6 minute read - Oct 05, 2020

The dreaded COVID 15 - Food orders slow amongst concerns over weight gain

How food delivery marketplaces can increase online orders and improve their image by promoting delivery as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Marshall Pierce
Enterprise Partnerships

People have been joking about the dreaded COVID 15, a reference to the pounds they have put on during the pandemic. It’s no wonder that, with gyms closed and stress-related eating up, we’re worried about our waistlines. In fact, a OnePoll survey commissioned by Nutrisystem found that 76% of its respondents gained up to 16 pounds since the beginning of the shut-downs. And about 63% of the survey participants admitted they are now prioritizing weight loss and making healthier eating choices.

Some people may equate their increased reliance on delivered meals with their unwanted weight gain. This negative mindset can mean less business for delivery marketplaces. What can you do to stay competitive while responding  to your customers’ health concerns? The answer is by promoting food delivery as part of a healthy lifestyle. Food delivery is not just about deep-dish pizza and fried foods, after all. Let’s look at three ways you can boost your image and increase sales by focusing on healthy meal delivery.

1. Understand your customer’s definition of healthy eating (It matters)

One definition of healthy food does not fit all. Millennial customers equate “healthy” with food that is “fresh, less processed, and with fewer artificial ingredients,” according to research by Morgan Stanley. On the other hand, Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers may be more inclined to look at calorie counts, and fat and sugar content.

However, the division between what is or is not a healthy menu item is not just subject to age. For some people, “organic” means healthy, and for others, it involves gluten-free, low-carb, or high-protein options. According to Eat This, Not That, a healthy restaurant menu item incorporates vegetables and whole grains while limiting sodium content and keeping calories below 600.

How can you find out what the majority of your customers prefer as they pursue healthier eating habits? You could take an online poll of suggested “healthy menu” additions and go from there.

Or you could begin by promoting healthy side substitutes, such as green salads, fresh fruit, or baked potatoes. But how can you make these somewhat traditional “diet” foods sound appealing? The trick is to make them “sound” unhealthy.

2. "Sell” healthy menu alternatives as a lifestyle

@Alyson - please find an image or screenshot of a menu that has healthy food. Things considered “healthy”: yogurt, boiled eggs, broiled chicken, baked potato, poke bowl, lettuce wraps, fresh fish.

No one wants to feel bad about ordering an unhealthy meal, but they do want to feel inspired to order a healthy meal. So, the trick is to use language that makes people feel great about eating healthy. Stock phrases like “low-calorie, “low fat,” and high fiber” sound boring and won’t grab much attention. A better idea is to draw attention to the ingredient’s benefits. Try adjectives like “succulent,” “tangy,” “juicy,” or “crispy” when you describe healthy ingredients or combinations, for example.

You also can “sell” healthy meals with the simple power of suggestion. “Would you like the fresh, green salad instead of the fries with that?” is one example waiters can use. For the delivery service marketplace, you need to be even more overt. Consider having a section on your home page that is devoted to healthy options. How about a “swap this for that” page that shares healthy alternatives for popular items at each establishment? Here are a few ideas to get you started, but you can be more specific to each restaurant’s offerings.

Swap ranch dressing for a side of vinaigrette

Swap fries for a baked potato with a dollop of plain yogurt

Swap fried chicken with broiled chicken

Another way to market healthy foods is to show your customers that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring and repetitious. In other words, it can be much more than just eating salads and fruit. Showcase restaurants on your website, your app, and your blog that offer creative options like poke bowls, gazpacho, chia seed pudding, lettuce wraps, quinoa bowls, yogurt parfaits, egg white breakfast wraps, steel-cut oats, and fresh fish and veggies.

You could highlight healthy items that showcase the tastes and flavors of a new season or feature several appealing choices from each ethnic restaurant in your delivery area. Be sure to include short descriptions that give a clear breakdown of nutritional information.

Healthy restaurant menu items often feature fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. When you promote these items, it is a triple win -- a win for the community, a win for the restaurant, and a win for your brand. By featuring local foods and local growers, you help keep dollars in the local economy. Also, people feel good about making this choice. Data from the National Restaurant Association shows that nearly 60% of adults seek out restaurants that serve food that is sourced locally. Another 45% report that organic food is important to them.

And, according to research by Nielsen, 41% of Generation Z and 32% of Millennial survey respondents are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced ingredients. When you nudge people toward healthy food choices that make them feel better mentally and physically, they feel good about your marketplace as well.

3. Showcase high-quality photographs to seal the deal

Have you ever been trying to figure out what to order when a waiter walks by with a mouth-watering dish for the table next to you? Just seeing that dish can change your mind. That’s where professional photography comes in. The right photos -- ones with the best lighting and the sharpest focus -- on your app can drive traffic to healthy items. Here are four ways professional photos will help you build your brand along with healthy food delivery.

1. The work of a professional photographer can showcase the beautiful colors of healthy food. The more processed a food is, the more it loses its natural colors, including the brilliant reds of tomatoes, bright oranges of carrots, and deep greens of leafy veggies. Our brains are hard-wired to respond to these colors. Scientists say our minds rely on color to determine ripeness, freshness, taste, and flavor.

Yet, many restaurants rely on cellphone cameras to take their food shots. These low-quality shots  do not bring out all the rich tones found in a well-prepared healthy meal. Plus, who is inspired to order a basic green salad shown in standard plastic packaging? No one. However, when your marketplace uses a professional photography service, you’re in control of the style of the images on your site. You can give the photographer your guidelines on color, angle, and freshness --perhaps choosing to focus on raw ingredients. That way, your photos can show the bright red in fresh tomatoes and the sharp contrast between the varied mixed greens in a salad.

2. Photos can reveal the connection between eating healthy and living healthy. A professional photoshoot can include customers eating freshly delivered food while on the go -- at the park, at the beach, or on the hiking trail. When you see high-quality images of fit people eating nutritious food, it drives home the message much better than words alone.

3. Group photos can diminish the guilt that is sometimes associated with ordering delivered food. Meal delivery sometimes still suffers from a bad rap – that it is calorie-laden and unhealthy. When you show expert images of families and friends eating healthy food together, you can destroy that myth. (And boost your image as family-friendly in the bargain.)

4. Professionally-taken photos emphasize the quality and freshness of ingredients and make food look healthy and nutritious. When you showcase high-quality photos on your website, app, and social media, you demonstrate that food from delivery is so much more than the cliche pizza and burger. (Not that there’s anything wrong with pizza and burgers, mind you!)

We don’t know for sure what is next for food delivery services. Drone service, perhaps? Robots? But we do know that the market continued to grow even when much of the rest of the economy was closed down due to COVID-19. By the end of 2020, the worldwide online food delivery services market is expected to grow from $107.44 billion in 2019 to $111.32 billion, a growth rate of 3.61%. According to a report published on, the market will reach $154.34 billion in 2023, a growth of 11.51%.

What we also know is that healthy eating is here to stay -- especially as Millennials and Gen Z customers continue to set dining norms. So, are you ready to help diners lose that dreaded COVD 15 and keep them off? Let Snappr help.

About the author

Marshall Pierce
Enterprise Partnerships

Marshall Pierce leads partnerships for enterprise Food clients at Snappr. He has helped dozens of major players in the industry with their content strategy. He is available for a no-obligation consultation about your Food photography needs.

Email me

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