Following the user-centric approach that has always distinguished us, we have taken up some of the topics covered in our Food-Z research. The article frames 5 restaurant trends associated with as many moments of consumption, focusing on a world in constant evolution in which brand identity plays an increasingly crucial role.
1. CHOOSING THE RESTAURANT
Accessible cool: eating experiences that are cool, yet accessible.
There are three main drivers that lead 2021 consumers to choose a particular restaurant: perceived quality, the restaurant’s image, and affinity with the consumer’s identity.
The union of the first two drivers leads us to identify the first trend: Accessible cool. This is a type of format that is accessible to the majority of people but is seen by users as a fairly luxurious experience, thanks to significant attention to image and perceived quality. Accessible cool is the link between a classic restaurant and fast food, characterised by informal service and quick delivery.
Hekfanchai, Milanese bing-shi, showcases original Hong-Kong street food in Milan, accompanied by the new dishes created by the Hong-Kong-born chef Kin Cheung, one of the most internationally popular names in Hong-Kong cuisine, and is offering something new: a cocktail list that is characterised by a fusion of East and West, studied by the bartender Francesco Menozzi. Everything is at truly reasonable prices.
Pick Up Point: a new strategy to pick up clients “on the go”
Over recent months and bolstered by the pandemic and the consequential need to focus on open-air eating, venues have literally populated the city’s streets, squares and pavements of Italy like never before.
With this passage of the restaurant experience from indoors to outdoors, one trend that we believe will become ever more important is that of the “Pick Up Point”; a strategic use of external spaces to intercept passing customers through the use of stations or by literally “opening up” the restaurant to the outside.
The result is coffee and drinking stations, literal satellite points outside the establishment that offer take-away experiences, avoiding the long queues that today’s consumers, impatient and conscious of social distancing, may find stressful. Opening up one’s restaurant to the outside, allowing consumers to explore the venue’s offerings in a direct and interactive manner, translates into a more inclusive attitude towards customers.
The Terrazza Aperol recently inaugurated in Venice seems to have immediately followed the trend: just outside the bar it is possible to find a drinking station ready to serve take-away and strolling drinks, useful for intercepting “on the go” consumers.
3. CHOICE OF FOOD
All-in-one: Fast, quality and healthy dishes
On our journey exploring trends in the restaurant sector, we now finally come to the inside of the venue, and in particular to the moment of choosing the food.
As we also saw in FOODZ, people are ever increasingly attentive to what they eat, and exaggerating with food is seen as an exception. This is why the “All-in-One” formula is gaining in popularity; single dishes accompanied at most by a starter and a side dish, with balanced and clear calorie content and often international in style. This allows everyone to enjoy a quick, quality and healthy meal.
For example, Poke House, after having gone beyond national borders – 30 venues in Italy, Portugal and Spain – decided to return home with its tenth opening in Milan, in the Porta Venezia district. Customisable low-calorie Poke bowls that are quick to make and contain top-quality ingredients.
Eatertainment: restaurants as venues for entertainment, for an experience that goes beyond food.
Nowadays, people don’t go out just to eat. Our research effectively demonstrates the social importance of food, which is even higher than that of its gastronomic qualities, in response to social pressure to “go out and do something in the evening”. Food is good “material”, which is why, in a venue, the brand, its history and its values can be a subject of conversation; a central aspect when seeing restaurants as brands.
For this very reason, restaurants that follow the trend of “Eatertainment”, offering entertainment services, will capture the attention and the curiosity of consumers. It is therefore fundamental for restaurateurs to identify their target market, in order to be able to design experiences that are in line with that market’s needs and desires. We have discussed this matter in further detail in our FoodZ research, which can be seen here.
In this light, one promising proposal is the format “The 3rd Spot”, which is due to open in the next few months. “Our aim is to encapsulate the positive energy that characterises dining and open-air experiences, which have made a significant contribution to this year’s positive memories. The idea is extremely simple; following an entire life spent working and two years spent at home, we all need a third place where we can feel good and where we can get away from it all” – stated Josh Rossmeisl, founder of The 3rd Spot.
5. DIGITAL LOYALTY
Digital programmes and services aimed at building customer loyalty
We have come to the final chapter in our restaurant experience. The subject here is “Digital Loyalty”, a fundamental concept in the restaurant sector (that of loyalty), revisited in a modern key thanks to new technology and new services present in the world of gastronomy. In the future, restaurants will be able to introduce loyalty programmes to reward returning customers; these will, in fact, be given the opportunity to become “virtual regulars”, consequently accessing a series of advantages and awards provided by the restaurants themselves.
It is a trend in line with the aim of small- and medium-sized restaurant businesses to strengthen the bond with their customers over distance. Restaurateurs will be able to create their own personal loyalty programmes (in line with their brand and the expectations of their target) and set out the main characteristics. Physical cards, proprietary applications, delivery platforms… there are countless methods, and they can be valorised through the creativity of the restaurateurs.
Uber Eats builds loyalty with its new Restaurant Loyalty service; in the future, all users and restaurants with the Uber Eats app will be able to introduce loyalty programmes to reward all the customers who continue to return.
Giulio Vescovi, Strategic Designer at CBA