Earlier this month I headed into a rather rainy London for the first Lumina Food Strategy Forum of the year. With a new venue – the Everyman Broadgate – Lumina’s quarterly forums provide a fantastic insight into how the out-of-home market and consumer behaviours have changed over the previous quarter.
With a World Cup and first post-Covid Christmas to reflect on it’s certainly been a dramatic 3 months, and Everyman’s screen 1 was the perfect backdrop to reflect on it…sat on a very comfy sofa with jellybean’s MD, Susan Wickes.
Here is our summary on the morning’s briefing:
- The Eating Out Market is Set to Grow by +3% to £94.2Bn
Kicking off with some good news, the market is bouncing back and recovering post-pandemic. However, this value growth is driven mainly by inflation and operators being forced to pass rising costs on to consumers. Lumina has seen that eating out occasions are decreasing, with consumers losing confidence and cutting back to manage spend. The good news is that by 2024 this will hopefully stabilise.
- Value and Experience are Most Important to Diners
78% (+5%) of consumers are driven by value when eating out, and 61% (+1%) are now looking for a unique experience they can’t recreate at home – helping to justify treating themselves.
- Market Penetration is in Recovery and it’s Looking Promising!
In July 2022, the cost-of-living crisis and the shocking +10.1% rise in inflation led to the majority of consumers drastically cutting back on eating and drinking out. However, October saw another promising peak of 57% penetration, with the sad passing of the Queen and consumer confidence increasing due to the Energy price cap. This dipped again before Christmas with consumers saving, but then saw growth thanks to the FIFA World Cup and the festive season. Following the traditional January slump, February is now back at 57% penetration, plus with the Easter Bank Holiday and King’s Coronation to look forward to, there will be even more reason for consumers to get out.
- Spending More, but Visiting Less
On average, we are spending £11.37 per eating and drinking occasion, a +7.6% increase driven by inflation. This however is having an impact on visitor frequency, which dipped by -3.4% as consumers try and cut back on how often they eat out.
- Young People are Cutting Back
Young consumers have been hit the hardest with the cost-of-living crisis, and those people either house sharing (-6.1%) or living with a partner and children (-7.2%) are eating out less. On the flip side, the 45+ age range is now eating out more and has increased their share by a total of +3.7% across the 45-65+ category. Indicating that operators may want to do more to attract the mature market.
- Ordering in Venue is Back
Another positive is that there has been a +3% increase in ordering at the venue in the last quarter. Along with the easing of Covid restrictions, the cost-of-living crisis means consumers are thinking twice about the expense of delivery and the extra charges they bring. Online ordering has dipped slightly (-2%) but still higher than before the pandemic, showing its popularity is here to stay.
- First Round’s on Me!
After being hit the worst during the pandemic, it was good news for pubs and bars who have regained the most market share (+2%). Consumers have been venturing out to enjoy the FIFA World Cup at their local, and promotions along with the build-up to Christmas have all helped to drive footfall.
The QSR market is the only sector that has experienced a decline. This is partly due to consumers ordering less online – and as mentioned earlier, QSR’s core demographic (25-34 year-olds with children) have been most affected by the cost-of-living crisis and are therefore spending less, which has naturally impacted the market.
- Are Retail Meal Deals the new Saturday Night Takeaway?
The average retail trip spend is +18% as consumers look for less expensive eating options and so choose grocery grab and go over more expensive foodservice options. With the number of dinner occasions dropping out-of-home (-2.1%), we have seen the multiples introduce premium meal deals designed to capture the cost-conscious consumer who still wants a treat and night-off from cooking.
- Lunch and Snacking are the Dayparts to Focus on
With consumers out and about more, it’s unsurprising that weekday lunching (+1.1%) and snacking (+1%) are on the up. The travel sector and high street is getting busier, leading to more middle-of-the-day eating. As mentioned earlier, dinner has been affected the most (-2.1%) as cautious consumers look to save. When it comes to lunch, it’s pubs that have grown the most! As well as offering consumers value, they are perfectly set up to cater for sports fans watching the FIFA World Cup and more recently, the Guinness 6 Nations.
The snack market has always been a buoyant market, and it’s retail that is making the greatest strides growing by +2.2% to a 24% market share. Along with meal deals, cost-conscious consumers are increasingly turning to supermarkets, drawn by lower prices versus coffee shops and bakeries.
- Group Occasions Offer the Biggest Opportunity
With more people out and about, this has driven an increase in necessity (+1.1%) and travel (+0.4%) purchases such as lunches and snacking. Most interestingly, there has been a rise in those eating out to spend time with partners, friends and group occasion dining (+0.9%). These special occasions and quality time can’t be replicated at home, helping consumers to justify their spend.
- It’s All About the Ambience
With quality time in mind, it’s unsurprising that a pleasant atmosphere (+0.08%) is a top priority for consumers socialising. This goes together with experience-led dining that consumers can’t get anywhere else. Local ingredients are also proving important (+0.5%), giving consumers the value for money (+0.5%) they want and the emotional ‘supporting local’ connection.
Concepts to Watch
After an insightful overview of what’s been happening in the market, the Lumina team then took us through the movers and shakers leading the way in terms of the key trends of sustainability, healthy food to go and experience-led dining. Here’s your must-visit list for the months ahead!
- BrightSide, Exeter – Remember Little Chef? Well Brightside is a new roadside concept from Loungers Restaurant Group. Tapping into the nostalgia trend, Brightside is bringing drivers some old school comfort and menu favourites to our road trips.
- Chaiwala, Bolton – The first UK’s Indian Drive-thru with an all-day menu.
- The Rosarium and Underland, London Waterloo – Hot on the experiential trend, this Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant and bar is serving up a unique take on British cuisine.
- Papi, Hackney – With an international menu and natural wines, Papi is a zero waste and sustainable restaurant.
- Urban Greens, St. Paul’s – Making the most of healthy food-to-go, Urban Greens is a salad bar feeding health-conscious commuters in the city.
- Jacuzzi, Kensington – Jacuzzi is the perfect example of experience-led dining with four floors of Instagram worthy interiors, alongside a premium menu seasonal menu including Caviar.
- Roll Baby, South Kensington – Who doesn’t love a Summer Roll?! Vegan, gluten free and tasting just as good as they look, Roll Baby is inspired by Vietnamese rice paper rolls and, like Urban Green, captures the consumer demand for healthy grab and go.
- Humo, Mayfair – Combining his Columbian heritage and Japanese cooking techniques, Chef Miller Prada’s debut restaurant, Humo is a triple threat when it comes to experiential, sustainability, and premium ingredients. Uniquely, everything is cooked on a wood-fired grill using an array of woods to influence flavours.
Foodservice Delivery in 2023
Next on the packed session was a look at the delivery market, how it has evolved, how consumers are interacting with the market, and which are those hot new concepts to watch. In the last decade the delivery market has boomed, outperforming the rest of the foodservice market. Driven by Deliveroo and Uber Eats, delivery has undoubtedly become an ingrained part of our lives (even before Covid) but accelerated to a whopping YOY growth of +60% during lockdown. Since 2022 it has continued to remain buoyant despite the rest of the industry opening up and is worth £13.4billion and 11.9% of the market.
So, what’s driving this success?
Technology & Digitalisation
Lockdown led to a huge investment in technology by operators who previously hadn’t used it. That, along with consumers using delivery apps a lot more, has helped the market grow.
Expansion and Diversification
There’s been a significant diversification in the market with everyone tapping into delivery from coffee shops to bakeries and everything in between! We’ve also seen an increase in the number of delivery only restaurants, or dark kitchens with travel-friendly menus, including Ivan Mazeman – who collaborated with food hall enterprise, Sessions, to deliver broth-less ramen meals – delicious!
Adaptations to Lifestyle and Trends
This diversification also means that delivery is no longer left to fast food orientated companies, with healthier offerings, including vegan, all available. With more consumers hybrid or flexi-working, there has also been a demand in breakfast (+1.7%) and lunchtime (+1.2%) delivery for those working from home. In 2023, delivery has become an all-day opportunity.
Uncertain times have seen consumers looking for value, something delivery can offer over eating out and the added costs of drinks. As a result, this has been driven by operators introducing a plethora of promotions, as well as discounted subscriptions to hook consumers in.
What’s Inhibiting it?
Increased Costs – As mentioned several times the cost-of-living crisis has led to consumers cutting back. Operators have also been impacted with commission fees on the rise as aggregator companies such as Just Eat and Deliveroo increase their fees, as well as stacking, optimising GPS and streamlining head office operations all in a bid to optimise profitability.
Brand Awareness and Perceptions
Though more operators are delivering, this has equally been impacted by reduced awareness through delivery-only brands from dark kitchens. Delivery also brings the challenge of quality control either through the food itself or delivery mishaps, which is naturally impacting perceptions and consumers reluctant to spend on a disappointing treat.
On-site dining is more profitable for businesses, and so operators are focusing more on getting their customers back through the door. However, this brings the challenge of being able to cater for peak eating times both on-site and delivery.
Delivery is also losing out to other aspects of the OOH market thanks to no restrictions. There is also the ongoing challenge that delivery is seen as a treat rather than the norm – especially due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Small Delivery Businesses Making Waves
The demand in delivery has excitingly seen a number of small aggregators come through. This includes Foodhub, which is bringing software to restaurants to help them run an efficient delivery service and FEAST which offers a bespoke delivery service with restaurants and shops, to houses, hotels and offices.
How has the Delivery Channel Changed?
In 2017, 86% of the delivery market was made up of independent restaurants, fast food operators and branded delivery-focused fast food. In 2023, this has now decreased to 55% but within that, branded fast food has grown considerably by +12.1% to 14.4%. Pubs have also entered the market, today 43% of pubs and restaurants offer delivery, an increase of +115% on before Covid. Cafes, bakeries and sandwich shops are also getting in on the action and grew their share by +50% since 2019. Today, an impressive four out of five top 50 brands offer delivery to make the most of those consumers working from home.
Since Covid and lockdown, delivery has naturally declined (-3%) but respectfully held its share at 15%, despite the cost-of-living crisis and consumers increasingly watching their spending – so there is stable demand as delivery has become a habit. As mentioned earlier, it is those younger consumers (25-34s) most impacted and cutting back, with the over 45’s gaining share.
Interestingly, there’s been a rise in drink-only occasions (+4%), driven by availability and demand as more coffee shop and café operators partner with the delivery platforms. It seems that even today consumers consider their favourite cup of joe a permissible and affordable treat!
Food to Go in 2023
In the final session, Lumina took a look at food to go and how the economic landscape is influencing consumer behaviour, as well as forcing operators to become agile and innovative.
With soaring costs and price-conscious consumers, it is indeed a very challenging market, but operators are expanding by opening new sites to target travel hubs, making the most of the digital world through online loyalty schemes and partnering with retailers. In October 2022, Caffe Nero and Waitrose launched a partnership across their apps and loyalty cards, experiencing mutually beneficial results.
With health, premium and vegan trends all influencing consumers and NPD, operators have also been able to justify higher prices driven by inflation. In fact, over half of all new food to go products are priced at over £4.00 and we saw Sainsbury’s launch ‘Flourish’ a £5.00 meal deal.
On the drinks side, health and indulgence have been helping Starbucks, Costa and Leon all profit with oat milk lattes, Superfuzion Teas, branded confectionery Hot Chocolates and even Pink Beetroot and Matcha lattes all available to serve up big margins.
With a £2bn market up for grabs, there’s a lot to play for as commuters and travel increase. For an in-depth look at the food-to-go market, check out our blog on MCA Food to Go Conference which took place earlier in March. Our MD, Susan Wickes provides a fascinating breakdown of what’s happening in this innovative and fast-paced market.