There are many factors leading diners today to keep a tighter grip on their wallets, according to Technomic’s restaurant trends guru Kevin Higar. Employment trends are continuing to slow; food and gas prices are putting pressure on discretionary household spending and the housing market is horrible.
“Consumer confidence is low,” Higar said, predicting that the first half of 2009 will be over before we see improvement in the economic situation.
Higar offered ideas for foodservice professionals to help them ride out the storm and attain a “front of mind” position with customers. He cited “premium” and “artisan” offers as potential solutions to price inelasticity. “If you create a product that’s craveable and unique and they have to go to your place to get it,” he said. “People will hang in there longer with you.”
Higar also suggested that international street food would be a major food trend in the coming year. “This has such potential,” he said, adding that taking comfort food to a contemporary level is another strategy, citing barbecue rabbit ‘wings’ with a bleu cheese dipping sauce.