Food businesses: how they play the game
In an era when our attention span is shorter than a goldfish', and solicitation is everywhere, new restaurants/cafés/bakeries opening every day, businesses have to be creative to attract new customers.
I remember the time when you would go to a restaurant or a bakery just because the food was good. Now it's because it's instagrammable.
As a child, I was always amazed to see eating competitions in American movies, people shucking down kilos of food in minutes - and usually not keeping it down - just for a win. It seemed unreal, especially as schools in France were often calling for food donations (food banks) that could be sent to starving children in Africa. I grew up with the idea that I should finish my dinner because others were not that lucky and didn't have food on their plate.
My childhood seems very far now. Not only because I aged - I was born in the 1970's - but also because our preoccupations have changed. Food businesses want to attract many customers at once and reach some sort of trendy status as soon as they open; and this doesn't happen unless they hit hard with something which will make them stand out: a particular experience or item which will make it to Instagram. Nobody cares about what food tastes anymore, it's all about the look; and bigger the better.
We're part of an 'over the top' culture. A good example is those desserts showing up all around the world: bowls of twenty-two scoops of ice cream on top of cake, parfaits, waffles, filled with lollies. Even a party of four wouldn't be able to finish it, let alone the single person ordering it just to post a photo on Instagram. There are places which advertise that the two-kilo rib eye will be free if you can eat it all. Does anyone worry anymore about the huge waste of food this kind of behaviour generates? What the customer leaves goes straight to the bin. Are our ethics chucked away like our left overs?
Those are extreme examples, but what about the average Australian business? Well, to be competitive they need to catch the public's eye, and what's better than providing the ultimate reward: an instagrammable experience?
This is the mega shake that my daughter and her friend ordered over the weekend (it looks smaller in the photo than in real life).
Why? Because it would make a great Instagram photo. The waiter asked if they wanted one each. Fortunately, they're down to earth and ordered only one to share so they would finish it.
This photo, which will be posted on at least two Instagram accounts, will generate sales for this business, as lots of their friends will want to go there and order it just to take a photo.
Do you see know how this gamification work for businesses?
Credit Photo: Untamed by Clemence