Young adults are a lucrative audience for off-premises food sales. Whether they are preparing for a night of binge-watching or are simply not in the mood for a dining experience in their favorite restaurant, millennials and Generation Z are increasingly turning to delivery and takeout as a viable meal solution. According to a 2018 study by investment bank UBS titled “Is the Kitchen Dead?” food delivery sales could rise 20 percent each year to $365 billion worldwide by 2030, up from $35 billion in 2018. Millennials are driving much of the growth, the bank notes, as they are three times as likely to order in as their parents. Generation Z is also playing a role in the growth of delivery.
According to NPD Group, in the year ending December 2018, Gen Z customers made 552 million foodservice delivery orders.
That was only 1 million fewer than millennials’ delivery orders, even though only a portion of Gen Zs (born between 1997 and 2014) are old enough to order their own delivery.
To attract these valuable consumers, operators are upgrading their delivery programs, updating technology, and making sure the food is hot, the fries are crisp and everything is delicious when it arrives at the customer’s location.
Here are some strategies for boosting takeout and delivery orders by attracting millennials and Gen Z:
1. Appeal to the tech savvy
The best way to attract millennials and Gen Z is to make it convenient for them to order online or through an app. Millennials and Gen Z were raised on technology, so they have no qualms about typing in their credit-card numbers and sharing other information. “It’s about internet security and comfort,” says Sonny Mayugba, chief marketing officer of the Lafayette, La.-based ordering platform Waitr. “Millennials think shopping online is cool.”
Mayugba adds that the typical consumer who orders through mobile or desktop is a 29-year-old female who uses a smartphone, is a college graduate working in a professional job, is married, listens to hip-hop and shops on Amazon and at Target. “That is the No. 1 volume group that orders with our company,” he says.
These young consumers also embrace peer reviews. Young foodies read online reviews and consult social media to find out what others thought of a restaurant’s food, service and delivery. Operators can encourage their customers to post online reviews, and the foodservice establishments should also monitor review sites, and address negative posts quickly.
2. Choose the right partner and the right foods
Every delivery vendor is a little different, and it’s important to partner with one that meets your delivery needs the most. Steuben’s, with two locations in the Denver area, considered various delivery partners before deciding to go with DoorDash. “They know our brand,” says Josh Wolkon, owner of Steuben’s. “We feel comfortable with how they represent us in delivery.” Also, DoorDash sometimes partners with Steuben’s on marketing efforts, such as when they paid a large percentage of the cost of a billboard that featured both DoorDash and Steuben’s.
When someone orders house-cut fries for takeout, Steuben’s makes sure the fries are fresh. “With French fries we wait until the person comes in the door,” he says. “We’ll say, ‘Give us 30 seconds,’ and then we fry the French fries right there. We want customers leaving with hot, fresh, quality fries.”
House-made or commodity fries will get soggy quickly in delivery, but using a French fry with a clear coating keeps the same fry experience at your restaurant while also keeping the fries crispy long enough to get them to an off-premise destination. Choosing the right fry is crucial, and a good fry to consider for takeout and delivery is McCain’s SureCrisp ™ fries that stay crispy up to 30 minutes for delivery, and are preferred by guests over other clear-coat brands.*
3. Ensure success with the right packaging
The right packaging plays a huge role in delivery. “For certain items we will use different vessels or a different type of paper box or plastic container to help with heat, moisture and temperature,” says Jonathan Farrer, managing partner and general manager for Walton Street Kitchen + Bar in Chicago. “All items were tested in to-go boxes before we rolled out any of them to be available for delivery or carryout.”
4. Make it easy to order takeout
Penn Station East Coast Subs, which has been offering takeout since 1985, has seen steady growth in these orders. “Takeout used to be 25 percent of our business, but it’s 60 percent now,” says Craig Dunaway, president. “It keeps going up a percent or so a year.”
Last year Penn Station added online and mobile ordering, a detail that makes takeout especially attractive to young consumers.
“Millennials are so tech savvy, they don't want to speak with someone verbally. They’d rather just order online,”
Dunaway says. He adds that in the first month of the new platform, online and mobile orders totaled 3 percent of sales and today it’s 6 percent.
The chain specializes in hot grilled subs, fresh-cut fries and freshly squeezed lemonade — all items that work well for takeout because the consumer will likely eat the foods soon after pickup.
5. Celebrate Fry Day
One way to encourage more deliveries is to feature specific foods, such as French Fries on National Fry Day, which takes place Saturday, July 13, 2019. Celebrate the delicious customer favorite through promotions, including takeout and delivery specials. For more information, visit www.mccainusafoodservice.com/nationalfryday.
Whether it’s for a quick meal or a large get-together, millennials and Gen-Zers enjoy ordering food to eat at home or at work. These consumers will likely continue to seek takeout and delivery from their favorite restaurants — as long as the process is easy and the foods are delicious when they arrive.
*Claims based on McCain Proprietary Quantitative Consumer Research, conducted by a 3rd party in October 2018. Consumers tested were 18-54 years old in four cities in CA, IL, NY and TX, who consider themselves regular users of fries in restaurants. Products tested were 3/8” (cooked measurement) straight cut fries for both McCain® SureCrisp™ and nationally branded clear coat competitors in a blind tasting. All items were prepared in accordance with manufacturer cooking instructions. Testing scenarios were 5 minutes out of a fryer, 20 minutes off heat on a plate, and 30 minutes off heat in a delivery setting (product in a fry sleeve, placed in a paper bag and then inside of a closed insulated bag). Conditions for actual delivery vary by delivery driver protocol, distance and climate.