The experience of dining out is no longer just about finding a good place to eat. For Americans, it has evolved into something more complex and a lot of thought needs to be put into answering the age-old question: "Where are we eating out tonight?"
According to business insider Greg Maloney
, the landscape of the food and beverage (F&B) industry is changing dramatically. He points out that industry growth is fueled by the fact that more and more Americans are spending more of their hard-earned money on eating out compared to buying groceries.
At the same time, changes in the business environment brought by consumer insights and developments in technology have given rise to important trends that budding F&B entrepreneurs need to watch out for. Those who are already in the know are naturally ahead of the pack. Social media and the F&B industry
Restaurants and other F&B industry players are realizing that their consumers can make or break their businesses through social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram for example is inundated with posts, photos, and videos about the food that was eaten and the whole dining experience, whether positive or negative. Food porn is already a common way of self-expression especially for millennials.
Navigating the world of social media can be daunting for some F&B joints, especially those who have been around for some time and are not used to this kind of attention. The trick is to find the right people to handle this for an F&B brand, so that one can reap the rewards of being social media savvy. E-commerce and the F&B industry
Although this may not technically fall under “dining out,” food delivery still impacts on the industry because of the amount of money people spend on it. Cristin Singer shared that e-commerce platforms are bringing food to the customers’ doorsteps
, not only for specialty food and beverages but even for groceries.
Singer also says that the growth of online delivery and food subscription services will continue as consumers are also appreciating the convenience of ordering in food and groceries. After e-commerce giant Amazon acquired Whole Foods, this has opened up new opportunities for selling fresh food online. The role of technology in the dining out experience
Aside from social media and e-commerce, other technological developments have created such an impact on the whole dining experience. Gone are the days when one has to queue up for a table or reserve a table by calling ahead. A click of button will now do the trick. This goes as well for making orders ahead of time, to save one from the agonizing task of poring over the menu and choosing what one will eat. All about experience
Consumers have also changed over the years. With more millennials having the purchasing power, this does not mean however that they will spend on anything they fancy. Maloney discusses how consumers, especially millennials are choosing to spend on “experiences” rather than physical products or objects.
What does this mean for restaurants? It means that they have to create a unique dining experience. It’s not only about good food, it is also the whole restaurant environment, from the ambiance to the wait service and much more. Ryan Hibbert
, CEO of the Riot Hospitality Group based out of Scottsdale, Arizona embodies this. RHG has been around since 2009 and has several successful F&B brands in the United States.
Speaking to VoyagePhoenix, he describes their success in “creating an environment, a culture.” His restaurants provide “really unique environments” where food, service and entertainment are top-notch, so people will not look elsewhere. “We give local residents an opportunity where they feel like they belong, and they love what they are experiencing.”Local and sustainable sourcing
Tied to the changing consumer preferences is the big leap towards local food sourcing. The growth of farmers markets in the U.S. has affected the purchasing habits of restaurants as well. Fresh food is a trend that is here to stay especially since it is also tied to healthier and better eating.
The F&B industry is not far behind with the rise of farm-to-table restaurants and health food restaurants that serve food that is not only fresh but delicious as well. One example of such is Farm and Craft in Scottsdale and Uptown Phoenix, which features a “Wellness Menu” that lets the customer choose what they want in their health bowl.Giving back
Millennials are especially aware about the major social issues that their community is facing. Within the F&B industry, the issues directly affecting them have to with food wastage and sustainable use of resources. It matters to these types of consumers whether their favorite restaurant makes use of water resources sustainably, handles its wastes properly, and addresses food wastage efficiently.
The other side of the coin is how F&B industry players engage and give back to their community. For some consumers, seeing their favorite restaurant donating food to a shelter or even employing disadvantaged members of the society gives them a sense of pride, knowing that they in some way are helping out when they patronize the restaurant.