Our recent research into changing food, diet, and shopping habits during the COVID-19 pandemic suggested that, despite social distancing practices and stay-at-home orders, people are having a hard time resisting the allure of their favorite restaurants and have been ordering delivery more frequently.
Many quick-service restaurants are experiencing increased demand, while some have seen declining sales. One of Alpha’s partners, digital experience consulting firm Bottle Rocket, recently researched the impact of COVID-19 on the QSR industry and how customer preferences are changing quickly. The firm conducted two customer sentiment studies with 500 U.S. adults to see how QSR consumers are responding to COVID-19, how QSR brands should communicate during the pandemic and adapt their service models, and how users are changing the way they interact with QSRs.
“What will be interesting is to see how currently altered customer behavior builds into long-term habits going forward. Successful brands will understand how an investment in digital experience now will serve their operation long after COVID-related restrictions wear off,” noted Hayden Wolf, of Bottle Rocket, who led the coordinated research with Alpha.
A few key takeaways from Bottle Rocket’s research:
- 30% of participants said they did not expect to cook for themselves in the next week, while 33% of survey participants said they would get at least half of their meals from QSRs in the next week.
- Nearly 20% said they would not return to a QSR or fast-food restaurant in the next week. “Some customers are working on improving their ability to cook for themselves, others are worried about unnecessary exposure to the virus by visiting a restaurant, and a third group is simply tired of eating from the same establishments,” says Bottle Rocket.
- Despite the uptick in food deliveries, most customers need incentives to order from a restaurant’s website or app right now. 80% said they’re more likely to order from a restaurant if they offer rewards for digital or text messaging ordering.
- People prefer to receive information about restaurants via social media. Those in their early 40s are more likely to visit a restaurant’s app for news or discounts. Unsurprisingly, Generation Z is more inclined to check social media before researching a restaurant’s website. “It is a great lesson in the importance of coordinating the latest information through social media in order to reach all audiences,” says Bottle Rocket.