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Prior to 2020, forecasts predicted exponential growth in the food delivery market leading up to 2023. The restrictions and challenges of Covid-19 accelerated the timeline of these predictions by nearly 3 years and third party delivery applications rapidly became critical to the survival of many businesses. In the US, the 4 leading delivery apps that makeup 97% of the market, more than doubled their total revenue compared to 2019. 

Increased connectivity and accelerated consumer adoption have spearheaded major changes seen within the industry. What will be permanent? As we tiptoe into the early days of 2021, we take a look into trends and predictions for what lies ahead.

Trend 1: 2020 Consumer Behavior Is Here To Stay 

Although we’ve left 2020 behind us, consumer behaviors adopted last year are here to stay. An unprecedented number of diners flocked to delivery apps amid indoor dining closures. With restrictions still in place, demand for delivery apps is expected to remain high. Many of those contributing to this demand are first time users. Exposed to the convenience that such services offer, these newbies are most likely to continue their habits into 2021 and beyond. In a McKinsey study, 40% of respondents have stated they intend to continue to spend online post-COVID. 

But it’s not only consumers who have changed their ways. Normalcy within the restaurant industry has been disrupted as most rushed to develop curb-side and delivery methods, where they perhaps had none. Many have been dependent on third parties such as Grubhub and UberEats to help sustain sales and keep their doors open. With numerous partnerships to choose from, restaurants now expect a high level of support to make their businesses remain viable. It will be crucial to include incentives such as menu item photography during onboarding to compete in the market. 

Mobile application

Trend 2: Subscriptions

With consumers having an average of 2 delivery apps on their smartphones, companies are developing incentives and promotions that attract and retain customers. Although some companies have already launched their own subscription services, DashPass by DoorDash for example, we will see many more companies conform to this trend. 

Monthly subscriptions are a win-win for all involved. Subscriptions not only encourage loyalty and increase retention at the benefit of third party delivery apps, but consumers also enjoy lowered costs. According to DoorDash, consumers who subscribe to DashPass, save an average of $20 per month. 

Uber mobile app

Trend 3: Expansion Into New Verticals  

A drastic shift has occurred in consumers’ daily lives thus impacting their purchasing habits and patterns. With the click of a button, consumers are able to get their groceries, books, medications, flowers, and more delivered straight to their doorstep. Purchasing online is no longer a luxury but a necessity. As a result, the online grocery delivery market is seeing explosive growth. In April 2020, Instacart saw a massive 500% increase in orders year-over-year. Food delivery apps are leveraging their global and national footprints to expand into these rising markets and reach new consumers. 

For companies that decide to follow this trend, streamlining photography operations will be key to long term success. Customized visuals are necessary for local stores and unique product assortments. For more generic items, a retailer can create image catalogs that are consistent with their brand  and will resonate with their target audience 

packaged food

Trend 4: Ghost Kitchens

Ghost kitchens are in essence professional cooking facilities that don’t offer dine-in areas with the sole purpose of fulfilling delivery orders. In recent years, this trend began gaining traction across major cities. Accelerated demand for delivery during COVID has further driven growth. Promises of maximized profits by reducing real estate and operational costs have enticed investments from major brands. 

Today, there are over 7,500 ghost kitchens in China with the US trailing behind with 1,500 locations. Euromonitor predicts that ghost kitchens could become a trillion-dollar opportunity by 2030. However, ghost kitchens will not be a one size fits all solution. Many local mom and pop shops may struggle due to a lack of brand awareness. Third-party delivery platforms and stellar online marketing will be instrumental for businesses to get their brand in front of customers and drive sales.

chef cooking with fire

Capitalize On Trends With Photography

These four trends are likely to generate new business models and product offerings, resulting in new opportunities. Undoubtedly there will also be challenges. However, those equipped with the tools necessary to meet demands and expectations will be first in line to capitalize on these opportunities.  

A streamlined photography solution is among the essential tools needed. Images and videos will be critical in increasing new business and conversion. Through cutting edge SaaS technology and a global community of 30,000 photo/videographers, OCUS enables global enterprises to produce custom visual content that delivers at scale and optimizes performance, quality, and results. 

Contact OCUS today to learn how our solution can optimize results specific to your business needs.

asian plates from top view