Survey reveals consumers will prefer safer option of eating at home
Restaurateurs may need to craft sharper delivery strategies as home delivery of food is here to stay. Even though pandemic-induced restrictions are considerably eased across the country, people are wary and fears of a third wave loom large.
As per a recent study undertaken by Economix Consulting Group (ECG), diners are expected to continue eating meals from restaurants at home, with 61% of respondents preferring takeaway or home-delivery of meals post the lifting of curbs. In the past, almost 75% of respondents used to dine out at restaurants. Homemakers and working professionals demonstrated the greatest shift in their preferences towards takeaway and home delivery with a share of 57% and 37%, respectively.
The survey was conducted between May 25 and June 18 and entailed detailed telephonic conversations from close to 500 respondents across a clutch of cities led by Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
Chennai, which had the highest percentage of respondents and as many as 80% dining out at restaurants before Covid with 40% frequenting restaurants three times or more a month, showed limited inclination to visit restaurants post easing of the situation. A mere 8% of respondents indicated a willingness to dine at restaurants once infections subside significantly, while about 72% intended to dine out after a minimum of two months.
Pre-pandemic, 60% of diners preferred eating in standalone AC and franchisee restaurants, but now nearly 50% diners prefer visiting fine dining and franchisee restaurants.
Close to 50% of the diners in Bengaluru, however, admitted that they are highly inclined to dine out once things stabilise, highlighting stay-at-home fatigue. Reflecting the traffic woes of the city, 71% of respondents found ‘proximity to place of stay’ an important factor while choosing where to dine. Almost 33% of respondents in Bengaluru now express their preference to dine at local small restaurants as opposed to 66% of respondents who frequented standalone AC and franchisee restaurants prior to Covid.
Nearly 64% of Mumbai will now opt for takeaway and home delivery services. About 21% of respondents do not expect to dine out in the immediate future, while 27% wish to go out only after a couple months. Bucking the trend of changing restaurant preferences, diners of Mumbai, though, wish to continue eating at the restaurants they frequented during the pre-pandemic times.
“The shift to home-delivery/takeaway is here to stay. Restaurants should take this time to focus on building trust with consumers, as diners exercise extreme caution in choosing where to eat and order. Measures such as strengthening of social media presence, innovative branding and packaging techniques and spreading awareness of hygiene and safety protocols followed at the restaurant will go a long way in bridging the trust deficit with patrons,” said Latha Rananathan, founder & CEO at ECG.
Covid has crippled the restaurant business, compelling many restaurateurs to shut shops. According to estimates given by FHRAI, nearly 40% of restaurants and hotels in the country have shut down permanently and about 20% have not opened fully since the first lockdown. The remaining 40% continue to run in losses.