NRA Show 2015: Restaurant Trend Recap

NRA Show 2015: Restaurant Trend Recap

NRA Show 2015: Restaurant Trend Recap 800 400 Chute Gerdeman

The numbers are impressive: 10,000 restaurant locations are added annually and annual sales for the year are expected to increase by $26 billion to $709 billion—the sixth consecutive year of positive sales growth. But growth doesn’t come without its own challenges and there are clearly changes afoot in the restaurant industry. We’ve summarized some key findings from our attendance at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show.

Insights from Amy:

Restaurants, specifically QSR, are trying to crack the code to capture Millennials’ attention. Striving to make everything custom, interactive and fast, brands are encouraging restaurant owners to listen to what employees, customers and industry experts are saying about the ever-elusive Millennial. How do brands attract these younger customers without completely alienating an older generation or core customer? It’s not just adding an iPad as an additional order station, though that was also a huge topic at this show. Millennials want to be able to customize their order online, through an app, at the counter or via a kiosk (iPad). Options are a must with Millennials, but QSRs are challenged filling these unique/custom orders and offering signature items. Overall, it doesn’t seem like anyone has perfected the balance yet.

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Insights from Mary Lynn:

Chute Gerdeman’s EVP, Development, Gary Yoko, hosted a panel discussion with corporate representatives from Whole Foods, HMSHost and Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants on “What’s Now and What’s Next” in the restaurant industry. The panel discussed how the lines are increasingly blurring between restaurants, grocery and retail and how to apply some of the best experiences to restaurants of any size and shape.

A personal highlight from the panel session came from Christine Sturch, Design & Branding Coordinator for Whole Foods Market, as she discussed the embodiment of brand in a store. “Brand isn’t just about a look and feel. It’s the feeling, the essence, the customer experience. If you can evoke a feeling in someone while they’re shopping, then you’ve evoked the deepest sense of brand that you can evoke.” It’s an important statement because it speaks to how today’s consumer shops. It’s not enough to offer quality merchandise and a well-designed logo, but you have to let the customers know what you believe, what you stand for, and infuse that in every part of the experience to bring the customer along on your brand journey. To hear it coming from a successful brand like Whole Foods solidified how necessary this aspect is to store and restaurant design.

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Insights from Bonnie:

We are still in a heavy tech world. Walking the NRA show floor you encounter a large variety of technology options. Clearly digital menu boards are not going away any time soon. It’s an easy way to update a menu and include photos or short videos of product, and engage customers with active elements to enhance their experience. Advertising is also becoming more interactive within the restaurant and in-store experience with integrated video in beverage and display cases. Promotional content can change by daypart, and be localized and personal to guests. And as consumers continue to embrace self-service technology, we can expect to see more touch screen ordering options to increase speed, improve order accuracy, empower customers and create opportunities for order add-ons.

Insights from Clay:

Brands continue to look for ways to add convenience to the dining experience including bringing draft beer to non-traditional spaces and unique self-service pouring applications. On the show floor there were two innovative solutions that caught my eye: Plug In and Pour and the Micro Matic.

Plug In and Pour is the “The Cadillac of Beer Machines” with a self-service process that can dispense beer, wine, coffee, etc. There’s no need for a water line or CO2, and it guarantees the perfect pour. They even have an option to incorporate digital where customers use wristbands or cards to keep track of purchases. They simply tap the card on a sensor, which allows only that amount to be dispensed. This self-service makes it ideal for restaurants, events, festivals and most any environments as long as there’s a place to plug in.

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Micro Matic has an interesting temperature controlled dual wine tap system. This is ideal for having both red and white offerings side-by-side, and perfect for portable tasting rooms and special events. The Micro Matic system provides less wine waste, extended shelf life and easier portion control. All can be customized at the tabletop taps using wine labels and communication.

Insights from George:

One of the most interesting sessions we attended during the show was “What’s Hot in 2015? Top Restaurant and Food Trends,” presented by Hudson Riehle and Annika Stensson. During the session we learned what consumers are looking for relevant to restaurants, customer expectations and trends. Consumers are still watching their budgets but will be willing to spend more with some “nudging” and even say dining out is a better use of their time than cooking and cleaning up at home, according to 80% of consumers. Restaurant visitors are willing and interested to use technologies, either their own or restaurant provided, for nutritional information, reservations or paying for meals. The guest palate is changing too, 70% of consumers like going to restaurants that have food offers that are not easily duplicated at home. Breakfast is the next big food trend, according to 70% of consumers across all age groups who want breakfast all day, every day.

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Want to hear more about what’s heating up in the restaurant industry? Check out our latest report “Reviving the Relevance of Restaurant Brands.”

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