67 – Restaurant Trends 2018 Part II

Last podcast covered the trends and the megatrend for indie restaurants.  We look at the trends for restaurants we see in 2018.

5.  Experience Design? Virtual reality (VR) experience at Restaurant Lûmé, Saved By The Max in Chicago and now LA. These are examples of restaurants that are doing a great job with designing an experience.  Where there is experience, there is margin!

6.  Zero waste? Decreased food costs and being environmentally responsible. Consumers are looking for more opportunities to dine at eco-friendly restaurants.

7.  Meal labeling? In an effort to improve health, consumers are a lot more interested in the ingredients that are in the meals that they are eating. They’re looking into all the carbs and fats in the meals, allowing them to make better choices.

8.  Health? Flexitarianism and a growing trend towards people’s changing tastes as they look for a more healthy diet. People will still want to have a great experience, but decouple it from being a ‘naughty treat’.  How can you improve the healthy benefits of your food?  Sub-niching towards meals like ketogenic meals.

9.  Hyperlocal? Building an ecosystem around the local area. Food precincts, partner with other restaurants and other businesses to leverage different strengths.

10.  Fine casual? Providing elements of fine dining with a casual dining type experience.  Bring those elements into a medium price point. Expensive cutlery in a hamburger joint with table service, enabling them to increase the price point that is sustainable.

11.  Cuisine? More non-traditional cuisines like Israeli, Filipino and Eastern European cuisine based restaurants. These restaurants traditionally target their expat market, but the focus will be on building that cuisines brand and building a strong repeat customer base out of locals who have never experienced that culture.

12.  Menu experimentation? More weird things are going to appear, like chicken donuts.

13.  Story telling? What is your authentic, passionate story? How does it relate to your customers and how are you going to tell that story?

14.  Marketing? Restaurants will be forced to start taking their marketing a lot more seriously.  Running Facebook ads will become increasingly popular.  We see only 5% of indie restaurants running Facebook ads and that will increase dramatically next year.  Facebook videos? This is really the hottest marketing tool available to restaurants today.  More restaurants will look at those restaurants killing it on Facebook videos and think, “Why not me?” And after those first couple of awkward videos, you will see a big improvement in return. (Have a look at some of our first videos? They were awful!)


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Podcast transcript on Episode 67 – Restaurant Trends 2018 Part II

James Eling: Hey, everyone! Welcome back to Secret Sauce episode 67: Restaurant Trends for 2018. Alrighty, so last week we talked about culture driven dying, tech in the restaurant, order commoditisation, or ordering commoditisation, and leases. So, let’s get straight into it with the rest of what we’re seeing. Now, the first one for this week I think it’s going to be really exciting, and I’m really looking forward to this.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #5: Experience Design

Experience design. So, people are actually going to try and come up with an experience and that’s going to be the forefront of the restaurant. So, you’ve got restaurants like Lume in Melbourne where they’ve worked with things like virtual reality. So, creating a virtual reality experience, that’s actually the experience and that’s probably the primary part of their VR experience is the VR component, and then there is food on top of that. So, people are coming in for, you know, is it the food or is it the VR? How is it that they’re creating that experience for their customers? The other example of that was one that I was lucky enough to experience this year in Chicago and that was Saved by the Max.

So, a pop-up restaurant which lasted exactly a year, and then it closed. And I think, you know, there was still demand, I think they could have gone on for a bit longer but they’ve decided to pack up and go to LA. But Saved by the Max it was a pop-up designed around the TV show Saved by the Bell. And, you know, the amazing thing about this was just the number of people who came in there, and one of the things that I thought was really interesting is that as you were waiting in line, there was a series of lockers. So, if you haven’t seen Saved by the Bell it was an American sitcom around a high school.

So, you’re lining up in front of lockers and one of the lockers was open, and it had a mobile phone in there. And it was a mobile phone from the 80s–it was a brick! The number of people who took a photo there of them on their phone, on that massive phone. And that would have gone straight onto Facebook, and shared out to everyone, you know, “Hey, this is where I’m at. Check out this mad phone.” A really well-crafted experience that was, so it was a restaurant but I don’t think it was in any way, shape, or form about the food. It was much, much, much more about the experience.

And we are going to see more and more people going with experience design because it’s really hard to compete around that. You know, obviously you can do another TV show, but it’s something that can’t be delivered. It’s very hard to, you’re going to put the hard work in to create that experience. But once you’ve done that, that’s where it’s really, really going to pay off. And by all accounts they did really well there, and that is a restaurant that wasn’t about the food, it was about the experience that you have at the restaurant. And I think we’re going to see a lot more about it of experience design for restaurants. I’m really looking forward to experience design because, like I loved going and I’d never even seen the show. But you could just see the way that people were enjoying it, the way that the whole thing was sort of put together an amazing experience. So, I’m looking forward to something like a Night Rider experience, I’d take Tina there in about a second she’d love that. There’s 101 of those old TV shows, you know, rock bands, people are going to let their mind run wild with this. And I think that this is going to be really exciting as we push into the next frontier.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #6: Zero Waste

Now, next one is zero waste. Zero waste is going to come about for two reasons. One, you’re going to want to decrease your food costs as a percentage of total revenue. So, one of the things you can do is to stop throwing stuff out and, you know, minimize wastage and, you know, when you’re getting the meat in and you’re cutting it up, what are the bits that you’re throwing out? What could be done with those bits that you’re throwing out? And I was talking to one of our customers a couple of years ago and the chef came out and said, you know, “I’ve got something for you to try.” And it was a beetroot chocolate shot. Now, it was a little bit gritty and the owner, he wasn’t overly taken by it and I said, “Well, you know, there’s a lot of things that this has got going for it. One, it’s nose to tail but now we would look at it as sort of zero waste,” because what he was using he was using the juice from the beetroot for the burgers. And the chocolate was the run off from one of the desserts that they were doing.

So, this was a, you know, the food costs for this little thing was virtually zero. On top of that, very Instagramable. On top of that, it’s chocolate with beetroot. So, chocolate, people love chocolate. Beetroot, beetroot’s renowned for being healthy. Chocolate and beetroot, it’s the healthy chocolate shot. Really easy to market. Now, he didn’t try that in that restaurant which I was really disappointed in, because I think it would have gone quite well. Even though it didn’t really taste, it just tasted a little bit gritty. Now, I don’t know whether the chef needed to work on that a little bit to remove the grittiness, or I don’t know what was causing it. But that kind of thing, people are going to take that, you put that on the menu and people, I think it would prove very popular.

And the interesting thing with this, have a play around with it in the kitchen one day and then put it up on the specials board and just see how it goes. Iterating around in a restaurant’s really easy because you’ve got the specials board, that’s what it’s designed for. But zero waste in all of the things that you do. It’s environmentally responsible and it aids in the profitability of the restaurant. Now, we’re going to talk about a few things coming up, a few of these trends, and the big thing that, from my point of view, and you know as a restaurant marketer, the big thing that I’m thinking about is that you can have zero waste policy.

You can do nose to tail pigs coming in. If people don’t know, then they’re not care. Like, nose to tail I think for some consumers is a significant factor, you know. It gives them that feel good environmental component to their experience. So, you’re adding to the experience, you know, “I’m going to a socially or an environmentally responsible restaurant, hurray for me.” You know, and I am prepared to pay a little bit more for that experience. So, the big thing is if you don’t tell that story then it doesn’t mean anything for anyone. So, a lot of these things that we’re going to be talking about is really going to come down into why is that you’re doing it, and how are you going to tell that story.                                                                                                              

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #7: Meal labelling

Now, next one, and this is a really interesting one, labeling. So, supermarkets around the world have really lead the way with the labeling of food contents, and I think more and more people are going to want to be able to see what it is that they’re going to be eating. So, it started with processed foods, you know: fat, carbohydrate protein type components. Then, you know, you’ve got the energy, the amount of energy in a meal. And then fast food. So, fast food because of the obesity epidemic, it’s pretty much an entire Western world type phenomenon. People are now being increasingly educated to the fact that, you know, you need to start thinking about that and, you know, too many carbs is really bad for you. And, you know, you don’t want simple sugars and all of those sorts of things. So, labelling, I think, is going to be a really big component into that.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #8: Health

Now, that leads into the next massive trend which I think is only going to get bigger, and that is health. And what I want to do with health is I want go really start breaking it down. So, because of the thing that once you’ve got things like labelling in a restaurant, it enables you to do a whole heap of interesting things. We’re seeing the rise of the flexitarianism. Or the, you know, of the rise of flexitarianism which is the flexitarians. And it’s an interesting concept which I think is going to really be huge.

Talking to vegetarians about their life as vegetarians, so many, many moons ago I studied a year of naturopathica and part of that was dietary requirements. And part of that was dietary requirements. And so, we were given a couple of tasks where you had to curate a balanced diet for someone for a day. And it was actually quite difficult to create a balanced diet just for the general ordinary person. When it was for a vegetarian, that was remarkably difficult because of the things like proteins. And we had quite a few vegetarians in the class, and I spent a lot of time talking to them about why they were vegetarians and the struggles that they had. And a lot of it is around, you know, getting enough proteins. So, flexitarians are people who aspire to the vegetarian lifestyle. And it’s either for environmental reasons, or health reasons, and also global economic reasons.

But, because of the fact that it is so difficult to be a vegetarian, there’s the rise of the flexitarian. So, they’re a vegetarian who might have a bit of bacon every now and then. You know, they might have the odd steak. Because if you’re having steak, you know, once a week or twice a week, that has a significant impact on the environment. You might dramatically decrease your impact on the environment, if you’re having steak once a month. So, and that’s what the sort of flexitarian type model is and, you know, there’s a whole range of sub brands around this. And it’s really quite fascinating, I’ve been doing a little bit of research into it and there’s fruitinarianism, and they’re people who only eat fruit. Then there’s, you know, your normal vegan, then there’s the lacto-vegan, so they’ll have dairy. Ovo-vegan, you know, so they’ll do eggs. Ovo-lacto-vegan, so eggs and milk. Pescatarians, that’s a vegan who will also have seafood.

There’s no such thing as a pesca-pescatarian for anyone who’s seen Silicon Valley, you know. You don’t want to be that guy asking for the pesca-pescatarian meal, which is meant to be, you know, fish that only eat, or seafood that only eats other seafood. That’s a bit crazy. But polo-vegetarians, so they’ll eat chicken, and polo-pescatarian so they’ll eat chicken and fish. So, and those people, you know, the vegetarians of all those groups won’t eat any livestock or mammals. So, a growing rise in these. And then, on top of that, you’ve then got things like, you know, gluten-free, FODMAP.

So, I think it’s really important to be thinking about what sort of opportunity there is out there for the changing tastes of the consumer market. Now, and it’s interesting. So, some people have been talking about things like activated charcoal. I’m not really sure about that, I think that’s very faddish. How big is it going to be? I’m not too sure. If it was me, I wouldn’t be betting the farm on it. But, you know, happy to be proven wrong. It’d be interesting to see what it looks like, you know, as far as, you know, people actually using it. The health benefits seem to be a bit questionable and I don’t think it looks that great on Instagram. So, I’m not really too sure about it. But one of the things that I think it’d be really interesting is, so the rise of things like the ketogenic diet.

So, I’m going the other way now, but remember we’re not talking about just straight up vegetarianism, we’re talking about the health benefits. So, in a ketogenic diet, and there’s a lot of people who are trying that sort of thing. So, run with me on this theory. You come up with a menu that is ketogenic friendly, so low or no carbs and, you know, the other components that you need for a ketogenic diet. You know, potentially, you know, something like a bacon and eggs–no toast. Now, create a page on your website that lists your ketogenic friendly meals and, you know, and talk about it, you know.

So, and I think that this is a really interesting story. You know, “I used to weigh X number of pounds, and I lost Y number of pounds. And this is a picture of me before.” Have the before and after, you know, and, “I did that with a ketogenic diet. I’m really passionate about it and these are the meals that I was cooking when I was losing weight, and I know how difficult it was going out to a restaurant when I was looking for something that was ketogenic. Everyone in our restaurant understands what you require, and that’s why we’ve come up with this menu.” Then you’ve got the menu, you might label it, as well, to give people that really, that rock solid guarantee that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to a ketogenic diet. Then, target people who are interested in, you know, Atkins ketogenic diets all of those sorts of things in your local area, within 15 miles, 20 miles on Facebook. This is the kind of niching within the health space that I think is really powerful. And like a ketogenic diet, I think that that’s almost a sub niche. So, we’re going to target health and so we might have flexitarian offers.

But we’ll also then break it down to, like we’re going to have a ketogenic, because that’s a very, very tiny niche. And the beautiful thing about it, the thing I love about niching is that someone’s going to come to your restaurant because you’ve got a ketogenic diet and they’re going to, “Yup, that’s the steak I want, it’s ketogenic, the sauce is ketogenic,” you know, there’s a choice of three ketogenic desserts. I’ve one Atkins and it’s really quite mad because I think I was doing, I was ordering diabetic jelly on top of super thick cream, because the cream was just all fat, no carbs. And of course, I couldn’t have any carbs, I was having diabetic jelly with cream on top.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #9: Hyperlocal

So, lots of opportunity around that and I think that this is going to be an area that people are going to really double down on, particularly when they start sub niching things like FODMAP, ketogenic, gluten-free.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #9: Hyperlocal

The next one is local, people are going to be thinking a lot more about their hyper local environment. And by hyper local I’m talking about the street that you’re in, you know, within a couple of blocks. Aiming to build a real ecosystem around the local area that they’re in. And so, you’ll see more food precents, which is, a food precent really, it’s an up market decentralized kind of food court. Because I think the food court’s a bit of a tough place to be playing in, you know, because of the fact that it’s rent controlled in anyone who’s successful, they’re going to have the landlord knocking on the door for increased rent.

So, it’s very difficult to do that, but food precents, if you get five restaurants in the same strip and start doing joint marketing for them, and you just try and get people into that area, that can be a lot more effective. If you start coordinating savings, if you allow people to order and eat across the tables of multiple places. We’re seeing more and more of this.

We’ve been working with a group in Sydney, where there is about 12 restaurants and the interesting thing is they own every one of them. So, they’ve created this precent and it’s literally a marketing play. They’ve got little tiny restaurants, and they’ve got the economies of scale because, you know, they’re buying a lot more gear than they would for just one restaurant, they’re buying 12 times that. So, they’ve got more negotiating power when it comes to the suppliers. And on top of that, they’ve got one marketing spend. So, they can coordinate an event, they can spend more money on the kind of experiential events, because they’ve got 12 restaurants who are putting in. so, people are going to be thinking a lot more around food precincts and really trying to create a local environment, and working in with the other businesses there.

And I think that this is going to be interesting, you know, and I think where you’ve got the, you know, the typical old deal where it was, “Come in, show us your movie ticket, and we’ll give you a late-night supper or a dessert,” or, “Come in for an early dinner,” or, “Buy this meal and get cheap tickets to the cinema.” There are going to be a lot more people who are looking at the activities that are going on in their area to try and create joint ventures. Some people are being really innovative with this and they’re getting significant profitability benefits from it. So, we’ll see a lot more work in this space, partially as the aggregation, restaurants coming together because they need to come together to get the economies of scale to be profitable.

And partially because you can create a richer experience, it’s hard work to get someone to come out to drive 15 minutes, and then drive home 15 minutes if it’s only for a 30-minute meal. But if it’s a 30-minute meal, or maybe, maybe you’re just going to have the main and then you’re going to partner with a dessert bar that’s 50 metres up the road. Maybe you’re going to play to both of your strengths, but that makes for a better value proposition when you think that what the person is spending is 30 minutes in the car to get out to the restaurant. It’s like, “Well, we can do both of these things.” What are the other environments that are around you? What are the other activities that are going you? It doesn’t need to be a business, could be the beach, a sporting event, all of these sorts of things. People are going to be focusing a lot more to drive that.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #10: Fine casual

Now, the next one we want to look at is fine casual. I’m actually quite a fan of fine casual. And there are some people who are doing a really, really good job of it. By fine casual you’re taking the fine dining type experience, and whether that’s really good service, really good food, you know, you dégustation station menu. People are trying to make that more accessible, because the massive issue with fine dining is that there’s only so many people who are going to spend X amount on a dinner. And that split up into, you know, wealthy individuals and corporate spending, where they want to impress, part of the impressiveness of an event is how much money you’ve spent on your customer. So, that’s where fine dining traditionally plays. But the problem with that is there’s not too many of those people out there.

One of the things I find really interesting is a lot of these people will use booking services that retain the customer’s contact details and email addresses. And, wow, you know, when you’ve got someone who’s spending $500 a head to have a meal, you think that email list would be worth a fortune. And, not even to other restaurants, but to, you know, vehicle manufacturers, Mercedes, BMW. If you can spend 500 bucks per head on a meal, you can probably afford a BMW. They’d love that list. So, it’s interesting how restaurants are bleeding those contact details. But that’s a minor diversion. Fine casual is where you take elements of that fine dining experience and bring it down into a medium level price point. so, obviously, you can’t do fine dining at a medium level price vendor. That’s not going to work, because you don’t have the margin to be able to do that. So, something’s got to give.

Now, maybe it’s not going to be a 26-course dégustation menu, maybe it’s a five-course degustation menu. Maybe you’re going to tell, rather than telling a story in 26 stops, or in 26 chapters, you’re going to tell it in five chapters. Maybe you’re going to take the most unique items out of your dégustation menu and try and put them together into a story, and create a price point that maybe, maybe it’s not $500, maybe it’s down to $100. Maybe, we’re starting to see places like, and so it’s interesting, you know, if you look from the bottom up, so you look at like your typical burger joint where you now get table service where you’ve now got expensive cutlery. You know, that heavy cutlery that infers value, or a high value experience. So that they can add a couple of dollars onto the burger and we’re seeing burgers becoming increasingly expensive in some of these areas, as people are trying to provide a fine dining experience around casual.

So, in this example, you’ve got a fine dining experience around casual food. So, much more accessible for the masses and a really good example of how you can retain some of the margin by providing the experience that’s a little bit out of the ordinary. You know, McDonalds, you know, a little bit fancy. But it’s more than just a burger at a fast food place, it’s a, the way that they’re redefining the service levels. And there’s a lot of ways that you can sort of play with this, and we’re seeing the thing that I think’s interesting is we’re seeing it happen from both ends of the market. So, fine dining is trying to reach down into the mass market and so we’re seeing that typically with, you know, the fine dining chef who’s creating a burger joint. And there’s heaps of those.

But we’re also seeing people with strong casual mass market type approaches, where they are moving up into, not all the way into fine dining, but into the mid ground. And whether they’re doing that by, you know, redefining their service levels, redefining the way that their menu is presented, redefining the experience that they give their customers. They’re trying to recreate it in a way that creates a better experience for the customers, creates a higher value experience for the customers, creates an experience for the customers where they’re able to retain a bit more of the profit margin.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #11: Cuisine

Now, the interesting thing that we’re seeing from a cuisine type point of view is a lot of people are talking about Israeli food and how that’s going to be a very hot topic flavour. And I think that this is going to be really interesting, some great flavours, some great techniques in there that are going to come out. From a cuisine that isn’t typically well-represented. It’s not one of your go-to cuisines, it’s not an Indian, it’s not a Chinese, it’s not a Thai.

And I think that we’re going to see more of this because of the fact that when you go to a cuisine that you’ve never been to before, then there’s that excitement of, “What is this?” And you need to be a little careful with this. So, I think you need to be focusing on a way that’s going to get people in in the first place. Because if you open up an Israeli restaurant, no one is going to be thinking, “Where is a good Israeli restaurant?” You know, because that something that I want to do. You have an answer to a problem that no one knew was a problem, because people don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “Gee, I could go for some really good Israeli food.” So, this is, of course, apart from people who grew up in Israel, in which case you’ve got that captive market.

I’m always really interested in, when it comes to cuisine marketing, your home cuisine is kind of a gimme. You know, people are going to look to it, they’re going to gravitate for it, and they’re probably going to be repeat customers if you’re doing a half good job. That’s because of the fact that you’re providing them with that trip back down memory lane, that trip to be able to speak. You know, particularly if it’s a different language.

So, if you’re speaking in a language that isn’t the native language that they’re in, there’s a whole range of reasons why it’s a really popular cuisine. But I think it’s very difficult, and last Friday night we had some Southern Indian food. Now, I’ve got to tell you, it was a restaurant that had reached out to us for some help and they were very close to us. And I thought, “Yup, this will be interesting because I love Indian food.” I had a look at their menu, and it was a real struggle because of the fact that there was no chicken Vindaloo there.

So, this was a vegetarian restaurant and I didn’t mind that, you know, I was quite comfortable with that because I’m very conscious of the fact that I need to eat more vegetables. So, we come back to the health thing. This is the health trend in action, “I need to be healthier, we could all do with eating more vegetables.” So, I thought, “You know what, it’d be good. Let’s go and have some vegetarian Southern Indian food.” But it took 10 minutes now, a couple of interesting things. They’ve got an awful website and they’re really quiet on a Friday night. Funny about that.

That was good, though, don’t get me wrong, I was excited about that because it gave the guy 10 minutes to go through the damn menu with me and explain to me exactly what it was. I understood what an onion bhaji was. They had mango lassis which we ordered and they forgot to put in, but that’s beside the point. I ordered a dosa and a couple of other things I didn’t even know what those things were. So, he had to explain to me and it took me 10 minutes. Whereas, if it were a traditional Indian restaurant, I would have ordered in about three seconds flat.

Now, it’s interesting because I was talking to one of the guys on the team who’s Sri Lankan, and I said, “Can you help me out with this?” And he said, “Well, you know, Sri Lankan food’s pretty different to Southern Indian.” He was able to explain a few of the items, which he was familiar with. But he said, “You know what you should do? You should have a look at this restaurant here.” And so, he pointed me to another Southern Indian restaurant, and what they’d done is they had a full description of each and every menu item. So, you don’t have to explain to someone who’s from Southern India what an idli is, but you do to me because I don’t get it. I don’t understand, I’ve never had idli before. So, it’s foreign for me.

And when you’re talking about a new cuisine, you want to de-risk that transaction. What if I order something and it’s awful? What if it’s something that I don’t eat? So, if I don’t know what an idli is, I’m not going to order idli because it could be too scary, or it could be something I don’t like. Now, that’s what a lot of people think, I would order idli just to say I ordered idli and I had idli. And if I don’t like idli that’s fine, I would have learnt I don’t like idli. I’m comfortable getting an idli but a lot of people aren’t. you want to be de-risking that.

So, this is the challenge when you’re looking at a new sort of cultural type food. You want to try and de-risk it for people outside of that culture, I think.  Unless you’re quite happy having just people from that culture as your regular customers. But I think it’s really hard. This goes onto the next issue. So, Southern Indian food, I’ve now had Southern Indian food. We had a dosa, we had an idli. The big question is, the massive question is: Would I order it again?

Now, I would, I was quite happy with the food. So, how are you going to turn them into a repeat customer, and that’s the other component of it that people need to think about when they’re building a cuisine based restaurant that is a new type of cuisine to an area. Now, just my tip, I think Filipino food is a, it’s not on anyone’s radar. I think it really should be, and anyone who doubts me about that, you know, you’ve got sisig, you’ve got lechon, you’ve got balut, you don’t really need the balut but you’ve got that balut. But I’ve got two words for you: halo-halo. Have a look at halo-halo that was born for Instagram, there’s lots of ways that you can serve it, I’ve had it a few different ways. But halo-halo like in Australia, in lots of parts of the US, I think would be really, really popular.

Particularly in the south where it’s a bit warmer in the United States, would go off on Instagram. And they’re the kind of things that you want to be looking for when you’re looking for ideas about a restaurant to start up with.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #12: Menu experimentation

Menu experimentation, this is going to be a, we are going to see more weird things next year than we have definitely this year. Because menu experimentation is one of those things that has only just kind of started taking off. I saw a chicken donut a couple of week ago. So, it was strips of chicken and, I’m not sure if there was chicken skin in there, but chicken skin fried up. It’s probably not overly healthy, that’s why I need more vegetables. Probably not overly healthy. But the kind of thing that would go, if you could make that look good, and I’m thinking, you know, probably on a bed of chips. You know, maybe with a nice tasting sort of mayonnaise type sauce, they’re the kind of things that people would really get excited about. Now, not saying that we should be making that sort of stuff because there’s a lot of opportunity around, you know, combining that whole menu engineering around innovation and creativity on the menu. There’s going to be a lot more of that.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #13: Story telling

Next one is storytelling. Now, all of the things that we’ve talked about this week, regional food, fine casual, local, health, labeling, zero waste, particularly experiential design, those kind of things, if you’re not telling people about it then you’re not going to be successful. You need to be thinking about the way that you tell that story. All of these sort of things, you don’t want to jump on one of these items, just because, “This is going to be the new trend and James said I should do it,” or, “I read in, you know, some magazine somewhere that this is going to be the new trend and I want to jump on it.” It’s got to be a part of the way that you’re going to brand your restaurant. It’s going to be a part of your unique selling proposition.

People can sell someone who’s just jumping on bandwagon. They want unique, they want authentic, they want passion. So, think about that as a part of the story that you’re going to tell, this is the story that you have to tell. If you’re a vegetarian and you’re trying to sell, you know, chicken doughnuts, that’s not going to work too well. It’s got to be something that you’re passionate about. You’ve got to tell that story, and you need to think about the way that you tell that story. Why did you start your restaurant? Who are you careering for? Why are you running the restaurant? How is it unique? And how does it benefit people who come in? what is the experience that people are going to take away? Show me that. Show me all of those components, break it up into little tiny pieces.

And, once again, niching, you know. I’m a big fan of niching, so if you’re running a restaurant a Philippine cuisine restaurant, what are the vegetarian components of it? What is your ketogenic diet? Lechon? What are the ketogenic items that you’ve got in there? What is the gluten-free component of it? What is your zero-waste approach? If you don’t have a zero-waste approach, that’s fine. Just don’t talk about it. We have seen that, as well, you know. Where people try and grab bag all of these sorts of things and that’s just madness, because you can’t be everything to everyone. And I think this is one of the things that, when you’re trying to tell that story, you’ve got to be telling the story to someone who cares about it. And you’ve got to tell us about it, and you’ve got to tell it in a way that is probably, or possibly going to turn people off.

And we see this quite a bit, child-friendly restaurants versus child hostile restaurants. Restaurants that specifically say, “We don’t want you to bring your kids in here.” Now, a lot of, that creates all sort of uproar. “Wow, you know, I’ve got kids and, you know, I’m never going to come to your restaurant.” To which they say, “Good, we don’t want you to come. Happy for you to come without your kids. But if you want to bring your kids, then don’t bother coming.” People who want a dining experience, a fine dining experience, usually fine dining, without kids running around the place will go, “This is a place that takes fine dining seriously. This is a place where I’m going to go.” That’s part of your story. You need to tell that story, and you need to tell it to people who it’s going to resonate with.

Restaurant Trends for 2018 #14: Marketing

This brings me to the last point that we want to talk about, and that is marketing. Far too few restaurants do Facebook ads, and I think that this is going to be a thing that we’re going to see a lot more in 2018, depending on when you’re listening to this. As restaurants really start to understand that they’re getting less and less return from the time that they spend on doing Facebook. And yet once they start putting a few dollars into Facebook, you’ll see a lot more return from the money that they spend in Facebook. So, people are spending more and more time on Facebook doing their Facebook marketing. But if they’re not running ads to it, they’re not going to get the return that they were getting and we’re seeing that with the ads that we run ourselves. And we’re also seeing it with the restaurants that we’re working with.

The last thing though is video, so we talked a little while ago about Wally from Mama’s BBQ and Chicken Salad, a million views. You know what, he’s an outlier, he’s got that passion and he’s got those dance moves to really crush it. And it was interesting, some of the feedback that we got about that I think some restaurants were intimidated. Like, “I couldn’t, I could never do that.” That’s fine. Not everyone can do that. But the thing that’s really sad, is that people are kind of put-off by Facebook video particularly Facebook Live. Yet you get them on the phone and they get really passionate about their restaurant, the component of it that, you know, that makes them really unique. You can hear their passion and they just can’t put, they can’t do what they just did on the phone to me, they can’t do that in front of a camera.

So, we’ve been working with some restaurants and getting them to just record themselves, and record a video. And it’s like, you know what, do it 10 times. When I do a Facebook Live, I will almost word-for-word rehearse it three or four, sometimes five or six times. So, it does take – which Wally doesn’t, he just gets up and dances, God bless him, I wish I had that skill.

I have to practice. And I think, once you realize that you might need to practice, and then you start getting in there and you keep going, and keep going, and keep going. Because his early videos, they went, you know they didn’t get that big a following. It was only when he started to work out what was resonating with his customers and then he started to double down on that. That’s when he started to really get that success. So, from a marketing point of view, Facebook ads and video. And I think, you know, really, we’re all going to be looking or profitability next year. That’s what every restaurant, I think this is the big trend. The mega trend that we’re talking about is the search for profitability. And it really comes down to create an experience, create an experience that’s appealing, create an experience that’s appealing and works on Facebook and Instagram. You know, take a video of it and have some fun. That’s what I think.

We’re all pontificating on what these trends are going to be. I think some of these have really got some legs, and I think some of them are really going to benefit consumers, and really going to help restaurants to create profitability. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting you to just think about your restaurant in a bit of a different way so that you can create an experience that’s going to be profitable for you and your customer. And by profitable they’re going to pay you money and they’re going to think, “That was good value, because I had a really great experience.”

So, just in summing up:

  • Experience design, we come back to where we started. I think about the experience that you want to do, and people are going to be bringing tech into it, people are going to be bringing, you know, culture into it. And by culture, I’m not talking about the culture we talked about last week. TV shows, what are those sort of things – be careful of the licensing arrangements there. I know the Save to the Max guys did some work around that space before they opened. They’re the kind of things that you want to be thinking about.
  • Zero waste, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for you from a profitability point of view. But, once again, if that’s part of your story, tell that story because no one’s going to care. If no one knows that you don’t throw anything out, no one’s going to care.
  • Labelling, labelling and health I think, you know, they almost sort of go hand in hand. And think about what your approach is for the flexitarian, and then think about sub niching. Gluten-free, FODMPA, ketogenic diets. I really think that it’s going to be interesting, I’m keen to work on some restaurants who want to have a crack with ketogenic diets. I think that there’s that marketing campaign that’s got legs. So, if there’s anyone out there who wants to have a crack at a ketogenic menu, get a website with us and I’ll work with you on creating the bespoke Facebook campaigns around that. Because I reckon that would be a lot of fun, I reckon we could have some really good success with that.
  • Think local, think about the local businesses, think about the local restaurants that you’ve got out there, think about their local events, the local activities, the local attractions that you’ve got out there to try and create an experience that is hyper-local, but a hyper-experience. It’s more than just coming out for the food.
  • I’m really looking forward to going to more fine casual restaurants, because I can’t afford to go to fine dining all the time. It is quite expensive. So, fine casual’s going to be a big thing.
  • Regions, so I’ve never had Israeli food before, and I’m keen to try out my first Israeli restaurant. I’ll be on the lookout for that. But also, I think it’s going to be interesting to see people as they try and, your region if you aren’t from a region that’s not one of the big foodie regions, it is going to be interesting to see people as they marketing that around the two prongs of finding new customers and then turning them into repeat customers.
  • I am super excited about menu experimentation. We’re going to be seeing some things that are going to be really interesting. You only have to be thinking about, you know, freak shakes and cronuts and all of those sorts of things. Whether you love them or hate them, they are a phenomenon, they are something that can make a significant impact, they do make a significant impact to your bottom line.
  • So, you really need to be thinking about it. Think about whatever it is that you’re doing, think about how that fits into your story and think about how you’re going to tell that story.
  • Lastly, Facebook ads. Get on it. Quick plug, so we’ve got the Facebook University, how to run your first ad. That’s got two and a half hours of actually how you would target it. And something like the ketogenic diet, once you’ve gone through that program, you’ll be able to do it yourself. But I at least want someone to be able to play with a ketogenic, because I’m happy to help out with that. That would be exciting. And video. Yes, video is hard to do because people freak out about it. You don’t have to be in it. I think it’s better when there is a person in there. But you don’t have to be in there. But just get on it, Facebook live. It is a really, really, really powerful tool. And you’ll notice, so those who are following us on Facebook you’ll see, we’re doing at least one a week. And I’m loving it. So, what makes me unique?

I wear a crazy T-shirt every time. That’s because I want to stand out, I’m a marketing guy I’ve got to stand out. So, and people recognize me. I’ve had people, you know, when I’ve walked into restaurants, they’ve said, “You’re that guy.” And it’s like, “Yup.” You know, we’ve done a campaign in the area. What is it that makes you unique? This is just one of the things that I do, but yeah. We are doing at least one a week. I find them really stressful. It’s not easy. I would like to think that I make it look easy, but it’s not easy, it’s really hard. And I know, like, Wally he just gets in, has a crack and does it. There are some people who it comes naturally to. I’m not one of those people. I have to work at it to be able to get it to happen like that.

So, that’s it. Really focus on creating an experience, creating an experience that’s going to work well in social media. And take a video of it and have some fun. So, that is it. Hopefully you’ve got something out of it, hopefully I’ve given you something to think about with the trends that are going to be big in 2018. At the end of next year, we’ll do a wrap up and we’ll see just where we sort of went with that. But yeah, I’m hoping that you have a more profitable 2018 than you had in 2017, wherever it was. Whether you were profitable, line ball, or unprofitable. Let’s make 2018 a better year than 2017 for everyone. That’s about it, you have an outstanding day. Bye.

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