The National Restaurant Association released its annual State of the Industry report this week.
It’s a big one, as reports go. The group surveyed restaurants and consumers about virtually every aspect of the business, including technology. And while some of the results were no-brainers (delivery is up compared to 2019? You don’t say!), there were a few tidbits that surprised me.
Think you have a firm grip on reality? Decide whether each of the following statements is fact or fiction, according to the NRA report. Go!
- True or false: A majority of adults can’t live without takeout and delivery.
Fifty-five percent of adults said “purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way I live.” That was even higher for millennials (64%) and Gen Z (60%).
The stat shows just how permanently the pandemic has changed consumers’ behavior. For many people, takeout isn’t just a convenience anymore—it’s a way of life.
2. True or false: Consumers are eager for dynamic pricing.
A whopping 79% of adults said they’re OK with restaurants charging them different prices at different times. Everyone complains when airlines, hotels and Ubers do this, but they apparently can’t wait for restaurants to get in on the action.
For restaurants, dynamic pricing could help spread out the flow of traffic. Customers can expect a better deal if they order during an off period, but might have to pay more when it’s busy. It’s like happy hour on steroids, and people seem to like happy hour.
Still, it’s surprising that the vast majority have no qualms about potentially paying a premium just to eat dinner at a reasonable hour. Even 76% of baby boomers, who are typically more resistant to tech upgrades, said they’re into dynamic pricing.
3. Consumers like QR code menus.
The humble QR code has been by far the most controversial piece of technology to emerge from the pandemic. There have been countless think pieces and blog posts and tweets written about how they are a scourge on the spirit of dining and deserve to be banished.
Turns out most people like them. More than six in 10 (62%) adults said they’d likely use a QR code to look at the menu if it was offered, including 73% of Gen Zers and millennials. The number drops off precipitously for baby boomers, though: just 46% of them would choose to use a QR code. So, know your audience.
4. Technology is replacing humans in restaurants.
Robots are not coming for your jobs. While many, many restaurants have turned to technology to help with staffing shortages, only 17% said they ended up eliminating positions as a result.
Now, that number differed a bit by segment. Notably, 21% of QSRs said tech did allow them to cut some jobs, and QSRs have a lot of locations. Still, we’re not looking at an all-out robot takeover (at least not yet).
5. Consumers want more tech in their dining experience.
Actually, most customers are satisfied with the amount of tech in restaurants today. More than half (54%) of all adults said the level of tech is “just right,” and 27% said there’s too much.
A separate question asked customers which type of restaurant they’d rather eat in: A place where an employee brings them the menu, takes their order, delivers their food and brings them the bill; or a place where everything besides the food drop-off is managed by the customer on a tablet or smartphone.
Sixty-five percent chose the first option.
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