Quick Service Restaurant Trends
Two current trends in the limited service/QSR restaurant category are plant-based offerings and food delivery apps. Details regarding these trends have been provided below.
- Fast-food restaurants in the United States have a reputation for unhealthy food as consumers' tastes continue to shift towards healthier options. To address this shift, many QSRs are sourcing healthier ingredients locally with fewer additives.
- The growing number of people who are becoming vegan and vegetarian has led to the prevalence of plant-based offerings among QSRs. Despite overall demand of such foods being lower compared to animal-based offerings, it will continue to increase due to sustainability and health reasons.
- Many fast-foods are tapping into the vegan and vegetarian consumer segments by offering plant-based based foods, which has a positive impact on their revenue. For instance, in 2019, Burger King introduced the Impossible Hopper to its menu. Also, in 2020, KFC introduced meatless alternatives made by Beyond.
- Furthermore, non-dairy solutions are being introduced by major chains. For instance, oat milk and almond milk are gradually making their way into fast food menus. A case in point is Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, which have incorporated oat milk in their creamers and dairy-free beverages.
- Besides vegetarian and vegan customers, plant-based foods are serving as replacements for customers with dietary restrictions. There is a growing awareness of the adverse effects of salt, fat, and sugar intake on the body, which is leading to an increase in demand for plant-based offerings. Examples of plant-based foods that are growing in popularity include soy milk, plant-based meats, and vegan options.
Food Delivery Apps
- Food delivery apps range from a restaurant’s own website or app to third-party services. According to eMarketer, over 20% of smartphone users in the United States will use at least one food delivery app by 2021.
- According to App Annie, a market-data firm, food delivery app downloads have increased by 380% compared to three years ago.
- Food delivery apps have shown QSRs the importance of having Wi-Fi for guests to support mobile payments and store mobile ordering. Furthermore, to avoid confusion and long lines, QSRs must look at ways of restructuring their physical layout as mobile orders continue to increase.
- The use of third-party delivery apps increased during the COVID-19 pandemic when apps, such as DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub, waived their delivery fees. It is expected that these apps will continue to be used even after the pandemic.
- QSRs that do not have a mobile delivery system are now partnering with third-party food delivery apps to ensure that customers can always have their food delivered. Examples of food delivery apps include DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.
- McDonalds Corp is an example of a fast-food chain that is using food delivery apps. In August 2018, the company “announced that it would spend $6 billion in restructuring its restaurants in the US to have designated parking spots for curbside pickups made through mobile orders.” The decision to redesign was driven by the increase in delivery orders.
- It is noteworthy that third-party delivery apps are becoming more customer-friendly. There are conversations about tamper-proof eating to ensure that deliveries remain safe, secure, and warm. In addition, some companies may have a limited menu when it comes to their delivery offerings to ensure that food reaches the customer without any issues.