Casual dining, a deeper look
In Market Force’s study, just 14 percent of people said they visited a casual-dining restaurant within the last two weeks they normally don’t eat at.
A whopping 86 percent of casual-dining customers said they’ve stuck to the restaurants they are familiar with.
Reasons for visiting a new restaurant:
- Offered carryout or curbside pickup: 52 percent
- Local restaurant that I wanted to support: 47 percent
- Available menu items: 34 percent
- Less busy/fewer customers: 15 percent
- Offered contactless carryout: 13 percent
- Restaurants I normally visit aren’t open: 11 percent
- Convenient store hours: 11 percent
- Cleaner location: 3 percent
- Other: 15 percent
Good news for these brands—cleanliness perception at casual-dining chains returned significantly higher than quick service.
Forty-five percent of people said they were “completely satisfied” with personal cleanliness/safety standards they observed from employees (a full 6 percentage points higher than grocers). Quick service was just 32 percent.
For casual dining:
- 1 (not at all satisfied): 2 percent
- 2: 3 percent
- 3: 18 percent
- 4: 32 percent
- 5 (completely satisfied): 45 percent
So, 77 percent of people were satisfied with what they saw from sit-down restaurant employees. That’s something operators should continue to lean into moving forward.
Market Force added customers are finding family meal options more attractive from casual-dining brands than quick service.
Have you noticed more “family meals” available on the menu?
- Quick service: 45 percent
- Casual dining: 50 percent
How attractive/appealing were the family meal options?
- Quick service: 24 percent
- Casual dining: 31 percent
More on fast food
Similar to other studies, Market Force noted that 90 percent of people are preparing foods at home more frequently during the pandemic. And people are looking for ways to make meal prep easier.
Frequency of visits to quick-service restaurants within the last two weeks compared to how often you visited three months ago:
- Less frequent: 57 percent
- About the same: 22 percent
- More frequent: 9 percent
- I don’t eat at quick-service restaurants: 13 percent
Of those quick-serve guests, the vast majority are turning to drive-thru options. Close to 90 percent (88) said they’ve visited drive thrus within the last two weeks.
- Carryout: 47 percent
- Delivery: 27 percent
- Dine-in: 2 percent
Twenty-one percent of respondents visited a quick-service restaurant within the last couple of weeks they normally don’t eat at.
- Offered drive thru: 52 percent
- Offered carry-out or curbside pickup: 32 percent
- Less busy/fewer customers: 21 percent
- Restaurants I normally visit aren’t open: 17 percent
- Convenient store hours: 15 percent
- Offered contactless drive thru: 13 percent
- Offered contactless carryout: 8 percent
- Cleaner location: 6 percent
- Other: 25 percent
As mentioned in the casual-dining breakdown, customers are looking for more from quick-serve employees.
Forty percent observed enhanced cleaning or sanitizing taking place during their visit. Sixty-two percent saw a signage or communication that increased their confidence in the cleanliness/safety.
However, like with grocers, only 32 percent said they were “completely satisfied” with personal cleanliness/safety standards observed from employees.
- 1 (not at all satisfied): 3 percent
- 2: 6 percent
- 3: 23 percent
- 4: 35 percent
- 5 (completely satisfied): 32 percent
The digital picture
Market Force found that 53 percent of restaurant customers had used an app or website to order ahead in the past two weeks.
Apps/website usage by age group
- 18–24: 68 percent
- 25–34: 59 percent
- 35–44: 57 percent
- 45–54: 53 percent
- 55–64: 48 percent
- 65 and older: 40 percent
Eighty-percent of current “order ahead” feature users said they plan to tap the service after COVID-19, too.
- Time savings: 73 percent
- Website or app was easy to use: 62 percent
- I like deciding on my order ahead of time: 57 percent
- My order was ready on time: 49 percent
- No issues with the accuracy of my order: 37 percent
- No issues with the freshness of my order: 27 percent
- Alleviated my safety concerns: 17 percent
- Other: 4 percent
What can restaurants do to encourage order placement adoption?
Here’s a look at why people said they are not using order-ahead service in the future:
- Prefer to decide on my order when I get there: 50 percent
- Concerned about the freshness of my order: 28 percent
- Did not seem to be a time savings: 23 percent
- Issues with the accuracy of my order: 20 percent
- Website or app was difficult to use: 16 percent
- Did not alleviate my safety concerns: 11 percent
- My order was not ready on time: 10 percent
- Other: 20 percent
Turning focus to delivery
Understandably, more people are trying delivery than ever before.
Market Force said 30 percent of people ordered delivery from a restaurant over the past two weeks. Thirty-seven said they order delivery more often than pre-COVID-19.
- More frequent: 37 percent
- About the same: 37 percent
- Less frequent: 22 percent
- This is the first time I’ve place a food delivery order: 4 percent
Food type ordered within the last two weeks:
- Pizza: 68 percent (here’s an article exploring why pizza chains are surging)
- Free delivery: 41 percent
- Local restaurant that I wanted to support: 36 percent
- Available menu items: 33 percent
- Restaurant I normally order from aren’t open: 12 percent
- Other: 11 percent
While 81 percent of customers said they were offered a contactless delivery option, confidence remains low.
Delivery service were more likely to offer contactless delivery:
- Ordered from restaurant directly: 74 percent
- Ordered from a delivery service: 87 percent
Confidence with contactless delivery being a way to increase the safety of delivery:
- 1 (not at all confident): 3 percent
- 2: 4 percent
- 3: 21 percent
- 4: 32 percent
- 5 (very confident): 40 percent