With busyness on the rise and a greater demand for convenience, it’s no wonder why food delivery is so popular these days. According to recent research, the rise of food delivery has become a major trend among consumers across all demographics. In 2018, Frost and Sullivan estimated the food delivery service industry generated $82 billion in gross revenue and predicted that this number will more than double by 2025. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated delivery for businesses—and 65% of restaurants say they were able to increase profits during COVID-19 by offering delivery via DoorDash.
Due to both the growing demand and cultural climate, restaurants that don’t offer delivery are at risk of falling behind their competitors. To maintain a steady stream of revenue and stay ahead in the industry, restaurants must adapt to these changes in consumer habits. Based on the latest food delivery trends, here's how your restaurant can evolve and remain financially stable in any economic climate.
How customers choose restaurants for delivery
While foot traffic alone was once the primary driver of restaurant visits, today, digital is king. Most people turn to the Internet to find new restaurants—in fact, 90% of customers conduct online research before choosing a restaurant. Consumers typically use a combination of search engines, online reviews from consumers and media, and a restaurant's website and menu for inspiration. They also look on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media channels and make decisions on what and where to eat based on their food preferences and budget.
Considering increasing food delivery trends, restaurants should use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, social media channels, and food delivery technology platforms as their main tools to boost online exposure. It’s important to keep your website and marketing channels up-to-date with relevant information—and post regularly so your momentum continues. Since potential customers will most likely find your restaurant online, it makes sense to focus on improving local and national SEO rankings as part of your marketing strategy. The easier you make it for people to find you, the more new customers you can attract.
Food delivery trends show a demand for increased variety and customization
In order to capitalize on the rise of food delivery, you may wish to tailor your menu to current culinary trends and introducing items that travel especially well (although fear not, practically any food delivers well!). Following popular trends and consumer habits reported by Hospitality Insights, consider expanding your menu options with world cuisine and "healthy" items. You can also appeal to conscientious consumers by offering dishes made with organic and locally-sourced ingredients. Not only will your food taste fresh, but your restaurant will be supporting farmers in the community. Staying in line with an environmentally-friendly image, you can use reusable or compostable packaging for delivery containers.
With a food technology platform, offering users the degree of customization they crave is simple. An interface like DoorDash lets you input options like ordering extra sauces, swapping one protein for another, or upgrading a side dish. And you can give consumers the option to forgo plastic cutlery in favor of a reusable set they have at home.
Hospitality Insights also reported that consumers want to pay as soon as they order their meal. The preferred payment is by credit card or other contactless payment, making third-party food platforms an appealing choice for many customers and businesses alike.
What a third-party food delivery and technology platform offers restaurants
There are many benefits to partnering with a third-party food delivery platform. For one, it instantly boosts your online accessibility and exposure. And perhaps the greatest benefit: it takes the logistical burdens of actually coordinating delivery software, processes, and personnel off of your plate. It also provides useful customer data for your restaurant, which you can analyze for food delivery trends and patterns and subsequently inform your marketing strategy.
DoorDash’s Merchant Portal, a free service included with a DoorDash partnership, allows you to export detailed sales reports for specific time periods and understand the habits and preferences of both new customers and your loyal regulars. Based on this information, you can adjust operations, introduce or phase out menu items, and develop a targeted marketing strategy that will attract more repeat customers and create a steady stream of revenue.
Why customers use third-party food delivery services
A key to creating a more effective and targeted marketing strategy is to understand the primary motivation behind your customers ordering food delivery in the first place. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 72% of consumers order food delivery because they don’t want to leave their house, and 41% want to avoid bad weather. And according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, more than 60% of Millennials want restaurants to use technology to make ordering takeout and delivery more convenient. In the era of COVID-19, food delivery has evolved into a powerful way to support local businesses, while remaining safe through contactless options. Early in 2020, 40% of consumers reported their usage of delivery services has increased as a result of the pandemic, as people rushed to help their favorite neighborhood spots.
The main takeaway from these food delivery trends is that convenience is the most important factor for consumers opting for food delivery—with supporting local businesses being another motivator. Food delivery platforms are an easy way to improve the customer experience thanks to a simple ordering process and speedy delivery of your quality food to their doorsteps.
How to create an effective marketing strategy based on consumer profile
Marketing is an essential part of growing your business. Simply put, it’s how you get the word out to new customers, re-engage customers who have tried your food before, and sustain high customer retention rates, earning repeat business. To create an effective marketing strategy for your food delivery service, you need to consider who your customers are, along with what they want and need from their favorite restaurants. Take the time to review your own customer data using any number of methods, including:
- Emailing customers a survey following their visit
- Exploring customer reviews on sites like Yelp and Google
- See what customers are saying about you on social media
- Look at POS stats
- See how your delivery business is performing on DoorDash
You’ll make the most of today’s rise of online food delivery when you base your strategies on the real-world needs and preferences of your customer base. If you know what your customers want, you’ll be able to create a customized marketing plan that targets your main audience.
The primary food delivery customers generally skew younger, and go up to 35 years old—a demographic that could include students, young families, full-time employees, or work-at-home professionals. Knowing this information allows you to focus the majority of your time and effort on marketing to your biggest audience.
For instance, you can create lunch special pricing or combinations on your menu for the working crowd. And you can send promotional emails out ahead of mealtimes, such as 10:30AM and 4:30PM (ahead of lunch and dinner).
Don’t be afraid to get creative—delivery opens up whole new avenues to connect with your customers. Boosting your sales means proactively finding ways to appeal to your audience. Keep in mind that businesses typically earn more revenue from repeat customers—and a strong strategy will not only help you acquire new customers, but convert them into repeat diners.
- Use relevant promotions. If the weather forecast is bad in your area, try emailing customers with special delivery promotions and freebies to keep sales (and spirits) high. Merchants on DoorDash also have access to products like First Order, $0 Delivery and Order Again and Save, which help you reach more customers with greater visibility.
- Create customer loyalty. Promote loyalty programs on holidays, weekends, and around larger cultural events—times when people don't want to quit what they're doing to run out and grab food. This could look like building your own loyalty program, or participating in a subscription program like DashPass, which gives customers exclusive deals on delivery fees.
- Stay social. Use a combination of paid and organic social media marketing tactics to drum up greater buzz for your restaurant and delivery services. Keep your social media channels current by posting regularly—and promoting your delivery services (tip: Instagram even has a button to link your DoorDash page in your Stories and profile). Drive engagement by reposting user-generated content on your profiles. Lastly, we also Lastly, if you have an advertising budget, consider creating relatable social media ads that emphasize the convenience of enjoying your food—no matter where customers are or what they're doing.
Get started with DoorDash
The massive rise of delivery services points to one key thing: the future of food delivery is bright. As customers require greater convenience in their daily lives (and access to good food), the demand for food delivered fresh will only continue to grow.
Ready to grow your business with a third-party food delivery platform? Sign up for DoorDash for Merchants and maximize your food delivery service with minimal effort.