There will be an increasing shift toward digital preference in 2022, as consumer trends prioritize and expect experiences that are fast, personal, and super-efficient.
A global survey of more than 5,700 consumers across 11 geographies (Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, UAE, UK, and US) shows an optimism and openness toward the benefits enabled by technology. This digitization brings new challenges for businesses to retain a direct connection with their customers and build brand affinity.
Restaurant owners and operators will have to continue to expand their digital presence to deliver seamless customer experiences both on- and off-premises. These are the four restaurant consumer trends to lean into in the coming year of dining.
Increased digitization brings a new challenge for businesses to retain a direct connection with their customers as human interactions and touch points decrease.
Even as in-person dining experiences become more widely available again, we’re seeing a stabilization for in-person dining compared to our last report in April 2021.
One consequence of the permanent shift in off-premises demand is an even lower tolerance for wait times. Consumers are now unlikely to tolerate slow service, both at the table or when ordering at a counter or a drive-thru.
Click and collect is a particularly popular hybrid between in-person engagement with a takeout conclusion. 63% of customers said they love this option or seek out brands that offer it, with 44% saying it makes them more loyal to the brand. Offering this service appears to increase spend among consumers. 59% said they’d spend more because of this service, with Millennials as the most compelled at 70%.
Restaurant operators will need to implement effective systems to balance consumers’ various demands, or wholly reconsider how they support delivery, perhaps through a ghost kitchen instead of their consumer-facing location.
Tolerance for this is quickly waning. Those who dine out or order in-person at the counter are prone to impatience and annoyance if they feel like online orders cause delays or disruptions to their experience.
Cash is preferred globally (44% prefer this method) but is losing favor compared with pre—pandemic - 81% are planning to reduce their use of cash. There is increasing preference for contactless (Apple, Google Pay), with 40% preferring this method, and a slow emergence for alternative payments like cryptocurrency (4%).
Building brand affinity will shift away from in-person experiences towards digitally enabled personalization and proactive recommendations.
With broad adoption of digital as the primary channel of interaction for browsing, shopping, and managing daily life, consumers are used to seeing tailored advertising wherever they go, and have grown to appreciate proactive recommendations from brands they like.
Consumers are increasingly worried about what happens to their data, so transparency is key to maintaining trust. In our last study, 1 in 4 consumers said they had no idea who has access to the data they surrender to delivery apps, and this time we found almost half (48%) said they want full visibility and control over this aspect.
The pandemic has made people much more aware of the world around them and the health of our planet. Businesses will do well to show their commitment to sustainability on several levels.
But the rise in takeout and delivery has also meant an increase in the use of disposable packaging and distribution. This discrepancy makes consumers uncomfortable. This is why consumers’ are particularly attracted to restaurants that use biodegradable packaging and low-emission deliveries.
93% think it’s important that they make efforts to reduce food waste, and 87% said that transparency about sustainable initiatives is important to them. Businesses will need to turn their promises into action and not just say but also show how they are working towards a better environment for everyone.
An increased focus on public health in the last 18 months has also spurred customers to be more conscious of the food choices they make and how those impact their own health. They want restaurants to help them make healthier choices by transparently labelling menu items.
Restaurant technology and digitization of the customer experience are here to stay. A well-orchestrated approach to handling multiple selling channels, personal data control, more informed personal offers, and transparency on management of environmental impact and healthy options is on the table for 2022.
At Oracle, help ambitious restaurateurs transact in new ways and place their customers at the center of every business decision to deliver great guest experiences.
Restaurant Scene 2022: US Consumer Restaurant Trends
Independent study conducted by Untold, a marketing and growth consultancy.
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