Every year we are inundated with “hot” food trends. But true food trends are long lasting and impactful. By the early 1980s, the hot food trend was extra virgin olive oil. Today, thanks to Rachael Ray, say the acronym EVOO and just about every foodie worth their sea salt knows what you mean. EVOO is pretty much the default oil. EVOO is the classic example of a true food trend.
Meanwhile, rough times are ahead in today’s food retail landscape. Consolidations dominate the news and even more frightening are the daily announcements of chains closing brick and mortar stores at record pace. Zurich-based Credit Suisse estimates possibly “more than 8,600 brick-and-mortar stores will close their doors in 2017.”
Unfortunately, the once recession-proof food retail sector is no longer insulated from change. The digital revolution is forcing everyone to take a look at an outdated business model.
Look at the food trends and concepts working now
With the need to cut costs and the rise of discount retailers, some single store operators are switching to a cost plus format, with fresh service perishable departments disappearing from the assortment. What’s interesting is that even these operations are capitalizing on food trends, such as offering a growler station.
Progressive store owners realize their primary competitors are restaurants. They place less emphasis on center store, with fresh food offerings taking the place of the once coveted center. They also realize that creating a store experience is as important as food quality.
For stores looking to separate from the deep discount model, they will invest heavily in creating in-store food experiences. A 1998 Harvard Business Review article, “Welcome to the Experience Economy,” described an episode from the TV show Taxi about an experience that sells:
“The character Iggy was an atrocious and fun loving cab driver who decided to become the best taxi driver in the world. He served sandwiches and drinks, conducted tours of the city, and even sang Frank Sinatra tunes. By engaging passengers in a way that turned an ordinary cab ride into a memorable event, Iggy created something else entirely: a distinct economic offering. The experience of riding in his cab was more valuable to his customers than the service of being transported by the cab.”
How will stores use food trends and experiences in the future?
New stores will feature a variety of food stations and islands of cuisines that will delight the senses and excite the palate. Luxurious open dining areas will invite diners to relax and enjoy meals with Wi-Fi. Imagine multiple experiences within in a major experience. Food stations will surprise and delight customers with multiple options. New restaurant-like formats that capitalize on food trends will be important in the battle for the precious share of stomach.
It will be important for food retailers to think like restaurateurs. Knowledge of current culinary trends will decide the types of food stations to create. Patrons will look for trends they read or hear about.
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How can you prepare
Provide food stations geared to current trends to position your store as a thought leader. Not only will you give guests great food experiences, you can teach patrons about new taste sensations.
Visual merchandising will be key in creating the authentic look your customers expect. While our new digital world rapidly changes, one constant is patrons continue to shop with their eyes. I would contend we are more visual than ever before. We buy food with our eyes, but we also buy the concept of that food with our eyes. Does it look authentic? Does what I see make me confident that you know this food trend?
At IDDBA 2017 in Anaheim, California, Hubert Company invites you to our booth to see three food trend concepts. We’ll show you the tools and resources to help you create a genuine look for the most important point in the buying process. Your customers decide within three seconds of seeing it whether your food station is appealing, genuine, and authentic. We want to help you with the most important part of your planning process.