Consumer Trends and Your Restaurant – What You Need to Know

How customers decide what to eat, and where they’re going to buy it from isn’t as simple as supply and demand – they are impacted by different motivations, trends and personal opinions.

As a restaurant operator, you need to be aware of consumer trends, and how they will affect the way patrons make their dining decisions.

What consumer trends do you need to be aware of?

A Greater Focus on the Experience of Dining 

Dining out is an experience, one that can be helped or hindered by the menu, aesthetics of the venue, and the prior expectation of the diners. There are a growing number of diners who want more from the overall experience offered by your restaurant and are spending less time focused on just the appearance of their chosen dishes. They want style and substance, complimented by an atmosphere and unique experience.

Customers want to feel valued and know more about their chosen dishes, having a member of staff simply reciting the menu back to them, either online or in person, isn’t going to make a positive impact or entice them to order.

Listening to your customers online, taking in their feedback and adapting your plans to balance your goals and vision with their needs, will allow you to create more focused and specifically designed experiences, which you can then share with your community of guests and increase their interest in your venue.

Dining Out is A More Attractive Option than Delivery

With a wider range of delivery options, types of cuisine and menu items available, consumers have been tempted away from restaurants in favour of eating in the comfort of their own home. But with more restaurants offering events and interesting opportunities – such as wine pairing, live music, cooking classes, etc., customers are returning not just to enjoy the quality foods and drinks they can’t get at home, but to soak up the atmosphere, create emotional bonds and new connections as they rediscover their love of the hospitality experience.

Some of the most frequent complaints, and reasons for not returning to a restaurant are:

  • Inattentive or Rude Serving Staff

  • Table not Ready on Time
  • Meals not Looking or Tasting Like the Menu Description
  • Uninformed Serving Staff
  • Dirty Utensils or Table

These are all small matters that can easily be addressed with additional training or attention to detail, but they make a big impact on the customer and their impression of your establishment.

As a venue, your business is ripe for creating content to promote online – encouraging your guests to share their images and reviews, and showcasing the special features of your restaurant can help to promote your establishment, brand, and staff – gaining more interested audience members and additional enquiries, bookings and orders as a result.

Sustainability Is A Consumer Worry that Needs Addressing

With more focus on healthier eating and a growing global interest in how ingredients are sourced, and from where – restaurants can position themselves as ethically and morally responsible and attract the growing number of clients who take this into consideration when making their dining choices.

By finding alternatives that better protects the environment; you can balance your financial needs against your moral and ethical obligations and find a solution that works for everyone. 

You should take the opportunity to promote your brand voice, values and vision across your social media channels and website – let your customers know what you believe in, and what you stand for. It is important however that you are honest – it is extremely easy to discover information online, and brands that are caught out lying or misleading their guests tend to suffer from extreme negative backlash.

A More Exciting Range of Vegetarian and Vegan Options 

Gone are the days when a vegetarian or vegan alternative was a second thought. It is no longer acceptable to have one or two simple and often boring dishes, as the vegetarian or vegan option – in 2017, there was a 987 percent increase in demand for vegetarian options (Just Eat), and customers want to know more about their food.  

There is such an incredible scope for creativity, and customers who usually eat meat are often opting for these dishes too. Focus on different diets means that customers expect a wider range of dishes to choose from, and they want to know that their food is not only healthy, but ethically sourced.
Promoting your menu online can allow you to discover more about your customer wants (by gauging how they react to suggested menu items) and encourage new customers to try your dishes.

You Must Adopt the Use of Frictionless Technology

Since the introduction of contactless payment methods and self-ordering stations or pre-booking online, Frictionless technology has changed the minimum expectations of the customer. Having Frictionless Technology working for your venue promotes a smooth customer journey from start to finish – and allows for a better experience. 

From initially finding your venue and discovering what it is that you serve, to booking a table, dining and paying, then leaving feedback or reviews afterwards – your customers want this process to be as easy and stress free as possible.

It’s always important to determine the difference between a "fad" and a "trend" and know the best ways to implement new ideas to keep your business fresh and relevant. You need to enhance the customer experience you deliver at every stage, educate your audience on what you do best, and ensure that your service standards are consistent on and offline – letting your customers know that they can expect an experience with you that can’t get anywhere else.