The next phase in food delivery

Food delivery is fast moving into its next phase. Only 7% of UK consumers were using delivery apps on a weekly basis before this crisis – that figure was around 24% after the first lockdown. Delivery is now providing hospitality with a much-needed source of income. Consumers have been forgiving of the kinks in new delivery services during initial lockdowns but operators now need to get professional. Competition is already fierce and not all will survive.

From functional to experiential

The next phase of delivery will move from a purely functional transaction to an experiential one. Operators need to think beyond the food they offer and consider the total experience; consider a delivery as a gift arriving on your customer’s doorstep. The best operators are not only providing quality food to eat at home but offer the entire experience including branded packaging, additional seasoning and sides (giving customers the options to personalise), drink pairings and even tableware and playlists!

Yummy Pubs ‘Letterbox Cocktails‘ have full recyclable packaging with real WOW factor.

Packaging needs to be innovative and attractive as well as functional– a true reflection of your brand. (You’re also reminding them why they loved to come and visit you in the first place and ensuring they don’t forget!) Also, don’t forget about sustainability. Customers will only endure a growing pile of plastic take-away boxes for so long– they know you can do better. KAM MD, Katy Moses chatted to Toph Ford, Co-founder at Restaurant Brands Collective about exactly this in a recent Hospitality Talks interview. (Check out the clip below or watch the full interview here.)


Hospitality at home

Delivery is no longer purely about ordering a ready-to-eat hot meal. This growth in demand for a quality ‘hospitality at home’ experience has lead to an increase in operators offering ‘meal kits’, recipe boxes and ‘mix at home’ cocktails. Our latest research shows that consumer awareness and consumption is strong in these areas and likely to continue even after lockdown (check out our recent blog and infographic below.)

Moving into new occasions

Delivery is also already evolving from purely about “feed me now” to fulfilling a range different consumer occasions; a gift I can buy a far-away friend, a way to celebrate Valentine’s day, a new family breakfast tradition, an affordable mid-week treat, online dinner party, work from home lunch… the list goes on. Our recent research focussed on Christmas 2020 found that 25% of consumers liked the idea of a ‘celebrate at home’ New Year’s Eve kit with snacks, alcohol and sparklers. 24% said they would consider a ‘take-away’ form a local pub/restaurant to help them celebrate Valentine’s day, so seasonal and event-based menus are key. Sharing platters and tapas style food is also popular for these social occasions. 

‘Pub Grub Take-away and Delivery’ from ‘The Victoria Inn’ has a Valentine’s specific menu and packaging.

Maximising the gifting opportunity

In the next phase of delivery should become a big player in gifting. “Mix your own cocktail” kits are becoming increasingly popular, including monthly subscriptions. In our recent Valentine’s day research, carried out with Toggle, 13% of consumers told us that they like the idea of a Valentine’s take-away meal plus gift such a candle or flowers from a local pub/restaurant. Gift vouchers for pubs and restaurants are also attracting a significant amount interest with 22% of consumers saying they like the idea as a Christmas present. Operators will need to make it easy for people to order from one address and deliver to another and also include a gift note with their order.

 Atlas Bar Manchester are offering Valentine’s Day Home Gin Experience and Virtual Tasting as a gift delivery.

Moving into new day-parts

Operators need to think well beyond the traditional ‘Friday’ night take-away and consider new occasions and day-parts. New working routines, for example, are likely to mean that breakfast, brunch, lunch and even mid-morning sweet treats or ‘after work drinks at home’ are all opportunities for delivery. Day-time deliveries might mean re-thinking your menu or investing in a quality coffee offer.

The way we live our lives has changed, meaning the way we consume has changed too. This offers a huge opportunity for delivery to become a much bigger part of people’s everyday lives and routines and fulfil new occasions. The time to experiment and innovate is now.

If you’d like to receive our weekly blogs please sign up here.

This article features in the Bums on Seats “Take Out to Help Out” e-book.


Blake Gladman

Hi, I'm Blake, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM. I look after all our research products and manage the collection and delivery of insight throughout KAM. I love long runs and good food (the perfect life balance).