With F&B being one of the hardest hit industries of the pandemic, we can begin looking ahead at 2021 and the dining trends that can pave the road to recovery.
While regulations and restrictions for in-house dining throughout pan-India are mandated by individual States and municipalities, we are seeing consistent adaptations in restaurants. This includes digital menus and payments, socially distanced tables, limited capacity, employee testing and hyper focused hygiene. With these 'new normals' becoming the standard for current and post-pandemic operations, we can begin looking ahead at 2021 and the new dining trends to excite customers and generate revenue.
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Elevated Takeout Experiences: The demand of takeout and delivery will continue to rise as many customers will prefer to stay at home. After 9 months of delivery being served in traditional to-go containers, 86% of people are willing to spend more for an outstanding customer experience. This premium can range from 13%-18% increase on ticket prices and higher for unique offerings. Worldwide, restaurants are offering unique concepts that create the dining experience at home. In Los Angeles, Asian style soup 'hot pots' are trending because they are packaged with their own pot and gas burner for the restaurant experience. In Spain, the traditional dish paella arrives for takeout and delivery in a pizza box. When it's opened, the dish is presented in the aluminum pan customers can keep and reuse. In SE Asia, popular Korean BBQ arrives with a one-time use indoor grill so customers can enjoy the experience of grilling meat at home. With India being home to over 35 regional cuisines, there are unique opportunities to include creative packaging such as reusable claypots, thalis' and roti boxes. These additional costs are passed on to the customer which they are more than excited to pay for.
Special Occasions with group private dining: Analysis shows customers returning to restaurants for the opportunity to gather with close friends and family compared to a spontaneous meal out. This is ideal for restaurants having shifted their dining room layout to accommodate fewer customers. Open spaces offer the ability to create larger dining areas for big groups that can be separated from individual customers. Restaurants can use this trend to their advantage as large groups generate higher tickets and longer blocks of usage which reduces the frequency of disinfection between groups.
Social media worthy menus: Social media intersects two 2021 dining trends in one: boredom and FOMO. First, customers are increasingly bored of eating the same meals and are looking for something different - especially when venturing outside of their homes to eat. Social media is still the #1 advertising tools for F&B in India, so make sure it's used to your advantage by offering dishes that give prospective customers visuals they can't wait to try and post on their social channels. Secondly, people want to try the places their friends validate with posts on social media and the dishes they sampled. Simple adjustments to the existing menu make this easy. Add a dessert served with flambé or dry ice which makes for amazing social media content. For savory dishes, incorporating table-side smoke when items are served provides that 'awe' factor that customers love to document, which in-return offers endless free advertising and testimonials.
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Wellness inspired: Returning back to why F&B suffered in 2020 and what is required to bring back the industry in 2021 is the customers health. Trends demonstrate they are more hyper-focused than ever on boosting their immunity and shedding weight gained during lockdown. Simultaneously, trends show that customers plan to indulge during their dining experience. Restaurants that intersect wellness and indulgence will perform exceptionally well in 2021. Cocktails with added benefits to counteract the negative effects of alcohol will be popular in 2021. We will also see growing requests for vegan variations of international comfort foods including pizza, burgers and pastas - and Indian favorites such as 'butter chicken' and mithai. By incorporating a few innovative wellness items to your regular menu, you are able to attract a new, growing demographic of customers while still serving your existing clients with the foods they know and love.