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Robots and veganism: Millennial trends driving the dining economy 2.0

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Results from a new survey, sponsored by Planday, the workforce collaboration software company, reveal three key drivers that millennials indicate will shape the restaurant sector of tomorrow.

Driver 1: Millennials are more spontaneous and are shifting around £1 billion in spend a year to delivery services

Restaurants face increasing challenges in forecasting demand and must rethink how they structure service, as home delivery orders become more popular and very low numbers of people make advanced reservations for in-restaurant dining.

  • A fifth of millennials (20% compared to 9% Gen X) say they go out less to restaurants now because they are getting more food delivered that they would previously have gone out to eat.  This represents a shift worth around £1 billion a year towards food delivery and away from in-restaurant dining.
  • Only 9% of millennials now say they are likely to make restaurant bookings and are willing to spend on average 14% less than Gen X on a meal.

Driver 2: Millennials embrace robots and automation

Majority of UK millennials say they are ready for some restaurant services to be delivered by robots, allowing staff to focus on important ‘human’ interactions.

  • 52% of millennials indicate they would dine in a restaurant where ordering and payments are fully automated, compared to only 39% of Gen X diners.
  • Over two thirds of millennials (71%) say they wouldn’t be against their food being delivered by a robot.
  • However, millennials still crave human interaction in their dining experiences as over half (51%) would still like to give a compliment or complaint to a person rather than a machine.

Driver 3: Consumers turn away from fast food and expect more sustainable, healthy options:

Consumer tastes are changing as millennials see a future where plant-based, environmentally friendly approach will win out over traditionally unhealthy fast foods.

  • For millennials the future is vegan – nearly half of all millennials (49%) predict vegan restaurants will be the most in demand in the next two years.
  • In fact, 75% of millennials thought at least one of the following types of restaurants would be most in demand: vegan, vegetarian or those with good environmental credentials. In comparison only 25% of millennials thought fast food restaurants will be in the most demand over the next two years.
  • Nearly half (47%) of all respondents placed reduced food waste as their top sustainable priority. Only 11% of consumers indicated that sustainability didn’t matter to them.

John Coldicutt, Chief Commercial Officer for Planday commented: “The UK restaurant sector has seen multiple high-profile closures in the last 12 months, as well-established chains struggle to correctly predict and match market demand. This survey gives us insight into the complex and changing consumer expectations, from younger to older diners, contributing to this challenging environment.  We know from our own customer base that things are only likely to get less predictable as just under two thirds (63%) of our customers who are restaurant managers expect the percentage of food orders from online delivery services to increase over the next year. In order to stay competitive and profitable, restaurants need to listen to changing consumer preferences and use the available technologies to cater to an increasingly unpredictable environment.”

Vegan restaurant entrepreneur Loui Blake commented: “The results of this survey absolutely reflect what we are starting to see and are responding to with our two vegan restaurants, Erpingham House in Norfolk and soon to open Kalifornia Kitchen in London.  For us it is about listening to what the customer wants and delivering the highest quality food and service we can. We are thoroughly embracing the popularity of delivery services like Deliveroo, adjusting our menu slightly to ensure that we offer a specific menu with food that will travel well and not offering deliveries when it will put too much pressure on the restaurant to service in-house and external orders.  We also know how important sustainability is to our customers and how crucial it is that we clearly communicate all the steps we take, from using Vegware plastics to carbon offsetting schemes, to reassure our customers that both we, and they, are dining without costing the earth.”




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