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Bluedot restaurant survey shows rising mobile app usage

restaurant drive thru

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Bluedot, a customer arrival platform that empowers brands to provide real-time interactions and pickup solutions, released the sixth installment of the State of What Feeds Us report which has kept tabs on consumer behavior and restaurant habits since the beginning of the health crisis.

The findings have offered insight into consumer expectations to support restaurant brands as they work to navigate ongoing operating, social, and economic shifts over the past two years. The latest research was based on a survey of 1,635 American consumers.

The research captured a continued rise in mobile ordering and revealed consumers are generally happy with restaurant mobile apps. However, there was also growing frustration around longer wait times for mobile pickups and orders not being ready upon arrival. Notably, nearly half of consumers indicated they are likely to delete a restaurant app if their food is received cold.

For the first time, the study explored mobile app usage and privacy and found that the vast majority of consumers are willing to overlook privacy concerns if it means better service. Three in four consumers indicated they would share their mobile location if it ensured their order would be ready upon arrival.

Also for the first time, consumer gratuity habits were examined and generally found to be inconsistent across channels, but the majority of consumers (80%) do tip on third party apps. And one in three consumers feel pressured to tip when presented with a tablet at a restaurant counter, which could indicate an area of vulnerability for brands.

“As we turn the corner on the pandemic, mobile app usage continues to soar, and the center of gravity is returning to the customer. Restaurant brands will begin to ease their focus on operational strategy in favor of initiatives that provide fast and seamless mobile pickup,” said Judy Chan, Bluedot CMO.

“Across six studies, consumer demand for convenience has stood out as a key theme. In the coming year and beyond, we’ll see restaurant brands aggressively invest in digital strategies both in-store and off-premise to improve speed and ease of use and that includes the arrival experience. Delivering that level of convenience will win brand loyalty.”

Highlights from the report include:

Fast Food and the Drive-Thru

Drive-thru visits remain strong. 9 in 10 consumers visited the drive-thru in the last month, remaining consistently 10 points higher than at the start of the pandemic in April 2020.


COVID-19 made mobile app ordering better. Consumers ranked mobile app ordering (58%) as the number one aspect of the fast food experience that has improved since COVID-19 followed by curbside (44%), web ordering (29%), drive-thru (25%), offers and promotions (21%), and in-store pickup (20%).

New COVID-19 variants boost drive-thru visits and mobile orders. When asked how their restaurant habits will change as more variants emerge, consumers said they would place more mobile app orders (34%), visit the drive-thru more (34%), place more web orders (21%), and utilize curbside pickups more (21%).

Consumers turn to mobile or online ordering to reduce risk. Of the consumers who expressed safety concerns associated with COVID-19, 52% state they’ve turned to mobile or online ordering to minimize contact.

Mobile Apps

App downloads remain strong. 6 in 10 downloaded at least one new restaurant app in the last three months.

More orders are being placed on restaurant apps. More than one-third (37%) are placing more mobile orders on restaurant apps than they were three months ago.

Nearly 1 in 2 will download a restaurant app to bypass a long line. Top reasons consumers download restaurant apps: fast and easy to order food (52%), earn and track loyalty points (49%), exclusive deals or coupons (48%), to bypass a long line (47%), ease of payment (42%).

Fast and easy consistently remains the top reason consumers turn to mobile apps. The top reasons why consumers continue to use restaurant apps includes fast and easy (59%), easy to access the menu (48%), earning loyalty points (45%), finding deals (44%), and quick way to pay (35%).

Nearly half of consumers will delete an app if their order is cold upon arrival. For the first time, consumers ranked cold food upon arrival (48%) as their top reason they would delete a restaurant mobile app overtaking missing menu items (45%).

Restaurant apps continue to reign supreme over third party apps. The majority (57%) use all or mostly all restaurant apps over third party apps.


Frustrations with mobile order pickups have grown. 1 in 2 consumers are most frustrated with orders not being ready upon arrival. Other top frustrations include order is ready but still needed to wait (50%), food is cold (47%), order is inaccurate (45%), and no designated mobile order pickup line (29%).

Consumers aren’t becoming more patient. 4 to 7 cars in a drive-thru is still considered too long to wait according to 90% of consumers compared to 88% in April 2020.

Consumers are just as likely to leave or consider leaving a long line. The majority of consumers (76%) will either leave or consider leaving if they see a long line.

Nearly 1 in 2 will download a restaurant app to bypass a long line. Top reasons consumers download restaurant apps: fast and easy to order food (52%), earn and track loyalty points (49%), exclusive deals or coupons (48%), to bypass a long line (47%), ease of payment (42%).


Tipping is inconsistent. 33% tip equally regardless of whether they’re ordering via app, web, or in-person. 30% tip more when ordering in person, while only 11% tip more when placing a mobile or web order. 26% aren’t inclined to tip at all.

Nearly half of consumers aren’t tipping for mobile and web orders. 46% don’t tip for mobile or web orders. Of the 46% who don’t tip, 27% think about tipping but still don’t tip.

Tipping is more prevalent on third party apps. The vast majority (80%) tip on third-party apps and 58% feel they tip appropriately.
Requesting a tip on a tablet makes 1 in 3 consumers uncomfortable. 1 in 3 feel pressured to tip when presented with a tablet at the counter.


Demand for innovation continues. Top innovations consumers would like to see in their fast food experience in the future includes: designated drive-thru lane for mobile pickup (56%), food kept warm at pickup station (42%), mobile only ordering for fast and easy pickup (27%), restaurant automatically checks customer in upon arrival at curbside (27%), and ability to text order to restaurant (27%).

Consumers want more from their menu boards. Top features consumers would like to see in their drive-thru menu board include: shows current order on the screen (55%), highlights deals (51%), view loyalty points and/or personalized deals (36%), and highlights limited-time items (34%).

More reliance on self-service. 60% of consumers have increased their usage of self-service ordering like mobile ordering (48%), web ordering (22%), and kiosk inside the store (14%) in the last six months.

Privacy and Mobile

Consumers value convenience more than privacy. While nearly 7 in 10 consumers (69%) are either not concerned or only somewhat concerned about privacy when using a restaurant or third party app, 68% of those value convenience over privacy.

3 out of 4 consumers are willing to share their mobile location for better service. 69% will share their mobile location with a restaurant if it means their order is ready upon arrival. Other top reasons why consumers are willing to share include: meal is nice and hot upon arrival (47%), to receive coupons near the restaurant (32%), and to not miss out on the brand’s latest offerings (21%).

The sixth State of What Feeds Us report can be found here. Access the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth reports for additional insights.

Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted via SurveyMonkey on January 10th, 2022 among a national sample of 1,635 American adults aged 18 and older. Additional methodology can be found within the report.

About Bluedot
Bluedot is a customer arrival platform that empowers brands to provide real-time interactions and pickup solutions. The company’s hyper-accurate location technology identifies exactly when and where a user arrives whether that’s entering a store, pulling into a curbside pickup space, or at a parking lot. Bluedot enables brands to provide timely messaging, proximity offers, automated loyalty identification, frictionless curbside pickups, gamification, and more. Easy to implement, Bluedot is inherently compliant with GDPR and CCPA.

Bluedot works across key industries including retail, restaurants, and transportation. The global brands that trust Bluedot for their location strategy include Federal Realty, McDonald’s, Dunkin’, Six Flags, and IAG. For more information on Bluedot and its solutions, visit