New year incoming! Get ready now with the top 2019 restaurant trends to tackle this year. Buzztime and Main Street Hub teamed up to share emerging marketing trends every restaurant owner needs to know.
From super social events to buzzworthy beers, Instagram Stories to authentic branding, these 2019 restaurant trends will rock your business – and boost your profits.
1) Brand Authenticity and Personalization: 2019 Restaurant Trends That Will Shape Buying Decisions
For a brand to be considered authentic, it needs to be perceived as reliable, respectful, and real.
We feel inspired by authentic brands and emotionally invested in their success, so we buy their products even when there might be less expensive alternatives. Companies perceived to be authentic build brand loyalty and tend to be more profitable. So how can you “own” 2019 restaurant trends focused on authenticity? Here’s how:
Define the Voice of Your Brand
The rule of branding? It doesn’t change (or at least, not often). Yes, 2019 restaurant trends will change…but your brand should stand strong and stable for years to come. Use these exercises to delineate your brand’s voice.
- If your restaurant was a person, what do they look like and how are they dressed?
- If you could use one word to define the person you created to depict your brand, what would it be? Playful, sophisticated, inspiring?
This is your restaurant’s voice and will define the language you use throughout all marketing platforms including social media. Do you have a target audience in mind? Choose your voice accordingly.
Create a Content Strategy for 2019
Once you’ve defined your voice, use it! Remember, 2019 restaurant trends are focused on authenticity. So, when you create content, your voice must come through in a “real” way. Use these steps to plan your 2019 content strategy:
- Outline your goals: What do you want your social media strategy to achieve? Get more customers? Build an engaged following? Improve your online reputation?
- Plan your year: Yes, plan out the entire year! Start by noting local events, national holidays, big sporting events. Then think about content you can build around those events. Need inspiration? Use this list of 31 crazy holiday promotions for the entire year.
- Schedule monthly content: It could be photos of your business, a new menu item featuring 2019 restaurant trends, or positive press. Think seasonally! For example, create a graphic asking your social media followers about their New Year’s resolutions.
- Create your posts: Your voice should be a guiding light in deciding what content to post. Stay on brand, get creative, and you’ll rock 2019 restaurant trends related to brand authenticity.
Optimize Your Review Sites
Another one of the key 2019 restaurant trends revolving around authenticity? We look to our peers when deciding which businesses to visit. Yes, we’re talking about review sites like Yelp with its 132 million average monthly visitors. It’s essential that you monitor your review sites – and respond to all feedback, both good and bad. You should also optimize your review site by adding a link to your website, menu, and business hours. Don’t forget to upload photos! People searching on Yelp stay on business pages with 2.5x times longer than on those without.
2) Social Media 2019 Restaurant Trends: Visual Tips for Success
Your small business needs to be on social media. If you aren’t, you’re missing out on an effective, affordable marketing opportunity! We’ll focus on ways to incorporate 2019 restaurant trends focused on visual content.
- Timing is everything: If you own a restaurant and its breakfast time, post a photo of coffee and a treat that morning. If you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about what they would want to see and know about, it’ll be easier to strategize what to post and when.
- Frame it right! Try different angles like shooting photos from above, shooting straight-on (in line with the table), and zooming in for detailed shots. Often, shots from above make dishes look best. Add extras like chopsticks, a margarita, or the corner of your menu that shows your logo.
- Go natural: Authenticity as one of the top 2019 restaurant trends can shine through in your photos…use natural light. Take food photos outside or near a window for appealing, not-too-harsh lighting.
- Use Instagram Stories: According to Hubspot.com, Instagram users spend 20–30 minutes on Instagram Stories, so this is one of most important 2019 restaurant trends to make your own. With Instagram Stories, you can post as frequently as you like, and your story stays active and easy to find for your followers – no matter when they log in.
3) 2019 Restaurant Trends Revolve Around Generation Z
Gen Z is the first generation that has had access to the Internet, and social media, throughout their entire lives. This has empowered them to express their individuality – and they expect brands to be a part of their identity. They also demand transparency and honesty from brands. Yes, we’re back to those 2019 restaurant trends focused on authenticity and personalization!
Gen Z customers do not experience a restaurant without their phone. They may order meals ahead of time, make a reservation or post a review. Ultimately, Gen Z likes to simplify their dining experience using technology, and they enjoy experiences like ordering through restaurant tabletop tablets (which we’ll cover later on this list of 2019 restaurant trends).
4) Food + Beverage 2019 Restaurant Trends
Gen Z is Driving Demand for Healthy-ish Food with Unexpected Flavor Profiles
With their adventurous palates and focus on wellness, millennials and Gen Z are shaping 2019 restaurant trends. We can’t cover all the trends here, but we’ll focus on an example of each…
Meatless Goes Mainstream
The meatless revolution is underway: 8 in 10 millennials eat meat alternatives and 6 in 10 Americans of ALL ages are interested in eating less meat. Many who eat plant-based food are NOT vegans and vegetarians! And this may surprise you even more: the main reason for the rise in meatless 2019 restaurant trends? Taste. Customers want a delicious meal, not a frozen veggie patty. Here are a few quick (and tasty) ideas:
- Marinate tofu then grill it: Presentation matters, get those grill marks.
- Beans star in main dishes: Spices and heirloom legumes create an indulgent succotash – a main dish – at upscale Yardbird in Miami.
- The Beyond Burger is trending: it looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef.
Sweet n’ Sour Craft Beer
The September 2018 Great American Beer Festival unearthed key trends taking off. Yes, the IPA style is still the “holy grail” craft beer, accounting for nearly 40% of all craft sales. But the newest twist is the sweet “milkshake” IPA – with added lactose sugars. On the other end of the spectrum? Sour beers like gose, lambics, and wild ales are hot and worthy of making it on your list of 2019 restaurant trends.
Wild and weird is another top trend in craft beer: like vegetable and savory sour beers! For example, the most popular festival beer was Weldwerks Brewing’s Spaghetti Gose brewed with roasted tomatoes, basil, oregano and yes…pasta.
5) Tech Takes Off at Restaurants (with a Friendlier Face)
It’s no secret: restaurant tech exploded on the scene in 2018…from mobile POS systems and inventory tools. The focus was on powerful back-of-house tech. When it comes to 2019 restaurant trends, the focus will shift to how customers experience restaurant tech. It’s all about making tech customer-friendly, helpful, and even fun for guests
Again, younger folks are behind these techy 2019 restaurant trends. BRP Consulting’s 2018 Restaurant Research Report revealed that Gen Z and millennials have the “highest expectations for digital capabilities” at restaurants
We’ll focus on 3 key guest-facing, digital 2019 restaurant trends: POS, Wi-Fi, and Digital Signage
Guest-Facing Dining Tech
BRP Consulting found that 74% of today’s guests want an “easy, frictionless” order and payment process. Yet only 45% of restaurant operators admit they are providing this to guests. Convenient payment is one of the biggest 2019 restaurant trends because it taps into the personalization factor again. Guest-facing dining tech puts the power to order food and beverages – then securely pay – in the hands of your guests.
- Guests build out their dream meal (featuring those foodie-approved 2019 restaurant trends, right) by browsing a handheld touchscreen tablet
- Upselling is automated: tablet menus suggest add-ons, extras like chicken on a Caesar salad
- Orders go straight to the kitchen: speeding table turn, allowing servers to cover more tables, most importantly…guests get food faster.
- Payment is secure, fast, on-demand…and right on the tablet using EMV “chip” cards or even NFC mobile payments like Samsung and Apple Pay. Expect to see
- Guest-facing ordering technology caters to guest preferences! According to a 2018 Restaurant Industry Report by SevenRooms, 33% of Americans won’t return if the waiter ignores their preferences. This tech ensures their preferences are always accommodated.
When Toast POS surveyed 2000+ restaurant patrons on their top tech demands, the #1 most important digital asset was free wi-fi. As far as 2019 restaurant trends go for Wi-Fi, follow these rules: make it free, fast, and functional:
- Free: Enough said, don’t charge for Wi-Fi!
- Fast: Use an IT company to set up a “wireless mesh” that ensures all corners of your restaurant have a strong signal – from basement to patio.
- Functional: You can get something in return for free wi-fi. Use a 3rd party gateway or portal that requires guests to follow you on social, leave a review, or sign up for emails before using wi-fi. Try Yelp Wi-Fi which states 80% of guests return more frequently.
Turn to 2019 restaurant trends to go digital within your 4 walls. Simple software can turns existing TVs and monitors into digital signage. The best software includes customizable templates so you can promote your events, specials, menu highlights, and even resell ad space for extra revenue. Most importantly, digital signage 2019 restaurant trends can drive up sales! A Nielson study found that sales of items promoted on digital signage increased by up to 33%.
6) 2019 Restaurant Trends are Evolving the Social Scene
“Customer experience is the new marketing.” –Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes Benz USA
A memorable experience is what brings guests back according to the BRP Consulting study mentioned earlier. This year, expand your definition of “in-venue experience” to include the social element – one of the hottest 2019 restaurant trends. How can you offer interactive entertainment? Think “beyond the band” because live music doesn’t offer a chance to socialize.
This is one of the most popular midweek social events. Beyond 2019 restaurant trends, you’ll find live trivia in bars, breweries, and other social spots. Go digital to incorporate the guest-facing tech trend with handheld restaurant tablets. For example, guests can use Buzztime tablets to submit answers. Scoring is digital and automatic, so games move faster, venues can host their own events without an outside host! Beef O’Brady’s in Apollo Beach, FL hosted digital live trivia and increased pitcher sales by 200%, 40% increase in customer traffic
Host a lesson in fun with an on-trend workshop. Try these 2019 restaurant trends for “it” events:
- Options like paint n’ sip night, PlantNite.com, and even pint glass painting
- Like live trivia, workshops are ideal for slower nights
- Tie into the craft beer trend with “arts and crafts” nights
- Some breweries and bars even offering yoga events in afternoons (sip n’ stretch)
Now that you’re ahead of the game with these 2019 restaurant trends, it’s time to plan out your year. Stay true to your brand, but seek out ways to enhance the guest experience: from live trivia on tablets to meatless options on your menu. Cheers to a prosperous 2019!