If you want to innovate as a caterer, you need to anticipate consumer trends and ‘capitalise on the next big thing’. That’s the advice from Synergy, who recently published some interesting insights on the future of food and drink.

With its own in-house team of marketers and innovators, the company also has access to a raft of information from its customers, which include food manufacturers and food service suppliers – and they’ve shared it via the link above. 

Detailing five modern consumer profiles and focusing on Millennials and Generation Z, the piece aimed to bring together the most ‘enduring trends of our time’. We think it has done just that – and with a bit of forward-thinking, the information can be effectively utilised by caterers everywhere.

The Mindful Consumer

It’s nothing new, but Synergy predicts an even larger stride towards ‘mindful dining’ in 2020. With an increasing number of consumers keen to hear exactly where their food comes from, it’s time for food and drink companies to be even more transparent: on their packaging and their menus. 

It isn’t just about refreshing your company’s literature, though; you should also shout about your ingredients (and where they came from) via social media. Educate kitchen and front of house staff on the benefits of informing customers in this way and you’re onto a winner.

The mindful consumer chooses ‘natural, whole foods that are minimally processed and contain ‘store-cupboard’ ingredients’ says Synergy. ‘Provenance is important, so locally sourced or grown ingredients will appeal.’

Lancaster’s The Borough pub and restaurant has taken this concept and ran with it, telling us local produce is the reason its long-standing ‘school dinners’ menu is so popular.

“Fundamentally, the most important thing is that you offer quality food,” says the venue’s Marketing and Business Development Manager, Daniel Knowles. “Call your menu what you want, but you simply have to serve good food made by great chefs.”

The Revolutionary Consumer

Keen to try new things, the revolutionary consumer is always on the go, says Synergy. “With the amount of choice now available, manufacturers aim to stand out with interesting flavours and formats, which appeal to this market. Examples include sweet/savoury cross-overs such as savoury flavours in yogurt or ice-cream and hybrid products evolving from concepts like the ‘Cronut’.”

It’s evident that, today, dining out is often about so much more than the meal itself. Alongside the service, the taste, the quality and the value, your customers are vying for something brag-worthy, too. Can they use social media to boast about the meal they’ve just enjoyed? Even better, is it Instagram-worthy? As in, does their plate photograph well? 

For some time, restaurants and pubs have been working harder than ever to introduce new and inventive dishes or themed nights to their establishments. Think full English breakfasts for giants, afternoon tea served on picnic benches, and cocktails served with a side of candyfloss

The fact is, your customers are always on the lookout for something different – but are you dishing it up?

The Adventurous Consumer

Seeking inspiration and new culinary experiences, the adventurous consumer wants an authentic meal out. Think street food festivals and global travel, alongside new or rare cuisines. All of these are important to this type of consumer, says Synergy, who add that: “Adventurous consumers often make choices on a whim, making them less brand loyal and more open to whatever takes their fancy. 

Capturing their attention is therefore key, says the brand. So, ask yourself this: what are you doing to stand out from your competitors and attract the adventurous diner?

The Balanced Consumer

In 2019, we’ve really upped the ante in terms of our health. We’ve gone crazy for cauliflower, embraced the environmentally-focused benefits of plant-friendly diets and said ‘yes’ to low or non-alcoholic evenings out

Keen to cut back on meat, the balanced consumer is aware of what’s in their food and will relish the chance to tuck into plant-friendly meals, says Synergy. 

“Leading active and healthy lifestyles, balanced consumers are well educated about RDAs and the importance of reducing sugar, salt and fat consumption.” 

How does your café, restaurant or bar cater to the balanced consumer? Do you promote a no-sugar desserts menu, perhaps? And how is your vegan offering looking?

The Connected Consumer

You guessed it; this consumer is all about social media, with connectivity being key. “The connected consumer is on the lookout for the latest food trends, is an avid social media user and is keen to try new and unusual products and flavours.” says Synergy. 

Again, with food choices influenced by how well they photograph, it’s important you ensure your menu doesn’t just taste good but looks good.

How are you supporting these key consumer trends – and what innovative ideas do you have up your sleeves for 2020? 


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