Upcoming trends - what lies ahead for the hospitality industry?

13/10/2017 - 08:36
As the season changes and we head into winter, hospitality operators, most of whom have already launched their autumn menus by now, naturally start thinking ahead at the next trends set to take the business, and consumers by storm.

Dominating the news this week, companies industry-wide including wholesaler Bidfood, the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), CGA and restaurants Pho and Bistrot Pierre, have all offered their own predictions based on first-hand experience and where they believe growth opportunities lie.

Some – vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets in particular – have dominated the food and beverage sector for a while, as others – experiential venues and technological advancements – provide operators greater food for thought as they try to navigate the market and keep up with increasingly demanding consumers.

According to investment director of private equity firm Livingbridge, Benoit Broch, five clear key trends we can expect to see more of include:

  • The (continued) rise of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians

Veganism has increased by 360% in Great Britain in the past 10 years – unsurprisingly making it the country’s fastest growing lifestyle movement. Broch says that consumer concerns over animal welfare, the environment and personal health will continue to drive the trend moving forward.

What’s more, with more than a third of people in the UK now identifying themselves as flexitarians, a further 29% trying to reduce their meat consumption and almost a third of Brits under the age of 25 who “would consider going meat-free to protect the environment,” it highlights the huge scope for catering for vegan and vegetarian diets.

One chain to have already capitalised on it is Pret a Manger, who has experienced double digit growth in the sales of vegetarian items since launching its first Veggit Pret store in 2016 (there are now three in London.)

  • Lower ABV drinks

In the past decade, the number of Brits to have decreased their alcohol consumption has risen dramatically, citing “saving money” (more than two in five drinkers,) “to lose or avoid gaining weight” (41%) and “improve personal health” (41%) as the biggest factors.

Broch says this “presents a significant opportunity for hospitality operators to increase their drinks offering to embrace low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers, ciders and wines” and to highlight lower calorie content and good cost-effective alternatives.

  • Boom in the experience economy

Customers are no longer satisfied with simply going out to eat and drink, they are constantly demanding more “memorable experiences which exceed expectations across food, drink and seating,” which, Broch claims, need to be “instantly Instagrammable.”

Venues need to “ensure they make it onto every customer’s social feed,” meaning its vital that they offer something different every time and react quickly to changing trends.

  • Using data to better connect with customers

Although “digital technology has made consumers’ lives easier, it has also made them more demanding,” with almost half of millennials expecting personalisation in their interactions with businesses. To benefit, operators need to ensure customers log on to their Wi-Fi through their personal Facebook accounts, allowing them to obtain a direct email contact, their preferred device, interests and hobbies. They can then “tailor offers to each customer, and better target their campaigns to nurture repeat business.”

  • Future of delivery

The delivery service market was valued at £3.6 billion last year - up 6% on 2015 and 50% more than in 2008. Many operators, however, are “still torn” whether to utilise companies such as Just Eat and Deliveroo, in fear of “handing over responsibility to independent delivery contractors,”  “cannibalising the number of customers eating in” and “less favourable consumer spending habits.”

According to Broch, to make success of the out-of-home market, the key is to “overcome operational challenges” and ensure kitchens are set up for both delivery and dine-in, can deal with a sudden influx of orders and have operations set up accordingly to maximise trade.

Although much of Broch’s predictions aren’t entirely knew or unheard of, it will be interesting to see which, if any, materialise in coming months, and how hospitality operators adapt to each of the new trends. While many are already refocusing kitchens to centre around sustainability and seasonal, locally-reared produce (environmental factors and government concerns playing a huge role), it remains to be seen how operators will adjust to consumer demands and what lies ahead for the food and beverage sector.

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