Is it a trend, or is it a fad?

What are the trends that businesses should really take note of and why do fads distract so many. Simon Carey, Director at Blink Cafes argues that by collaborating businesses can add real value.

I’m not sure about you, but sometimes I think it’s hard to keep up to pace with all the latest industry trends going on around the world. To keep up to speed you need to spend a lot of time reading, researching, following different social media platforms and listening to people. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it; How can you not love eating out in lots of different places, all in the name of research! It is also vitally important to look outside of the hospitality industry, to see what external influences might have an impact.

The result is, I often get asked what are the trends to take note off, or what are just fads of the moment?

Different markets have different trends, so it isn’t a “one trend fits all” approach. The first thing to think through is, who is your target audience? That said, you could argue there are some trends that affect multiple segments. So, here we go and in no priority order, my view on trends to sit up and take note off:

Collaboration

Companies should look to partner with other companies/specialist providers and not feel they need to self-deliver everything. Don’t be afraid to act as an agent and give your clients what they want.

Deliveries

You only have to look to the USA to see the power of the delivery model, not just to homes but to the workplace. Larger offices should consider having dedicated desks to take in deliveries and be able to handle this market professionally.

Self-order and Self-check out options

I hate queuing to pay, especially if I have already queued to order my food. With a shrinking labour market, it is sensible to move to a self-check out/ordering an option.

Do you need a staff restaurant?

I have seen the growth of high street food halls in the USA and it’s coming to the UK. If you can have a food hall at the bottom of the building which is open to everyone, why do you need an onsite facility taking up space in your building? Look at Eataly planning to open in Bishopsgate, also look at Market Hall opening soon in Oxford Street.

Experiences

People want more than just great food, they want an experience. I have been lucky enough to have been consulting on an amazing project, that is looking at not only the food offer, but a curated customer experience. This tips the traditional FM model on its head and I believe is the future.

Plant based diets/dishes – CO2 impact

I recently did a project where we looked at the impact of different food groups and CO2 impact. Not eating tomatoes shipped in from Morocco is a small step in the right direction, but if you want to really make a difference then cut down on eating beef and move to other low CO2 impact groups.

Healthy eating

People want to get healthy, but not feel like they have made a second choice. There is also a trend towards diets being very personalised as we all react differently to food groups. At the EP conference at the end of last year it was David Russell who said “it isn’t what you eat, it’s what you digest”. 

Free water everywhere

I applaud what Pure have done at Waterloo station and I have also seen a few Prets with free water taps. Who will be the first company to stop selling bottled water and only sell empty reusable bottles and give access to filtered water? Please somebody do this!

Less packaging

Let’s think about the recycling triangle and the order of how we should approach packaging. It goes reduce, reuse and then recycle. So, let’s reduce the volume of products we consume, then re-use items if possible and as a last resort recycle anything we use.

So, what are the fads or dying trends?

Here are a few things that may be interesting today, but I’m not sure will last.

  • Turmeric infused lattes……
  • People predicting that drones will deliver food or drinks in the future. (it won’t happen, I have looked into the logistics and it’s a nightmare)
  • Charcoal ice-cream
  • Poke – ok, slightly controversial on this one as it’s very healthy, but I’m not sure we are going to see a chain of poke shops open. (This could come back and bite me)
  • Stand-alone juice bars. I’m not sure the financials stack up
  • “Celebrity chefs”. – Do they add value? I recently ate in a hotel restaurant which was “run” by a Michelin starred chef. It didn’t deliver anything except really poor food
  • 10 course tasting menus – I’m fed up of them. They go on for too long and I just want some good food.
  • Fermented food

As a business it is important to follow the underlying trends for your core business model and listen to your customer base. I also think it’s important to acknowledge what is hot in the market at the moment and could be interesting to your customers.  A fad is interesting today but could be over in a few months’ time. This is where collaboration could really add value and allow you to be nimble. Work with the specialist providers in the market and invite them into your spaces to operate a pop up. Don’t try and replicate a brand, just collaborate with them.