Mintel 2018 Prediction: Consumer Demand for Fast, Convenient Food Will Require Restaurants Innovate with Tech


Mintel, a market intelligence agency, announced four key trends set to impact the US foodservice market over the coming year. Of those four trends, Mintel discusses how automated order and delivery processes will increase to meet the need for convenience as consumers become more comfortable with and reliant on restaurant technology.

According to Mintel, driving this trend is the decline of traditional office environments for remote work environments. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 more than one in five employed Americans did some or all of their work at home; this represents a 3% increase since 2003. Furthermore, nearly one in 10 consumers report dining out to work remotely. As a result, many operators are recognizing the value in offering all-day dining and delivery to meet diners’ various needs.

As discussed in Mintel’s 2017 U.S. Foodservice Trend ‘Automated Nation,’ technology, including kiosks and mobile ordering, certainly improves the dining experience, whether on- or off-premise. According to Mintel research, 25% of consumers want restaurants to offer mobile ordering via an app, while one in eight diners agree self-serve kiosks for ordering would encourage them to visit or order foods from fast casuals more often. At the same time that consumers are becoming more aware of and comfortable with foodservice technology, the technology is expanding its reach to more cuisine types. From ice cream to poke bowls, nothing is off-limits for mobile ordering or delivery.

While automation can make dining out an easier process, it won’t be taking the place of human labor in the near term. Rather, it will be used to improve diners’ experience and boost quality and speed. There will continue to be a crucial need for human interaction, but automation will shift employees’ current roles, assisting them in maintaining a balance of efficiency and customer service. The expectation for good food fast will only grow as mobile ordering and delivery capabilities are improved and adopted by more operators.

"While the dining out landscape is in a state of continual evolution, what is clear is that Americans want innovative and convenient dining out options that are nutritious, but also enjoyable to eat and photograph," said Amanda Topper, Associate Director, Foodservice Research at Mintel. "In the year ahead, expect to see operators across segments shift to meet diners' various needs as speed, innovation, and category competition become more pressing in 2018 than ever before."

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