The crisis has affected our dining habits and is changing our behavior towards restaurants. Several polls were made in order to depict changing consumer habits and thereby help restaurants adapt in the wake of lockdown periods. A survey conducted in the US by AMC Global found out that 32% of their respondents planned to increase their proportion of home-cooked meals once the situation returns to a “normal”. 40% of respondents also said they would be saving more in the aftermath of this period (Lalley, 2020).
The consulting firm McKinsey & Company also surveyed consumers to get insights about their sentiment and future behavior. In Belgium, 25% of the respondents agreed they would cut back on their spending and 30% said they would be very careful regarding how they will spend their money (Demaegdt, Reynders, Hermans, & Martens, 2020). McKinsey consultants interestingly concluded from their collection of surveys about consuming behaviors during the crisis that Belgian consumers’ confidence about a quick economic recovery was lower than in other European countries.
In an attempt to help Belgian restaurants adapt to changing consuming behaviors in the wake of the lockdown, we polled more than 1,500 consumers across Belgium to gauge their attitude towards restaurants in the coming months.
In our sample of respondents, 16% believed they would be spending less on dining out of home in the months following the lockdown. In addition, 19% acknowledged they would be dining out less regularly than before the outbreak started.
Among the respondents who claimed they would be spending less than before the crisis, a striking 75% said they would also eat less frequently in restaurants. Among those who answered they would be going out less often in the coming months, only 2% said these would spend more when going out.
Belgians’ medium-term dining behavior does not seem to lean towards takeaways and home deliveries on aggregate. 18% of our sample agreed they would increase the proportion of takeaways and deliveries when consuming from restaurants, but another 12% said this proportion would decrease in the coming months.
According to our survey, Belgians seem to care about measures taken by restaurants to curb the spread of the virus. Indeed, 81% of respondents said they would favor restaurants putting in place measures that facilitate social distancing.
81% of Belgians will take social distancing measures into account when choosing a restaurant.
Results in Flanders are less marked. Only 12% said their spending levels would decrease with 15% saying they would consume from restaurants less often.
However, 72% of the Flemish people who believe they will spend less per uncooked meal also think they will consume from restaurants less often. Only 7% of them said they would eat out more often once restaurants reopen.
Flemish people seem to be a bit more incline than the Belgian population as a whole to use takeaways and deliveries more often even once restaurants reopen. A fifth of them said they would increase their proportion of takeaways and deliveries in the coming months, as compared to their pre-covid consumption habits, with only 11% saying this proportion would decrease.
Regarding social distancing measures, 83% of the people living in Flemish provinces agreed they would prioritize restaurants facilitating social distancing with specific measures.
Belgian citizens from Wallonia will seemingly be more cautious regarding their restaurant expenses than their Flemish counterparts. 19% of them said they would be spending less in restaurants than before the outbreak, and 21% plan on eating out less often.
Among citizens from Wallonia who plan on spending less per outing, 77% also said they would consume less often from restaurants, and 3% said they would consume more regularly.
Takeaways and deliveries are likely to experience a small increase in the region, with 16% planning on increasing diner outings of this type, and 11% planning on decreasing it.
Walloon citizens seem to grant importance to social distancing measures as well as 76% of our sample will favor restaurants putting specific measures in place in the coming months.
Overall, it seems evident that Belgian consumers will change their habits towards restaurants in the near future. They will need to adapt by taking into account these changing attitudes in order to make an effective come-back after weeks of absence. As different customer segments showcase different results, restaurants should ensure they have a proper understanding of their targeted segments and adapt according to their own positioning. Results also significantly differ on a provincial basis, indicating that Belgian restaurant will need to adapt differently depending on where they are located.
Results are not homogenous across the different provinces of the country: up to 40% of respondents acknowledged they would spend money in restaurants less often.
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Lalley, H. (2020). HOW WILL THE COVID-19 CRISIS CHANGE CONSUMER DINING BEHAVIOR? Retrieved from Restaurant Business Online: https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/consumer-trends/how-will-covid-19-crisis-change-consumer-dining-behavior
Demaegdt, A., Reynders, P., Hermans, M., & Martens, K. (2020, April). Survey: Belgian consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis. Retrieved from McKinsey & Company: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/survey-belgian-consumer-sentiment-during-the-coronavirus-crisis