For hospitality venues located in areas of high competition for leisure markets, it can be a real challenge competing for the disposable leisure dollar. What is even more difficult is the constant need to develop new ways to engage your customers with your marketing without falling foul to the “let’s just run that same promo again because it worked last time”.
Taking a brief look at food and beverage alone, the change in consumer habits over the last twenty years has changed dramatically (anyone remember when sushi served on a train was the ultimate in food innovation?).
Take beer for example. This is one product you would think that, in Australia, a change in consumption would be minimal. However brewing giant SABMiller recently reported that sales for old classics such as VB, Carlton Draught and Crown Lager have taken a hit as consumers begin to favour craft beer, wine and cider products over mainstream brands. What’s more, ABS results declare that Australians are now consuming the lowest amount of alcohol compared to the past 15 years.
We won’t start replacing all our schooner glasses with tasting cups and wooden paddles just yet. Beer continues to be the most popular alcoholic drink of choice for Australians, followed by; wine, spirits, RTDs and cider. As changes in this seemingly consistent landscape begin to emerge, it has me thinking; how can hospitality venues bring these emerging trends into their marketing plans?
Last month, DWS Consultant Tom Streater highlighted some of the changes in the dining landscape. Australia has grown into a melting pot of diverse nationalities which is, in turn, imparting a fresh and undiscovered flavour to Australian cuisine. Some of the nation’s trendiest restaurants are delving into the world of Austral-Asian fusion; including exotic interpretations of menu staples such as Peking Duck Burgers as well as creating our own take on Southern American barbecue cooking as Aussie chefs smoke meat using native Australian ingredients such as Eucalyptus and Macadamia wood to create a unique and memorable culinary experience.
To back this trend up, venues now have the opportunity to participate in Tourism Australia’s latest global marketing campaign; Restaurant Australia by sharing their unique culinary concepts with the world. After all, there is nothing more Australian than ‘having a feed’ at a local community club.
While keeping up with every single ‘hot’ trend hitting the industry is impractical and downright confusing, there are some easy ideas you can use as a starting point to capitalise on the new beverage and catering trends for 2014:
That’s a Paddlin’
If you’re unsure whether craft beer will sink or swim at your venue, why not test the brewed waters first by holding a craft beer tasting night to gauge a response based on feedback from your patrons. Talk to your suppliers, get in an expert brewer, drop some knowledge or just provide some entertainment. Either way, give your customers something they didn’t have before – an experience. Product events are a great opportunity to draw in lucrative demographics by marketing it as a premium invitation only event, sports bar or even a ‘single mingle’ night. Not only will this raise your venue’s profile as a great place to socialise and meet people, you can generate interest from new target markets while positioning yourself in a modern light.
A Taste for the Exotic
Multicultural food festivals and quirky international festive days like Dia De los Muertos (Day of the Dead) are gaining popularity. If offering multi-cultural dishes regularly simply isn’t a viable option for your venue, creating events that feature gourmet or unusual meals will help generate interest from the community, as well as using it as an opportunity to promote your offering. While not all these events will be on-brand for you, the food truck scene is just one example of the demand for new flavours and presentation techniques.
Adapting your business practices to acknowledge real world issues can be as simple as offering a discounted meal for anyone who receives a parking fine, promoting free services to charities or reducing prices the day before ‘pension day’ to help those who are stretched. Some of you may already be aware of the ‘suspended order’ trend, where customers are encouraged to pre-purchase coffee or food for a stranger where the business ‘suspends’ the order until someone asks for it because they cannot afford it for whatever reason (i.e. ‘one for me, one for you’). Consumers are more socially aware and they want to do business with companies that make a difference no matter how small.
A Taste of Home
The trend for consumers seeking further knowledge on their food or drinks has increased, with an interest in locally sourced produce including Australian native wild plants, wallaby and kangaroo. Keep an eye out for the [i] symbol appearing on menus to indicate a truly Australian dish. Another trend on our radar is the introduction of edible insects such as crickets, honey ants, mealworms and yes even cockroaches to the dinner table (check the 2013 UN report). Why not scale these trends back and start providing background information on your specially sourced produce at point of sale, on menus or reinvent the classics such as the lamington?
While the above is simply a tasting paddle of ideas to consider, there are many more concepts you could adapt such as crowd farming, dumplings, street food, flavour matching or the superfood revolution. Get your marketing team and managers together and get thinking about how you can reinvent your offering with some new modern themes. Your customers will raise their tasting cups to you for bringing something new to the table!