Posts in Events
Technology’s growing impact in food & hospitality

“Joined by industry leaders and thinkers, we had a lively debate on technology’s growing impact in food & hospitality.”

We asked, “What do diners want from a restaurant experience?” and were intrigued to hear that nearly half (47%) of customers prioritise WiFi connectivity. This led us to wonder what is ultimately driving the market. Is tech driving food, or food driving tech?

Experiential dining, big data, business growth initiatives and personalisation were all hot topics discussed as we got to grips with understanding this tech revolution.

Want to learn more? Keep an eye out for next week’s full report!

The expectations of the modern consumer
 
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“It is getting Harder and harder to please the modern consumer. With fast, Cheap and reliable a standard commodity how do you stand out?”


We attended Caffe Culture and The Independent Hotel this week and both were packed with insight. At Caffe Culture we had the excitement of the SCA UK Latte Art Championships and more coffee than we knew what to do with, I haven’t slept since!

At these recent shows some themes have been constant, such as sustainability, the rise of veganism and the nod to the healthy life. However, with these two shows the demand of the modern consumer and the call for an experience stood out.

The rise of the experience

The focus on experience is a game changer. Restaurants and hotels can’t just supply their primary function of great food or an amazing room, they have to have an edge. This is due to the rise of demand from the consumer. They want more bang for their buck.

Specifically looking at hotels, the development of Airbnb hasn’t helped their case. A hotel has become more of a luxury commodity than ever before. The Airbnb model is amazing – it allows the guest to have an experience around the primary function of a warm bed to sleep in. It means you can stay in a homely property and gives you an opportunity to meet the owners and share life stories. It gives you something extra.

I’m not on commission I promise, other booking websites are available!

Using tech to manage the consumer’s expectations

There is definitely a balance that needs to be found. Looking at engagement, tech is a great way to optimise this.

1 in 10 diners post their meals to social media. Using this information and engaging people over social media by tagging and acknowledging their visit makes them feel special and valued. It is important not to over step the line. Guests are happy for relevant engagement, but if it’s irrelevant it becomes annoying and leaves a bad taste.

Using technology you can build a profile of a guest so when they return you know more about them. You’ll know it they are allergic to nuts or prefer to be sat in the window. Acting on this information creates a unique experience and again makes the guest feel valued. This allows every guest to be treated as a regular, which is what they all want.

The stigma around the use of technology

There is still a stigma attached to the use of technology. 33% are still uncomfortable with privacy invasion regarding data collection. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has acknowledged that whilst tech is important to the unique experience, they have kept it firmly in the background. Stuck to pencil and paper chits rather than tablets for front of house staff, all EPOS systems are hidden away and they only interact once a guest has interacted with them to allow them to feel comfortable.

So it seems technology may be the way to tackle the modern consumer and boost the all-important experience. Just use it appropriately.

 
The art of changing your brand perception
 
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"Perceptions can change, it just takes a change in approach to food, marketing and messaging in equal measure."


It was another successful year for the Lunch! show, with an event full of vibrant food stalls serving up some delicious samples and great insight.

 

Nutrition’s impact on brand

There was a clear theme this year with every stall looking to emphasize the health benefits of the food. In the past food could just taste good, now it has to do good. And this has a big impact on marketing, messaging and brand.

David Ross, head of category at Greggs, spoke about the difficulties of changing the perception of your brand. As soon as you read Greggs, I’m sure your head filled with the thought of sausage rolls and doughnuts. This is a brand association that Greggs has spent the last 4 years trying to change.

Ross said that if you are part of the obesity problem, you need to be part of the solution. In 2014, Greggs launched a balanced choice menu, contributing to 42 products on the menu. Ross referred to the fact Greggs is committed to meeting the Public Health England 20% sugar reduction on all products by 2020.

If it keeps going down this path, read the word Greggs in a couple of years’ time, and there won’t be a sausage roll in your head.

 

How to change the perception of your brand

Jack Hinchliffe, innovation director at KFC, was having a similar problem to Greggs. They were being marked as junk food that uses mutated chickens to make their food. Not the best image. So, how could they change that?

Hinchliffe felt that to make a real difference they needed to be disruptive, so they launched the campaign ‘the whole chicken and nothing but the chicken. The eye-catching campaign featured a live chicken, something that had been avoided in previous campaigns as they were keen to avoid the link between a live chicken and their fried chicken. After much deliberation the advert was launched.

It became the most complained about advert of 2017 in the UK with 755 complaints. Despite this, people were no longer associating the fried chicken with battery hens or mutated chickens, they were associating it with a live healthy chicken that happens to love east coast hip hop. It caused disruption and it got people thinking. Marketing doesn’t really get better than that.

The truth is, being the company they are people will always have a bone to pick. So, they stopped trying to appeal to them and worked to change their perception in order to not get left behind.

And even after some well documented delivery issues stopped a lot of their chickens crossing roads all across the UK, their brand is looking stronger than ever.

 

A changing approach to marketing

Both Ross and Hinchliffe alluded to the same point; the foodservice industry evolves so quickly that if you are not ready to adapt you will get left behind. KFC is continuing its new look and feel, updating all of their restaurants and promoting the story of Colonel Sanders. Meanwhile Greggs is becoming an innovator in the way it presents its menus, showing the traffic light system on all products online as well as in store.

And their approach to marketing is shifting. Instead of spending millions in TV adverts they are focussing on marketing stunts. ‘Gregory and Gregory’ saw the brand go undercover at a food festival, to the shock and awe of guests. Meanwhile, ‘Ministry of Greggs’ saw a massive rave in a Greggs store, with attendees enjoying steak bakes and doughnuts. This had a huge reach. My invite must have got lost in the post.

What this all shows is that perceptions can change, you just have to change your approach to food, marketing and messaging in equal measure.