The Inconvenient Foodie

Living in a major city like Melbourne has a lot of benefits:

  • Easy access to public transport
  • Lots of places to find employment
  • Galleries and artistic hubs within arms reach
  • and over 7,000 food outlets to choose from

So is there space for any more restaurants?

Over the past few years the Lucas Group – along with many others – have opened restaurants with catchy and sometimes repetitive names: ChinChin, Go Go, Baby, Kong, and Hawker Hall. These have even been combined with some interesting imagery…..

baby

The not so subtle sign in front of Melbourne restaurant “Baby”

But these aren’t just ordinary restaurants. Take Lucas Groups Hawker Hall as an example. First of all, you can’t make a booking. The only way to reserve a table is to turn up on the night and put your name on the list, which can mean waiting for up to 3 hours to get a table. And for other delicacy restaurants like an Adriano Zumbo macaron outlet or a Lune croissant store – the only option is to wait in line and hope they aren’t sold out by the time you get to the counter. So in an ever expedient world where we are increasingly getting what we want when we want, and the midst of near infinite choice, how does a normally convenient food item made inconvenient stay popular? Let’s look at Hawker Hall for some examples.

Step 1 – Get your customers before you even have a product:

After the success of their initial releases, the Lucas Group began promoting their “Coming Soonish” Hawker Hall delights to their soon to be fans.

coming soon

Exact timing can be found by digging through Instagram photos, making it more like a treasure hunt

The suspense of a restaurant opening is not something I would ever have predicted let alone subscribe to. But for a brand to build its fan base before it has a product is something quite remarkable. Hawker Hall was first advertised on Instagram, encouraging people to “follow” it up to their release date. The imagery used in their “Coming Soon” photos are incredibly bright, colourful, and fun looking. You’d be forgiven for forgetting that it is really just pictures of food.

To the consumer, it is more than food, it actually means something more powerful.

food

It turns a basic commodity into a lifestyle that we crave, and few brands can summon such loyalty for a product before it exists.

 

Always have a line at the door:

Whether you’re searching for a place to eat or just passing by, a line at any door speaks volumes, it immediately says desirability. The message is even louder if nearby restaurants are empty. So what is the rational or irrational thought?
If it is popular it has to be good….right? Well not entirely.
If we wait in line we have a chance to “be seen”. Do we then feel like celebrities?
And during that time we have the chance (and are actively encouraged), to Tweet or Instagram our journey from being an outsider to being one of the lucky few who get to eat there. Just have a look at any Lucas Group restaurant Instagram photo, you’d be hard pressed to find an empty table, that would give the impression they aren’t always busy.

Quality or Satisfaction, one does not always equal the other:

If you wait for hours to get a meal and it isn’t good, how would you feel? There’s a large field in the study of cognitive dissonance and choice supporting bias, which basically means you’re happier with a choice you make yourself and will do whatever you can to make two conflicting items more consistent. Three hours is a significant investment considering you could probably get the same goods elsewhere at a fraction of the time.

A great restaurant supports our Psychological needs more than our Basic needs:

The other factor has to do with what you’re actually getting, in this instance it isn’t maslow-pyramidnecessarily a meal, it is an experience. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides a outline of how psychological needs are rarer and more sought after, while basic goods such as food don’t satisfy us intellectually. Restaurant providers such as The Lucas Group have transformed the process of having a basic need met into a more psychologically fulfilling experience, because new age customers are really searching for something more complex.

A decent product is good, but loyalty is better:

Let’s think about how customers act around this product. Customers are:

  • Happy to wait until the product is ready
  • Following on Twitter
  • Keeping up to date on Instagram

This sounds more like a group of friends. Feeling a part of a community is more powerful than just being a customer, and it is also more likely to generate repeat business. With all that in mind, many Melbourne restaurants have become places which are about more than food. The choice of where to eat is less about food type and more about, do we want a quiet dinner? Something exciting? Something in a social setting with communal tables and a friendly atmosphere? Or something exclusive and tailored?

As our options change, so does our behavior.

By: Peter Agrotis – 216061548 (pagrotis)

 

References:

Iacobucci, D 2014, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South Western, Cengage Learning, Mason USA.

Nielsen 2015, Uncommon Sense: The Emotive Power of Marketing, Brandt, Retrieved 31st July 2016, http://www.nielsen.com/au/en/insights/news/2015/uncommon-sense-the-emotive-power-of-marketing.html

Nielsen 2014, It’s Not Rocket Science, But It Is Neuroscience, Northover, Retrieved 31st July 2016, http://www.nielsen.com/au/en/insights/news/2014/its-not-rocket-science-but-it-is-neuroscience.html

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