There is now more culinary programming on television than ever before; 1000s of hours of it every week. Consumers are more curious and informed about food and are far more likely to try something new than in the past because of the authentic cuisine trend. Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” has not only made him one of the highest paid chefs in the world but has further incited the movement of trying something new and seeking out food with authenticity. If you went back 20 years ago, Americans were not ready for “real” Mexican food. Tex-Mex chains dominated popular culture.
Today, those same Tex-Mex chains are on a spiraling decline while at the same time more authentic Mexican offers (such as Rosa Mexicana) are successfully expanding and educating an appreciative audience on what is real Mexican. 20 years ago, Americans weren’t interested in “Mexican” beyond a chimichanga and plate of cheesy nachos (neither of which are authentically Mexican.)
Today though, you are more likely to find consumers with a knowledge or at least a curiosity about the different regions of Mexico and what really is authentic Mexican food than you ever would have before.
And it’s not just Mexican food – the authentic cuisine trend covers virtually all ethnic cuisines and thoughtfully-inspired menu innovations. You don’t have to dumb the menu down anymore. In fact, guests want to learn. Take for instance the wave of interest in Kobe beef. When consumers learned the back-story on the beef they started a word of mouth movement that spread across the country.
Because of the authentic cuisine trend, there are many examples of how to apply the principle of educating both to overall marketing and to menu engineering and design. There are more than I could cover in a single blog post, but I am very convinced (and feel compelled to convince clients) that the idea of “educating” is one of the surest ways to spark word-of-mouth buzz, generate media coverage, attract more qualified staff, and to fill seats in restaurants.