F&B Sector Seeing More Customers Ordering Takeaway

However, café customers less satisfied and loyal compared to a year ago

Singapore, 30 November 2021 (Tuesday) – The Institute of Service Excellence (ISE) (卓越服务研究院)at Singapore Management University (SMU) today released the 2021 third quarter (Q3) Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG) results for the Food & Beverage and Tourism sectors.

In the latest results, the Food & Beverage sector scored 72.7 points in Customer Satisfaction (on a 0 to 100 scale). The sector was made up of brands and companies from the Restaurants, Fast Food, and Cafés & Coffee Houses sub-sectors. The Tourism sector scored 75.4 points, derived from survey responses for Singapore’s tourist attractions; because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were no tourists surveyed and only local visitors were interviewed. Both performances were statistically on par with satisfaction levels from the previous year.

Food & Beverage

With Covid-19 necessitating changes to consumers’ dining behaviour — the survey quizzed respondents between July and September 2021 — researchers looked at how customers were patronising Food & Beverage establishments. 

In all three surveyed F&B sub-sectors, patronage via takeaway ordering was observed to have a statistically significant year-on-year increase. In comparison, the proportions of customers dining-in fell, while customers ordering through food delivery remained similar to the previous year. 

While this change in the way customers patronised F&B did not impact the satisfaction and loyalty levels for the Restaurants and Fast Food sub-sectors, customers of Cafés & Coffee Houses were observed to be markedly less satisfied and loyal. This decline was driven by the segment of café customers who ordered through takeaway. Specifically, cafés’ takeaway customers had a Loyalty score of 64.3 points compared to 67.9 points for dining-in at the café and 73.1 points when through food delivery. This score of 64.3 points was also considerably lower than the previous year.

Looking more closely at this group of café customers, there was a notable decline in how they rated various attributes such as beverage quality and staff proactiveness. Additionally, these takeaway customers also rated the in-store ordering process relatively poorly, when compared to café customers using Food Delivery. This sentiment of a poorer in-store order experience was also reflected by customers dining-in.

Mr Chen Yongchang (陈勇畅), Head of Research and Consulting at ISE, said, “The rise in takeaways appears to be in response to the heightened safe management restrictions and concerns over the Covid-19 situation during the survey period. While the data indicates the majority of consumers still prefer dine-in when given a choice, takeaway orders are likely to remain elevated for some time.”

“As takeaway orders tend to have better margins, F&B businesses who want to grow the segment, as well as strengthen their dine-in offering, should look to smoothen in-store ordering processes, avoiding pitfalls such as focusing on delivery orders at the expense of customers in the store,” he added.

Other pain points observed include service attributes relating to staff service quality. Analysis indicated attributes such as ‘prompt and quick service’ and ‘approachable and personable service’ were important drivers of customer loyalty, but they had been underperforming when compared to other areas of the dining experience.

“While food quality, quantity, and variety, remain key drivers of repeat visits to any F&B establishment, the increased importance of service staff suggests that managers should also look into improving their team members’ service delivery,” he suggested.


The CSISG study surveyed Singapore residents that recently visited local tourist attractions. Due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions, tourists were not interviewed.  

In a similar observation to the Cafés & Coffee Houses sub-sector, visitors to tourist attractions were substantially less loyal year-on-year, scoring 69.7 points in 2021 compared to 75.3 points in 2020. Loyalty was determined by two factors: How likely would the respondents visit the attraction again, and their tolerance to price increases, e.g., ticket prices, before they would not make a repeat visit. Both factors declined year-on-year.

In terms of demographics, the latest results show a shift towards a larger proportion of older visitors. In particular, visitors in the 50 to 69 age segment rose from 14.2% in 2020 to 22.3% this year. In contrast, visitors in the 30 to 49 age segment declined from 56.9% to 50.9%.

Ms Neeta Lachmandas (妮塔.拉切曼达斯), Executive Director (执行总监) of ISE, said “The shifting demographic is likely due to the unique circumstance brought about by Covid-19 travel restrictions, with visitors across a more diverse demographic partaking in domestic tourism and visiting places they would not otherwise normally.”

“In fact, half of the respondents we interviewed said they had made use of the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers for their visit,” she observed.

Alongside the lower overall Customer Loyalty levels and changing visitor profiles, additional analysis revealed pain points in the areas of the attractions’ accessibility and F&B offerings. Relative to other aspects of an attraction visit, attributes such as ‘Ease of getting to the attraction’, ‘Waiting time to enter attraction’, ‘F&B options’ and ‘Quality of F&B given the prices’ rated below average. In particular, ‘Ease of getting to the attraction’ and ‘F&B options’ were significant drivers of Customer Loyalty.

Ms Lachmandas remarked, “In addition to addressing these key drivers of loyalty, local attractions can also take a fresh look at the visitor experience, keeping in mind the evolving visitor profile. These efforts will go some ways to improve the visitor experience and hopefully boost the re-playability of our local attractions.”

A total of 2,600 local consumers were surveyed in the CSISG 2021 Q3 study.

Please refer to Annex A for a background on the CSISG and Annex B for the detailed scores.