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Car-habiting is still growing.

The drive-thru mentality has reconfigured today's marketplace. Consumers are driving through Dunkin' Donuts for coffee, drug stores for prescription pick-ups, and fast food restaurants for take-home as well as dashboard dining. Even drive-in movies are making a comeback.

The growth of drive-thru food pickup is nothing new. Listening to consumers explain their switchover increases our understanding of what's going on and suggests opportunities for those who are, or could be, competing with the fast food folks.

Drive-thru consumers are of all ages and many motivations. One of the elderly widows on our panel told us that she almost always went into fast food restaurants for breakfast or lunch with her husband but uses the drive-thru exclusively since he passed away, "because I don't feel quite so lonely in the car."

Many young people also don't like to go inside and sit alone, but the primary motivators for younger consumers are speed and convenience. And younger consumers are the ones that are increasingly driving through.

Seventy-two percent of our respondents under the age of 35 compared with only 27 percent of those 35 and over agree that, "When I go to a fast food restaurant these days, I use the drive-thru more often than I go in."

Time is the most frequently cited reason for using the drive-thru more often. Drive-thru is perceived as saving time, in spite of waits that often seem (and are) longer than the wait inside.

* Time! I need to pick up food quickly and bring it home or to a place we need to be now!

* Drive-thru saves time.

* Quicker and more convenient. Can relax at home or at park.

* Faster -- we're buying fast food because we're in a hurry to get somewhere.

* Don't like to take time to get kids in and out of the car.

* I use fast food more as a time saver than a relaxing dinner

* I need food fast- not looking to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere -- the restaurants are always freezing and I find that very unpleasant and uncomfortable.

* Have too many other things to do.

Other reasons cited for staying in the car include:

* Saving money.

* Saving calories, e.g., I know what I want and don't want to be tempted.

* Car feels safer/more comfortable when you are alone.

* Car more comfortable than restaurant.

* Dirty tables in restaurant.

* Less confusion.

* Getting kids (or elders) in and out of car is work.

* More quality time with kids.

* Noise in restaurant.

* Poor class of people in restaurant.

* Privacy in making calls or working while waiting in car.
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Article Details
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Publication:The Shopper Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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