9 current trends in the restaurant industry to reduce costs

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How are current and future restaurant trends affecting your business? Discover nine ways restaurateurs are leveraging trends to improve sales, customer loyalty, and offsite experiences.

Food trends change every year. However, the 2020 pandemic has changed the way people eat, work and live. As a result, we see several restaurant trends that may be here to stay.

While big brands can adapt quickly to change, it’s more difficult for resource-strapped small businesses. Fortunately, there are ways to take advantage of nine current trends in the restaurant industry to lower your costs while navigating a challenging environment.

1. Focus on comfort and health

Healthy lifestyles aren’t new, nor is serving chicken noodle soup when someone gets sick. Yet the focus on “underlying conditions” in 2020 has many people thinking about their food choices.

While smaller restaurateurs aren’t rushing to design new menus, they are finding ways to market comfort foods and healthy versions of traditional favorites. For example, Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup carries the tagline “rich in collagen,” while a side dish of coleslaw “supports gut health via fermentation.”

It is always important to offer gluten-free and vegan alternatives. But restaurants should also look for ways to market existing meals or create new versions of familiar foods.

google trends shows an increase in searches for:

  • Vegan comfort food: Up to 130%
  • Comfort Meal Ideas: Up to 80%
  • Delivery of comfort food: Up to 200%
  • Fall Comfort Foods: Up to 350%
  • Healthy and Comfort Food Recipes: Up to 50%

2. Prioritize technology investments

While restaurant point-of-sale (POS) systems are standard technology investments, the introduction of everything contactless isn’t going away anytime soon. The latest restaurant trends focus on technologies that seamlessly deliver safe, convenient and frictionless experiences.

Ways to boost digital onboarding in your restaurant include:

  • Offer contactless payments: Mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Fitbit Pay, give customers more ways to pay for their meals.
  • Offer restaurant ordering options: Customers use their mobile phone to scan a quick response (QR) code, order and pay from their table, limiting contact with employees.
  • Use of portable devices: Servers arrive at tables with handheld tablets to quickly enter orders or loyalty information to streamline the customer experience.
  • Boost your loyalty program: Consumers want value, and loyalty programs increase the perception of value while driving visitors to your website.

3. Design new ways to satisfy off-premises customers

A recent Deloitte The report looks at future restaurant trends and suggests, “The massive shift we’ve seen in 2020 towards takeout, delivery and drive-thru is likely to be ‘sticky’ in the longer term.”

This means that pandemic-related offers, such as curbside delivery, will remain attractive long after the health crisis is over.

Even if you’ve taken temporary measures, it’s time to evaluate your methods and determine which ones you will continue next year. Popular ideas that won’t lose sight of anytime soon are:

  • Dedicated curbside locations for food pickup
  • Ordering options based on website, phone and apps
  • Pre-packaged on-the-go options for quick, ready-to-heat meals
  • Self-service pickup options for prepaid orders

Data showing a COVID-related increase in deliveries and take-out orders by generation.

All generations increased their use of delivery and takeout options in 2020. Image source: Author

4. Reflect customer lifestyle changes

The sudden shift to remote working has reduced the need for a morning bagel and coffee or that midday snack with co-workers. Although many people are returning to their offices next year, restaurateurs can change their approach by determining how their meals fit into a work-from-home lifestyle.

For example, many restaurants offer breakfast or snack boxes, ideal for busy parents working from home alongside their virtually schooled children. Others anticipate a need for individually wrapped snack trays for office environments.

As people adjust to new routines, your restaurant can support them with personalized messaging touting value and convenience while showing customers how your offsite options improve their day.

5. Switch to a bodega model

In recent years, restaurants have faced increasing competition from gas stations, convenience stores and grocery stores offering ready-to-eat meals and snacks. However, pandemic-related supply chain issues have led customers to seek out commodities.

To meet this demand, restaurants provided staff and customers with the basics using the bodega concept. It works well if you can incorporate items that don’t add additional inventory costs or help you move urgent items, such as fresh food.

Consider using a restaurant marketing campaign that encourages customers to grab a takeout meal while buying a few items for breakfast, lunch, or dinner the next day, such as:

  • Fresh vegetables or fruits
  • Onions or potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Various fresh or dried herbs

6. Offer in-home dining experiences

The desire for home experiences has led to a leap into do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, including home cooking or baking options. It’s the result of more people at home and tighter budgets.

Restaurants, bakeries and cafes can board by:

  • Sale of DIY kits: Bakeries offer unfrosted cookies, frosting and sprinkles in a Christmas cookie kit, while restaurants offer ready-to-cook meals.
  • Promote value: Restaurants produce the main course, then sell ingredients for quick side dishes to feed a family.
  • Explore Virtual Meals: From chef-led cooking sessions to small-group wine tastings, restaurants can securely connect people online.
  • Offer take-out tasting menus: People crave memorable experiences, and combining a tasting menu with an online presentation is a great way to satisfy those cravings.

7. Add ghost kitchens or pop-ups

Restaurant real estate is not cheap and operating costs continue to be on the list of top challenges for restaurant businesses. To overcome these obstacles, many restaurateurs are looking for buildings with a smaller footprint.

New locations may feature smaller dining areas with adaptable outdoor spaces or pick-up areas. Or, to embrace the delivery experience and expand their reach, business owners can consider:

  • Rental of shared kitchen spaces used as delivery distribution points
  • Use ghost kitchens to reduce delivery times or offer self-service pick-up counters
  • Increase profits through exclusive pop-up restaurants targeting specific customers

8. Cut Restaurant Menus

Restaurants of all sizes have reduced their menus in 2020, including McDonald’s, Denny’s and IHOP. Smaller menus help restaurants reduce food costs, simplify inventory management, reduce food waste and increase efficiency.

In the future, you can expect to see restaurateurs focusing on zero-waste items, offering different menus throughout the day, and improving food quality by focusing on a limited menu.

9. Emphasize authenticity and transparency

Today’s diners want brands to do more than sell great food. Customers expect honest communication about your security measures and how you treat your staff. Catering market trends indicate that businesses need to:

  • Show a connection between the restaurant’s core values ​​and the mission of its offerings, such as dine-in or delivery.
  • List the origin of certain foods, emphasize the local food supply, and highlight nutritional facts or guidelines.
  • Share behind-the-scenes views of your restaurant demonstrating safety practices or how you’re adapting to support customers.
  • Voice your concern and participate in community events to show how you are giving back or what role you are playing in an area.
  • Train staff to address pandemic concerns while prioritizing restaurant customer service.

Deloitte survey data shows customers want increased restaurant cleanliness due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be transparent with marketing messages that address health and safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Image source: author

Stay agile by monitoring current restaurant trends

As restaurant industry trends change to reflect consumer behavior and lifestyle changes, you can keep your business in the spotlight by improving your online presence and creating a seamless website experience. of your restaurant.

Fashions come and go, but the desire for value and convenience is here to stay. Embracing DIY kits and food delivery while designing marketing campaigns that show people how to recreate their favorite meals are great ways to stay relevant in the days to come.

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