Reading, sharing and listening

We’ve been reading many reports over the past few weeks, which all look at what the foodservice sector could look like post-pandemic. Many of our clients operate in this sector and are considering what the ‘new normal’ will look like for them.

A recent report by Mintel and Nestle Professional gave some interesting insights into consumer behavior post-pandemic. According to the findings, the top three activities consumers are most looking forward to doing post-lockdown are spending time in-person with friends or family (57%), going out for a meal (nearly a third, 29%) and going for a drink (23%). This is good news for foodservice operators, as it clearly shows consumers have missed socialising and enjoying food out.

However, the concern around coronavirus is still evident with nearly half (48%) stating they are worried about catching it from fast food establishments. It seems consumers are torn between a desire to enjoy the simple pleasure of eating out with family and friends, but also staying safe.

Communication is as key as ever – it’s one thing for foodservice operators to implement stricter hygiene and cleaning regimes, it’s another to tell consumers the efforts being taken. Having signs that inform consumers about new measures, making physical changes to the layout of the restaurant and conducting more regular cleaning are just some of the practices that will help comfort consumers.

Technology is also increasingly being seen as key to operating post-pandemic. 82% of consumers agree that cashless payments are more hygienic than paying with cash, whilst many restaurants are looking at taking orders via email or text, so they can still personally communicate with customers but at a distance.

There is also opportunity for foodservice operators to broaden their offering and continue with some of the services they launched during lockdown. Takeaways have been embraced by consumers who have looked to enjoy a night off from cooking, with some even using ordering apps such as UberEats for the first time ever during the pandemic.  These new behaviours won’t disappear overnight; in fact it’s being thought that consumers will continue them – at least in the short term.

Foodservice operators could combat the potential reduction in footfall by continuing to offer takeaway services, or even ‘ready meals’ to have at home. This may appeal particularly to working parents who are more time-poor than ever as they are juggling both work and childcare while schools are closed to certain year groups until September.

And of course financial considerations will be crucial for foodservice operators. Understandably rebuilding business and driving revenue will be key to getting back on their feet; equally after months of staying in, cutting back on expenses and facing job insecurity consumers will likely be mindful of unnecessary expenditure. Many of the operators we’re speaking to are considering running special deals or offers at various times of the day or week to help encourage consumers to purchase. If carefully considered, these offers should enable establishments to still make profit.

We’re going to keep reading, sharing insights and listening to what is being said. This is new for all of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn and plan for the coming months.

The Litmus Team

Litmus – doing what’s right, when it matters most.