New product development in 2014 was driven by consumers’ desire to maximise the value of their dining experiences, through any and all means necessary. This meant operators looked for ways to add more freshness and functionality to their menus, and they experimented with a wider variety of Asian-inspired dishes and concepts. They also used new technology, both inside and outside outlets, to enhance the traditional restaurant-going experience and, in some cases, even redefine it entirely.
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Technology has changed both what it means to operate a restaurant and what consumers are looking for from their dining experience, resulting in entirely new service models, redesigned operations and new ordering and payment streams. Online and mobile capabilities have become an essential part of any concept, and they are separating the successful chains from those falling behind.
Fierce competition in wealthy markets and price sensitivity in others means that maximising value is an important benefit for the majority of global consumers. As a result, operators are improving every part of the value equation, utilising more creative meal bundles, higher quantity shareable items, and entertainment-based value-adds. Many are even looking to “viral innovation”, using novelty items to make their brands a part of the conversation.
Consumers continue to seek out freshness – a somewhat elusive quality that encompasses high-quality ingredients, functional foods, fresh preparation methods, artisanal items, organic ingredients and responsible sourcing, all of which together help to define what it now means to be healthy. Within this umbrella trend, vegetables have taken on a new role as main dish components, adding value to the centre of the plate rather than the side.
Asian flavours have grown in popularity, due both to the spread of Asia-based chained concepts and to increased interest in Asian flavours and cuisines in other markets all over the world. This has meant Asian-inspired dishes are showing up on menus in many categories.