Coronavirus is changing consumer behavior and our fast-food brands will be ready: Yum! Brands CEO

Let the changes to fast-food business models commence.

In the post coronavirus outbreak world, ordering 50 chalupas from Taco Bell at midnight for the group may be all done on your mobile phone app and then delivered and left on your doorstep. No human interaction from the customer greeting the delivery driver at the door. No wandering into the store half buzzed and touching a giant kiosk (that was just installed last year) to place that group order. No chances of spreading germs in both instances (well, sort of).

And you know what, that is probably all for the good even when considering the restaurant industry has spent a pretty penny the past two years adding touch-screen order kiosks for those hungry folks wandering inside a Taco Bell, McDonald’s or Panera Bread.

“Consumer behaviors are going to change after going through something like this. It has changed in the middle of it. And it will change coming out of it. We will be ready at all our brands at Yum! to react to the changes that consumers have,” Yum! Brands CEO David Gibbs told Yahoo Finance. “They will be more interested in things like contactless delivery that was rolled out initially in Asia and is now throughout the world in all our restaurants and many of the restaurants in the restaurant industry because it was such a great idea developed by Yum! in China and now others are using it.”

Gibbs — a Yum! Brands veteran who took over as CEO in January — oversees 50,000 restaurants globally under the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut brands. Earlier this year, Gibbs signed off on the $375 million acquisition of better burger chain The Habit Grill.

Indeed contactless delivery — where an order is simply left at a doorstep or designated drop-off point — has become the hottest buzzword in the fast-food industry at the moment.

A Taco Bell facade behind a KFC drive-thru sign in Saugus, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

With the restaurant industry being hammered by state mandated store closures amid the coronavirus outbreak, delivery has become the only option for consumers interested in eating fast food. The major fast-food companies such as Yum! Brands and Domino’s Pizza have begun to promote contactless delivery to ease the minds of freaked out diners. Third-party delivery firms like Grubhub and PostMates have also jumped on board the contactless delivery bandwagon.

“Certainly the best kiosk in the world is your mobile phone. It’s a portable kiosk and you can use it wherever you want and nobody else touches it,” said Gibbs. “I think the use of mobile phones for kiosk type ordering will probably become more prevalent, and perhaps using kiosks in stores will become a little bit less part of the business model.”

Gibbs also believes large orders for families to be eaten at home may be here to stay longer than most people think. To that end, Pizza Hut is now selling a two foot pizza (24 slices) dubbed the ‘Big Dipper.’ Over at Taco Bell, it has launched the ‘Triplelupa’ — essentially it’s three chalupas fused together to make one giant chalupa.

Sign me up for that two-foot pizza, so long as its dropped off contactless delivery style.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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