How to stay ahead of the post-pandemic food shopping curve.

What do you want for dinner?” should be easy enough to answer, right? But when you add the complexity of where the food comes from, how to get it, and how to transform it, the answer can rival a chemical equation. Further, the answer can be enhanced by finding out how the food is sourced, grown, or genetically modified.

 A YouGov report reveals that 80 percent of millennials feel that quality plays a key role in their food purchasing decisions. In addition, nearly two-thirds of them expect transparency in their food choices. Whether it’s receiving information about health or the journey of food from farm to plate, these peripheral aspects continue to add greater importance to the critical shaping of diners’ experiences.

Diners’ new eating habits have become a major concern, but today’s quick-service restaurants must consider everything from communication to signage to content to route-finding to door-to-door pickup and more. If it is not implemented strategically, it will negatively affect today’s sales and tomorrow’s purchasing decisions.


What matters most to shoppers and diners


With many factors influencing dining decisions, the challenge for today’s fast food restaurants is to identify the factors that keep customers coming back for more. While the main goal of foodies now is to nourish their bodies, convenience and affordability are two important factors in this selection game. The increase in the number of alternative delivery and dining options has allowed companies to produce more offers that meet customer expectations.

As these options increase, customers are likely to expect more from grocery delivery services and prefer the following features:
Delivery speeds of less than 30 minutes aim to differentiate the platforms, food quality, expecting restaurant-quality food even after the transport time.
100% order accuracy and completeness for standard products and special requests different foods and places to eat.


Consumer demands


Many last-mile services, including door-to-door collection, car delivery, and online store collection (BOPIS), have increased significantly as the new food service continues.

Last-mile services have become a dynamic offering, and consumers can’t seem to get enough of them. Food delivery in the United States has more than doubled during the pandemic, expanding access to many other foods beyond fast food delivery.

That’s why quick-service restaurants continue to reevaluate their designs in light of the growing delivery market. Burger King, for example, has announced plans to build a restaurant that is 60 percent smaller than its brick-and-mortar stores and will accommodate takeout orders, with features such as takeout cabinets and dedicated drive-thru parking. Taco Bell and KFC have also changed formats to meet new consumer needs and demands.

These companies and many others continue to invest and adapt to ever-changing trends that allow them to cast a wider net and attract new, loyal customers.


What will be offered in 2023?


With all this in mind, and when the pandemic subsides, the deployment of innovations can begin immediately.
A geographic experiment: As consumers return to offices, their eating, shopping, and other social behaviors may change as a group. They may no longer frequent the same areas. Their new traffic patterns may lead them to other locations or to new retailers.

DEI Take: Instacart reports that nearly a quarter of Americans (23 percent) have inquired about locally operated or owned brands. Additionally, interest in women’s and black, indigenous, and colored (BIPOC) brands is evident, with 14 percent of consumers exploring such brands.

Openness to try new things: During a pandemic or black swan event, consumers are much more willing to try something new, which creates opportunities for companies to introduce different options that generate more revenue. Efficient delivery: consumer demand for food delivery is here to stay. As competition and costs accelerate, food service providers must become more efficient when meeting diners’ needs for speed and food temperatures.

Keep your pulse on the patterns.

Every aspect of food consumption is changing, from harvest to processing to preparation to serving and/or delivery. Navigating changes in consumption habits is a challenge for even the most experienced restaurateur and owner.

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