Where people choose to eat is a decision based on many factors: how we connect with others, our lifestyle choices, our health needs. As those things evolve, so must the industry.
During a presentation called "Six Trends You Should Know to Meet Guest Needs and Thrive," Susan Miller, senior manager of Foodservice Guest Insights, and Clark Jones, director Foodservice & On-Premise Insights at The Coca-Cola Company, offered attendees at the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Conference an overview of the movements and trends likely to influence restaurants operations in the years to come.
1. Food with a Story
Great food and great service are considered the cost of entry among today's discerning guests. To build real loyalty, operators must connect with guests on a personal level. And that connection is aided by a clear and compelling story. Consider using social media to share behind-the-scenes stories of your people and products. Post pictures of the farms where your ingredients are sourced. Highlight team members on Facebook. Retweet stories that speak to your personal philosophy around cooking and food.
2. Health Empowerment
Today's guests have evolving needs and expectations when it comes to health. Information and options are now key. Restaurants can respond by being transparent about how food is sourced.
3. Ethical Eating
Millennials in particular care about the environmental and social impact of their purchases — and that includes their food. Sourcing is just a part of it. Guests want to see their dollars being used to the betterment of others. Create programs and initiatives that support nonprofit organizations as an easy way to tap into this interest.
4. Foodservice Everywhere
Today's guests have greater access to great meals in a variety of outlets, from traditional restaurants to grocery stores, convenience stores and even gyms. Reach even more guests by making it easy to manage the ordering, delivery and logistics of the meal. Apps are a great way to expedite the process.
Mobile is the future and just one of the ways technologies are changing how we interact with the world. Digital payment, online ordering, loyalty and reward programs are all guest-facing tech tools that operators should consider exploring. In the back of the house, technology is preventing food waste through better inventory systems, lowering labor costs by refining scheduling and improving efficiency thanks to smart equipment.
6. Flexibility and Experimentation
Fine-dining chefs have long been tinkering with techniques, tools and ingredients to create new and surprising dishes. As that innovation continues to trickle down to casual- and quick-service dining, suppliers and R&D chefs should expect to see customers looking for the next cool thing every time they interact with your brand.
Incorporating these ideas into your business can help build stronger connections with your guests. For more foodservice insights, sign up for our webinars.