The April 2018 issue of Stir it up magazine from Country Range, and the accompanying promotions brochure, marks the first of three Food Solution Issues for 2018.
This is where we create a full food solution around a key trend focus, aligning both the Category Focus and the Melting Pot features of the magazine with the content of the Promotions brochure and other activity.
The theme of this April issue is Sharing Concepts!
WHY SHARING CONCEPTS?
From the dawn of time and wherever you are in the world, sharing a meal is something that brings us together. In a generation where we communicate so much with each other digitally via the multiple social platforms, where does it leave us with a sense of physical community and ensuring we still share true experiences and time with our family and friends?
For caterers, this creates a need to celebrate the occasion of food within their different establishment types and across sectors by creating an authentic dining experience and understanding the varying generations of their customers and their behaviours to understand how best to market their offer and keep them happy when they do visit.
The different formats in which menus and dishes can be served can heighten the whole dining experience for the customer – the perfect way for caterers to highlight the social occasion can be by adding sharing dishes, boards and even tasting menus to their offering.
WHY SHOULD YOU LOOK TO ADD SHARING CONCEPTS TO MENUS?
The removal of responsibility
Sharing concepts such as tapas style plates or sharing boards relieves the decision-making pressure consumers can feel when eating out of home. It also means they have the chance to try a variety of different options that a caterer has to offer all within the one meal. It is much more of a social experience and as long as you don’t share the mantra of Joey from Friends’ or Smithy from Gavin & Stacey on sharing food then you are in for a treat!
A consumer will often spend more per head when purchasing a sharing board or tapas style plates for a meal occasion but as they are trying more of the establishments offering within the one sitting they have the perception that they have gained great value than selecting one dish from the menu. Also, there is an illusion that they have spent less as they were able to ‘split the bill’, although they may well have still spent more than they would have on a single main dish.
Flexibility for Caterers
If the cost price of a particular product suddenly rises, a benefit of having sharing concepts on a menu gives caterers the flexibility to add or remove individual items without completely reworking a dish or their menu.
Flexibility for the customer
The increased demand for consumers to be able to customise or personalise their dishes also lends itself very well to the sharing concept dishes, whether that be swapping items on and off a sharing board, or building up a ‘meal’ using different sharing plates. Caterers can have fixed options for their sharing boards on the menu followed by a list of items that customers can chose to replace certain items with – or just to add to the sharing board, meaning a further spend and increased profits!
Sharing across social platforms
Social media is central to most people’s day-to-day lives, and is a key influencer in our decision-making process. It has revolutionised the eating out market and forced a major shift in how dishes are presented. Food is a major social occasion for consumers, which diners want to tweet about and share photos of their eating out experience. Sharing platters, plates and boards are always a huge hit on social media which gives catering establishments even more opportunity to get the message out about their amazing offering.
DO SHARING CONCEPTS APPEAL TO ALL GENERATIONS?
– As long tables and eating at the bar become standard, it’s clear that communal dining is here to stay. It’s not just about the space consumers are eating in, it’s about what we’re eating and in which formats. More curious, experience and with less patience than their predecessors, Millenials (and Gen Z) want to try a bit of everything and they get bored quickly so sharing concepts are a perfect addition to menus to attract the younger generations. 71% of Millenials say they loved to attend food-focused events and the bar is continually being raised so a sharing board celebrating a key food occasion or to the overall theme of the establishment itself with quirky presentation boards, dishes or even unusual food items within the board itself would work really well.
– Gen Zers are found to be more focused on experiences than on traditional material items which ticks a box when they can visit an establishment and truly share a food experience with their family and friends. They also support meaningful companies and their values just as much as they do people, and they prefer to spend their money in support of those things whenever possible. Key points to attract Gen Zers are strongly highlighting locally sourced produce within menus, shouting about ethical values an establishment has from packaging and food waste to purchasing sustainable produce. Perhaps even add a completely plant-based sharing concept to the menu!
– Gen Xers are typically the head of the family – caterers can utilise sharing concepts to appeal to this generation who want to bring their families together to share a social occasion. With regards to flavours they still enjoy comfort food but they also like a bit of adventure so keep a traditional offering on the menu, as well as a tantalising global cuisine option.
– Baby Boomers Research released by Barclays shows that the over 65s contribute over a third (36%) more to the UK economy through spending in the Hospitality & Leisure sector than the average consumer and 27% higher than the 35-54 year olds, who are the second biggest spending generation. This generation is also the most loyal customer type and therefore provide an even bigger and consistent profit opportunity.
DOES THE TREND WORK ACROSS SECTORS?
HOSPITALITY SECTOR (Cafes, Pubs & Hotels)
– New to Food
If a pub or café is introducing food as an offering, sharing boards can be a great way to offer a limited menu that is appealing to a large customer base who are looking to eat out as a social occasion. Also, the individual items within a board can be built around frozen products that are simple and easy to produce.
– Day-part blurring
The huge success of afternoon teas is a fantastic example of where an eating out occasion can be brought to life by utilising sharing concepts to create a brand new occasion for consumers to eat out outside of the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner day parts. Another more recent example is the ‘Bottomless Brunch’ offering which became the new ‘in’ dining concept throughout 2017 and is still growing in popularity across establishments in 2018.
A recent report found that 33% of respondents said they are looking to Air BNB offerings more and more because they are looking for an authentic experience. Hotels could really update their offering and make themselves stand out by introducing sharing concepts that show off they key USPs of the establishment. This not only helps them tap into a brand new dining occasion but gets more footfall within the restaurant element of their business. It may also encourage a consumer to book a stay at the establishment.
– Connecting with families
Residents don’t often have the opportunity to sit down and eat a meal with their families and friends in the way they used to before needing additional support with their everyday care. Care homes could really take the sharing inspiration with some careful planning and put together and event day where they really bring families together again. Visitors and residents could share the same foods, but if needs be some of the items could be swapped to better suit the nutritional needs of the residents. Another option would be to put together a dysphagia version of a sharing platter to be enjoyed alongside their family enjoying the same flavours.
Themed days where all residents enjoy the same cuisine could be built around memories and experiences of the residents to encourage them to talk about their lives and get involved with the social activities within the care home.
– A new Generation
As the Baby Boomer generation, who have travelled widely, start to reach an age where they may require residential care, how should menus be adapted to reflect their tastes? We’re getting to the point where residents’ tastes will have been influenced by travel and the global cuisines they may have encountered in home cooking.
– Higher Education & Universities
Keeping spending students on site is the key so education caterers need to look to what is popular with their student consumers out on the high street.
– As detailed in the TUCO 2017 Global Food Trends Report, it’s not just online that Gen Z and Millenial consumers like to share – tapas, sharing platters and bites are becoming the norm across casual establishments. This also reflects the preference for eating little and often and whenever, versus three square meals. As flexibility and having the ability to customise offerings suits their own choices, the flexibility of sharing options within menus will appeal to students.
– Gen Z have a higher percentage of shared meals than any other generation (June 2016, NPD Group)
HOW TO BUILD THE COMPONENTS OF A BALANCED SHARING BOARD?
Each of the solutions we have created have been built using the below categories.
1. DIPS OR SAUCES
2. SALAD / VEGETABLE MIX
6. NON FOODS – DISHES, PLATTERS, BOARDS OR PLATES
– Ways to Upsell
Caters can have fixed options for their sharing boards on the menu, followed by a list of items t hat customers can chose to replace certain items with – or just to add to the sharing board, meaning a further spend and increased profits! For example, a caterer could add a really popular item as an add-on as they know the customer is still likely to wish to add it their meal and therefore increase their spend.
The Sharing Boards Solutions
1. A Taste of the Med
2. Under The Sea
3. Global Fusion
A Taste of the Med
Under The Sea
Traditonal / Classic
All the relevant recipes for the sharing boards and the individual dishes/products are live and available at www.stiritupmagazine.co.uk/recipes, so you will be able to see exactly what Country Range brand and other branded products have been utilised to create each concept. Any recipes that were made up of just Country Range brand products will also be available on the Country Range brand website at www.countryrange.co.uk/recipes.
*Research taken from various JWT news updates and reports, the TUCO 2017 Global Food Trends Report, Barclays Tourism Report 2017, NPD Group Consumer Trends reports.