Catering to the Everyday Foodie
One in three diners in the UK considers themselves to be a ‘foodie’. With so many enthusiastic customers on restaurant floors, Senior Foodservice Analyst Helena Childe pinpoints the dishes, services and experiences they’re keen to tuck into.
Gone are the days when ‘foodies’ were limited to the lofty heights of restaurant critics. While 34% of diners now consider themselves one, this rises to 50% amongst those aged 20-24, 43% of Londoners, 42% of ABs and high earners and 51% of those with under-5s in the household.
The rise of the ‘everyday foodie’ offers a potentially lucrative market for operators, but requires them to match the diners’ enthusiasm for adventure, experimentation and exclusive dishes. The rise of ‘foodie-ism’ has arguably contributed towards a ‘tribal’ approach to eating, where certain consumers are particular about the provenance and production of food, while others are focused on picking out the novel.
Scope for sides to cater to novelty seekers
Menu innovation is crucial in an era when much of the population come across as adventurous in their dining tendencies. Over half of diners say they like to experience new flavours whilst 48% are always on the lookout for new dishes and 38% say they get bored when menus don’t change frequently.
Mash-ups have appeared on menus in recent times, which should appeal to both true novelty seekers and tamer ‘foodies’. For example, innovative variants of familiar products can create standout and grab the attention of the media such as Patty & Bun’s smoked duck nuggets or Hawksmoor’s ox cheek nuggets. By marketing products such as these as side dishes, starters or bar snacks, operators can refresh their menu with new twists whilst maintaining a familiar core proposition.
This approach can help venues to avoid the risk of alienating diners who actively disagree that they see themselves as foodies, while catering to those who do. Whilst the young and affluent are most likely to identify as foodies, the growing group of over-55s and retired are most likely to disagree.
Foodies drive growth of street food markets
The rise of the foodie-ism as a leisure pursuit in itself is also helping to change the shape of the eating out market, their appetite for the new and novel supporting the growth of temporary formats like street food stalls, markets and pop-ups.
The country’s capital is a hive of activity when it comes to the growing street food scene, with Londoners amongst those most likely to consider themselves a foodie. For example, plans are in place for a permanent flagship street food market in central London, alongside 12 local markets across the city over the next five years, set to house 200 trader pitches and 100 bars. The company behind this move, London Union, reached its £2.5 million crowdfunding target for launching the new markets, it announced in December 2015.
The London Union street food collective launched in summer 2015, headed by Leon co-founder Henry Dimbleby and Street Feast’s Jonathon Downey. Street Feast currently operates by taking empty spaces in London and turning them into street food markets such as Dinerama in Shoreditch, Hawker House in Canada Water, Dalston Yard Street Feast and Model Market in Lewisham, the latter two on a seasonal basis
Encouraging peer-to-peer recommendations
Consumers’ propensity to call themselves foodies and willingness to talk about their dining experiences to others are creating opportunities for restaurants to use standout dishes to drive visibility through peer-to-peer interaction on digital platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
The financial status of these enthusiastic diners makes the ‘everyday foodies’ a potentially lucrative audience for operators. However, the fact that few diners currently share food/drink posts on their social media pages suggests that operators may need to continue to offer incentives to encourage this further.
The rise of ‘foodie-ism’ as a leisure pursuit in itself is also changing the eating out market somewhat, the appetite for the new and novel for example supporting the growth of street food stalls and markets. More flexible dining formats can help operators to respond to this demand for newness. Pop-up residencies and rotating chefs for example can add differentiation and create a sense of urgency to visit.
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