Over half of restaurant customers want to know more about how restaurants use their personal information, according to Technomic’s recently released Technology Consumer Trends Report. The report, which is part of Technomic’s ongoing research into how technology is impacting the foodservice industry, looks at U.S. consumers’ preferences and demands in this area.
Restaurant these days are testing out all manner of technological tools, from self-service kiosks to digital menu boards at the drive through to AI-powered mobile apps that increasingly rely on customers’ past orders and dietary preferences to offer the most relevant recommendations. All these tools require at least some level of customer data, as do delivery apps from the likes of DoorDash or Grubhub.
Customers’ control over their own data is a key theme in Technomic’s report, which notes that “control over personal data is becoming the expectation.” Over half of consumers, 56 percent, want to know more about how restaurants use their personal information. Currently, less than half (37 percent) say they trust food service brands not to misuse their personal data.
At the same time, restaurant customers seem more willing to part with personal data if it means getting an easier, faster, more personalized experience with a restaurant. As one survey respondent noted, “The benefits of using technology to order/pay for food and beverages from restaurants outweigh the risks to my personal data.”
We see this adoption in the success brands like Chipotle and McDonald’s, who wouldn’t have billion-dollar-plus digital businesses if customers weren’t willing to hand over at least some of their data. And it’s not just your past orders and address restaurants are after, either. Some, notably Sevenrooms, envision a day when any restaurant will be able to know things like a customer’s dietary restrictions, birthday, and favorite dessert, thanks to data. Others, like 5Thru, are using license plate scanning technology to collect data and make the drive-thru experience faster and more personalized for customers. Then there are ghost kitchens, which more or less run on customer data, as all orders are placed digitally.
As consumers get more comfortable parting with their personal data to navigate the drive-thru line faster or speed up food delivery times, the next big challenge for the restaurant industry will be establishing trust with these customers. As Technomic’s report noted, “. . . brands must meet consumer expectations for privacy and control over their personal data, especially as more brands leverage technology to obtain customer data to personalize the experience.”
Right now just over half of those surveyed for Technomic’s report said they want to know what restaurants do with their data. We can expect that figure to jump over the next several months as demand for off-premises experiences increases and the number of customers ordering digitally goes up. That makes establishing trust a major priority for the rest of 2020.
Speaking of data-driven individualization, we’ve got a whole event devoted to personalized food: Customize! Use code SPOON15 to get 15% off tickets and join us in NYC.