More Consumers Expect Restaurants To Show Social Responsibility

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, January 25, 2021 - 5:45am
Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 1:06pm

An empty Valley restaurant kitchen
Christina Estes/KJZZ
An empty Valley restaurant kitchen.

New data show how the pandemic and social justice movements are impacting the restaurant industry.

More take out and delivery is the most obvious change but what will happen post-pandemic when restaurants can fully offer dine-in service? Robert Byrne, director of consumer insights for Technomic, said customers will return.

“That pent up demand for on-premise dining it’s palpable, these connections that shared food in a food service location provide for us as people, as humans, that’s part of our culture, our capital ‘C’ culture,” he said during a January webinar hosted by Winsight,

While more people are using apps and ordering meals online, he says digital adoption was forced on some consumers who didn’t really want it. Post-pandemic he expects delivery business will remain higher than pre-pandemic levels but will level off, especially as third party operators pass charges along to customers. 

“We still think that leaves that door wide open for operators who may be struggling with delivery to lean further into takeout,” Byrne said. “Consumers are receptive to it, it’s familiar to them and, again, they still appreciate a reason to get out of the house when they can given the circumstances.”

He said consumers are still twice as likely to order takeout before delivery with drive through making up more than half of takeout orders.

Technomic’s research also finds more consumers of all ages want restaurants of all sizes to demonstrate social responsibility, specifically when it comes to diversity, inclusivity and equality. 

“We can see year-over-year across generations, significant increases in the number of consumers that say this idea of social responsibility it’s important when I’m deciding where to go,” he said. “So more and more we have consumers spending in accord with their values.”

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