Alpana Parida: Extinction of Restaurants – A Looming Reality

15 Feb,2017

By AlpanaParida


There are at least sux locations I have been to in Mumbai – in recent times – that have seen a new restaurant replace an old one. The same is true, I am told, across the globe.


As people, we are changing. We don’t read a book consistently (if we read at all anymore) – we start several at the same time, we open multiple tabs across multiple screens, we become different people – as we have multiple usernames and handles, we like to experiment and get new experiences – we don’t travel to the same place again and seek newness each time – ticking of a list, we have fragmented attention spans – doing many different things peripherally rather than one in depth, we are showing behaviours that do not require commitment, rather that exemplify moving on.


The rent v/s buy argument is increasingly gaining ground. More and more people are using mobile apps for transportation, rather than look at ownership – through models such as Uber, Ola on the one hand or the shared drive models of Zip cars on the other.


We seek new experiences – and want to eat a different cuisine. We rarely go to the same restaurants – we seek new experiences each time. We don’t seek the comfort of familiarity – rather we seek the titillation of variety.


Across life, we are no longer loyal consumers. The most loyal consumer in the world used to be the one for Colgate Dental Cream. Today, Colgate has 11 variants, and the consumer flirts with a basket of brands and variants. A wonderful BCG study tracked consumer behaviour at the shelf and found over 65% of consumers make decisions at the shelf.


On the flipside, there was a never a time better than now for introducing innovations. Startups are emerging every day with a new concept or offering across products and services. Strangely, the older and established companies, who are better poised for innovations of product or format, are making tweaks in their portfolio by largely thinking of new variants at best. This is an opportunity lost and leadership at risk.


Every time I see a new restaurant opening – I wonder why the promoters are not waking up to this new reality – and think new models. Perhaps one like a Multiplex – where the kitchen is the same – but new chefs come and go. Or QSR formats where the design builds in new skins and layouts to create visually different experiences and a constantly changing menu.


Consumers are changing – and restaurants – to be profitable, must change too. All the time.


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