A movement of conscious consumption is taking over the marketplace. A stunning 91% of consumers expect businesses to do more than just turn a profit – they expect them to also be socially and environmentally responsible.
The majority of consumers (84% to be exact) are likely or willing to switch brands if there is an alternative option available that aligns itself with a good cause.
So what does this mean for your restaurant? It means that consumer buying decisions are no longer based on price alone. Diners want a full stomach and a clear conscience.
If you’re wondering where to begin, start with these five suggestions and turn your restaurant into a conscious consumer’s dream.
Purchasing local produce has a trifecta impact. First, you’ll reduce your food costs because locally sourced food is seasonally grown and isn’t transported across the world to get from the farm to your diner’s forks. Less time and money spent transporting food means you’ll spend less money on food costs.
Second, local food is more nutritious than food sourced from afar as it doesn't sit in transportation facilities for long periods of time losing its freshness. Ultimately, your customers can enjoy fresher, more nutrient rich food, which is good for their bodies – and their taste buds!
Third, supporting local farmers and the surrounding communities means you can market your restaurant as “farm-to-table” – and enjoy an influx of customers who specifically seek out farm-to-table establishments when they dine out.
Support a Cause
Pick a cause you care about and openly support it. For example, maybe you want to raise awareness about child hunger in your community so on Saturdays, from every lunch special you sell, a $2 donation is made to the local food bank or a school lunch program. Or perhaps you feature a weekly chef’s special made with ingredients from would-be off cuts of meat and unused parts of fruit and vegetables to raise awareness about food waste. By supporting a good cause you will attract conscious consumers looking to spend their money in a way that positively impacts the world.
If you really want to tune into conscious consumption and save money, start by implementing greener practices. This doesn’t mean you have to turn into a zero waste venue overnight – instead, start small. Take a close look at your venue’s most wasteful practices and eliminate them. For example, if you are a cocktail bar and you go through a couple of boxes of plastic straws per night, stop offering straws as an option. Or, if you use paper napkins and find the garbage full of them after every shift, consider switching to cloth. Little things like this will help you save money and lessen your environmental impact.
Offer Inspired Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Around 4% of adults in America are vegetarian or vegan. While this might not seem like a lot, it hovers at just over eight million people. You read that right, eight million people. If you aren’t offering meat-free options, it’s possible you’re losing money by not catering to this demographic of diners.
Imagine this scenario: a group of people looking to book a business dinner are considering your restaurant and one person in the group is vegetarian. If there are no vegetarian options on your menu, your restaurant is off the list and the group will take their business elsewhere. That scenario is likely to happen time and time again. But, there’s an easy and immediate solution to accommodate meat-free customers: offer menu items that are inspired, delicious, and completely free of animal ingredients. For example, if you’re famous for your pasta with bolognese sauce, offer a mushroom bolognese as an alternative.
Create a Conscious Workforce
The conscious workforce is just as important as conscious consumption because your employees are the ones catering to and servicing your customers. If your employees are unhappy, your customers are likely to have a less than stellar experience at your restaurant. An easy way to avoid this and increase staff productivity is by creating a conscious workforce, meaning you treat your employees like you treat your best customers.
You can quickly boost staff morale and company culture by regularly talking to your employees, listening to their feedback, openly showing your appreciation to them by saying thank you, and incentivizing their productivity by implementing a rewards programs. For example, you could create a points system whereby after collecting a certain amount of points, your employees can “cash” in on things such as gift cards, paid days off, free meals, etc.
The rise of conscious consumption is undeniable. The food marketplace is surging with farm-to-table, organic, vegan and vegetarian restaurant options that give consumers alternatives to overly processed, unsustainable food. Give your customers a reason to dine with you not just once, but over and over again. By creating a positive, conscious brand image you’ll create a plethora of loyal, regular customers as well.
Interested in going green and cutting back on waste?
About the Author
Antasha is an Online Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro where she spends her days advising restaurateurs on their point of sale systems and her nights writing hospitality-related content. A veteran bartender and server, Antasha enjoys bringing her industry experiences to life through blogging. Her three-year-old son and BFF, Elijah, is her self-proclaimed muse for all things creative.More Content by Antasha Durbin