How to identify consumer trends and keep them current

Trends are a sort of lifeblood in the hospitality industry. They are often easy to identify and tend to spread rapidly. Social media has been a key driver in perpetuating these trends across the globe and businesses now have the opportunity to observe what their international counterparts are up to on a daily basis.

I find this to be an exciting but somewhat daunting process, and can totally understand how businesses can be caught up in the excitement of the latest avocado latte or Nutella-laden pancake creation. For me, the key is not jumping onto the bandwagon of every trend that rolls around and staying true to your unique selling proposition.

Ever since we opened our very first market stall five years ago in 2014, we knew that our gluten-free treats were going to be the hero items of our menu. I feel that we have been successful in identifying trends that are here to stay – namely, healthy and wholesome foods that are dietary specific, with an element of fun that appeals to everyone.

Health-conscious options are becoming increasingly popular across Australian hospitality venues. Consumers are looking to continue participating in various dining experiences while embracing fresher produce and more wholesome dishes. We are seeing more and more customers swap out refined sugars and even alcohol for raw treats and kombucha. The increased focus on health is a great opportunity for businesses to experiment with new and nutritious ingredients.

With approximately one in 40 people being diagnosed with Coeliac disease each year and over 2.5 million Australians currently living on an all or almost all vegetarian diet it still blows my mind when hospitality venues fail to offer dishes for various dietary requirements. As a Coeliac myself, I created the concept of Nodo out of sheer frustration that I was unable to enjoy some of the world’s most beloved treats (namely doughnuts!) Now, we offer a number of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options so that all of our customers can enjoy their favourite meals. Cafe owners would only be doing themselves a favour by providing additional menu options, as it is clear that this trend isn’t going anywhere.

One thing that seems to be at the heart of every consumer trend is the element of fun. Fun never goes out of style and we pride ourselves on the creativity and fun we get to have concocting new doughnut flavours for our customers to enjoy. It’s that sense of heart and imagination that I believe keeps us feeling authentic as opposed to a passing fad.

The food industry is forever evolving and becoming a lot more sophisticated when it comes to trends. People’s expectations are increasing, so it’s very important to always stay on trend (or even better) ahead of the trends where you can. Being able to identify what is current and what is not going out of style is key in ensuring you aren’t left behind in this fast-paced environment.

Kate Williams, Founder, Nodo Donuts and Silver Chef Ambassador

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