Ordering a Dinner Delivery? Not an Everyday Activity

But use of mobile apps for ordering meals is on the rise

Among the general US population, ordering food digitally isn't an everyday occurrence. 

Online restaurant and food delivery services, like Seamless and Postmates, may seem part of the fabric of life if you're on the younger side and live in a city, but for most consumers they're only an occasional convenience. 

According to a Market Force Information survey from February 2018, just over one-third of US internet users had used a food delivery service in the past 12 months. More women (37%) than men (33%) had done so, and the behavior was very much tied to age. On the high end, 55% of those 18 to 24 had ordered from a restaurant via a delivery service, compared with 33% of those 45 to 54 and just 17% of consumers older than 65. 

But when asked about frequency, the most common answer among delivery service users overall was a few times per year, at 47%. And that was the leading response across all age groups. Monthly was the No. 2 response, cited by one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds, with roughly the same results found for those ages 25 to 34 and 35 to 44. Weekly ordering ranged from a low of 3% for the oldest age group to a high of 14% among the 25-to-35 cohort. 

The top method used for ordering was going straight to the source: A majority (53%) had used a restaurant's own delivery service. By comparison, 36% had used GrubHub and 31% had used UberEats. 

These findings are similar to those of an October 2017 study from Verto Analytics. GrubHub had the most US unique monthly users (6.8 million), followed by UberEats (4.7 million) and Postmates (1.1 million). 

App ordering is also on the rise, according to Market Force. In 2018, 39% had ordered food through a smartphone app, a big jump from 2015 (11%). Mobile payments are also gaining ground. This year, 38% said they'd paid for a quick-service or fast-casual restaurant meal via a mobile wallet or app in the past 90 days, up from 19% three years ago. 

Mobile wallet usage in the US is generally low. Market Force didn't ask about specific payment apps, but it is likely many used branded restaurant apps. In a February 2018 survey by S&P Global Market Intelligence, the top two mobile payments apps used to buy food were those from Starbucks (58.5%) and Dunkin' Donuts (25.1%).