In the fast-paced world we live in, convenience drives consumers' decision making. It’s second nature for consumers to order anything — from meals to prescriptions — to be delivered to their doorstep through apps. In fact, food delivery apps grew 30% in 2022 and grocery delivery apps represented 25% of all food and beverage downloads in Q1 2022.
Customers are taking advantage of apps to save time in their daily lives, especially during the holiday season. Food delivery app searches were up 200% during the 2020 holiday season when compared to the previous year. This spike directly relates to the fear associated with the pandemic, but reliance on food and grocery delivery apps has not slowed down, despite restrictions lifting last year. Search volume for food delivery apps in October 2021 was up 22% compared to October 2020.
Food delivery services help aid rushed families and stressed out individuals during the holiday months. During this time, there is an opportunity for delivery apps to help rushed consumers and in-turn, app marketers can end the year on an ROI positive note and set them up for success in the new year.
Grocery and Food Delivery Apps: Holiday Edition
The holiday season is a popular time for users to utilize food and grocery delivery apps, but when exactly are users most active?
Thanksgiving is traditionally a day when family comes together and cooks a delicious meal while catching up on the latest in each other's lives. However, cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal can be a daunting (and expensive) task. Grocery prices have increased greatly from a year ago, which is affecting Thanksgiving meal traditions in many households this year.
Per-pound prices for turkey, the holiday’s biggest staple, are up 17% year over year according to the latest inflation data. Surprisingly, the cost of dining out rose just 8.6% over the last year, while the cost of eating at home jumped 12.4% over the same time period. This means that for the first time, ordering food from restaurants could be an effective way to cut costs during Thanksgiving.
It’s not unusual for Americans to rely on apps for last minute needs during Thanksgiving. According to DoorDash, while they aren’t typically busy on Thanksgiving Day itself, the day before can be quite busy. They actually list the day before Thanksgiving as one of the top 10 busiest holidays for DoorDash. According to Postmates, nearly 50% of consumers surveyed forget a key ingredient while cooking their holiday meal. This combination of increased grocery prices and last minute kitchen needs gives grocery and delivery apps a huge opportunity to win loyal users during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Christmas over the last two years has been greatly affected by Covid and shelter in place orders. This has, of course, meant that consumers relied heavily on grocery and other delivery apps for their holiday meals. In 2021, Christmas Day was one of the most popular holidays for food delivery orders according to DoorDash. Over thirteen percent of US grocery shopping was digital in December, with mobile being the popular choice over desktop.
However, food delivery app installs were down 9% on Christmas Eve and were down 6% on Christmas Day. This can most likely be attributed to many restaurants being closed on both days.
For all holidays in December, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, consumers are planning on preparing further in advance than in prior years due to upticks in prices and shortages in supplies. 34% of shoppers agree that they will shop further in advance than usual for December holidays, up 6% points from 2021. This means that food and grocery delivery app marketers should aim to capture users early during the holiday season to find success during Q4.
New Year's Eve is a time to celebrate the year end and prepare for what’s to come in the new year. However, the excitement of New Year’s Eve can often bring a slow New Year’s Day, where many consumers choose to stay in to focus on resolutions and recover from being up late the night before.
New Year’s Eve brings an uptick in takeout orders, especially compared to Christmas the week prior. In pre-pandemic 2019, there was a 36% spike in food delivery, due to the sheer convenience when people are hosting parties in celebration of the year's end. New Year’s Day is even bigger for food delivery with installs up 16% on January 1st of 2021 compared to the year's average.
How to Win Users During The Holidays
The busy holiday season brings an organic abundance of users to food and grocery delivery apps. The convenience of apps is enticing to consumers, especially when balancing hosting family and friends with economic concerns. Gaining users during the holiday months can set app marketers up for success in the new year. Running promotions, offering seasonal products, and giving back to the community are just a few ways to gain loyal customers during this busy time.
Consumers are always looking for deals during the holiday season. Not only is it a time of gift giving, it’s also a time to host and entertain extended families with delicious meals and celebrations. Grocery and food delivery apps will be successful during this merry season by driving purchases through promotions and holiday discounts.
Shoppers have the power of choice with the rise of so many delivery apps. To make an app stand out, marketers can offer promotions and deals that run throughout the rest of the year. For example, grocery apps can promote “buy one get one free” deals for popular or more commonly purchased Thanksgiving dishes. Food delivery apps can also offer a free meal if a customer spends more than a certain amount at a restaurant over the month of December. Providing unique ways to give back can also prompt users to spend more, by offering a charitable donation if a user spends over a specific dollar amount threshold, in the spirit of giving back. This would both benefit purchase amounts but also speak to the brand’s focus beyond their bottom line.
Users will be on the lookout for deals this year with inflation and price for goods being higher than ever. During the second week of July, 46% of items were on promotion. That’s higher than the 41% of goods on promotion during the fourth week of November 2021, which is typically the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. App marketers will miss out on gaining users if they aren’t utilizing the power of bargains during this season.
Lean into the Season
Consumers will be looking for restaurants or grocery apps to offer seasonal products that reflect the holidays and aid them in their meal preparation. Consumers are sticking to holiday traditions with 85% of hosts planning to build their Thanksgiving meal around a turkey and 90% intending to buy a turkey at least as large as the one they purchased last year.
Grocery apps that offer turkeys and other holiday dishes will find more success than those not promoting holiday classics. On the food delivery side, restaurants that offer catering options can win the business of users hoping to feed a large amount of people, with minimal effort. In addition to offering catering sized portions, food delivery apps can take advantage of the festive nature of the holidays by offering limited time offers of dishes customers crave during the fall, winter and holiday seasons.
Programs that Give Back
As much as the holiday season is filled with joy and festivities, there are many that aren’t in a position to celebrate. The poverty rate in the United States rose to 11.6% from 11.5% in 2021, a small but dramatic increase from pre-pandemic years. Close to forty percent of people admit their stress increases during the holiday season. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that 64% of individuals living with a mental illness feel their conditions worsen around the holidays.
Grocery and food delivery apps have the unique opportunity to partner with stores or restaurants to give back around the holidays. By taking leftover food or denoting money to charities, apps can stand out during the season of giving by giving back to those less fortunate. Give back programs are proven to increase brand loyalty, with the majority of shoppers under the age of 40 prefer to give back through where they shop. A staggering 81% of millennials say they want to support brands with corporate citizenship. App marketers can engage users this holiday season, while promoting positive brand awareness by giving back to their communities during these months.
Takeaways of Delivery Apps During the Holidays
Customers are taking advantage of time-saving apps during the holiday season. In fact, searches for food delivery apps were up 200% during the 2020 holiday season when compared to the previous year. Winning users during this busy season will set up mobile marketers to end the year on an ROI positive note and set them up for success in the new year.
- Run Promotions: Money is top of mind for most consumers during the holiday season. Grocery apps can promote “buy one get one free” deals for popular Thanksgiving dishes, while food delivery apps can also offer a free meal if a customer spends more than a certain amount over the month of December.
- Lean into the Season: Consumers are sticking to holiday traditions with 85% of hosts planning to build their Thanksgiving meal around a turkey and 90% intending to buy a turkey at least as large as the one they purchased last year. Grocery apps that offer turkeys and restaurants that offer other holiday dishes will find more success than those not promoting holiday classics.
- Give Back Programs: As much as the holiday season is filled with joy and festivities, there are many that aren’t in a position to celebrate. Grocery and food delivery apps can partner with stores or restaurants to give back around the holidays. App marketers can win users by giving back this holiday season, with a staggering 81% of millennials wanting to support brands that have a record of strong corporate citizenship.