Restaurant Guide: 6 post-Covid-19 customer trends you must know to stay in the game

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on several lifestyle changes, some imposed like social distancing and some intentional like choosing to eat healthier. The extended time people have had to spend indoors during the lockdown seems to be forcing a huge transformation in consumer behavior, including their food habits.

In fact, some experts within the sector anticipate that the altered eating habits people have currently adopted will have an enduring impact even after the world moves on from the pandemic.

Before the global crisis, a typical American was spending anywhere between $1200-$2000 annually on food deliveries, bringing major rewards to tech-forward restaurants and early adopters of online delivery services.

At present too, restaurants that provide online deliveries are the ones who’ve managed to stay afloat despite challenging times for the industry. However, with reshaping food habits in place, restaurants will also need to attune their business model to consumer needs in order to make the most of the current situation.

A healthy meal a day keeps the doctor away

Studies have shown that people with underlying conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are at the highest risk of being infected by COVID-19. In New York City, almost all hospitalized patients had at least one major chronic health condition with obesity the biggest risk factor for admission.

In the absence of a cure, healthy eating may register higher on consumers’ radars. They are certain to divert their attention to restaurants with healthy food choices on their menu.

It is a great time to add healthier dishes but make sure you promote the changes you make in order to retain customer loyalty both during and after the epidemic.

Love for local

As health, hygiene, and safety concerns grow, so does the demand for locally sourced ingredients. This is because consumers now are far more cognizant of what they’re eating, where it is coming from, and how it was grown and processed before reaching their plates.

Ingredients sourced domestically are being trusted much more than those that come from foreign sources. Restaurants can make simple steps to show some of the sourcing on the menus, such as listing items as farm-to-table, hydroponically grown, etc. that customers can see and feel assured. You can also put a video or a feature on your website and social media channels that elaborate on the source and processing of food prior to getting it to the restaurant.

In their own time

Unlike previously, when people were ordering round-the-clock, the window for placing online orders has diminished to become more specified. With the lockdown in place and no morning rush, most people seem to be cooking breakfast with their families.

However, there are two phases when restaurants see a surge in orders—lunch hours between 11 am and 1 pm and dinner hours between 6 pm and 8 pm.

Need over want

The current predicament has forced people to take more austere measures. This means that most customers are ordering food online not to satisfy their cravings but for survival. The shelter-in-place mandate across the U.S severely restricts movement and online deliveries offer a convenient solution for accessing food on a daily basis.

That being said, all the people in need to order a takeaway or doorstep delivery are searching for delivery-friendly restaurants online. So make sure to list on Google My Business to be searchable.

Meat-free leap

COVID-19 being a zoonotic disease has raised alarm about rampant meat consumption. More and more consumers are now opting for plant-based diets as healthier and more sustainable alternatives to meat and dairy products.

Driven by this demand, a study by FutureBridge, a Netherlands-based consultancy, predicts the global plant-based protein market to reach US$10.8 billion by 2022.

In high spirits

According to data by Nielsen online alcohol sales are up by 243% in recent weeks. Thanks to the coronavirus lockdown, there seems to be no wrong time to enjoy a drink, and Americans are taking full benefits of it.

For restaurants, this is a good sign because instead of sitting on thousands of dollars of inventory, they can sell off these products and generate a valuable income stream. Not to mention, most states require customers to buy food with alcohol deliveries that will automatically increase average check sizes for takeout and delivery orders.

What restaurants can learn from these trends?

Needless to say, setting up an online delivery service has become indispensable for survival for all restaurants regardless of their nature and size. But it’s important to note that owning this technology is not enough to retain customers and cater to their needs. Their eating habits are changing and they are bound to change even more as we dive deep into the pandemic state.

If you want orders to reel in, you’ve got to take note of your customers’ needs, tweak the menu accordingly, and offer exactly what they are looking for. Plan your inventory, supplies, and ingredients accordingly to keep the operations cost manageable. The other key factor is to amp up hygiene standards and make sure customers are being kept in the loop about these efforts