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Grab-and-growth: post-pandemic success for grab-and-go sector

BrandVue’s Most Loved Eating Out Brands 2022

Will Blackett EVP, Consumer 05/10/2022

For the fourth year running we have summarised the UK’s Top 100 Most Loved Eating Out Brands, providing insight into which dining out brands UK adults have the closest emotional connection with.

Drawing on findings from the report, we take a look at the post-pandemic growth of the grab-and-go sector.

It has been widely rumoured that Starbucks - slipping out of our Top 10 this year, falling 3 places to 13th - is now considering selling its UK business.

According to the research, grab-and-go is in a good place, with no shortage of love for major British brands like Greggs and Costa. These two UK icons have consolidated their positions in the Top 5, remaining 2nd and 4th respectively since last year.

Moreover, the grab-and-go market is forecast to grow 32% this year to £21.3bn, surpassing its pre-pandemic value, according to the Lumina Intelligence UK Food To Go Market Report 2022. Factors behind the impressive rise include a full hospitality reopening, office returns (to some extent), tourism and relatively low prices across the category.

New to our Top 100 this year is quick-service drinks brand Joe & The Juice, debuting at #35. Otherwise, food features more heavily than drinks on the list. Tortilla, the UK’s largest fast-casual Mexican food brand, is up 2 places year-on-year at 38th while lunchtime sushi favourites Wasabi and Itsu are 47th and 51st respectively.

However, with growth comes hungrier competition. It has been widely rumoured that Starbucks – slipping out of our Top 10 this year, falling 3 places to 13th – is now considering selling its UK business. The US coffeehouse chain has claimed its footfall at city sites is seeing a slower recovery post-pandemic than at its suburban and retail park locations.

This suggests that for other brands, looking to capitalise on grab-and-go growth instead, one of the keys to success will be re-evaluating convenience. Consumers needing to eat or drink on-the-move want to get their goods quickly and easily. The recent rise of hybrid working may mean brands need a more location-agnostic, less city-centric approach, to keep providing customers with their quick fixes.

In 2022 though, if convenience is key, then cost is king. Recently some publications have unfairly rebranded the cost-of-living crisis as the ‘Costa living’ crisis following the coffee brand’s small price rises. In fact, many brands – including Greggs and this year’s overall Most Loved Eating Out Brand McDonald’s – have all had to raise their prices slightly too. In the current climate, rising costs are inevitable sadly and the eating out sector is far from the only one being affected.

So, in these tough times, eating out brands can preserve and perhaps even grow relationships with customers by rewarding their commitment. That could be through new carefully crafted loyalty schemes, promotions, or other free value-add services. To fuel grab-and-go growth in the UK, consumers will need to feel that they’re not just getting filling food and delicious drinks, but reward for their Brand Love too.

Download the report for the full list of The UK’s Top 100 Most Loved Eating Out Brands, as well as insights on the future of the sector and how brands can stay relevant in the coming years.

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