MRM Research Roundup: Coronavirus Stats and More

This edition of Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine's Research Roundup features some surveys surrounding Coronavirus and the restaurant industry, the best locations for chefs, online payment fraud and top trends for QSRs.

COVID-19 Foot Traffic at QSRs

With nationwide concerns over social distancing, the QSR sector, seemingly against all odds, does not appear to have been heavily impacted by wider coronavirus concerns… just yet. Foot traffic analytics platform, analyzed nationwide traffic for Starbucks, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Burger King and found that the brands were all seeing strong results, even during this dire situation this March. analyzed daily traffic from February 26 through March 7 and compared it to the equivalent period in 2019. Three of the brands saw year-over-year growth during these 11 days while Burger King saw a nearly negligible decline. 

Some data highlights:

  • Usually, QSR brands see a dip in traffic from the last week of February to the first week of March, but three of the eight saw those fortunes turn in 2020. Two others saw increases on previous numbers, and only two saw decreases (TGI Fridays and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery). 
  • Chick-fil-A led the way with 11.9 percent growth continuing the brand’s impressive trend.
  • Starbucks and McDonald’s enjoyed bumps of 4.2 percent and 2.9 percent nationwide. 

Placer.believes these numbers show signs of a resilient economy in the face of health concerns and run counter to the notion that the entire retail economy is heading for a major downturn. That being said, stresses that the data does not mean that everything will stay status quo with ongoing growth. However, they believe it signals the absolute need to refine our thinking. believes the coronavirus is not going to have a single blanket impact on all aspects of the economy or even the retail economy or food sector more specifically. Different industries and sections of industries will feel the impact in different ways, and this likely means some won’t feel a change at all.

A link to the full report can be found here.

How Coronavirus Affected Dining Behavior

Rakuten Ready surveyed over 100 customers to measure how behaviors around dining have or are anticipated to change.

Among the highlights:

  • Most diners are not overly fearful, with 57 percent making no change to their dining behaviors. 
  • However, 20 percent of respondents did, unfortunately, say they were avoiding restaurant dining completely. 
  • 17 percent said they were just avoiding dining-in (opting to pick-up or have food delivered), with 10 percent appearing to lean toward Ordering for Pickup only. 
  • 34 percent of respondents saying they plan to prepare more meals at home 

To learn more, click here

Health Boost Interest Skyrockets

In this time of global pandemic, consumers are increasingly aware of their health and the practices necessary to defend it. While the last year has seen consumers increasingly turn to food and beverage for functional benefits, Tastewise is seeing staggering growth in the trend during this time of coronavirus.  

Immunity, stress relief, medicinal benefits, and more are all skyrocketing. It is more important now than ever for food industry players to understand what solutions consumers look for in stressful times, and why. 

Consumers look to boost health from a variety of sources:

  • Immune system: +27% social increase // 36 percent user growth
    • Immune system is up 66 percent MoM. Usually, as we are getting closer to the end of winter we expect to see less of this function – but Covid-19 changed that.
    • Example: elderberry (+108.3 percent social home change for immune system)
  • Stress relief: +12% social increase // 27 percent user growth 
    • Stress relief is increasingly relevant as consumers find themselves in a time of health, social and economic upheaval. The motivation is experiencing +12 percent YoY growth and will likely drastically increase moving forward.
    • example: rosemary is up 114 percent for stress relief
  • Sickness treatment: +35 percent social increase // 45 percent user growth  
    • Health is top of mind for consumers. Food-based sickness treatments help people take a proactive approach to preserving their health; 45% more consumers YoY are focused on this quality. We expect to see that number climb over the coming months.
    • Example: #sickday

Keep an eye out for unexpected ways to meet consumer needs for a food-based health boost:

  • Melon is up +28 percent for sickness treatment
    • Fruits, like citrus, are well known for their health-protecting qualities; vitamin-c-rich melon is demonstrating very early signals of a potential trend for health benefits. ex. Bitter melon
  • Kombucha +73 percent for medicinal 
    • Kombucha pairs gut health with medicinal ingredients like passionfruit and mushrooms
  • Pickles +18.5 percent for immune system
    • Pickling immunity-boosting ingredients like radishes/carrots enables them to last longer and provides a much needed health boost
  • Chamomile Anti inflammatory +81.5percent
    • Chamomile is well-known for its relaxing properties in tea; consumers are beginning to use the flower for anti-inflammatory purposes. 

*Note: this information does not constitute medical or health advice; all data is reflective of the most recent trends in consumer interests

Impact on Imports

The coronavirus outbreak is expected to have a longer and larger impact on imports at major U.S. retail container ports than previously believed as factory shutdowns and travel restrictions in China continue to affect production, according to the Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“There are still a lot of unknowns to fully determine the impact of the coronavirus on the supply chain,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “As factories in China continue to come back online, products are now flowing again. But there are still issues affecting cargo movement, including the availability of truck drivers to move cargo to Chinese ports. Retailers are working with both their suppliers and transportation providers to find paths forward to minimize disruption.”

“Now that we are in the coronavirus environment, uncertainty has expanded exponentially,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Our projections are based on the optimistic view that by the end of March or early April some sort of normalcy will have returned to trade.”

This month’s report comes as a separate NRF survey of members found 40 percent of respondents said they are seeing disruptions to their supply chains from the virus and that another 26 percent expect to see disruptions as the situation continues.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.82 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 5.7 percent from December but down 3.8 percent from unusually high numbers a year ago related to U.S. tariffs on goods from China. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

February was estimated at 1.42 million TEU, slightly above the 1.41 million TEU expected a month ago but down 12.6 percent from last year and significantly lower than the 1.54 million TEU forecast before the coronavirus began to have an effect on imports. March is forecast at 1.32 million TEU, down 18.3 percent from last year and less than the 1.46 million TEU expected last month or the 1.7 million TEU forecast before the virus.

April, which had not previously been expected to be affected, is now forecast at 1.68 million TEU, down 3.5 percent from last year and lower than the 1.82 million TEU forecast last month.

While the coronavirus makes forecasting difficult, the report calls for imports to jump to 2.02 million TEU in May, a 9.3 percent increase year-over-year, on the assumption that Chinese factories will have resumed most production by then and will be trying to make up for lower volume earlier. June is forecast at 1.97 million TEU, up 9.6 percent year-over-year, and July is forecast at 2.03 million TEU, up 3.3 percent year-over-year.

Imports during 2019 totaled 21.6 million TEU, a 0.8 percent decrease from 2018 amid the ongoing trade war but still the second-highest year on record. The first half of 2020 is forecast to total 10.23 million TEU, down 2.8 percent from the same period last year and below the 10.47 million TEU forecast a month ago.

Healthy Handwashing Survey

For the past 11 years, Bradley Corporation has conducted its Healthy Hand Washing Survey to track American’s hand washing habits and their reactions to germs, the flu and colds. 

The annual survey queried American adults and youth online Dec. 11-16, 2019. Participants were from around the country, were 14 years and older, and were fairly evenly split between men and women (47 percent and 53 percent).

The findings revealed that:

  • Even before COVID-19 hit the United States, 60 percent of Americans were extremely or quite concerned about catching the flu, compared to just 32 percent who felt that way four years ago. Among all age groups, Millennials expressed the most trepidation about getting sick.  
  • 50 percent of Americans said news coverage of cold and flu outbreaks has an impact on their hand washing behavior.
  • In response to flu outbreaks, 79 percent of Americans said they wash their hands more frequently, more thoroughly or longer after using a public restroom.
  • 89 percent of Americans in the workforce said they consciously take steps to avoid the germs of sick co-workers or colleagues.
  • 64 percent of Americans correctly believe that hand washing is more effective in removing germs than hand sanitizer – a fact supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • When asked where they were MOST concerned about somebody not washing their hands, 40 percent said restaurants, 35 percent identified hospitals, clinics and doctors’ or dentists’ offices, 15 percent answered schools and 8 percent said airports.
  • When they are sick, 54 percent of Americans said they simply wave hello to greet people, 48 percent avoid shaking hands and 18 percent use a fist or elbow bump. 

At home, if someone is sick or if a cold or flu virus is going around, Americans kick into action. 65 percent wipe down bathroom and kitchen surfaces. 47 percent wipe door knobs and handles. 46 percent wash sheets and/or towels.

In a public restroom, 93 percent of Americans try to avoid coming in contact with germs by employing evasive measures. 65 percent use a paper towel when touching door handles, faucets or toilet flushers, 44 percent operate the toilet flusher with their foot, 42 percent use a seat liner or cover, 29 percent hover above the toilet seat, 29 percent use their butt to open and close doors and 27 percent use their elbow to operate towel dispensers.

97 percent of Americans believe it’s important to wash up after using a public restroom. However, hand washing doesn’t happen all the time. Respondents said they washed their hands 86 percent of the time after using a public restroom. 

67 percent of Americans admit they’ve skipped the soap and simply rinsed their hands with water after using a public restroom.

“Thorough hand washing with soap and water remains the best way to reduce the spread of disease-causing microorganisms like COVID-19,” says medical microbiologist Michael P. McCann, Ph.D., professor of biology, Saint Joseph's University. “Soap and water, used as per the evidence-based recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and other government agencies, will help reduce the spread of flu and other illnesses in the home and work place.”

Wait-Time Survey

Rakuten Ready’s ROI Study found that most consumers thought ordering in person or using the drive-thru would be fastest. In reality, Order for Pickup offers wait times up to 2.4X faster, and restaurants need to take notice to guarantee happier customers and increase revenue.

With Order for Pickup, restaurants can take control of brand experience, filling orders accurately with freshly prepared food, and delivering orders faster than the drive-thru or ordering in person. Of consumers surveyed, 75% reported skipping a long line is the top reason they would use Order for Pickup. 

Additional data points from the Rakuten Ready ROI study include:

Order for Pickup for Fast Food Restaurants is the Fastest Way to Order Food:
  • Order for pickup is 3.6X Faster than order in person at Taco Bell
  • Order for pickup is 3X Faster than order in person at Chick-Fil-A
  • Order for pickup is 2.5X Faster than Drive-Thru at Taco Bell
  • Order for pickup is 2X Faster than Drive-Thru at Chick-Fil-A 
Consumers Don’t Want to Wait: 
  • 67 percent would check if the drive-thru line or parking lot is full before deciding which fast food restaurant to go to
  • 75 percent would use Order for Pickup to skip long lines
  • 80 percent would use Order for Pickup instead of delivery if they knew their order would be ready when they arrived
 Benefits of Order for Pickup include:
  • Shorter wait times and additional orders delivered to customers
  • Giving customers quality, freshly prepared food timed for their arrival 
  • Loyal and happy mobile-first customers
  • Ability to verify orders and correct mistakes
  • Better value for customers who won’t pay fees or higher menu prices associated with delivery

 Top Trends Impacting QSRs

 Comcast Business shared the top trends impacting the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry, based on the company’s deep experience working with leading QSR and franchise establishments.

As online ordering and mobile delivery apps continue to gain popularity and diners increasingly expect technology-forward experiences, QSRs are challenged with finding new ways to quickly fulfill orders and keep customers – and their taste buds – satisfied. Comcast Business is working directly with some of the biggest brands in the food and beverage industry, helping to drive the following trends aimed at giving them a competitive edge:

“May I take your order?” is becoming “How may I take your order?” – The reason customers choose QSRs is in the name, they are quick. Offering multiple ways to order – from kiosks to loyalty apps to tablets – is essential to minimizing customers’ wait times. When lines do back up, innovative brands are implementing “line busting” tactics, such as having staff walk car-to-car in long drive-thru lines, ringing up customer orders on tablets or mobile registers so orders are ready and waiting by the time a guest reaches the pick-up window.

Mobile apps are cooking up physical and digital upgrades – Traditionally, restaurants have only had to keep pace with orders coming from two locations: the walk-up counter and the drive-thru. However, by 2021, nearly 50 million people will be using food delivery apps. From a restaurant’s own app or website, to third party food delivery services, QSRs are now having to account for orders within and beyond their four walls. From an IT perspective, having a guest WiFi network is now crucial in supporting in store mobile ordering and mobile payments. To avoid long lines and confusions, restaurants must also think about restructuring their physical layout to accommodate the growing number of mobile orders.

Increased focus on privacy and security policies – When the security of one restaurant location is compromised, it can put an entire brand at risk. QSRs are utilizing firewalls, LAN and WAN networks to help control security from a corporate level and maintain their brand. Having the comfort that comes from security measures also allows restaurants to focus more on ways to innovate.

Digital signage keeps restaurant menus from going stale – Whether it’s by season, or time of day, menu options are constantly expanding and changing. With initiatives like limited time menu offerings (LTOs) becoming an increasingly popular strategy within QSRs, more and more restaurants are opting for digital signage as a way to stay on top of these type of menu turnovers and updates. Digital menu boards give QSRs the ability to update information to all locations at once, making sure both staff and customers stay up to date on the latest offers and promotions.

Technology adds extra spice in recruiting and retaining employees – A restaurant’s staff plays a huge role in customer experience. Often times, a happy employee equates to happy guests. Being able to offer employees advanced technology gives a restaurant a competitive edge and helps recruit top talent at a local and corporate level. LTOs also add another layer of complexity to staff training. Having reliable technology that allows both internal and external information to be shared – and rolled out – on a national level is imperative to making sure staff can be quickly and effectively trained on a brand’s latest offerings or special promotions.

“From online to eliminating the line, mobile technologies are propelling the explosive growth of the QSR category. In fact, research has shown that mobile apps represent roughly 60 percent of all digital restaurant orders,” said Ray Hatch, Vice President Enterprise Solutions Vertical Markets at Comcast Business. “As QSRs continually look for new ways to embrace – and keep pace – with this growth, technology is becoming the secret that helps them to focus on what matters the most: bringing delicious food to hungry guests.”

Location Data and QSR Marketing

Fifty-seven percent of QSR marketers are using location data to enhance their marketing attribution capabilities and to better understand consumer behavior, and an overwhelming 97 percent indicate that they are planning to increase their usage of location data over the next two years.

That’s according to a report released by 451 Research and Cuebiq, which looks at location data use cases, challenges in adoption, as well as maturity levels of QSR marketing programs.

Respondents cited multiple factors for using location data in their marketing plans, most commonly the delivery of targeted ads and offers (65 percent of respondents) and geofence-triggered promotions (62 percent). Two more advanced use cases were also highly cited, indicating a broadening of focus: analyzing attribution and better understanding customer behavior (both by 57 percent).

Additionally, 37 percent indicated that they are in the process of evaluating the best way to leverage location data in their marketing programs. In general, QSR companies appear to be more cautious about implementing broader usage of location data than peers in retail or automotive. So, QSR marketers who jump into the fray may have an early competitive advantage over their more conservative direct peers at other QSRs.

Regarding the challenges they face in measuring the outcomes of programs that use location data, 47 percent mentioned concerns about the data’s accuracy. Similarly, nearly half of QSR marketers stated they use multiple sources of data that don’t always work together well, or that they had limited experience using location-based data for multichannel attribution.

When asked to rate their company’s maturity levels when it comes to using location data on a scale of one to five, QSR marketers generally rated their companies in the earliest stages when it comes to understanding how customers relate to competitors (39 percent at stage 1 or 2), and to measuring performance of each separate location (38 percent at stage 1 or 2).

Most Attractive Cities for Chefs

Sebastian, FL; Cape Coral, FL; and Morgantown, WV recently ranked as the top three most attractive cities for chefs, according to a new 227-city study by AdvisorSmith. I was wondering if you’d be interested in a timely story about our findings? Here is everything you need to know:

The #1 city for chefs is Sebastian, Florida, which offers an average salary of $75,450, exceeding the national average by 45 percent. The city also has a 119 percent higher concentration of jobs for chefs compared with the average American city.

The state of Florida dominated the best cities list, with 11 of the top 50 cities for chefs being located in Florida. This can be attributed to a multitude of factors, including Florida’s high tourism rate and large retirement population.

The top large cities for chefs are Cape Coral, FL; Las Vegas, NV; and Greenville, SC. The top midsize cities are Sebastian, FL; Springfield, MO; and Florence, SC. The top small cities are Morgantown, WV; The Villages, FL; and Glens Falls, NY.

Here is a breakdown of the best cities for chefs:

1. Sebastian, FL
2. Cape Coral, FL
3. Morgantown, WV
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Springfield, MO
6. The Villages, FL
7. Florence, SC
8. Naples, FL
9. Port St. Lucie, FL
10. Glens Falls, NY

AdvisorSmith analyzed 227 cities based upon chefs salaries, the cost of living, and the availability of jobs for chefs. We go into more detail in our report, which you can view here.

Point-of-Sale Terminals Market to Grow 2X on Back of Heightened Demand for Cashless Payments

Point-of-sales (POS) Terminals market will grow at a promising CAGR of more than 7 percent between 2019 and 2029. Budding ecosystems of cashless payments in developing countries are set to fuel the demand for POS terminals in retail, healthcare, and restaurants. Various application segments are witnessing heightened demand for convenient features such as invoice management, inventory management, and image scanners. Point of sale terminal systems offer these features as additional benefits to drive market demand. Innovation and development of high speed networks positively impact the growth of point of sale terminals in untapped markets.

Fixed POS Terminals Account for Majority of Market Value

Fixed POS terminals are projected to be in the lead in terms of total market value with a robust growth rate of over 7 percent during the forecast period. This is attributable to the rising demand for enhanced consumer experience in retail. Deployment of fixed POS terminals as self-checkout systems will drive demand during the forecast. However, cloud deployment, and software development of multifunctional POS systems are thrusting the demand for mobile POS terminals. Consumer demand for convenience and security of transactions is projected to drive mass-adoption of mobile POS terminals.

Key Takeaways of Point of Sale Terminal Market Study
  • Fixed POS terminal holds leading share of more than 3/4th of the total market value.
  • Mobile POS terminal segment will gain 3.6X growth during the forecast period.
  • On-premise deployment has a market value share of more than 77 percent.
  • Cloud POS presents lucrative growth opportunities on the back of a stupendous 10 percent CAGR through 2029. 
  • Healthcare is projected to grow 2.7X during the forecast.
  • Asia Pacific (East Asia + SAO) will lead global sales and grow 2.4X during the forecast period.

“Market players stand to gain sustainable growth by forging strategic partnerships with stakeholders from within various applications. Innovation of POS systems with support features for managing inventory, and employee productivity will further product demand.”-Says the Report Analyst

Innovations to Remain Key Agenda of Market Players

Innovation drives increased adoption of POS terminals in various industry verticals such as healthcare and retail. Burgeoning demand for contactless payments along with unification of in-store and online sales will propel the demand for POS Terminals during the forecast period. Modern POS systems are an enhanced tool for a variety of operations such as billing, cash/card/online collection, and data analysis. Manufacturers can gain remunerative growth opportunities by expanding their footprint in developing economies that are witnessing a surge in cashless transaction.

These insights are based on a report on Point-of-Sale Terminals Market by Fact.MR.

Online Payment Fraud Increases

Online payment fraud attempts increased by 73 percent in 2019, according to a new report from Sift. The research, the Digital Trust & Safety Index, details the different ways fraudsters target online businesses, the platforms and payment types they use, the times of year they most frequently strike, and many other patterns discovered through Sift’s global data network of more than 400 billion events per year. 

Additional findings in the report reveal that cybercriminals are using mobile devices more than desktops or laptops to commit payment fraud. In fact, though Windows is the top single operating system for fraudsters, iOS and Android combine to make up more than half of attempted fraudulent transactions. And while, unsurprisingly, the number one most targeted industry vertical in 2019 was physical e-commerce, business services, digital e-commerce, education, and on-demand services all fell within the top ten “fraudiest” verticals. 

Other findings of note in the Digital Trust & Safety Index include:

New ways to pay, new ways to steal: The most common payment type associated with fraud? Not credit cards. In fact, credit cards were beaten out by promotions/coupons, cryptocurrency, digital wallets, and even “pay with cash” options that are popular with some on-demand services.

Fraudsters swing for the fences: Rather than trying to avoid detection with smaller purchases, fraudsters look for larger scores, with fraudulent order values reaching three times the price of legitimate purchases on average.

Trying to game the system: The largest attempted purchase on Sift’s platform in 2019 was for a video game power-up sold on an online marketplace. The attempted payment was $1 million, and though obviously fraudulent, demonstrates some of the new methods bad actors are employing in order to steal from businesses. 

Summer is the holiday shopping season for fraudsters: Fraudsters don’t wait until the winter holidays to kick their scams into high gear. Rather, payment fraud attempts peak during the summer months. 

Working on the weekend: Saturdays had the highest instances of payment fraud attempts of any day of the week. 

“The past few years have, unfortunately, ushered in an era of massive-scale and frequent data breaches that have led to fraud all over the web,” said Jason Tan, CEO of Sift. “Though our report shows that bad actors are finding new ways to defraud businesses, merchants who adopt a Digital Trust & Safety strategy can both fight fraud and reduce friction for legitimate purchases.”

The Digital Trust & Safety Index delves into many additional trends seen across Sift’s platform and highlights the ways in which fraudsters are evolving their methods – so that businesses can stay one step ahead of these bad actors. To read the Digital Trust & Safety Index, click here.

Drip Coffee Machines Market to Record Growth of Three Percent

Drip coffee machines demand has witnessed moderate growth in the recent past on account of integration of technologies such as artificial intelligence and smartphone pairing. The advent of technology driven drip-coffee machines has largely contributed to the demand from tech-aficionados and millennials in developed as well as developing markets. Apart from a heightened uptick in sales, the new technological wave in the industry has also shortened the replacement cycle of these machines. The addition of AI-based drip coffee machines has widened the product portfolio of key competitors, and has also rejuvenated the product lifecycle. On the back of these shifting dynamics, drip coffee machines market is projected to grow by 3 percent during the forecast period.

Key Takeaways of Drip Coffee Machines Market 
  • Europe accounts for more than one third share in drip coffee machines market, and is expected to grow 1.4X by 2029 over 2019.
  • Drip coffee machines with high capacity, are projected to account for more than half of the market share
  • Drip coffee machines with glass carafes account for majority share in market and are anticipated to grow 1.3X by 2029 over 2019.
  • Metal based drip coffee machines remain highly preferred in terms of body type, and are expected to show highest growth rate.
  • Commercial usage of drip coffee machines is expected to grow by 1.4X between 2019 and 2029.

“Product differentiation by drip coffee manufacturers has received a positive consumer response. While it has expanded the portfolio of Tier 1 players, Tier 2 players are able to improve their brand image through this strategy.” says the report analyst

Market Leaders Banking on Product Differentiation to Gain New Consumer Base

Drip coffee machines market is partially consolidated with top 6 players accounting for more than 50 percent revenue share. Top leaders in the drip coffee machines market like De'Longhi Appliances s.r.l, Krups GmbH, Melitta Group and JURA Elektroapparate AG are focused on increasing their product offerings. Companies like JURA have also introduced their flagship products in other regions such as Oceania to gain market foot hold. Consolidation of drip coffee machines market is expected to increase during forecast, with market leaders accounting more than 60 percent of the revenue share.

These insights are based on a report on Drip Coffee Machine Market by Fact.MR.