The changing societal climate and consumer behaviours are affecting establishments across the board. Customers increasingly spend their "going out" money on alternatives such as coffee shops and engaging dining experiences like markets or in-store cafes. What are the underlying causes of these shifts, and how can your business survive?
A new generation of diners is shaking things up for restaurants. Generation Z, the demographic cohort after millennials, want healthier options in smaller, to-go varieties that suit their budgets and ad-hoc eating schedules. These consumers engage well with digital communication due to their frequent use of internet-enabled devices, making it essential for restaurants to utilise social media and digital tools such as interactive applications.
Being "green" is a priority for the modern consumer – and we're not just talking salads and broccoli. Environmental concerns are a huge factor for customers. From packaging to food waste, to ethically sourced ingredients, your patrons are likely to show an interest in how much of an impact your business makes on the environment in order to get their final product out on the table.
This is evident in the increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options on menus across a range of established restaurants, as well as new businesses that are capitalising on the demand for healthier, meat-free alternatives that are co-incidentally also far more sustainable to create.
Dining experience and education
Dining out is no longer a formal affair. It's about a casual gathering and the ability to share a meal with friends and family in a comfortable and hospitable environment. This means that restaurants cannot isolate disabled diners and must work harder to make the overall experience within their venues uncomplicated and easy to navigate.
There is a host of new technology available that simplifies everything for restaurants – from the way that waiters process orders, to interactive digital menus that allow customers to make selections without requiring assistance from a server. Make sure that you implement the right kind of digital tools that will complement your particular brand and encourage staff and patrons to make use of them.
Restaurants can now collect all kinds of useful data to assist in their business decision-making process. You can now monitor how often a dish is being ordered to help you anticipate the stock levels you will require; equally, you can also cut down on the cost of stocking ingredients for meals that are less popular.
A functioning kitchen profoundly impacts the success of your business, meaning you need to have a thorough understanding of employee management.
There are various software systems available to help you schedule more suitable shifts, ensuring that you forecast labour needs more accurately. This results in happier employees, higher productivity and a decrease in costs. Furthermore, you can use stock-taking software to help manage your inventory and anticipate peaks and troughs accordingly, enabling you to save money and ensure that you always have fresh ingredients to hand.
The future of the industry is focused on the needs and wants of the customer while dishing up ethically sourced, authentic ingredients that can be consumed in a comfortable and convenient way. People working for your business should feel acknowledged, supported and encouraged to perform at their peak.
Personalisation is also a key feature of the future dining experience; technology will help to facilitate more independence for consumers, enabling them to select personalized menu options. An important takeaway is also price. While Gen Z will pay more for healthy alternatives, there is a growing movement towards more conscientious spending as individuals seek worthwhile experiences.