Restaurants around the world are fighting not just a share-of-plate battle with each other but are increasingly losing the share-of-wallet battle to non-foodservice competition. At the same time, while many consumers say they plan to dine out more often in the coming year, most are adamant they don’t intend to spend more for their meals. Away from the tables, an overwhelming majority of diners say restaurant chains must offer more delivery options, with a significant number ready to put their faith in so-called “virtual restaurants.”
These are among the findings identified in a new report underpinned by a consumer survey spanning 12 major economies released today by AlixPartners, the global business-advisory firm.
The survey, conducted in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States, finds that on average over a third (34 percent) of consumers say they expect to dine out more often in the year ahead than in the previous 12 months. That compares with just 19 percent who said they expect to dine out less often.
However, only 28 percent in the survey say they expect to spend more in the year ahead, with a similar number, 26 percent, saying they anticipate spending less. In terms of redirection of that spending, some 40 percent say they plan to allocate that money on travel, with an also significant 37 percent saying they’ll devote it to non-food retail purchases.
Adam Werner, global co-head of AlixPartners’ Restaurant, Hospitality and Leisure Practice and a managing director at the firm, says: “Restaurant operators need to take aggressive steps to regain both market share and the mind-share being lost to adjacent industries such as travel and retail. To compete globally, they must not only be aware of the consumer nuances across markets but also have sound strategies and concrete tactics in place to capture profitable growth potential where it exists.”
The survey also highlights the continued opportunity delivery affords the industry, revealing a clear bias from consumers toward trusting operator brands over third-party ones in their quest for value-added convenience. On average, 75 percent of survey respondents say chains need to offer more delivery options, with 49 percent saying they prefer to order for delivery directly from restaurants rather than via a third-party service, an option favored by just 12 percent.
Elsewhere on the delivery theme, 40 percent surveyed say they would be happy to order from an establishment that has neither pick-up nor dine-in service: in other words, a virtual restaurant—a concept that represents a true test of an operator’s brand.
Kurt Schnaubelt, a managing director at AlixPartners and member of the firm’s Restaurant, Hospitality and Leisure Practice, said: “The restaurant delivery channel has great potential for operators globally to build share. However, while third-party partnerships might help shape and scale programs, it’s clear they need to be managed closely to make sure the consumer experience is seamless and always feels operator-led.”
Werner adds: “The consumer’s openness to virtual restaurants represents both challenge and opportunity for those operators ready and able to innovate. On the one hand, it affords an opportunity to enter new markets to test adoption and concepts without over-investing in upfront build. But, on the other, brand and quality standards will need to be managed extremely tightly to avoid any collateral damage.”