Food & Beverage

Chefify - How Important Is Restaurant Sustainability To Consumers

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Concerns about food waste and sustainably sourced ingredients are no longer taboo subjects reserved for “alternative” groups. More and more consumers are interested in making not only healthier, but more conscientious decisions when it comes to their lifestyle choices – and, more importantly, their meals.

These demands are not surprising and correlate with the rising population of millennials: the dominant generation of the financial crisis era. Disillusioned by politics and empowered by social media, this demographic has a unique position in current world affairs; it makes sense that they would also have a lot to say about what gets dished up on their plates.

Restaurants are at an advantage in that so much of what they do can be sustainable; it’s essential, however, to pick initiatives that resonate with your target market and that you are able to commit to maintaining.

Some sustainable matters are more important

Many restaurants cater to vegetarians or customers with food intolerances these days. Clearly, the industry is responsive when it comes to health concerns, but what are your customers’ main priorities regarding sustainability?

It makes financial sense to adopt green practices, but in some cases, it may be the more expensive option. Ultimately, you have to decide what fits best into your business model, and you can do that collaboratively with your target audience by getting down to what matters the most to them.

The top questions to start with:

  • What do you do that’s already green?
  • Who is your main buyer persona (demographic, lifestyle, gender) and what impact do those attributes have on their consumer choices?
  • Do you have the resources to maintain your sustainability initiatives?

In the US, data shows that 87% of surveyed consumers would purchase from a business that advocated for an issue they cared about.

Sustainability initiatives that matter to customers:

At the very least, your patrons will expect you to make sound decisions when it comes to how you treat the environment and what you give back to the community. Whether it’s through composting your organic waste, providing training and wellbeing opportunities for your staff, or using environmentally friendly products and recyclable materials, you’re bound to find something that resonates with your core concerns and that you are able to practice regularly.

Top 4 initiatives to implement in your restaurant:

  • Safe work environment for employees
  • Recycling programmes
  • Local ingredient sourcing
  • Positive social impact

Millennials factor in sustainability when choosing a restaurant

Millennials are big on labels, nutrition, and “clean eating” – transparency is paramount. To gain the trust and loyalty of customers, it’s essential to provide all the information they require to make an educated choice from your menu.  

For the past fifteen years or so, social media has enabled this generation to archive an extensive collection of daily culinary photography – something which has significantly changed the food marketing game. Insta-famous chefs and health fanatics have leveraged the power of the internet to generate awareness about the benefits and dangers of certain ingredients and food cultivation practices, sometimes with direct impact on producers.

Conscious eating is a priority for many millennials, with local sourcing being identified as one of the major food trends for 2019. These fussy eaters want unique dining experiences, tasty ingredients and value for money.

Unlike previous generations, millennials' definition of “healthy” food is not all about 0% fat and calorie counting. Organic, natural, whole foods are a big draw card. Making sure that your restaurant sources food that is free from harmful chemicals and has traceable origins gives your end product the kind of story that millennials can get behind.

One of the defining characteristics of this generation is their desire for meaning and search for authentic, relatable causes to support. It’s important for you, as a business, to recognise that in a highly competitive market, the value proposition of the food you serve is multifaceted. Sustainability initiatives offer your patrons a more profound experience, one that they are willing to pay more for.