Posts tagged Events
The expectations of the modern consumer

“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.

Theatre, timing and health: get food-to-go right
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"Food is more of an experience than ever before, and food-to-go needs to embrace the experiential."

The Speciality & Fine Food Fair was full of great food and even finer insight. Panels made up of Adam Sopher (Joe & Seph’s Popcorn), Theo Lee-Houston (Kerb) and Katy Moses (KAM Media) debated the big topic of the show: the food-to-go market.

Food-to-go: adaptable theatre

The adaptable nature of street food was a stand-out topic. According to the panellists, food must deliver an emotional connection and give customers a sense of theatre. Consumers expect an experience as well as a premium product. Street food producers are achieving this by bringing noise, colour, interaction and excitement into production.

As a serious lover of all-things Teppanyaki, arguably the original ‘performance dining experience’, I completely understand the appeal. Food is more of an experience than ever before, and food-to-go needs to embrace the experiential.

Timing is key

According to Theo Lee-Houston, timing is key to a successful lunch time business. You have a two hour window to hit and should aim to make a portion every 20 seconds.

Trading on Mondays and Tuesdays have become redundant and therefore non-existent. Trading really starts on a Wednesday and continues getting busier throughout the week before reaching its peak by Sunday.

This makes sense. As part of human nature Monday brings the start of the week for most people. A fresh start, a chance to turn over a new leaf. People begin the new week how they would like to go on, eating healthy home cooked meals (perhaps leftover from the weekend’s dinners).

However by Wednesday this has gone out the window. As the saying goes, old habits die hard.

A nod to a healthy lifestyle

Food-to-go doesn’t need to be utterly healthy, but it needs to give a nod to a healthy lifestyle. According to Katy Moses, 16% of Generation Z are vegan, compared to 1% of the world’s population. 9% are actively cutting down sugar and 8% are with fat. This shows the direction our food is heading.

While street food doesn’t need to be ‘healthy’, it does need to nod to healthy trends. Vegan food isn’t guaranteed to be healthy, but it has the image of a healthy lifestyle (this is a major topic for another day). Stephanie Peritore (Mindful Bites) believes food-to-go shouldn’t just show off a monetary value, it should show off a health value as well. Eating junk food can be cheaper than making a well-balanced meal, but when you take into account the health implications of junk food, it costs considerably more.

Expect to see food-to-go getting even more flexi-friendly, and slightly healthier, in the near future.

In summary, in order to achieve a successful lunch time eatery you have to hit genuine customer needs. Offer a healthy(ish) option that brings a bit of theatre to lunch hours, especially for Wednesday and beyond.

Who knows, get it right and you might even convince people to come down on Mondays…