Has technology ingrained itself into the future of ordering food and drink?

Bars and restaurants have been adapting over the past year in many ways, especially through innovating in the way consumers can order and pay for their food and drink.
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Technology has provided many lifelines to businesses during COVID-19 and has impacted the path to purchase in the On Premise. One of the most asked questions CGA has received is “What’s the role of technology now and how does that impact sales/ordering?”


CGA’s latest consumer research reveals that while nearly half (44%) of consumers are comfortable ordering via a QR code/app/online menu, 72% prefer looking at physical menus. With physical menus leading the way for ordering, a reusable physical menu was the top choice, followed by single use/paper menus. 


Alongside a physical menu; 43% like to check the menu on the app but still order with bar/wait staff and for 6 in 10 their preferred ordering method is table service.  

This really shows that the On Premise is becoming omni-channel in terms of the path to purchase: while technology has a role and people are comfortable with it, people don’t want it to replace the human interaction within bars and restaurants,” says Amy Warren, CGA Americas director of client services. “Outlets need to ensure that they are utilizing the different paths to purchase to full effect.” 

Many consumers prefer the traditional approach of looking at a physical menu (74%) and then ordering with the staff (59%) and there can be a real impact on ordering and check value if people only have the option to order through a tech solution. Ensuring bar/ wait staff are knowledgeable and can provide relevant recommendations remains essential alongside different menu types.  


The impact however, will be dependent on the venue type and the consumers visiting. For example, venues with a younger consumer base have opportunity to drive sales through app/online menu solutions, as half of 21-54s are more likely to order additional drinks if they are ordering this way.  


However, only 8% of over 55s are more likely to, so if consumers are limited to a single ordering method – outlets may miss out on extra sales from this older age group. With this in mind, can digital menus drive sales to brands younger consumers are more likely to try, through frequent updates of specials or new brands promotions? 


In addition, half of consumers would be put off or prevented from ordering if forced to order via app/online menu solutions and half are more likely to order an additional drink if asked by wait staff, reiterating the need for that human presence to remain. 


We know that while the majority of consumers choose drink brands they know and love; there are also groups who mix up favorites with trial of new brands, as well as those who are always looking for something new and different. But how do they prefer to order and find out about new brands? 


Those ordering new brands are much more comfortable ordering via apps and online menus than those more habitual drinkers. While they are comfortable with tech, they still prefer a physical menu and the option to use the apps/online menu to choose their drink and then order with the wait/bar staff. This suggests that their main desire is about getting to the information, so they can spend the time exploring the menu in full before making their decision, rather than being particular about the medium of the information.  

Amy Warren continues, “Those experimenting with new drinks and brands are generally innovators who are more comfortable with technology. Ensuring the menu type you are using has the full range on it is key to engage and provide consumers with new and exciting brands to try. Clearly labelling a special rotational section of brands or local craft brands will make it easy for them to find something different to try.“ 

“Path to purchase is a notoriously complex area to understand and this highlights how important it is to take stock of who is visiting your outlet and what the best route for them to order is, to ensure cash isn’t being left on the table.” 

CGA’s consumer research sampled 1605 LDA On Premise consumers across four key states (California, Florida, New York & Texas) between Friday and Monday (June 4 to June 7). To access the latest COVID-19 On Premise Impact report, click here


CGA will be closely tracking consumers’ confidence, habits and preferences as the On Premise returns to full trading. To learn more about how CGA’s consumer research can support the recovery strategies of both operators and suppliers, email matthew.crompton@cgastrategy.com. 



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