Marketing Gods (sorry Seth) make the point that trying to sell the normal, the same and the average is a battle not worth fighting. What businesses should be doing is selling the new, the innovative, the improved… The remarkable.
Whilst this is a great mantra, an inspiring call to action that drives the development of incredible new products and models, I am not sure it works all-that well for the hospitality industry. What restaurants, hotels and bars need is more innovation in quality and strength in reliability.The restaurant branding can hold more substance than a shiny new restaurant concept.
As more and more hospitality businesses (mostly restaurants) open in the UK we have seen an explosion in new concepts, new ideas and new offerings. From ducks to waffles, sliders to bubble teas, fresh and exciting business ideas continue to produce huge amounts of column inches and buzz in the media. And it’s true, doing something new is a great way to drive a new business forward and produce large short term gains. This is particularly helpful for a new start-up, fighting its way into an already saturated market place. But is it a good long-term business strategy? I would argue not.
As with fashion, food has become exceedingly trendy. The hottest dishes and tables in town (particularly in the big cities) have their 15 minutes under the hot lamps before gracefully taking a bow and making way for the newest kimchi milkshake on the block. All this makes for exciting reading in the evening free papers but does nothing for the poor old restaurateur trying to catch a slice of the ‘eating out’ pie. But there’s an argument to suggest new (and old) restaurants are missing a trick.
Innovation doesn’t have to mean something blisteringly trendy or eye wateringly inventive. Innovation can mean something else, it can mean quality. Being the best can be the thing that sets you out as a ground breaker, a real trend setter. And this is more and more evident in the hospitality industry. Restaurants selling pizzas, burgers, steak, fried chicken or even cheese toasties are not new, they’ve been around for many years. However, restaurants selling the BEST of all of these staple items are a new thing. A quick mental check list of the best and most successful new restaurants around at the moment will no doubt cover a list of top notch sirloins, incredible stone baked pizza and the juiciest beef patties imaginable. And the reason they are so successful? Their dedication to a high quality, consistently reliable in food, service and the overall experience. This, I argue, is the golden goose of restaurant marketing.
To be the best, the top of the pile, the king, is a very easy concept to market. People will engage, debate and spread the word and the longevity of the business will out strip new trends and fads. This goes for small independents as well as larger chains. Having the best table service in the village or the crispiest pizza bases on the high-street might be all it takes. If restaurants spent more time working on these things and less on worrying about keeping up with new products and fads then their businesses would have a far better chance of longevity and success.
So the conclusion? Focusing on quality and consistency, being the best and having a product that people can rely on is better than trying to break the mould. There is more loyalty gained from supplying a great experience and this will show on the bottom line. Perhaps this is nothing new –
or perhaps it’s the most remarkable idea ever.