Eating Out Behaviour: Dine-out Delight or Decline?

2020-21, People were deprived of their joy of relishing the taste buds at desired frequency and restaurants of their choice, that resulted in major changes to their dietary habits. Mornings begin, afternoons indulge, evenings pass, and nights crave. From nibbling to hogging, all habits change in terms of what, when, where, and how food is consumed. For the industry as well, once enjoying the status of hottest hangouts amongst youngsters and well healed locals, now turning into a quiet despair.

The lockdown was intense enough to shut down even the most popular eat outs while simultaneously turning on all the household burners and invited individuals to indulge in cooking for that craving. Fear of being infected by the corona virus confined everyone to their homes. To keep themselves occupied, several became masterchefs of dalgona coffees and chicken biryanis, imitating flavours from their favourite restaurant meals. Creating a zone of lively familial interactions in the kitchen including all generations in it.

The glory days of eating your favourite cuisine gave a variety of choices that were not influenced by the enormous hazards of health and safety. One might select between the comforting embrace of home-cooked daal and the luxurious delights of an exquisite lentil soup from the finest restaurants.

Human desire for eat-out delicacies were conquered by the constant concern of external environment and fear of what it may induce.

Now, that the effect is tapering off, it is warming people to resume normalcy though with caution. However, substantial changes in outdoor food consumption patterns are visible in the post-lockdown period.

As per MX research, we thoroughly examined the shift in behaviors of eating outdoors and providing insight into what is driving customers to move. There is definite but uneven reduction in outdoor eating habits which is changing gradually, per the restaurant formats.  For example, food courts, being a large, shared venue for value conscious fast diner, have suffered the sharpest drop in terms of getting consumer traffic to the pre pandemic levels. This is because individuals are skeptical about hygiene standards that were defined and monitored. The same hygiene that is guaranteed in fine dining has resulted in an increased uptake.

Pubs and clubs that scream “young energy” have been fortunate enough to host the already dissatisfied youth who were yearning to break free and party. This clear but unique increase in the behaviour of millennials (18-25 years) to visit pubs and bars.

One aspect contributing to these transformations is the pandemic’s increased awareness of hygiene. It also ensured the popularity of online delivery and cloud kitchens. These have resulted in a new fashion that focuses on extreme convenience by reducing effort to nearly nothing.

People have been accustomed to simply eating at home due to the familiarity of keeping safe in their houses. The market’s continual fluctuation necessitates a close hand-eye observation of consumer behaviour and thought-process analysis. All eat-out models must leverage on brisk opportunities while rethinking tactics to address limitations.