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Niche products can spur takeout orders for full-service restaurants

Niche products can spur takeout orders for full-service restaurants

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Takeout containers have become a way of life for many households, with half of all consumers ordering takeout at least once a week, according to Technomic. But not all foods travel well; focusing on creating products specific to takeout—not just logistics—can boost sales.

“Convenience is key for the takeout customer,” said Joe Pawlak, senior v.p. at Technomic. “They want consistently high-quality, well-packaged meal solutions that can be sourced in truly convenient ways. Enhanced amenities and services—from updated delivery and call-ahead services to easy-to-use mobile apps and online ordering platforms—can help provide an edge over competitors and improve takeout and catering sales.”

In its 2013 industry forecast, the National Restaurant Association found that a third of adults agree that buying takeout is “essential to the way they live.” The association offers tips for growing takeout business, including:

1. Facilitate easy ordering using methods that appeal to your customer base.

2. Create a realistic menu of items that can be transported safely and easily.

3. Set up a designated takeout counter or parking area for customers.

4. Check orders to ensure accuracy.

5. Use sturdy packaging.

6. Maintain food safety throughout the process.

7. Assign the right personnel to the job.

8. Promote takeout through branded packaging and marketing, and maintain a customer database.

Technomic explores the latest behaviors, preferences and attitudes of consumers regarding takeout, including carryout, catering and delivery, in its recent Takeout & Off-Premise Dining Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:

• It’s no surprise that pizza, mentioned by 80 percent, is the most popular to-go dinner order, followed by fried chicken (66 percent) and Chinese (65 percent).

• Takeout consumers expect consistency and look for takeout fare to match dine-in occasions; out of all traffic drivers measured, including freshness, temperature and portion size, consumers say it is most important for takeout and dine-in food to taste the same (68 percent).

• More than half of consumers (56 percent) say a convenient location is one of the most important factors in deciding where to purchase takeout; 48 percent report that quick food preparation is an important consideration in this decision.

• Call-ahead services are vital; 69 percent of limited-service takeout customers and 61 percent of full-service takeout consumers say they would likely use call-ahead ordering if it was offered.

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