Eating is a biological necessity. Every human being must eat, but for millions of people nationwide, developments in recent years have placed an increasing emphasis on gastronomy that is healthier, more localized, more gourmet – providing something far beyond mere sustenance. As a result, massive changes in social and economic behavior surrounding this shift are helping the food industry rapidly become very big business.
Everywhere, citizens from all demographics flock to popular new restaurants, farmers’ markets, and other food-related events creating an entire culture of individuals dedicated to seeking the latest and greatest culinary art. The number of these enthusiasts and connoisseurs is staggering and constantly on the rise (the term ‘foodie’ is generally frowned upon, as it is now considered far too general to accurately describe the hundreds of different types of food-lovers) – New York Magazine recently ran a high profile article detailing the emergence of an entirely new class of young people drastically increasing spending on food. These dedicated consumers are fuelling a serious boom in new food industry businesses. New York City alone sees hundreds of high profile openings each year, most of which are highly successful, booked up to months in advance and packed with eager diners every night.
So how has the food industry capitalized on all the excitement of this emergent market? Restaurants, farmers’ markets, specialty foods stores, and more have used digital platforms to springboard to new heights. Through social networks and digital tools, these businesses have fostered the fervor of food-lovers, creating user review websites like Yelp and revolutionary platforms like OpenTable, which offers a fully integrated reservation booking experience. The two sites have even merged functionality, enabling diners to heavily interact with the food business long before and long after any actual eating takes place. Chefs are now celebrities, viewed by many in the same light as prominent athletes or actors, with dedicated ‘fans’ admiring their every move.
The democracy that digital platforms have created for the food industry is beneficial not just to businesses, but to consumers as well. The enthusiasm has led to an increase in the quality and visibility of what was traditionally ‘cheap’ cuisine, and a shift in higher-end, luxury food becoming more accessible – both ends of the spectrum have been more centralized to suit a much larger audience. Food is a common experience for all types of people, and the modern movement is touching eaters everywhere.
The ‘food revolution’ is an example of the power of a world driven by social interaction and fully connected by technology. Using the right tools and strategies, businesses in all industries can leverage commonalities among consumers to maximize awareness and monetize the human experience.