Three Trends Driving Restaurant Delivery Growth

Digital food ordering is poised to grow even more in 2019

Food delivery, while once niche, is becoming more mainstream. This year saw the explosion of fast food giants like McDonald's and Burger King going all-in on digital ordering and delivery through partnerships with UberEats and Grubhub, momentum that's certain to continue throughout 2019.

Multiple converging trends are spelling success for this emerging channel. Here are three:

Dining Out Less

Just as fewer consumers are going to the movies in lieu of watching shows at home, they are also dining out less and ordering in more. 

While most US internet users in an October 2018 Ipsos survey predict their levels of dining out (66%) and ordering delivery (54%) will stay the same next year, a significant number said they would be dining out less often (22%). Slightly more than one in 10 respondents expect to order delivery more. 

According to a November 2018 GlobalWebIndex survey, close to three in five internet users in the US and UK who have ordered delivery say they have been eating out less in the past 12 months as a result. This figure is even higher for those ages 16 to 34 (more than 65%). Previous studies have also shown that propensity to use restaurant delivery services declines with age.

Entertaining at Home

On the flip side, what are these delivery users doing while eating? Socializing at home, for the most part. A majority are hanging out with family or roommates (54%) and an equal number are watching streaming TV. (Fewer watch regular TV at 46%). More than one-quarter (28%) are having a party or spending time with friends.

In the Ipsos study, the statement that most US internet users agreed with (76%) was "eating together means that we communicate better with each other." Yet 56% also reported they had the TV on during dinner. Screen time and social time are synonymous for many. 

More Meal Opportunities 

Dinner is currently the most common meal time for delivery, though that could change. Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald’s USA, told Ipsos as part of a fall 2018 report that more than half of their orders are during this time. But snacking is becoming the norm rather than three set meals per day, and more consumers are working remotely which could lead to a rise in lunch deliveries.

Consumers who already order food through a website or app tend to be regular users. In the US, most order weekly (28%) followed by two to three days per week (25%) while 11% order daily. Far more order lunchtime delivery in the US (15%) than in the UK (3%), which hints at the growth opportunities beyond ordering delivery to the office.