Emerging Concepts in Foodservice: Targeting the Niche Consumer

Consumers’ growing awareness of options and demand for convenience is set to significantly impact the foodservice industry. Shifting values and lifestyles have created a demand for underserved dining occasions. As a result, independent operators are creating concepts that target more niche consumer segments and address specific needs.

Targeting niche dining occasions

Independent operators are typically more flexible in adapting to changing market conditions and better positioned to target niche consumer needs. Unlike independents, chained operators have a financial incentive and obligation to shareholders to appeal to the widest audience. In order to do so, chained operators will often develop strategies with foodservice elements to target millennials and generation Z.

On a micro-market level, there is room for independent operators to target potentially underserved consumer segments that have different needs and preferences from the mainstream; this includes concepts offering better dining options for the elderly or parents with young children, for example.

Formats suitable for larger families

Larger families also expect accommodating dining choices. Parents are selective when dining out, now looking for safe and suitable options for their families. This means better-quality meals at affordable price points and environments appropriate for larger gatherings.

La Picantería, launched in 2016 in Peru is a good example of menu collaboration and personalisation targeting larger groups and families.

While La Picantería first opened in late 2012, the restaurant rebranded its concept and re-launched in early 2016. La Picantería specialises in local cuisine and offers an extreme form of customisation, as there is no set menu: consumers describe what they would like to the chef and negotiate a meal based on what is possible and the ingredients available for that day. The restaurant also revisits traditional dining culture in Peru in which meals were eaten together with friends and family around a large table.
La Picantería appeals to diners because it allows them to personalise the menu. The process of collaborating on a potential meal also connects consumers with the chef on an individual level, enhancing the dining experience and building trust.

La Picanteria Restaurant in Peru, which addresses niche consumers.

Restaurant operators are catering to niche consumer segments that want more from their dining occasions. Especially in markets that are saturated with foodservice options, operators can find room for growth with concepts relevant to a more targeted consumer, creating a tailored experience that enhances appeal.

To learn more about which food and lifestyle trends are having the most impact on the foodservice industry, download our white paper ‘New Concepts in Foodservice: Best of 2017’ which showcases global emerging concepts and explore how these new trends are being realised in the foodservice industry.