Tips for Adjusting Your Foodservice to Meet Changing Consumer Demand

Posted September 25, 2023 by Jon Bowerman

Tips for Adjusting Your Foodservice to Meet Changing Consumer Demand

Nothing lasts forever, especially customer preferences. From fashion trends to music, the way people consume things develops over time, including literal tastes and dining preferences. New and emerging progressions in the way people order and eat food from restaurants mean that restaurant menu trends also need to change in order to meet the new customer demand.

How Are Dining Preferences Changing?

The keyword in today's dining landscape is value. Whether through the convenience of delivery or the price points of fast-casual restaurants, today's diners are looking for meals and experiences that provide convenience, value, and more options. Trends like increased interest in meal kit purchases, not just from online subscriptions but also from restaurants, further back up this changing dining preference. What's driving these changes? Let's take a look at a few of the different factors:

1. Time Constraints

The modern lifestyle is more fast-paced and on-the-go than ever before. Individuals are juggling work, family, and social commitments, so the less time a meal takes, the better it may be. Efficiency is a key element in today's foodservice landscape, whether it's in a restaurant or a corporate dining facility.

2. Flexible Eating Patterns

The traditional meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also changing as time goes on. People have more fluid and flexible eating patterns throughout the day and want more frequent meals at different times than typical meal periods, like mid-morning and late night. Ultimately, foodservice operations are finding ways to pivot into different dayparts in order to stay top of mind with customers and to increase profit potential.

3. Workplace and Commuting, Travel

Another factor changing the dining landscape is the fact that people want dining options that are more convenient to their workplace rather than their home. Dining options that are near offices or commuting routes are increasing in popularity. In airports, there are major pushes to bring more localized purveyors into the fold, with many regional airports even providing fine dining options inside the terminal.

4. Digital Ordering and Delivery

During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital ordering and food delivery services were a game-changer. Even after the wake of the pandemic, people still enjoy the convenience that these delivery apps and online ordering platforms provide. They make it easier for diners to access quick and convenient meals, and while the takeout and delivery service model was mandated during the Covid pandemic, today it's a matter of convenience that isn't going away anytime soon.

How to Scale Restaurant Menu for Diners Seeking Convenience

In order to ensure that restaurants can deliver the dining experience that modern consumers expect, menus need to be scaled and updated. While on-the-go eating was once considered only applicable to convenience stores, fast food restaurants, or retailers that provided takeaway options, this is no longer true. Even today's full-service and chain restaurants can make their meals more accessible and convenient by creating grab-and-go selections that are entirely or mostly premade, as many establishments do in airports.

Displaying these meals in heated or refrigerated glass cases can help interested diners visually examine their selections and pick a meal that will suit their tastes and their dining preferences. Converting part of a restaurant into a grab-and-go section is a great way to make sure that business isn’t lost as diners change their methods of buying food from restaurants. Restaurateurs can still provide a wide variety of delicious meals to consumers without requiring them to come in and sit when they would rather take their meal to go. Everything from fresh baked goods to dinner kits and healthy lunches can all be displayed for customers to take away as consumers capitalize on efficiency and convenience.

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