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As part of the 2016 edition of Euromonitor’s Consumer Foodservice Data, analysts in fifty-four countries were asked to submit the most interesting and most relevant new restaurant concepts in their market. While the entries demonstrated a wide range of global trends, from pop-up dining experiences to fusions of local and international cuisines, the winning entries all highlighted the overwhelming importance of the entirety of the dining-out experience.This included new ways to engage consumers with digital technology, creative use of customization throughout the ordering process, and even a particularly innovative burger fast food outlet that married the dining experience with a popular local spa treatment. Below, we’ll take a look at the three winning concepts from our 2016 competition, along with photos and a discussion of what these outlets can tell us about global consumer preferences.
Japanese gyudon chain Yoshinoya began offering Choinomi, or “quick drink”, service nationwide in April, 2015, then followed that launch with the introduction of a new “virtual bottle keep” service which allows customers to buy a bottle of beer or shochu and keep track of it virtually on their smartphones. The creative loyalty program allows customers to take advantage of bulk discounts (while a single glass of beer costs ¥350, a virtual “bottle” costs ¥2500 for 10 glasses) and promotes frequent repeat visits from customers. The service also builds on the more traditional bottle-keep culture that’s popular at Japanese izakayas, but allows consumers the added convenience of being able to access their bottle at any Yoshinoya outlet.
More broadly, Yoshinomi also builds on the new lifestyle trend in Japan of more casual drinking occasions with shorter durations and less expense. This has meant that rather than going to izakayas and settling in for long, extending drinking sessions, many Japanese consumers—particularly professionals—are seeking out opportunities to have a drink or two at restaurants that may not have traditionally served alcohol, including fast food outlets. Yoshinoya was able to build on this idea of modernising the drinking experience even further, ultimately building a stronger relationship with its customers that helps set it apart from the many other choinomi options, and strengthening the value of its offering with innovative discounts.
New juice and smoothie bar concept Beesket offers customers in Singapore an innovative ordering experience that marries a focus on ingredients with technology and extreme customization. Beesket offers a “DIY” service platform where customers choose from a display of 39 different fruit and vegetable capsules in order to create their own custom juice blend. Each capsule is fitted with an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip that is then scanned by staff in order to print out an order chip and score card detailing nutrition content and calorie counts.
The concept takes the popular trend of personalised ordering a step further, introducing a fun and innovative way for customers to create their own beverage and offering a unique experience not typically found in the largely utilitarian street stalls/kiosk space. Further, Beesket appeals to young people, families, and young professionals by emphasizing its use of fresh, healthful ingredients; all fruit and vegetable juices have only natural ingredients with no added sugar, additives or flavourings. This also taps into an existing trend of consumers in Singapore seeking out healthier beverage options.
A local Burger King outlet in Helsinki became the first to offer an in-store sauna. The concept takes the idea of a unique dining experience to an extreme, offering both entertainment and functionality for Finnish consumers who see saunas as an integral part of their local culture. Saunas in Finland are taken frequently as social, health and wellness rituals, and it is not uncommon for friends and business associates to sauna together. In this way, Burger King’s in-store sauna offers a powerful example of localization, demonstrating an understanding of local preferences while also offering customers the novelty experience of a sauna alongside their Whopper and Fries.
The sauna was designed by Finnish celebrity designer Teuvo Loman, and includes benches featuring Burger King colors, a sauna stove with modern white stones and a television with gaming capabilities. Additional amenities include showers, dressing rooms and a lounge featuring Burger King signage. Servers from the outlet visit the sauna to take food and beverage orders, and the outlet’s operator is planning to install tablets that will eventually allow customers to place orders themselves from within the sauna.
Beyond the novelty factor and creativity presence in each of these new concepts, all three also demonstrates just how competitive the search for differentiation has become in global foodservice. While many markets are now offering steady, consistent growth at the highest levels, individual concepts are having to go to further and further extremes in order to set themselves apart. From even more extreme personalization, to more complete integration of technology into the dining experience, and still greater creativity when it comes to what it even means to be a restaurant and what needs that restaurant should serve, there is sure to be even more creativity in new concept innovation ahead in 2016.