What once was a source of necessity, food has now evolved to become much more. Indeed, we take pride in our meals (as one can clearly see with Instagram photos of their soon-to-be-consumed items), and people are willing to pay top dollar for a meal that ‘tells a story’ (cage-free eggs, free-range chicken, etc). Food has become a way of expressing oneself, one’s beliefs, and one’s preferences. In response, restaurants are finding new ways to turn food items into conversational pieces, capitalizing on America’s need to tell a story with the foods we eat.
Engaging customers has now become more than simply recreating a menu item. In fact, as menu items have become conversation starters, restaurants are now finding new ways to add to that conversation. A big part of that conversation is social responsibility, so restaurants looking to tap into the trend of self-expression and dining need to pay close attention to where their ingredients come from, how the items are prepared, and how they’re going to tell that story to their customers.
Food has become a way of expressing one’s identity. From environmental concerns to animal rights and vegetarianism, many people use food either consciously or subconsciously to tell their personal stories. If you aren’t sold yet, then consider the implications on social media.
For instance, we’ve seen a huge increase over the past few years of people posting images of their food items on social media. From Instagram to Facebook, your menu items have already likely popped up once, twice, or even hundreds of times on personal accounts. Not only do some people use this as an outlet for expression, but others may use social media in conjunction with their food to, in a way, compete with others. Garnering the most ‘likes’ has a profound impact on the way many feel about themselves, and your food may be the means for them to get the attention they crave.
To tap into this, restaurants are paying closer attention to presentation while expending more efforts in creating the newest, most fashionable meals. Additionally, chefs are also spending more time incorporating the latest fads and trends into menus, paying close attention to items that customers want more of in their diets.
The best part is that millennials, who are taking up a huge portion of today’s market, are driving these trends. For chefs, this means more freedom to create interesting and flavorful dishes - all with the added benefit of increased sales where people find themselves using their meals as a means of self-expression.
Today, menus are more than just a listing of foods for essential fuel sources. In fact, menus have the ability to tell a story - and hopefully, that story is one that can be used as a way for someone to express themselves based on their preferences.
E Friedman Associates Inc