Tonight, I’ll Be Eating: Weekly food delivery app usage doubles one year into pandemic

Not even a pandemic can keep Americans from their favorite meals. A recent study by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ad Age finds the usage of food delivery services has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two-thirds (66%) of consumers say they currently order from third-party food delivery services, but only 41% report having ordered from one of these apps before the onset of the pandemic. Based on previous polling, frequency of usage has grown: In a Harris Poll study from July 2020, 15% of people reported using food delivery apps at least weekly compared to 28% now. Most of that increase seemed to come from people who had previously reported using these apps 1-3x per month, which fell from 24% to 10%.

“Early” adopters, are also the most frequent users of third-party delivery services, but the pandemic hasn’t created as many “new” users as conventional wisdom might suggest. Just over half (54%) of consumers who report using third-party food delivery services before the pandemic say they use them now to order food at least once a week. However, 73% of consumers who say they never used these apps before the pandemic report they’re still not using them now.

Despite the heavy marketing of third-party apps, Americans order directly from a restaurant more than they order via third-party delivery apps. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of consumers say they order from restaurants directly. When looking at weekly users, 32% of consumers say they order from restaurants at least once a week compared to the 28% who do the same with third-party food delivery apps and services.

Interestingly, there were salient differences between racial/ethnic groups regarding order frequency. Half (52%) of Hispanic consumers report ordering from restaurants directly at least once a week compared to only 24% of White consumers.

This hardly means game over for third-party services. In fact, consumers who have seen Uber Eats’ and DoorDash’s 2021 Super Bowl commercials are much more likely to order from third-party delivery services. Forty-three percent of Americans say they watched Uber Eats’ Wayne’s World-themed Super Bowl ad during the month of February while 32% report seeing DoorDash’s Sesame-Street themed Super Bowl ad during the same period. About two in five Americans who recalled seeing these ads (43% of DoorDash ad viewers, 38% of Uber Eats ad viewers) order from third-party apps and services at least once a week.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ad Age from February 26, 2021, to March 1, 2021, among 1,074 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For more information on methodology, please contact Dami Rosanwo.

Download full data here.