Shifting customer preferences and expectations are challenging the restaurant space like never before. Emerging technologies, cultural trends and a renewed focus on nutrition are all affecting the competitive landscape. As restaurants look forward to address these changes, we ask… what exactly does “the Restaurant of the Future” look like?
The ProdigyWorks team is headed to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago where you’ll see some real-time changes happening in the industry. Restaurants have new opportunities to grow their businesses but they also have to anticipate and make adjustments to build customer loyalty and stay ahead of competition. By better understanding the changing consumer and the multitude of trends affecting the industry, companies can prepare and grow their business for the future through strategic innovation.
Here are a few trends we see worth considering when developing your restaurant’s forward-looking business strategy.
Takeout and Delivery
You can’t afford to overlook the shift in consumer preference towards at-home eating. For a variety of reasons, including convenience, options and cost, consumers’ appetite for takeout and delivered foods continues to grow. Companies big and small are adapting quickly to accommodate this preference. This includes redesigning sit-down concepts to include drive-thru’s, curbside pickups, and takeout options. Many restaurants are forming dedicated lanes and customized kitchen designs to make orders directed for takeout and delivery more fresh and efficient.
Mobile continues to flex its muscle and provide new paths to an enhanced customer experience and increased brand loyalty. As restaurant ordering becomes increasingly digital, restaurants are also expanding their delivery programs. Recently Panera announced its nationwide food delivery service. UberEATS is even testing out food delivery by drones. Expect full-scale delivery systems to be integrated into one POS system, along with growing restaurant partnerships with delivery companies like DoorDash and UberEATS.
Today people are looking for more than just a meal when they go out. They want an experience. This could be eating at a local pop-up restaurant, dining outdoors in an uncommon location, or enjoying live music as they dine. According to an Eventbrite survey, 75% of people said they feel special dining experiences are worth paying more for. This means that experiential dining isn’t just a conceptual trend, it can also have substantial financial gains for businesses willing to create distinct experiences.
Another noteworthy restaurant trend happening right now is restaurants are adopting a warm atmosphere, instead of anything too modern. Retro finishes are returning in style as well as natural elements like plants and living walls. Stripping down recipes to fewer ingredients and reworking traditional recipes for today’s tastes is growing in demand. Experiential shifts in décor and food will continue to be popular as consumers look for more than just food but meaningful experiences as they dine out.
Restaurants are engaging with their guests via more channels and outreach tactics than ever before. Even social media platforms like Snapchat are now providing guests with the ability to book reservations through the app. In the fight for guest attention, more and more restaurants are using loyalty programs to attract new customers and keep existing customers engaged.
Restaurants are focusing on growing their loyalty programs and launching effective initiatives to increase usage, optimize outreach, and communicate via different channels. These sorts of digital engagements keep customers apprised of what is going on at restaurants and rewards them for staying connected. It also allows businesses to track shopping habits and learn more about their customers. Expect to see restaurants invest in more expansive loyalty programs in the future with greater personalization to their target consumer.
In order to remain competitive, restaurants need to look beyond short-term shifts and take a deep dive into the future of the restaurant ecosystem. Who will be dining, where will they want to eat and what factors will influence their experience?
With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, an ability to understand how various trends will affect your customers will not only build brand loyalty but also give your restaurant or food company a distinct advantage over competition.
The National Restaurant Association Show kicks off this Saturday, May 19th in Chicago and ProdigyWorks will be there! We’d love to discuss your company’s needs and share some insights and examples of how we’ve helped other companies in the food and beverage space grow and expand their business. See how we use high-level outside thinking to generate out-of-the-box innovation that shifts the competitive landscape in your favor.