Experience economy vital to foodservice

If the sector is to survive, it will also have to change, according to GlobalData

Roka at ME Dubai
Tastil M Gonzalez Moure 2019
Roka at ME Dubai

Whether you enjoyed the drive-thru at McDonald’s or sitting down at a neighbourhood bistro, the experience plays a big part in the foodservice industry. However, in the current climate, where health and wellbeing are high on people’s minds, consumers have new priorities. If foodservice wants to survive, it will also have to change, according to analytics company GlobalData.

It is no secret that the lockdown has been detrimental to the foodservice industry. GlobalData’s COVID-19 adjusted forecasts value the restaurant sector to fall from an expected baseline value of $2.4 trillion to a slowdown $1.9 trillion by the end of 2020, representing an overall loss of $512.6bn.

GlobalData consumer analyst Yamina Tsalamlal said: “Who wants to eat with a Plexiglas divider between you and your date? But the stakes are so high that those are the steps food service operators have to take. The question is, how can they create an atmosphere and experience with social distance measures? Why would I come to your restaurant if I can just order the same food takeaway?”

In China and Italy, we are already seeing hints of what a socially distant restaurant would look like – with the key question being how can operators create a pleasant atmosphere with social distancing measures? One way is by repositioning how you operate and embracing the outdoors.

Copenhagen restaurant Noma has shown how upscale fine dining can pivot to the changing times. Normally offering multi-course tasting menus to customers that have travelled from all over the world, it has opted for a simpler fare: burgers and wine enjoyed in its garden.

Another key aspect that Noma represents is the changing attitudes towards spending. As the world sees high unemployment levels and is moving towards a recession, the idea of spending money and time in fine dining might seem trivial. In fact, as of GlobalData’s May 20 COVID-19 survey, 83% of consumers globally say their purchase decisions are influenced by how well products and services fit within their time and money constraints.

Tsalamlal continued: “It’s similar to how the luxury industry has been suffering. In a recession, these purchases are put aside. That being said, previous recessions have shown us that there are opportunities for creating smaller and satisfying experiences: affordable luxuries.”

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