That’s a wrap! Top 5 QSR industry trends from 2022
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2022 might have been QSR’s best year yet: Covid’s impact on restaurant operators dwindled, and despite inflation soaring, quick-service restaurant operators reported record sales.
The past year brought new restaurant technology, limitless LTOs, spicy celebrity collaborations, and innovation beyond our imaginations! Here are our top five QSR industry trends from 2022:
5. Star-studded marketing
Last year, we witnessed the chicken sandwich wars—This year, it seems big brands are fighting for the biggest and best celebrities to collaborate with in an effort to appeal to younger customers.
Most notably, Popeyes released a limited-time “Hottie sauce” in collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion (Grammy award-winning artist) herself, KFC partnered with Jack Harlow, and Taco Bell’s #MexicanPizza star-studded campaign featured Doja Cat, Dolly Parton, and Pete Davidson. More recently, White Castle teamed up with a YouTube gamer, Captain Puffy, and Coca-Cola to release a new flavor of Sprite that’s only available at White Castle restaurants.
4. Delivery and digital: Contactless is king
Delivery and digital channels continue to grow, and it’s clear that contactless ordering is here to stay. A few of the channel’s worth mentioning are:
As consumers gain familiarity with kiosks, they’ve become the preferred method of ordering for many—And they certainly have their perks for operators as well. Kiosks not only free up their staff to focus on BOH operations and the drive-thru, boosting productivity, but they also increase order sizes. A recent study found that diners spent 30% more when they placed their own orders on kiosks and apps at McDonald’s and 20% more when they self-ordered at Taco Bell. That’s a big bump in order size that’s sure to make an impact on sales.
With brands like Taco Bell and Sweetgreen rewarding their customers for using their apps with credits and freebies, it’s no surprise that they’re seeing user adoption rise.
Big fast-food brands are focusing on developing show-stopping apps that serve multiple purposes: Customer loyalty, contactless ordering, coupons, and even first-party delivery. But it’s not just frugal foodies and super-fans that are engaging with QSR apps. It seems these apps are convenient enough for the masses: McDonalds was the fastest-growing brand app during the first half of 2022 with 3 million installs.
Delivery Service Providers (DSPs) continue to grow and expand, and the market is ever-changing, with new DSPs joining the circuit monthly. Despite new DSPs entering the market regularly, GrubHub, UberEATS, and DoorDash continue to hold a generous share of the market.
Food delivery grew in popularity due to the 2020 pandemic, but the use of the services continues to rise, even with dining rooms being re-opened and customers returning to their typical ways of life! With this rise, restaurants participating in delivery have found two major roadblocks: 1) the financial reconciliation process and 2) the tedium of revenue recovery to recover cash losses due to unpaid cancels, adjustments, and refunds. In 2022, we launched Delaget Delivery +Recovery to address these issues and help operators reconcile and recover lost revenue with ease—keeping their numbers accurate and improving delivery operations to stamp out losses.
3. Health foods
Another trend in the QSR industry is a resurgence of healthier menu items. Customers have spoken, and they want health-conscious options!
While there wasn’t necessarily see a green wave in the fast-food arena, it appears health-oriented franchises and fast-casual concepts are bouncing back. Health-focused brands are among the fastest-growing in emerging QSR and fast-casual brands (think smoothies, salads, bowls, wraps, and more).
2. Automation, robots, and AI--Oh my!
We’ve all seen the videos of robots serving customers at sit-down spots like IHOP and Chili’s, right? The future is here, and it includes automation, robots, and various smart technologies.
In 2022, restaurant owners and operators faced an increasingly difficult labor market and labor shortages, and experienced difficulties filling shifts. The answer to many of these issues may, in fact, be the use of robots and automation (including kiosks, online ordering systems, and other more familiar variations.
1. Futuristic restaurant concepts
One thing is certain—QSR franchisees and big brands are innovators, and they’re constantly pushing the status quo.
Most notably, Taco Bell franchisee Border Foods introduced a drive-thru reminiscent of science fiction, and Taco Bell Defy was born. The first of its kind, Defy boasts two stories, four drive-thru lanes, and most importantly, razor-thin drive-thru times. Taco Bell Defy and Border Foods made waves in the news and their entrepreneurial spirit has inspired QSR operators across the nation.
Fun Fact: Border Foods founders Jeff and Lee Engler founded Delaget years ago, after identifying a need to automate and consolidate their operational data. Border Foods actively utilizes Delaget Coach and Detect solutions to bolster growth and continue innovating.
As 2022 comes to an end, we feel excitement and momentum moving into the new year – and we can’t wait to see what innovation and new technology enter the QSR and restaurant space, and which trends will last the test of time.