Winds of change are blowing through the global food and beverage retail industry and only the adaptable will survive.
Success will hinge on meeting consumers’ needs by harnessing technology, and creating experience and diversity, says Jonathan Doughty, Head of Foodservice Consulting at JLL EMEA. He picks the top six trends making a splash.
1. Digitalized dining
Reservations and reviews were the first facets of dining to go online and the growing trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to dinner is now impacting the food industry in myriad ways.
Diners might want to monitor their calorie intake through their phone or smartwatch. Or use geo-location app technology to find their closest branded restaurant and order their favourite dish.
2. Every table’s a stage
Dining out is now an experience. Restaurants that see the most success in ‘dining scene-setting’ are those that bring ‘theatre’ to the table – whether by venue design or by creating a memorable event.
Atlantis Dubai, for instance, is an under-the-sea restaurant perfect for shark selfies on Instagram before the main course arrives.
Then there’s Sixty, Europe’s highest restaurant located on the 60th floor of a Moscow tower, which opens its windows every two hours to piped classical music as excited diners peer over the cityscape beneath. and taking things a stage further, the global Dinner in the Sky group offers diners the chance to enjoy a freshly prepared meal while suspended 25 meters above London.
Photos and videos uploaded to social platforms give these types of restaurants free advertising and peer-to-peer recommendations – publicity that money can’t buy.
3. Pop-up restaurants keep popping up
Pop-ups are here, there and everywhere nowadays. From empty warehouses, overlooked pubs and faded theatres to high-end department stores and even a mile-long transport tunnel in Lyon, France. However, despite the mushrooming diversity of nomadic restaurants, they do all have one thing in common – exclusivity.
Pop-ups automatically create exclusivity by creating elusive moments. Quirky pop-ups such as Tincan in London, where all dishes were served in cans, continue to thrive as much as the ultra-exclusive ‘restaurants without tenants’ (RWTs) such as Cube. Cube saw Michelin-star chefs travel around Europe to cook exclusively for a lucky dozen diners every night.
4. The rise of the wannabe gourmand
The ordinary is now the extraordinary. Yesterday’s burger in a pub, now has to be a special burger, with special ingredients, eaten in a special place, and sometimes, though not always, at a special price.
The twist has become the talking point. Like Greedy Cow in East London, which serves highly prized wagyu beef, as well as kangaroo, bison and crocodile.
Another trend is the combination of two seemingly random foodstuffs, used to create an unusual hybrid, such as London’s Bubbledogs restaurant which sells champagne with its hot dogs.
5. Diverse dining
People from diverse backgrounds are eating out more often, often sharing the same space. Businessmen deep in conversation sit near students checking their phones, while boisterous families nearby decide what to order.
The challenge for brands is to cater for these different demographics simultaneously. By dividing up dining areas or using different décor to naturally appeal to various groups, restaurants are using their spaces intelligently.
Meanwhile, diners’ increasingly sophisticated palates demand more choice of foods. This explains why we’re seeing more international restaurant brands, especially established US and UK brands, expanding into the Middle East, China, South East Asia and India.
In unfamiliar territories, expansion through franchise agreements is a profitable way for restaurant businesses to establish and grow.
6. Food and technology
Imagine calling up to complain about the late delivery of your take-out to be told the drone got lost. Sounds far-fetched? It isn’t. Both Yo! Sushi and Domino’s Pizza have tested drone delivery of food. Even robot waiter service exists in Japan.
Technology is a major driver of change in the food and beverage industry and visionary businesses can capitalise by harnessing it to create new types of services or food production.
Scientists have invented a lab-grown burger cultivated from cow cells. If the technology is developed, researchers say it could become a sustainable way of meeting the world’s growing demand for meat.
This article was originally published on JLL Real Views.