The huge amount of information and choices now instantly available to consumers means that some restaurant trends can begin, peak and peter out before many outlets have a chance to react to them.
That said, there are some current trends which seem likely to have a lasting effect on the market and of which businesses need to be aware.
Key Restaurant Trends to Watch
Declining Popularity of the Traditional Restaurant Experience
Perhaps most importantly, for an industry in which many businesses have always had to operate on tight margins, the traditional dining out model of restaurants is under significant financial pressure.
For example, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey reported more than 40% of respondents saying that they had recently cut down on eating out or ordering take outs in a bid to reduce food costs.
More than 60% also said that they would cut back on eating out rather than reduce their regular grocery spend.
And even among those who continue to use restaurants, “grab and go” outlets have become increasingly popular, as has the concept of “of- premise” dining using third party delivery services.
In conventional restaurants, the trend is increasingly towards innovation, experimental menus and an emphasis on providing a unique experience for diners. Outlets that continue to rely on tried and true menus and a familiar experience may, therefore, struggle to attract a viable share of what will be a shrinking market.
Customers Are Increasingly Health Conscious
Regarding menus, there’s evidence that customers are becoming more and more interested in healthy options.
Vegetarian and vegan options are increasingly popular, and there’s also great interest in health-promoting foods such as fermenteds, prebiotics and so-called functional foods which include “super” ingredients like turmeric and even CBD.
There has been a strong general move towards organics, non-GMO and dishes prepared with fresh, natural ingredients; 70% of respondents telling IFIC that they would be prepared to give up a favorite product in favor of one produced with natural ingredients only.
Almost 50% also say they are giving up or cutting down on soft drinks and desserts to reduce sugar consumption.
But customers’ concerns now extend far beyond their own health.
Greater Concern for Sustainability and the Environment
Customers are increasingly interested in where and how their food is produced, in its impact upon local environments and economies and in animal welfare. Sixty percent of people say sustainably produced food is important to them, and almost 3 in 4 Millennials and “Generation Zers” would be prepared to spend more to consume it.
Restaurants, therefore, need to make their sourcing a priority and a selling point, and taking an advertised ethical stand in terms of fair trade, living wages for staff, and the overall environmental impact of their business will be important to long-term success.
The Problem of Staff Turnover and Morale
From the point of view of restaurant management, the question of the wages, terms and conditions and treatment of staff is also becoming an increasingly important issue.
One industry report puts staff turnover rates as high as 73%. It’s a staggering figure which, quite apart from any ethical and reputational issues posed by low wages and extremely stressful environments, presents businesses with major costs in terms of recruiting and training new staff.
There are already signs of industry big players beginning to move towards the more generous benefit packages common in other sectors, and restaurants which lag behind may find themselves under increasing competitive pressures.
The Growing Importance of Restaurant Technology
But perhaps no trend is disrupting the business more than the rapid adoption of new technologies, particularly in the ordering process.
Customers are increasingly demanding a frictionless restaurant and foodservice, and the arrival of Amazon Go and other “grab and go” operations is only serving to accelerate the trend.
Online, automated ordering and app-based checkouts are rapidly becoming the norm and the challenge for business owners is to use these technologies to provide what customers want without sacrificing the personal touch which is so important to the development of a distinctive brand identity.
How CBS Northstar POS Systems Can Help
One of the keys to meeting this challenge is to use an integrated restaurant management and POS system which can take care of the management of inventory and menus, in-house and online ordering, payment processing and loyalty and gift card programs, all while significantly speeding up table turns.
These gains in efficiency release significant management and staff resources to be applied to working on menus, promotions, customer relations and the long-term development of the business in the light of the important trends discussed above.
With this priority always in mind, NorthStar has been developing market-leading restaurant technology for more than 25 years and offers a variety of solutions to suit the needs of businesses of all types and sizes.
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