Why Millennials are Still Willing to Pay a Premium for Food Delivery

We know that the Gen Y crew is using delivery services in massive numbers. So, what can restaurants do to hold onto sales? Or, better yet, grow those sales that are being driven around in the backseat of a Prius?

In some segments, delivered meals are hovering around 30% of top-line sales versus 10% just two years’ ago. The conversation is real and there are only semantic distinctions between sales within the brick-and-mortar and those that are on the road.

But why?

Looking for insight, go to the source. It’s not always having the answers, but merely asking the right questions.

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What is it about delivery?

It's all about convenience, duh!

From skipping traffic to getting food from A-list restaurants but avoiding the crowds, leisure time is in the balance.

“I prefer the privacy of eating at home after a stressful day, knowing the bathroom is clean, and the amount of time [delivery] can save me,” says Samantha, a 23-year-old in Portland, OR, when asked about her decision to stay home.

“Delivery apps allow us to see all of our food options in one place without searching through Google maps or Yelp.” Solo diners chime in, as well. “I want to enjoy food from my favorite restaurants without having to leave my apartment. I’ll also [order] on work trips if I’m running low on time,” says Jacqueline, a 26-year-old recent transplant from Houston, TX.

Collective dining is still witnessed in the wild by the ubiquity of sharing plates and communal seating. Some have a better time than most can dream, so they stay home - together.

“[We] don’t have to worry about finding a place that everyone likes. We can all order from different places and it will come right to us. My one friend, she gets Chili’s delivered to her house!” says Abby, a 23-year-old in New Castle, DE.

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Why not go to a restaurant for a meal?

The digital natives appreciate being unplugged from their surroundings. Interaction, though, is what happens behind a screen. So uninterrupted time matters. Abby jokes, “I don’t like servers constantly bothering me; if I want a refill or if I need something, I’ll let them know. Or I can just get it myself.”

Samantha, chimes in, “Crowds, wait times, not being asked for my ID respectfully - or being asked for it before I even order anything - is super annoying. Sometimes I feel like waiters and waitresses assume that we won't tip well because we are young and we receive poorer service than others.”

“I don’t like dining in [a restaurant] when I don’t want to deal with people or would rather [...] eat at my own place,” says Celine, a 25-year-old in Newark, Delaware.

The cost of dining on site has an expense that can be buffered by avoiding the restaurant. “Two pints of beer in Portland [Oregon] are equal to the cost of a six-pack. So for the cost of having drinks for two, you can buy beer for a week. When you order food in you also have your at-home entertainment, like Netflix or Hulu, which is also a big factor, and you drink whatever you want to,” says Samantha.

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Are the costs that ride along with the order an issue?

“Costs can be a problem depending on the restaurant, with many online sites such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, and Seamless; they add extra [fees] for delivery and have more out of pocket for a tip, like spending $25 on a $15 meal,” says 23-year-old Jamil.

Samantha adds, “Certain apps do not explicitly tell you the delivery fee price until you are about to click 'buy.' I think they do this so you are too decision fatigued to go back and pick something else, but we always do. Especially if it’s a place we have never tried before.”

Does the charge sway the decision? Apparently not. “I’m content with paying delivery costs, especially if it’s a restaurant I frequent,” says 26-year-old Fortuna.

While some delivery services put quite a pinch on operators to pay 30% of a sale, the customers placing the orders are an adaptable breed. “It’s still usually less than what you would tip a waiter. It’s still more convenient to stay in. I’d rather pay the delivery fee,” says Abby.

Is the trend going to last a thousand years into restaurant life? We only know as much as the tweezer-wielding cooks and the baked-Alaska chefs that redefine what’s hot and what’s not.

Until then, pack it to go and don’t forget to staple the dupe onto the environmentally friendly bag loaded with Brussels sprouts, fish tacos, and quinoa bowls. So, yes, Netflix and Chill is a real thing for millennials and it’s often paired with food delivery.