The end of one year and the start of a new bring about the inevitable top 5, 10, 15 trends, what’s hot, greatest ideas, etc., and it can be overwhelming to try and sift through all the ideas. Should I be focusing on innovation or menu updates, customer satisfaction or the latest menu trend? We have taken the opportunity to cull through the lists to provide you with our take on the top “Big Picture” trends and areas of growth for 2015.
Healthy Eating Balance –Obesity continues to make the news and it appears many consumers are starting to take notice, according to Technomic 2014 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, siting consumers are finally embracing a restaurants ability to provide them healthy options that taste good. Technomic also reports healthy menu options have increased 20% of the Top 500 chain menus over the past two years. These factors indicate the gap is narrowing between what consumers say they want and their actual behavior when ordering from the menu. Healthy eating is also balanced with consumers desire for taste and “real” food, local and organically produced products and the ability to indulge on occasion. How operators respond in 2015 to this demand will vary, but they must be willing to meet the consumers demand in some fashion.
Upside of Downsizing – It doesn’t matter if you’re talking size of meal offerings, menu or kitchen size or equipment, small wins across the board in 2015. According to Technomic 2015 top trends, small is big in every way. Consumers are eager to spend on dining out, but want it to be a social experience they have been lacking in the last several years. This has created the rise of sharable, small plates that give guests a family dining experience and a reason to put down the technology and engage with each other. Menus are shrinking, as consumers have become overwhelmed with choices, allowing operators to take review their menu selections, keeping top performers while making room for new favorites, seasonal or daily specials. Smaller kitchens that allow more space for dining can increase revenue but generally mean equipment must be smaller and cross-functional to meet the demand of greater front–of–the-house capacity.
Premium Perception –From QSR’s trying to imitate their FSR competition, to top-shelf ingredients on pizza, to chains continuing to focus telling the story of where they get their ingredients and how their foods is prepared, “premium” or some implication of it, is the buzz word in 2015. This might mean new menu items that are ethnically inspired or menu descriptors with local or sourcing information.
Stealing Share – Competition for the consumers dollars spent on prepared foods will heat up in 2015. Outlets traditionally considered retail (C-store & Grocery) have seen the benefits of adding foodservice options that have grown their share of market and profits. This enhanced competition has traditional foodservice operators seeking new ways to differentiate themselves from the new comers and other foodservice segments. Lines will continue to blur between both commercial and noncommercial segments and FSR to Causal Dining as consumers seek out variety, quality and value where they live and work, creating the need for operators to deliver innovation, consistency, quality and speed of service to keep consumers coming buying.
According to industry experts from Technomic to the National Restaurant Association, 2015 will be a good year for the industry overall. Predictions of increased revenue, same stores, and lower commodity costs have restaurant operators excited to see what the year will hold. Consumers are also reporting decreasing gas prices will spur discretionary spending on things like dining out making 2015 a year of continued change for the restaurant industry.