Trends, Predictions & Prognostications – Steal Share From Restaurants

Trends, predictions and prognostications seem to flow like water this time of year, however my question is always, “How can we apply predictions from other channels to grow and evolve Private Brands?” In this instance the report is “Five foodservice trends from Mintel set to shape restaurant menus in 2012” from the Mintel Menu Insights group. How will you leverage these trends to create Private Brands that solve for consumer needs and steals share from restaurants. According to the press release from Mintel:

Competition in the foodservice industry is always fierce and restaurant chains are constantly jockeying for your business, money and attention in an overcrowded marketplace. However, in 2012 five trends outlined by Mintel Menu Insights will shape how operators appeal to their customers with regional and imported menu options, double-sided menus, customization and time-intensive preparation methods.

Eric Giandelone, foodservice director at Mintel notes the following: “Our trends are designed to give both restaurant operators and food suppliers a thorough understanding of what’s coming in the foodservice industry. Our trends are based on original consumer research, developments among restaurants and trends observed in other industries. Our goal with these trend predictions isn’t merely to identify what’s going to happen, but to deliver a roadmap on how to take advantage of these trends.”

Here are five trends that will impact the foodservice industry in the coming year:

  1. American regionalism
    Consumers are not only more aware of global cuisine, they are also more aware and interested in the regional specialties that define American cuisine. Whether it’s Kansas City or Memphis barbecue, New England Chowder or Low Country grits, more consumers and restaurants are looking at the regions and cities in the US to identify the “Best of” cuisine.
    American grocers are ideally positioned to take advantage of and potentially own this trend. Whether you build a new “Flavors of America” brand or work the regional recipes into an existing brand, own this space. And take it to the next level, how can you teach and engage your customers, perhaps cookbook signings by regional chefs or in store cooking lessons. Shrimp & Grits Anyone?
  2. Double-sided menus
    It’s unlikely that consumers are going to start demanding absolutely healthy menus in the near future and even less likely that restaurants are going to solely list these absolutely healthy options. However, consumers want choices, and the Double Sided Menu trend illustrates that choice. Menus will continue to feature widely indulgent options, but will be balanced with healthier, better for you options. Additionally, this goes beyond healthy and indulgent to include premium and value pricing. Operators understand it’s not either or, it’s both, so we’ll continue to see both high priced and low priced options on the same menu.
    This is all about balancing the healthy with the indulgent, do you have the products and brands that give your customers the options they need.
  3. Consumer control
    Consumers expect that their voice will be heard and that their wants and needs will be met. And the surest way to listen to the customer and ensure their needs are met is to give them the ability to control their dining experience. Customized ordering systems will continue to flourish, as will greater flexibility in menu design.
    Customization has always been the core of the grocery business, however are you selling ingredients or solutions?
  4. Slow it down
    Quick service restaurants are able to drive margins through their standardized efficiencies, but more and more we are seeing fast food restaurants return to more time-intensive preparation methods. As such, items described as “handmade” or “home style” are popping up on restaurant menus as consumers recognize that they want more from their dining experience than efficiency.
    Whether you are providing “homestyle” home meal solutions or actually teaching customers how to create homestyle meals Private Brands must authentically own the experience.
  5. Importing ideas
    For many restaurant chains, growth lies elsewhere, in international markets. And for those companies already with an international presence, menu concepts and product testing is taking place overseas. From there, good ideas are making their way to the US market, as was the case with McDonald’s recent McBites, which first started in Australia before entering the US market. Given the importance of international markets for growth, this is one trend that will continue to growth beyond this year.
    You may not own stores in Europe or Asia however you can still learn from the likes of Tesco, Carrefour, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer. Take a trip, visit stores, there is a lot to learn just across the ocean.
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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.