Local restaurant consultant Michael Said has evaluated the potential impact of eleven international restaurant trends on restaurants in our country, writing for www.bizcommunity.com. The trends were documented by Technomic Inc, an American market research company.
1. More ordering of “retro cocktails and high-end spirits” and craft beers, away from mass-produced alternatives, at fine-dining restaurants, as restaurant patrons want to celebrate their increasing confidence in the year. Said’s reaction is that the stricter ‘drink/driving’ legislation may counter this trend locally, and predicts a greater focus on non-alcoholic cocktails in general, and cocktails for designated drivers in particular.
2. Restaurants are becoming mobile, moving location, without a fixed abode. Said says that rent-free location is attractive, but is still too large a leap for South African restaurants.
3. A move away from a celebrity chef to the celebrity farmer, who supplied the ingredients, in marketing communication. Said is sceptical of seeing “Farmer Brown” style advertising in South Africa.
4. Technology in restaurants, to gain a competitive edge, including iPads with menus and winelists, and hand-held devices for payment at the table, will grow. Said says that social media marketing, location-based advertising and online reputation management will certainly be replicated in South Africa. He is however sceptical about the widespread use of iPads, with the danger of them disappearing with the cutlery and condiments!
5. The ‘Korean Influence’ is forecast for the USA, resulting from immigration, but is discounted by Said for South Africa.
6. The trend of ‘Tired of being poor’ could see restaurant patrons spoiling themselves with indulgences on higher-priced menu items. Said says this could apply locally, given that interest rate decreases have put more Rands into customers’ pockets.
7. Contradicting the previous trend, but not mutually exclusive, is that customers are demanding even greater value for money, and restaurants will have permanent value offers on their menus, a trend Said agrees will apply locally too. I would like to add that Cape restaurants have recognised the value of value-offerings, and 37 Cape Town restaurants are offering summer specials, a commendable business policy.
8. Restaurant chains will reinvent themselves with new branding and looks, as customers look for “new and exciting places to celebrate the new found financial freedom”. Said recommends that restaurants reinvest their greater income back into their businesses.
9. Comfort food will remain in demand, as will traditional dishes, either as they are, or with a modern interpretation. Said questions this trend forecast, as he doubts that patrons want to eat more of the same ‘home food’ at restaurants. He recommends that they be enticed back to restaurants with ‘old favourites, new experiences and plenty of “love”‘.
10. Supermarkets are increasingly competing against restaurants, offering their customers family value-for-money eat-in ideas and products. Locally, Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths “are taking customers out of restaurants and into the aisle”. Said recommends that ‘warmth and hospitality’ cannot be bought in a supermarket, and are points of difference for restaurants.
11. Restaurant menus will see a balance of healthy (starters) and indulgent (desserts) items. Said sees challenges for restaurants caused by menu-labelling requirements, and the Consumer Protection Act, said to be effective from April. I would like to add my own note to this trend, and call on restaurants to specify the fat content per 100g portion, and the carbohydrate content per serving for diabetics, as it is done on all Woolworths packaging – diabetes is a ‘price’ that is paid by restaurant lovers, and diabetics should be encouraged to eat out healthily without feeling that they are losing out.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comj Twitter: @WhaleCottage