Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP’s Retail, Franchising & Hospitality group
The restaurant industry has been hard at work this year, coming up with new and exciting menu innovations to delight the palettes of the American public. And there’s good news – a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article recently declared that the U.S. is the most likely candidate to power world growth in 2015 as a result of increased job growth and higher employment. That will hopefully translate into greater spending power for consumers in 2015, with research house IBISWorld predicting consumer spending growth of 2.6 percent yearly through 2019. Given that possibility, what trends should restaurateurs be following to get the most out of 2015?
- Eating as a staged event. Taking pictures of one’s food may be cliché, but it’s still incredibly popular on social sites like Instragram and Twitter. Restaurateurs should keep that photogenic quality in mind as they design menus and create dishes. Your customers can be your biggest brand advocates, and the more likely they are to take photos of your food and share them, the faster you can generate buzz for your restaurant. Even better, you can take advantage of this trend to use customer-sourced photographs in your marketing and promotional efforts.
- Restaurant tech takes off. Along the same lines, restaurateurs need to be on top of technology in order to appeal to millennials and Generation Z, those born after 2000 who are now in their teenage years. These are people who cannot remember a time before computers and cell phones, for whom technology is as natural as breathing, and as they start to become consumers, restaurants who want their business need to cater to that love of technology. The introduction of tabletop tablets and services like OpenTable that take reservations online are a step in the right direction, but expect to see a stronger push for things like digital menu boards and smartphones apps for payment.
- Local becomes micro-local. The food industry has been trending toward locally sourced options for a while now, but expect to see this taken to greater extremes in 2015, affecting everything from seafood to beer and wine. Smaller restaurants in particular should take advantage of this trend, as it may cause an “anti-chain” mentality among customers.