The Hartman Group recently released a report detailing how snacks are becoming mini meals, focusing findings on the need for food companies to keep up with the consumer’s life-style. This leads me to wonder, how can restaurants take advantage of this trend? Are we keeping up? Or are we missing more potential restaurant sales?
The food culture has changed and we need to keep those changes top of mind when we plan our menu and style of service. There is a new wider range of acceptable places for consumers to eat, from Walgreens, Costco Wholesale, Convenience Stores, etc. And consumers are addicted and attached to their personal devices (phones, tablets, etc.), meaning: convenience is not just about saving time, it is also the style of the food.
So how does a casual or full service restaurant keep up with these consumer trends? First, remember you can’t be everything to everyone, or you’ll be nothing to anyone. You still need to keep your niche, and be true to your brand, BUT are there little things you can do that attract the new style of eating?
The HartmanGroup stated that about half the time consumers eat alone, and reported many of the meals eaten at home are not prepared from scratch but assembled. This makes me wonder if a few small tweaks to your service or menu could attract the ‘on the go’ eater and perhaps increase your restaurant sales:
- Does your menu have the flexibility for that smaller meal by offering smaller portion sizes?
- Do you allow a fast take out option menu? Is it easy for a consumer to order and pick up from your restaurant or do they walk in and wonder “where do I get my to-go food” and feel uncomfortable because they have to ask?
- Do you have a signature sauce or dish that can be assembled at home that you could offer as an alternative to dining in? Perhaps package it in disposable containers for a take home convenience.
- Can you offer easy to make meals at home from your menu? Maybe even snacks or appetizers; perhaps something you marinate that just needs to be heated for a few minutes in an oven for a delicious snack? Or how about a dip or two with some bread or chips?
You don’t have to go crazy, but it can’t hurt to let your brand go home with your customer; the convenience of eating at home doesn’t have to be limited to the packaged goods industry. With a few changes and some creativity, I’m certain restaurants can offer some great snacks to eat at home. It might be worth a limited time offering or communication to your customers and give it a try.