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When building up a new restaurant or café is it imperative to know your local demographic, that is - what’s popular within the Australian market and in your local area.                                                                                                                             

Customers are a priority and you need to be targeting the right demographic to enable any potential chances of success, as inadequate research and consideration of your market can lead to instant failure.

There are multiple reasons for consumer wants and needs when it comes to dining – some are looking for a quick fast food bite, others want to go out with a palette of high end and expensive options, while others want to try new tastes, ethnic specials, and emerging dish trends.                                                                

People have different appetites and preferences for certain cuisine. The main question that needs to be asked is: How can you address such a large range of food preferences?

Ideally, it comes down to knowledge and experience, as well as research and owning your target demographic. Looking at the most popular restaurants and cafes within your local town or region and knowing what they sell will give you great observational insight into the immediate hotspots, but it’s also useful to look from the outside, on a much bigger scale to see what’s changing within the industry.

According to a respondent survey conducted by Eating Out Australia last year (2017), almost 60% of people would almost always call up to book a table, while 22% would always book through the internet.     

Within the same vein, in a similarly conducted scale survey concerning how people acquire information on a restaurant or café with a 1 to 5 rating (1 - never and 5 - always), social media came out with the highest rating (3.98/5), with a restaurant website (3.77/5) coming in second place. This shows that establishing an online presence will provide you with massive consumer advantages and a bigger commercial spotlight over those who don’t utilise the internet.

The current trends suggest that more people are choosing healthier food options, while fast food is becoming more of a rapidly casual dining or takeaway experience. Alcohol consumption has also seen a slightly declining trend.

The study also conducted a food popularity rating with modern Australian cuisine (meats, seafood, prawns, chips, pastry etc) achieved the highest rating of 87.4% with that figure increasing, Italian dropped to second place at 81.5%, this was followed by Seafood (80.5%), Chinese (79.1%), healthy eating (78.5%) and Thai (78.3%).

Fast food establishments were further down the list but consisted of 35.9% of the market. Fast food also took the most earnings (42.4%), only slightly edging out restaurants, but this was widely due to mass use of commercial establishments (McDonald's and KFC) which generally operated on a fast, quick transactional basis.

A 2017 report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics also presented interesting statistics on Australian eating habits with 14% of Australians now making an effort to avoid red meat and 10% looking to get their daily protein requirements from plant and dairy-based foods. This is a surprising result due to the significant beef industry still strongly operating within Australia. It shows that a small percentage of Australians are becoming health conscious concerning what they consume. This is further evident with the declining trend of processed food consumption, with many Aussies leaning towards a growing preference for organically grown and manufactured food instead.

As these statistics suggest, Australian preferences for food consumption is complex and varied, but there are a few emerging changes that are growing momentum. It all comes down to what you have a predilection for and matching that up with the current research to reach for the best potential results. This then works into selecting the right food equipment distributor to supply your kitchen equipment, catering and restaurant supplies, commercial appliances and machines to create and craft your restaurant’s culinary selections.

This provides an ideal window into what the current food market resembles and what trends and operations you should consider. Customers are vital to your business and it’s important to acknowledge what will bring in the biggest consumer base to enjoy the fresh food and culinary dishes at your establishment.