Out with the old, in with the new! 2020 is finally here, and with the new year come hot new trends in the restaurant industry, as Gen Z gains more spending power and social media continues to reign supreme. Wondering how to jump on board? Here are a few trends in vogue for your restaurant to keep a close eye on in 2020.
#1 Gen Z’s Influence
Gen Z, those born from about 1996 to 2010, are the new kids on the block, and millennials’ little siblings will only continue to expand their influence on the dining industry in 2020. Gen Z is looking for creative approaches to the dining experience that are Instagrammable, but this younger cohort of diners is also looking to watch their wallets and is less willing to drop the big bucks for a meal. Gen Z also loves to eat out more than millennials do, something to keep in mind when crafting your dine-in experience!
#2 Lifestyle Campaigns
Speaking of Gen Z, younger diners were part of the shift towards the “lifestyle brand,” or when a restaurant invests in social media-friendly merchandise. Popeye’s touted its “ugly” Christmas sweater over the holidays when its chicken sandwich was getting attention. Taco Bell even opened a pop-up hotel in Palm Springs. If your restaurant decides to take the plunge and start a merchandising line, remember that wacky is fine as long as it creates that buzz online.
#3 Menu Streamlining
Another trend on the horizon for 2020 is a return to the simple menu. Restaurants such as Chick-fil-A and In N Out have simple menus, which helps them cut down on wait times and do high volumes of orders. McDonald’s and Chili’s have simplified their menus in recent years in the interest of efficiency and to focus on increasing the quality of the product. Don’t be afraid to get creative, but the long and complicated menu is not what the diner in 2020 is looking for.
#4 Ghost Restaurants
What is a ghost restaurant? It’s a delivery only restaurant, a kitchen with no storefront to dine-in. As customers increasingly want the option to have food delivered to their homes, restaurants are realizing that in certain locations they may not need a dine-in option at all! If you are thinking of opening a new location for your restaurant, a ghost location could be a cost-effective option.
#5 Micro Chains
Another trend that is projected to stick around in 2020 is micro chains, brands that tend to have three to 19 locations. The small chains avoid the corporate nature of larger restaurant brands and tend to be more tuned in with local sustainability efforts, among other things. The chains are known for their “nimbleness” in latching onto trends and being able to tweak their approach quickly.
These and other trends will define the new age of dining! Keep an eye out for variations of these creative approaches, and see which ones work best for your restaurant.
Challenge: This week, come up with one new feature, such as a limited edition menu item, that you think will appeal to Gen Z.