Living in an era where information is easily available, doing research & making choices is quicker & simpler than it has ever been. Along with quick information, we also get influenced by the choices made by those we trust. And some of these choices become more popular than others, eventually taking the shape of a trend that is driven by a cultural or social change. Sustainability is one such choice, which has had such a ripple effect in the recent times and has become a popular trend in the recent times.
Understanding Sustainability in the business context
‘Sustainability’ isn’t simply living within our environmental limits in an attempt to do our bit to save the planet. It is a shift in how we lead our lives, being more socially responsible and contributive to our communities. It touches at the very core of what values we stand by, what we want to encourage and flourish in our environment, and how we treat those around us. It is a concept that easily finds relatability and common ground with all consumers.
Like everything else today, it is the millennials who are driving this change. This segment makes informed food choices, whether in the supermarkets or restaurants. They want to know how the food was procured or treated, and are more affluent and likely to eat out more often than those who are not inclined towards sustainability. They are definitely a growing segment to watch out for and engage with.
This customer base is inclined towards buying food which is more:
- Health & Nutrition - Serving fresh & seasonal produce, with healthier options on the menu
- Stand for a cause - This covers various aspects; from buying local to supporting communities, seeking out sustainable food producers, supporting a cause, or anything that talks about your brand values
- Focus on waste-reduction - Provide options of different serving sizes on menus and creating awareness about wasting food amongst patrons and staff
- Transparency - Have transparency in your processes in order to build trust
Stating it quite simply, studies show that sustainable restaurants that are efficiently using their resources like water, energy and personnel, who are focused on waste and pollution reduction and are procuring sustainable food earn goodwill from their patrons. In a 2010 survey by the consulting firm Technomic, 52% of consumers said they'd visit a sustainable dining establishment more often than other restaurants and bars.
These new dining habits when combined with the increasing demand for new global cuisines has seen restaurant owners re-work and creatively update their menus to bring together healthy choices with better quality food and international flavors to meet the demand of this client base.
Is it a sustainable trend?
Food still remains the all-time favorite for indulgence and merriment. However, how it gets to the table and what it means for the environment and the human body, are now the very factors which drive consumer choices. The desire to eat better, be better and make a difference has created a preferential leaning towards providers who resonate with these ideologies, which links directly with your profitability.