To win in the next normal, European restaurants will need to embrace innovation in their channel strategy, menu offerings, and business model.
Six months into the COVID-19 crisis, European restaurants are reopening amid challenging conditions such as infection waves, mandated reductions in seating capacity, and consumer safety concerns.
One thing is certain—the market will not go back to how it was before the pandemic. Already, we’re seeing consumer preferences and behaviors change. Consumers are showing greater focus on value-for-money and more interest in restaurants that offer healthy food options. And while there was an increase in home-cooking during lockdown and in the desire to order food for delivery or pickup, we are now seeing fast-food sales picking up again. In Germany, for instance, where recovery has been relatively strong, 100 percent of restaurants are taking reservations for diners.1 As these changes continue evolving, restaurant owners are rightly asking, “How do I need to change to succeed going forward?”
Our research and analysis of the European restaurant industry unveils three innovation areas that will set restaurant leaders apart as consumer and market dynamics change: channel strategy (particularly online ordering), menu optimization, and new business models.
Adapting channel strategy
The pandemic has accelerated the use of digital channels—such as online delivery, click and collect, and contactless ordering—but it has also changed eating habits and overall consumer lifestyles.
Changing consumer eating habits and lifestyles
Global lockdowns have accelerated one pre-pandemic trend: staying in is the new going out. Data from ordering player Deliveroo reveal that Friday and Saturday night orders are up 36 percent across Europe compared with pre-lockdown numbers and are likely to continue in this fashion for at least the near term. In France, orders on those same days of the week were up more than 16 percent; in the United Kingdom, they were up more than 40 percent.2
While working from home may negatively affect restaurant foot traffic, especially in office-heavy areas, it can also create new opportunities. During April, May, and June, delivery firms reported a 50 percent increase in breakfast orders and an 80 percent increase in lunch orders.
Growing digital ordering and delivery
Despite the existing prevalence of delivery, countries across Europe saw some consumers use delivery for the first time amid the pandemic: France saw 1 percent of consumers try restaurant delivery for the first time, Spain and the United Kingdom saw 3 percent, and Germany saw 4 percent. Those same countries saw an increase in online food delivery from existing users as well; for example, Germany saw 13 percent of consumers use online delivery more often. According to McKinsey’s recent consumer sentiment survey, across Europe, approximately 35 to 55 percent of existing consumers intend to continue using delivery more in the future…