Looking ahead to 2019, we anticipate some of the trends in the leisure and hospitality sector to include the following:
The fight for lunchtime spending
The fight for lucrative lunchtime spending is set to intensify in 2019. Established coffee chains have struggled against food first brands such as Pret and EAT which have encroached on the high margin caffeine providers. Newer coffee chains such as Joe & The Juice and Black Sheep have more differentiated food offerings, but traditional coffee brands have failed to adapt to growing demand for better quality lunchtime meals. We expect the county’s largest coffee chains to fight back in 2019 with innovative new menus, selective promotions and better loyalty programmes.
London off the boil
With a saturated market, expensive rents and higher wage costs, London is in danger of pricing new concepts out of the market. Loungers, the 144-site bar chain, has seen consistent growth and is a tried and tested model. It is said to be mulling a public listing, all without a single site in London. Other brands have struggled to gain a foothold outside of the capital, demonstrating that London often requires a differentiated approach to other areas of the UK. With the outlook on the UK high street promising to be tough we expect more hospitality businesses to look beyond the UK to overseas expansion, either directly or through franchise.
Social conscience continued
2018 was the year that public awareness of plastic pollution went mainstream, and businesses rushed to react to public sentiment. 2019 will build on this ethical foundation. Expect greater visibility regarding sustainability of ingredients, and a focus on demonstrating the local sourcing and 'farm to table' provenance of food offerings. We expect a greater use of technology in the supply chain, through RFID tracking, to monitor the origins of ingredients. Continued diversity of food communities, including rapid growth in vegan and flexitarian diets, will make niche food groups too big to ignore. Expect more meat and dairy free options on menus going into 2019, and more inventive ways to replace meat in our diets.
Will hyper personalisation become the new norm?
Where science meets food and drink. Start-ups and universities are looking at how we can personalise what we eat and drink. Imagine making water taste better by altering the colour, taste and smell. Or using our DNA to identify what we should be eating or more importantly, not. For many health-conscious consumers taking a swab and posting it back to gain a DNA based eating and exercise plan is a no brainer. Throughout 2019 we will see more inventions as companies look to win the hyper personalisation race. This will keep R&D experts busy.
Premium becomes standard
We’ve seen the explosion of craft beer, gin, whisky (everything) and our humble mixers and soft drinks are no exception. Research suggests that consumers now expect that this is offered as standard and are prepared to pay more for a better-quality drink than their ‘usual’. It’s not just drinks though with higher end bar snacks now entering the market. For many, the expectation is that a premium offering should be available whether it’s alcohol, mixers, snacks or soft drinks. Restaurants, bars and pubs will up their drinks and snacks game, making premium the standard choice in 2019.
Blurring the lines between work and play
Restaurants and bars will jump on the co-working train. Across London a few forward thinking restaurants and bars have adopted the co-working revolution as their own, offering packages or day rates for people to use their spaces to work during the day. For many this makes perfect business sense. By offering early stage entrepreneurs a more flexible place to work operators are getting an uplift in spend during the quieter parts of the day. We expect to see more offers like these in hotspots for start-ups around the country.
Public GDPR breaches on the horizon
Recent research has found that nearly 50 per cent of hospitality companies are at risk of prosecution for breaching GDPR rules and we could potentially some hefty fines hitting the headlines in 2019. Businesses will need to make sure they are looking after their customers data and maintaining compliance with GDPR.