Consumer behaviors have shifted dramatically over the past year. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it prompted people to find new ways to shop, order food and get their meals as they sought to minimize interpersonal contact and stay safe. New research from Nutrislice shows that retired seniors over the age of 62 have been one of the groups to change their behaviors the most, with the pandemic causing seniors to adopt new, digital technologies more rapidly than ever before.
This is the second in a three-part blog series exploring the findings from a recent online survey Nutrislice conducted of 1,600 retired U.S. adults aged 65 and older. We surveyed these individuals on a variety of topics including their behaviors and preferences around digital food ordering, how their habits have changed due to the pandemic, and what they anticipate moving forward. You can find part one of the blog series here.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors were slowly but consistently embracing technology. According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of adults aged 65 and older are internet users and more than half of seniors own smartphones. Yet, many used the internet primarily for socialization, keeping in touch with family and friends, or staying on top of current events. Far fewer used digital channels for ordering groceries or meals. That all changed when the pandemic hit.
Being at higher risk for severe complications from the coronavirus, many older adults had safety in mind as they stayed home and adopted digital channels for ordering their meals. Many adopted these new behaviors for the very first time during the pandemic.
In our survey, nearly half of retired seniors (49%) said they have purchased food using digital services in the past 12 months.
Almost one-third (32%) said they use digital food ordering services once or twice a month, 11% use these services three to five times a month, and 6% were heavy users, saying they use digital food ordering services more than five times a month.
These results are even more telling when you consider that only 17% of respondents in our survey said their on-site dining and foodservice venues offered a website or mobile app for online food ordering. This indicates that many seniors are forced to turn to off-site restaurants and dining venues, outside of their senior living community, in order to use safe and convenient digital ordering options they desire.
Foodservice operators in senior living communities that do not provide digital menus and mobile ordering options are clearly missing out on revenue that could have stayed within their community.
Most significantly, these foodservice operators risk losing this valuable revenue opportunity for the foreseeable future if they do not soon adopt digital technologies.
A full 62% of respondents in our survey said they expect to continue using digital food ordering options at the same rate they are today, even after the pandemic subsides.
Nearly a quarter (24%) said they expect they’ll use these options even more frequently in the future. Seniors appear to have grown accustomed to the convenience of digital food ordering and plan to continue using these services even when the threat of coronavirus is gone.
To capture a greater share of residents’ food spend, foodservice operators in senior living communities should look to implement technologies like digital menus and digital ordering so residents don’t have to order from dining venues outside of their community. Digital menu solutions from Nutrislice provide senior living residents, their caregivers, and guests a visually beautiful and easy way to view all the meal options available to them from their various on-site dining venues and facilities. They also make it simple to view the nutritional information, dietary values, and ingredients associated with each menu item by simply tapping or clicking, giving residents the information they need to make informed choices that support their health. Intuitive and easy-to-use digital ordering solutions from Nutrislice make ordering a breeze through just a few taps on the screen or clicks of the mouse.
Digital menus and food ordering technologies not only make life easier for senior living residents, they also benefit the foodservice operator. Through a unified, platform approach that integrates with other technologies such as inventory management and point of sale systems, Nutrislice’s solutions help streamline operations and create workflow efficiencies. Foodservice operators can easily make changes to menus and push them to all dining venues and customer channels, set cut off times and pickup windows while managing orders through a digital queue, and much, much more.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst that hyper-accelerated seniors’ adoption of a variety of digital technologies. Many have discovered that they love the ease and convenience of ordering meals and even grocery items online, for delivery or pickup. Now that they have become comfortable with these new technologies and behaviors, they are unlikely to ever revert back fully to the way things were before. Foodservice operators in senior living communities should look to deploy technologies like digital menus and mobile ordering to keep residents happy, engaged, and capture greater revenue. These technologies will be even more important in the coming years as the tech-savvy Baby Boomer generation begin moving into senior living communities in great numbers.
Check back for the final installment in our blog series to learn more key findings from our senior living survey.