Long desk hours, remote job growth, and “always-on” binge-worthy media have transformed many Americans into homebodies, leading to an ongoing decline in dining out for dinner. While going out for a bite in the evening was an easy solution for dinner after a long day at work, it seems more like a chore than an outlet to many of today’s consumers. But the restaurant industry is finding a new way to improve dinnertime revenue: the expansion of delivery service.
Delivery is most commonly used for dinner meals and has resulted in a modest reverse of the decline of dinner visits. With a 1.5% growth in the first half of 2018, it’s not yet revolutionary, but after years of decline, it’s an encouraging upturn.
Large chains, predictably, spur much of the growth, but small “micro” chains (3-19 stores) are growing delivery revenue at more than twice the rate or larger corporations and tend to be more innovative.
In addition to capitalizing on the demand for delivery, restaurants that understand consumers’ dining interests will see the greatest benefit. Nearly half of meals are consumed at home, with a growing desire for healthier options—even as a combination of prepared foods (from stores or restaurants) and homemade dishes. Restaurants and chains with healthier options, available for delivery, and that can be paired with homemade or home-stocked items, will enjoy loyal customers and the opportunity to gain new customers.
Expanding Lunch to Dinner
The dinner delivery trend is also motivation for lunch-first restaurant formats to develop new menu items that appeal to the dinner crowd. Salad and sandwich shops can offer hot meals and shareable portions to be more evening-appropriate, but consistent with the company’s brand.
Employing Mobile Technology
If delivery is dependent on phone calls only, a large portion of consumers may find alternatives in this text- and app-focused culture. Companies that offer online ordering features, mobile apps, and even SMS text messaging meet consumers where they spend much of their time: on their devices. Mobile apps also present an opportunity for standalone restaurants to make use of 3rd-party delivery services that make it possible to offer the service with low overhead.
Delivery isn’t new, but used to be limited by cuisine and business model. With growing technology options, increased demand, and the need to drive more evening revenue, delivery is an opportunity that consumers are thrilled to take advantage of.
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