From staffing and packaging to liability and quality control, many restaurants are holding back on to-go food. But based on consumers’ increased use, operators should consider adding takeout to remain competitive. While the answer isn’t a third-party service—at this point, customers prefer ordering from restaurants—diners are growing to expect the convenience. Here’s a look at the evolution of off-premise restaurant food, based on data from Technomic's 2016 Takeout & Off-Premise Dining Consumer Trend Report.
Takeout isn’t just for dinner
Customers are using carryout and delivery throughout the day:
69% of those 18-34 years old and 51% use it for breakfast or brunch.
84% of those 18-34 years old and 72% use it for lunch.
57% of those 18-34 years old and 26% use it for late-night snacks.
Where are they eating?
For carryout, 71% of consumers eat at home, 42% eat in transit and 30% eat at the office. Younger consumers are significantly more likely to eat carryout at work (42%) or in car/transport (57%).
For delivery, 82% eat at home, 25% eat at work and 13% eat in public. Younger consumers order delivery to work more than average.
Why do consumers carry out?
Carryout is not cannibalizing restaurant sales, it’s an added traffic driver. The most popular reason for diners to carry out is that they do not want to eat in a restaurant. Others don’t have time to sit and eat at a restaurant or don’t want to sit and eat alone. Also popular: Because consumers are ordering food for others as well as themselves.
Why are consumers increasing takeout use?
Some 37% of consumers say takeout has become part of their routine, and 34% site that there are more options available to go now.
Showing a change in lifestyle, 33% of diners say they have less time to cook and 29% have more money to spend in general.
When choosing a restaurant for off-premise, priorities differ by age
Older diners are looking for a convenience location while younger consumers want tech amenities. While a convenient location and having the food diners want are the top priorities, those 18-34 years old are also looking for conveniences such as online ordering.
There are conveniences diners will use, if offered
Call-ahead and online ordering are the most prominent conveniences that diners at both limited-service and full-service restaurants will use. More than two in five say they’d use separate ordering stations for to-go orders at LSRs, while 54% say they would use a designated counter for pickup/carryout orders from full-service spots. Some 41% of diners are likely to use the ability to prepay, and 40% say they will use online ordering via a mobile device, if available.
Pick up vs. order in
At this point, carryout orders outnumber delivery three to one, but 19% of consumers—and 35% of those 18 to 34—are increasingly replacing carryout with delivery.
Third-party delivery services have played a part in delivery’s rise. While they present some challenges for operators—cost, maintaining quality, liability and timeliness—consumers are biting.
So who is using third-party deliverers?
26% of younger consumers (and 13% overall) say they are using third-party delivery more often than a year ago. Too, 41% of younger consumers use third-party delivery at least sometimes, and one-third of those who haven’t tried said they are at least somewhat likely to try.
Consumers are increasingly interested in modern ways to order
The advances in ordering are more popular among younger diners. Of those 18-34, 36% are interested in chatbots to order and one-third are intrigued by texting with emojis, social media with emojis and ordering via a gaming console or smart TV.