wider range of occasions would encourage them to order more often. For the upcoming holidays, these occasions could include Hanukkah, Christmas, the Chinese New Year, key football games and more.
Over a quarter of consumers (27%) say restaurants could encourage them to order catering more often by offering better information about off-premise options. Nearly half of all men between the ages of 25 to 34 (47%) agree, highlighting a key demographic for restaurants to target with catering transparency. In Chicago, Eleven City Diner advertises its catering program on a toothpick inserted in nearly all of the restaurant’s food and beverage items served.
More than a quarter of consumers (26%) say that more flexibility and customization would spur them to order catering from restaurants more frequently. In line with this finding, at least a fifth of consumers express interest in more beverages (21%) and snack, appetizer or small plate options (22%) from restaurant catering menus. The option to add a beverage or an appetizer to an off-premise order could satisfy those who prefer to customize their orders.
Technomic typically finds that younger consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 value food and beverage customization the most, and this remains true for catering. Compared to other consumers, those in this age range express the most interest in flexible ordering (33%); more snacks, appetizers and small plates (33%); and more beverages (28%) with catered meals. Women also drive demand for snacks, appetizers and small plates (25%) as well as beverages (24%) from restaurant catering.