Social Media’s Effect on Food Expectations

More people are eating out than ever before, but could the increasing popularity of cookery shows and competitions, and the rising influence of social media on consumer’s food choices be more of a hindrance than a help?

While many would be inclined to believe that consumers are more well-informed as a result of this, in fact, the opposite might be true. It is believed that social media and the success of casual dining chains are creating both wrong and unrealistic consumer expectations of food.

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Over the past decade, social media has had a huge impact on restaurant concepts, menus, design and marketing and will likely continue to do so. Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook provide a platform on which consumers can share information widely. The

hospitality sector relies heavily on positive reviews to drive business, however, with social media, every customer can be a critic.

A recent study found that 47% of Millenials say that they text, tweet or Instagram while they eat. These consumers have the highest spending power. However, snapping pictures of your meal may be ruining the dining experience in ways we hadn’t realised.

Cooking programmes and social media have helped consumers be more product aware, however, now everyone can be a self-proclaimed expert and may have unrealistic expectations of the food when they eat out.

With social media, it is now a race for consumers to try the latest restaurant or new dish and post it online. Food is hyped, edited, posed and then may fall short of expectation. The increasing use of online booking forms also makes the experience of eating out a soulless, faceless transaction.

Unfortunately, though the opinions of social influencers such as bloggers and celebrities can raise or lower the profile of a restaurant, pub or bar in an instant. While some pubs and bars are banning the use of mobile phones, Instagram continues to influence the food we eat and the environment we eat it in.

Restaurants and pubs need to be proactive and defensive to protect their reputations online. There is the challenge of delivering consistency, delivering fresh food to order, which is also original.

A menu that stands out from the crowd is likely to be a success compared to one that tries to reinvent or deliver unambitious classic dishes.

While Social media continues to influence and inform food decisions, it also allows customers to control the reputation of outlets. Chefs can tackle this by focusing on originality, flavour, and great service