virtual brands

Independent restaurants leaning on virtual brands

A new collaborative report between Grubhub and Technomic has found that four in 10 (41 per cent of) independent restaurants currently operate virtual brands to leverage persistent demand for delivery from consumers.

Generally offering low capital costs and a world of opportunity, virtual brands are all the rage right now, from offering delivery-only channels to satisfy diners’ desire for convenient off-premises consumption to expansions into the metaverse aimed at maximizing the customer loyalty potential.

The report, which surveyed 350 independent operators from Jan. 20-28, also found that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of survey respondents reported that their virtual restaurants are permanent additions, and nearly half (46 per cent) plan to open three or more virtual concepts in the next 12 months.

On average, restaurants that offer virtual brands are offering five unique virtual concepts, the companies said.

The report concluded that virtual offerings could support operators’ desire for customizable direct ordering channels, as 97 per cent of independents say such channels are important to their business in 2022. Nearly the same huge proportion (91 per cent) cited access to customer data as important, along with commission-free ordering (88 per cent) and branded experiences (92 per cent).

About one-third of survey respondents already own direct delivery channels, and the report’s findings indicate operators have an increased reliance on digital marketing and ordering, Grubhub’s VP of Restaurant Services Kate Green said, per Restaurant Dive

“Operations have significantly changed for independent operators. They’re not just relying on their brick-and-mortar presence,” Green said. “The digital footprint for brands becomes more and more important.”

Direct online ordering channels can also help operators capture valuable consumer data, which respondents said is important to long-term planning and can help determine “changes to their business or operations or menu they may want to make tomorrow and in the future,” Green said.

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