Foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic recently revealed the key trends that will affect the industry in 2020.
Technomic’s predictions dive into trends to watch driven largely by shifting consumer behavior and preferences.
If the firm’s predictions prove to be accurate, the bar and restaurant landscape may undergo a significant transformation not just in 2020 but for subsequent years as well.
Let’s break down Technomic’s key takeaways in the context of Nightclub & Bar’s Five Pillars: Operations, Marketing, F&B, People, and Guest Experience.
Operations & Marketing
Aimee Harvey, managing editor at Technomic, says sustainability will become even more important in 2020. Responsible business practices will take hold industry-wide, shifting “from a linear approach of create-use-recycle to create-use-reuse-sustain.”
Portion control, reusability, waste reduction, and compostable packaging are among the initiatives Technomic predicts will take hold next year. The phasing out of single-use plastic straws was among 2019’s most talked about industry-wide initiatives. Among the trends predicted by Technomic is the use of strawless lids (along with reusable cups). The firm may be onto something: Starbucks announced the introduction of strawless lids in March of this year, claiming they would eliminate a billion straws per year.
That trend, along with smaller utensils and compostable packaging, will likely tie into another key 2020 trend: off-premise sales. According to the most current Technomic data, these sales are a “strategic priority” for 78 percent of operators. Delivery, identified by Donald Burns as a factor in surviving what he predicts will be a restaurant apocalypse next year, can create more waste than on-premise sales. Strawless lids on reusable or compostable cups, along with compostable packaging, can reduce waste and make off-premise sales a more sustainable practice.
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Of course, rejecting delivery can also be a sustainable practice. Carbon footprint is a factor for any operation, and different methods of transportation emit more carbon dioxide. Technomic foresees some operators finding creative ways to boost traffic via creative initiatives, such as loyalty programs that reward frequency; subscription programs that offer awards based on number of visits; promotions restricted to dine-in occasions; and “over-the-top” limited-time offers.
Guest Experience & People
Consumers may be more hesitant to spend their hard-earned dollars in bars and restaurants in 2020. Some Americans expect a recession in 2020 (38 percent, according to Blue Chip Economic Indicators), slightly more expect one in 2021 (41 percent).
Technomic expects those who operated when the 2008 recession hit, adapted, and survived to reach consumers with effective messages about value for dollar. Providing and communicating value propositions will be a necessity for operators in all segments if, as Technomic predicts, consumers seek less expensive drinking and dining occasions.
Many outlets have reported impending gas price increases. Of course, these prices rise and fall all the time. If gas prices rise significantly throughout 2020, operators can expect to feel the pinch via increased costs from suppliers and reduced guest traffic. Overall, it appears operators can expect the costs of basically everything to rise next year.
Forbes and others have reported that 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day. According to a Pew Research post from 2018, more than one million Millennials become mothers each year. By 2025, 80 percent of Millennials be parents.
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Operators will need to learn how to balance the needs of multiple generations, including Generation X and Gen Z. Heavily investing in various aspects of operations may gain the loyalty of one generation (generally speaking) but alienate another. For example, if a new restaurant technology is easy for a digitally native member of Gen Z to pick up and use intuitively but difficult for a Boomer to use, the older guest may feel uncomfortable and not return.
If you’re not committed to reading up on lesser-known greens, that needs to change. According to Technomic, operators need to learn about the following greens: celtuce (a.k.a. Chinese lettuce), kale hybrids, and komatsuna (a.k.a. Japanese mustard spinach).
Veggies will also play role behind the bar, as the firm foresees the use of commonly known leafy vegetables, sea greens (edible algae a.k.a. edible seaweeds), and peas to find their ways in cocktails. Sea greens may, according to Technomic, end up in unexpected items, such as drinks and desserts.
While you’re discovering “new” vegetables, make sure to look for those that are purple. Why? Because Technomic foresees blue and mauve (along with other shades of purple) to come into vogue on plates and in drinks, replacing shades of yellow, orange and red in popularity. Butterfly pea can turn drinks various shades of blue depending on the other ingredients, and it’s believed to have several health benefits.
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In my favorite sentence in recent memory, Harvey writes that “consumers are learning that you can milk just about anything.” What does that mean for operators? Health-conscious guests will expect oat milk, fruit milk, and even vegetable milks to be readily available in place of cow’s milk.
Harvey, Aimee. “Technomic’s Take: 7 Hot Trends to Watch for 2020.” Technomic. October 24, 2019.
Holmes, Frank. “The Retirement Crisis Is Much Worse Than You Think.” Forbes. March 20, 2019.
Livingston, Gretchen. “More than a million Millennials are becoming moms each year.” Pew Research Center. May 4, 2018.