This article was first published on Startup Tips Daily
With the increased level of competition within the restaurant business landscape and with the changing lifestyle and inclination of customers, the need for fast foods to adapt, innovate and evolve in response to this new reality has never been more critical.
When people interact with a business, they seek a seamless and pleasurable experience from end to end. Customers quickly gravitate to businesses that constantly puts them first.
To successfully play in today’s market, all businesses need a solid customer-centered strategy that utilizes design and the design thinking process to creatively solve problems while centering on the customer’s needs and concerns. Restaurant businesses are certainly not left out.
For years now, Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Disney, IBM, Coca-Cola and Nike among others have shown us the authentic value of “design thinking” as a competitive advantage that impacts bottom lines and drives business growth.
As a restaurant owner or manager in Nigeria, this article explores the outstanding benefits of using design thinking to build customer-oriented products and services that ensure long term business success and that ultimately attract more loyal customers.
WHAT IS DESIGN THINKING ALL ABOUT?
Design Thinking simply put is an approach to problem-solving that focuses on the customer and their needs.
Tim Cook (Founder of IDEO - A global design agency) explains that “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of the people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements for business success.”
Ultimately, Design doesn't just exist to be aesthetically beautiful; it is also meant to achieve a purpose and establish key business goals while providing value for all involved.
Design thinking alters the focus from a business centred solution (i.e. designing a product based on self-created hypothesis and hope that it will work for the customers) to a customer-centred solution (i.e. investigating cultural phenomena, monitoring people’s behavioural and thinking patterns, gaining insights into what they need and designing a product or service around those needs).
An understanding and constant engagement with people is at the center of the design thinking practice. This is useful for determining:
What problems to solve
What metrics drive success
What (new) business will emerge from solving the problem.
In relation to the foodservice industry, design thinking provides restaurant owners and managers with tools and resources necessary to generate multiple innovative ideas for their dishes, restaurant events, branding &packaging, interior designs, partnerships, offerings and much more.
The Association of Fast Food and Confectioners of Nigeria (AFFCON) has revealed that the Nigerian food industry is worth over a trillion naira with the fast-food segment expending over 250 billion naira and this number is rising continually. Consequently, Fast Food is a highly profitable and steadily growing business venture, thanks to the daily patronage of hungry customers.
When growing your restaurant, it is important to know exactly who your customer is and who you want to serve in your business. Understanding the changing aspects of consumer behavior is very useful in designing a successful restaurant that will stand the test of time.
The expansion of urbanization, the rise of disposable income, the advent of technology as well as the lifestyle of many Nigerians who are now lacking enough time to cook and eat meals at home, are all factors that have accelerated the rise of fast food in Nigeria. This has been further enhanced by users demanding services with higher-quality, greater convenience and better ambiance.
Companies like Chicken Republic, Tantalizers, Sweet Sensation, and Mama Cass are major players in the industry alongside global brands like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Dominos, Coldstone and many more coming in from China, Italy and other countries.
Research carried out by ciuci consulting evaluated restaurant consumer trends in Nigeria and discovered that people's lifestyles and increasing work rates are the two major reasons why they eat out.
The research found that 70% of working professionals considered eating out in a restaurant as more convenient for their busy schedules. This trend is expected to increase in the coming years as more people take on more challenging and demanding jobs. Stats showed that 73.1% of consumers eat out twice a day, family outings in restaurants are now common trends and lovers make more romantic dates at restaurants.
This consumer trend also revealed that customers were influenced by these factors when deciding what restaurants to visit;
Quality of food
Quality of service
Cleanness of the environment
Quality of Frontline staff
With all these in mind, it is important for restaurant owners and managers to have an in-depth understanding of their target customers, their buying behavior, lifestyle, and preferences. This is the crux of design thinking; designing for humans.
REASONS TO INVEST IN DESIGN THINKING
As a restaurant owner or manager in Nigeria, these are valid reasons why you should be investing in design thinking for your business.
1- It saves you time and money: Adequate customer research can save you hundreds of hours in production and hundreds of thousands of Naira while decreasing the cost of production.
2- Focusing on user experience increases your revenue, conversion rates, improves customer retention and loyalty.
3- A great user experience drives competitive advantage and increases bottom lines. Just look at the various businesses from all industries that are winning with design thinking - Google, Apple, Nike, KFC, Uber, who set themselves apart because of a great design strategy while focusing on the end-user experience.
Successful restaurants have recognized that building solutions around their customer’s real needs, integrating these solutions into their business system, processes and models while leveraging new and existing technologies are the keys to fast business growth and success.
This is the power of Design.
Are you building a new restaurant, or looking for ways to improve an existing fast food restaurant? The secret is Design Thinking. Find companies that specialize in Design Research and Design Thinking to give you expert guidance.