Convenience above all
Consumers, who are more pressed for time than ever, will make convenience their top priority. “Technology was supposed to make our lives easier. It’s just made things faster,” said NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs. “Convenience and price will trump all.” Among those who will be even more strapped for time — and in need of convenient meals — are working women, whose growth rate in the workforce is rising faster than that of men.
The comforts of home
“The most popular place to eat out this year will be our home,” Riggs said. According to NPD, 50 percent of dinners purchased from restaurants are consumed at home, and Riggs expects that to grow in 2018.
The only growth in the industry next year will be from quick-service restaurants, not full-service operators, NPD forecasted. But operators can still take action. “Full-service operators can drive their business forward any way they can get food and beverage into the home,” Riggs said.
Delivery goes even more digital
Delivery will continue to be a must-have, but what will be different in 2018 is the growth in digital ordering. Digital ordering has posted rapid growth in the last five years, and the most recent data reveal its represents 53 percent of all delivery orders, up from 33 percent in 2013. “Delivery needs will be a catalyst for growth, along with other means, to get a convenient meal,” Riggs said.
Price will remain another top concern in 2018, which means consumers will be looking for more value at restaurants. “Look for another round of value wars,” Riggs said. “It’s going to be a big value year.” One way that is likely to manifest is the continued use of limited-time offers, which Riggs said we’ll see even more of in 2018, and new loyalty programs.