Consumers Want a Convenient and Frictionless Food Experience

Restaurant dining has rebounded since the pandemic, but consumers still want convenience.

June 23, 2023

Consumers are demanding convenience and a frictionless experience when they visit a restaurant, according to Deloitte’s Future of Restaurants Survey. Sixty-nine percent of consumers ordered food for takeout or delivery at the same rate or more frequently than pre-pandemic, and consumers aged 18-38 are more likely to return to restaurants that use automation technologies than those age 39+, signaling that these technologies are likely to continue to be adopted over time.

Overall, restaurant dining has rebounded, as more than half of consumers (55%) say they are dining in restaurants as much or more than before the pandemic. But consumers are craving value more than ever—more than one-third (37%) of dine-in guests and 40% of takeout guests want less expensive options alongside promotions and discounts.

“To address the market demand for value amid shifting needs and preferences, restaurants should tailor targeted discount and marketing campaigns, diversified offerings and channel-specific offerings to drive growth,” wrote Deloitte in a press release.

According to Deloitte, customers are likely to patronize restaurants that enable a more frictionless digital experience to place and manage their delivery and takeout orders. While 13% of customers use third-party apps or websites to place a delivery or takeout order, 40% of customers prefer to order through the restaurant's app or website, demonstrating the importance of a restaurant owning its own digital experience.

According to the study, most guests are not deterred by automation and other emerging technologies and would continue to patronize restaurants that leverage such innovations. Consumers aged 18-38 are 16 percentage points more likely to return to restaurants that use automation technologies than those 39 years and over (58% for 18-38 group vs. 42% for 39+ group).

Contactless delivery has maintained prominence since the pandemic, enabling faster deliveries: 53% of respondents receive contactless delivery more than half the time. Nearly half (47%) of customers would order from a restaurant that offers delivery via drones and driverless vehicles, up from 44% in 2021.

A majority of consumers said they are at least somewhat likely to use voice-automated ordering systems, including 79% for drive-thru, 74% for phone systems and 70% for dine-in.

Acceptance of kitchen automation is also on the rise; sixty percent of consumers noted they are somewhat likely to order from a kitchen that prepares food, at least in part, through robotic technologies, up from 54% in 2021. Although only 19% of those surveyed had experience with a cashierless restaurant, 62% said they would be somewhat likely to order from one if given the opportunity.