With CGA data revealing minimal like for like sales growth in 2018 and signs of market saturation, it is going to be another tough year for many managed pub and restaurant groups. As client director Fiona Speakman told a packed keynote theatre at the Casual Dining show, one of the best ways to stay in growth will be to keep a tight grip on the fundamentals of hospitality. These are five of the basic factors that businesses need to get right in 2019.

1. Value for Money

With so many people’s disposable incomes squeezed, value is essential: BrandTrack data shows that the number of people driven to a brand by value for money has risen by nine percentage points in two years. But good value doesn’t always mean low cost. Even if prices are relatively high, excellent food can leave customers feeling satisfied with what they've spent. “Value for money is about consumers getting what they expect in return for what they pay… not necessarily the cheapest option,” Speakman told Casual Dining.

2. Experience

As Speakman also noted, “Experience is a huge buzzword at the moment.” But what does it actually mean in practice? Experiential concepts like games-based venues are rising in popularity, but for consumers, experience is more often the sum of the key parts of a visit to a pub or restaurant, like the quality of the food, drink, service and environment.

3. Health

BrandTrack data suggests two thirds (65%) of consumers now proactively try to lead a healthy lifestyle, while more than half (55%) of business leaders think healthy options have increased in importance lately. There are clear opportunities for restaurants and suppliers to tap into healthy eating trends—but there’s an important caveat. “What consumers say and what they actually do can vary a lot,” Speakman said. “Operators need the range of options to support [the healthy trend], but be mindful that we’re not seeing a complete change just yet.” Freshness and nutritional information on menus are two good routes to improving consumers’ perceptions of healthiness, she added.

4. Local

CGA data shows that people are increasingly tuned in to localism and want their pubs or restaurants to have individual character. “Consumers are looking for that local, independent feel… and we’re seeing a move towards softer branding in chains,” Speakman said. The one-size-fits-all approach won’t work any more, and tweaking the core offer to suit different markets is vital.

5. Sustainable

The sourcing and sustainability of ingredients is important to 57% and 54% of consumers respectively when they are choosing where to eat out of home—and three quarters (77%) of leaders say sustainability is now a priority. Working with suppliers to convey stories about their food ingredients, investing in local communities and treating workers well are three top ways for brands to highlight their sustainability credentials, Speakman said.

For more information about CGA’s BrandTrack tool, contact Fiona Speakman, fiona.speakman@cga.co.uk.


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