Fast Food Apps Twice As Big As Gambling And Dating

I honestly don't know whether the Government's consideration of banning junk food from being advertised before the 9pm watershed is a smart idea or not. The principle is that although there is already a ban on children's channels, most kids see ads for unhealthy food now on the main channels, where there is no ban.

What is interesting, however, is comScore's finding that the fast food market may have moved on from the television to the small screen inside everyone's pocket. We're dealing with adults in this piece of research, but the findings are startling -- and show that when talking about fast food, not all of which is "junk," the conversation should not be limited to children and television.

Fast-food apps were accessed by around 6m adults in Britain during March 2018. That works out at roughly one in five British adults using a fast-food app each month. For context, that is twice the proportion of British adults who use a gambling app on their smartphone -- and again, twice the proportion of adults who use a dating app on a smartphone. Ordering fast food on a mobile device is as popular, then, as gambling and dating on a smartphone combined. 

It was interesting to see with the figures just how far ahead Just-Eat is. On its own, it has roughly the same number of regular users as the next four apps combined -- that's Domino's, Subcard, KFC Colonel's Club and Uber Eats. It's also interesting to see that the likes of McDonald's, Nando's, and in last place, Pizza Hut are way down the list, although they are some of the most famous names in fast food and restaurant dining.

It's also interesting to note that nearly a quarter of millennials are using fast-food apps each month and this proportion drops to just over one in ten people ages 55 or over. There's also a slight female skew. However, as you might imagine, fast-food app use declines with age.

It isn't that older generations can't use mobile phones. In fact, the Wetherspoon app that allows its largely older audience to order food at their table shows a massive spike for older users.

No -- the figures show us that Just-Eat, an aggregator for fast-food outlets, has come from nowhere just a handful of years ago to be the clear market leader, and it is head and shoulder above some of the everyday brands people would most readily associate with fast food.

Whether a ban on allowing children to see ads for "junk" food would have a massive impact is debatable, perhaps it would slow down the number of children downloading apps and becoming smartphone orderers when they turn eighteen.

What is clear is that while the television might help someone like Just-Eat raise awareness, the real battle over fast food isn't just being fought on advertising breaks during family television shows, it's being waged on the far smaller screen in our pockets which, unlike the television, has a "buy" button. 

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