From the Editor: Embracing Trends

Photo of Rosanna Caira
Photo by Nick Wong

In a world that continues to spin faster than ever, keeping up with trends has become an important aspect of being in tune with what today’s consumers really want while also ensuring that your business remains relevant and fosters innovation.

But how can operators ensure they’re capitalizing on the right trends for their business and distinguish between a trend with staying power as opposed to a simple fad that is here today, gone tomorrow? That’s the question operators need to focus on and one that we tackle annually with our Trends Issue (see stories beginning on p. 12). 

Recently, Snappy, a Markham, Ont. -based company focusing on restaurant technology, released its foodservice industry findings, which provides a picture of consumer dining behaviours so that operators can curate what their dining experience will look like in 2024, says Rick Wang, CEO of Snappy. Here are a few trends worthy of note:

Increased Consumer Spending: The average check amount has risen by 18 per cent year over year (YOY), demonstrating the resilience of the restaurant industry.

Loyal Customer Support Despite Costs: Consumers are willing to invest more in their dining experiences, understanding the challenges restaurants face due to inflation and rising costs. Eighty-eight per cent of consumers express understanding if their favourite local establishment raises prices, with 55 per cent willing to tolerate a one to 10 per cent price increase.  

Not All Restaurants are Equal: Quick-service restaurants have seen an increase of 12 per cent while fine-dining establishments have experienced a 24-per-cent rise in average check amounts YOY. 

Efficient Wait Times: Restaurants have honed their skills in managing wait times, with an average decrease of seven per cent YOY. This indicates they’re becoming adept at providing a seamless dining experience. 

Margin Management Amid Inflation: The industry’s average profit margins have experienced a slight decrease of five per cent YOY due to the impact of inflation. However, this decline is offset by the increase in consumer spending.

Embracing Self-Serve Kiosks: Restaurants have witnessed a shift in consumer preferences, with 22 per cent of customers opting for self-service methods over traditional ordering through a person. This indicates a growing preference for convenience and efficiency. It’s noteworthy that Gen Z is 31 per cent more likely than millennials to use self-serve kiosks to avoid interactions. 

Discount Codes Driving Purchases: Data reveals the volume of consumer purchasing at restaurants has seen fluctuations throughout the year; however, months where restaurants are offering a higher discount option have shown increased utilization, suggesting that the percentage of the discount indeed matters and can influence customer behaviour.

As with all trends, it’s important to understand that at the core of all substantive changes in any business is innovation. And operators that can anticipate and respond quickly to emerging trends are the ones that will not only survive, but also thrive and drive growth as well.  FH

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