COVID-19 is changing everything – especially how we eat. How consumers dine-in, dine-out, and even think about their meals is evolving rapidly as concerns rise about cleanliness, protection, and how we experience physical spaces.
In this installment of our 4-part restaurant series, we’re focusing on three behavior shifts that we’re seeing and using insights from our recent consumer research to solve for the pain points of portfolio planning.
Restaurant portfolios will need to be re-thought to restore full productivity from existing real estate. The typical prototype will live on with some contactless and distancing measures in place, but locations may need to be adapted to better serve changing consumer needs. For the business health of the overall chain, restaurant brands will need a strategic plan for an optimized mix of new formats and offers.
With the effects of Contact Avoidance, Protecting Personal Space, and Staying Virtual in mind, the team explored a variety of solutions that could be used as restaurants prepare for re-entry and reimagine a portfolio ecosystem with new formats and revenue streams. We invented a fictitious brand, Better Burger, to illustrate our thinking.
To serve contact-avoidant consumers, we’ve repurposed the dining room, creating a format that’s exclusive to drive-thru and pick-up. The updated dining room gives customers a look into the kitchen space, helping to build trust, confidence, and promote transparency. Added drive-thru windows, pick-up lockers, and walk-up order and pick-up windows provide the throughput to ensure speedy service. In the reimagination stage, the food prep area is expanded to ensure safe employee distancing. A similar format that is not consumer-facing could be added to the portfolio to streamline the higher volume of 3rd-party delivery.
Mobile brand outpost.
Using food trucks as strategy for low-cost expansion into new geographic areas, this solution includes implementing a food truck schedule of locations and times, mobile pre-order and payment, and curbside delivery. Future thinking could include a modified drive-thru truck and corresponding mobile menu board.
Ultimate brand experience.
The space is planned in response to distancing regulations and growing consumer need for privacy as a means of safety. Enclosed dining nooks offer distancing and privacy while still providing a memorable branded space. Dedicated server paths minimize contact while counter-ordering and reserve-ahead seating keep the consumer in control.
The space is planned to convert unproductive dining room space and give consumers one-stop convenience. A modular pantry item unit with modules for refrigerated and shelf-stable items is installed in the dining room. Future thinking might involve dining room conversion into sublet space or a partnership with a complementary offer, like beer/wine or convenience grocery.
To cater to families who now prefer at-home dining, this solution offers make-at-home meal kits and retail sale of related items, in addition to providing virtual cooking instruction. Offers in the reimagine stage could include a subscription-based delivery service, sale and rental of cooking appliances, and catering to school and/or corporate cafeterias.
This accommodates consumers who miss restaurant meals but aren’t venturing beyond the grocery store. Solutions include establishing relationships with grocers within market areas, offering family-sized shelf-stable, refrigerated or frozen SKUs. Future thinking might involve modular endcaps or in-aisle grocery displays with refrigeration and shelf-stable modules.
As you work through the immediacy of response, how will you plan for re-entry?
Contact us to help you reimagine what comes next.