Restaurant 2.0

As the Consumer Driven Health movement marches on delivering a growing number of exciting products and services aimed at helping us make informed decisions, new downstream opportunities present themselves. How will our dining-out experience change for example? What will the restaurant of the future look like? This post looks at these questions and presents 3 possible scenarios for Restaurant 2.0 – The Community Restaurant, The Nutritionist and The Curated Menu.

It’s time to admit we made a mistake

The USA Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a thought provoking animated map showing the percentage of adults with Body Mass Index (BMI) >30% by state from 1985 to 2010. Today, more than one third of adults are obese in the United States. England is not far behind with obesity rates at 26% according to the National Health Service report titled Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England 2012. By 2015 researchers predict 1 in 10 people worldwide will be obese. We really need to hold our hands up and admit we have taken a wrong turn at some point in the past 50 years and mostly played it wrong when it comes to nutrition. New studies challenging conventional thinking are being published, such as the recent Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Obesity Study which suggests Westerners are growing obese through over-eating rather than having inactive lifestyles.

Have you ever found it strange how:

  • the produce section is often smaller than the pharmacy section in most supermarkets?
  • sugary drinks and foods loaded in saturated fats are available en mass.
  • it’s possible to justify eating cheese burgers, fries and soda everyday even when following the USDA food pyramid.
  • we buy stock in companies, which one could argue with little objection, turn profits from slowly killing us. Then, being the gracious creatures we are, we praise them for their success. Heck many of us even work at these companies.

Next time you are sitting in a restaurant look around – are the plates arriving at tables offering a balanced meal with correct portions of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats? Good restaurants do exist – take a look at those run by The Bon Appetite Management Company for example – however I’m willing to bet only a handful of restaurants in each city deliver a well balanced meal. In reality, much of what we consume is working against us not for us. We subject our bodies to daily abuse which over time leads to inflammation – now widely recognized as leading to illness. The one part we seem to have correct is the age old adage, “you are what you eat!”

Consumer driven health

At the forefront of the consumer driven health movement is San Francisco based startup, WellnessFX (featured last month in Reasons to be Cheerful). Led by former WebMD founder Jim Kean, his team is certainly no newbie to wellness with a number of its leadership having 2+ decades in the space. WellnessFX recognizes, “consumers and wellness practitioners are faced with a dizzying amount of health information as well as tens of thousands of diagnostic, nutritional and supplement product choices” and aims to provide tools to, “help people collect, organize, manage and interpret their data so that they can make decisions that drive actual results.”

Along with helping us make good result driven decisions in regard to our personal health, the downstream opportunity this new industry will drive is particularly exciting.

Think about it – as consumers it is our choice to eat what we eat. Armed with personalized nutritional plans we will be able to make better choices which help us to optimize our body. This consumer choice presents quite possibly the biggest opportunity for restaurateurs in our lifetime in terms of how we interact with restaurants.

Opportunity for restaurateurs

Restaurants have yet to scratch the surface when it comes to leveraging social media and mobile. Imagine how exciting it becomes when you add consumer driven health. This trifecta of social, mobile and consumer driven health has the potential to play a significant role in reshaping the traditional dining-out experience we know today.

Empowered with data to make smart decisions – consumers will make the choice. The choice to continue eating whatever is in-front of them or the choice to make decisions which support their path to wellness and good health. Just in the same way it is the consumers choice to decide on what they eat, it will also be the consumers choice to build an environment around them which supports their journey to wellness.

Information will drive change

The controversial Health Care Bill in the United States includes a requirement for restaurant chains to disclose nutritional information on menus, menu boards and in drive-throughs! Will you order a Venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks if you see its 560 calorie / 14 grams of fat label? Or the 1380 calorie / 104 grams of fat, 16g saturated fat Shrimp with Candied Walnuts from P.F. Changs? How about a more healthy option? A salad perhaps – but don’t forget to read the label – the P.F. Changs Thai Chicken Noodle salad weighs in at 870 calories with 37 grams of fat, 6g saturated fat and 1390mg of sodium? Eeek!

Just as the information about nutritional value will help consumers in their choice, the advances in consumer driven health will mean the consumer will have the right information. Information enabling them to make choices which are in their favor as opposed to flavor!

This is what presents an interesting opportunity for restaurants – quite possibly the biggest shake up the industry will see in our time.

Restaurant 2.0 – the restaurant of the future

What does a restaurant of the future look like? Below are three possible scenarios for Restaurant 2.0.

Scenario 1 – The Community Restaurant

By adopting a community model a restaurant will be able to provide significant support to its patrons with little additional cost. Other benefits include connecting with the local community and forming strong and lasting relationships. By offering a 30 day program a restaurant can guarantee repeat business in addition to social mentions – for example customers could sign up to eat a plant-based whole food diet for 30 days. Your name or photo could be added to a display covering an entire wall. The display is broken down into days – day 1 to day 30. Each day you check in via a phone app notifying the restaurant you are still on the diet allowing you to progress on the wall to the next day. For example, John is on day 2, Sally is on day 3.

Being part of the challenge you are encouraged to share a recipe with the restaurant. Chosen recipes are prepared by the restaurant chefs and stay on the menu for 1 week. Based on the percentage sales winning menu items live for another week – to be challenged by a new set of recipes. If a recipe maintains a 4 week winning streak it is moved onto the permanent menu for a given period. Each day you have access to the menu via your mobile device. The app. pushes out notifications of whats on the menu and any specials tonight at a time which suits you. On reaching the goal of 30 days you have the option to move across to the, “I did it” wall or carry on. If you carry on you join a leader board. At various stages you win free meals and other recognition.

There are many benefits for customers and the restaurant. Think how great it would be to have your dish on the menu in a restaurant. Would you gather all your friends and family and take them there that week? Would you share this news on Twitter, Facebook and other social channels such as Yelp!

The support, the camaraderie, the community is something you might never experience in a restaurant.

Scenario 2 – The Nutritionist (in place of the sommelier)

What if a restaurant was to be actively involved in nutrition – with either a qualified nutritionist onsite who is able to help each customer with their selection (the same way a sommelier would help select a bottle of wine) or training for staff to help with nutritional questions. As a customer you could ask to see the nutritionist, explain you are concerned about your blood pressure and be advised on the best options available to you.

Scenario 3 – Curated menus tailored to your wellness plan

Armed with your personal plan to Wellness from WellnessFX you are able to decide on which restaurants in your local vicinity are able to offer you meals which meet your goals. Restaurants with this capability could also work to cut through the complexity and offer menus which categorize common needs such as reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure, protein boost for muscle recovery, lower cholesterol etc. Menus curated around wellness.


It’s impossible to tell at this stage what will happen however its exciting to think through the downstream effect of consumer driven wellness. Restauranteurs have a tremendous opportunity ahead of them to reinvent the dining out experience. By leveraging the growing research around overeating, social media, mobile and consumer driven wellness a restauranteur has a wealth of new options available to them. Options which can drive loyalty, brand and revenues.

As James Allen Dator, Professor and Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Future Studies states, “the future cannot be predicted, but alternative futures can and should be forecasted.”

Reasons To Be Cheerful

As the human race we have a track record of continually evolving and improving our environment and lifestyles. Whether it’s via natural selection, competition, advances or some other driver – we adapt, we change. New technologies for example, bring efficiencies and enable behavioral shifts simplifying and making possible what once was difficult, expensive or perhaps even unobtainable. Over the past decade we could point to hundreds of examples – kinetic energy systems in vehicles or mobile devices delivering a wealth of information being just two.

Looking ahead its possible to assume an unparalleled level of change is ahead of us. This change is also delivered through ongoing innovation yet perhaps more importantly this time around fueled by the combination of:

a.) how society is evolving to expect instant access and ease of use in products and services or in short – a growing distain for complexity, and

b.) our ability through emerging social discovery channels to by-pass many of the regulations which govern us today.

Take two traditionally ‘black box’ industries, such as the medical profession and financial services. These two industries are ripe for epic change over the next decade – and that’s exciting because… it impacts all of us.

1. Medical
Have you ever been frustrated at the treatment of individual conditions, “here take this course of xyz”, as opposed to your doctor taking a more systemic and preventative approach looking at signals your body is telling you in your biomarkers and taking time to understand why your body is reacting in the way it is?

Emerging biotech companies such as Scanadu and WellnessFX will help shift the dynamic between Dr. and patient. After all we have the ability to know more about ourselves than a stranger, and in a very short time we will be empowered with the data and information to have a comprehensive two-way discussion, where you will be able to have more input into any proposed treatment.

Today companies such as WellnessFX already enable you to optimize your ‘system’ providing diagnostics and insights into the state of your health. By offering biomarker testing, a technology platform enabling you to track your progress and access to forward thinking health professionals – as a customer you are quickly empowered with information to support or challenge a diagnosis. Just last week I personally ordered several tests through a similar provider and with the results now analyzed have been able to make changes to my diet in order to assist me in reaching my body composition goal. Add the promise of Scanadu which is working towards enabling self-diagnosis via mobile device using cloud services which will also return appointment times to see you health care provider or directions to the nearest emergency room as necessary – and as the tag line states we become, “the last generation to know so little about our health.”

It’s funny to think that for years we once kept log books showing the services performed on our vehicles, yet paid less attention to our health. This will change – we’ll know much more about ourselves and have this information readily at our fingertips as opposed to being under lock and key in various medical facilities. With our new found quest to optimize our systems, eating habits will shift radically. The downstream effects should not be underestimated, stores such as Whole Foods with their established supply chains will be well positioned compared to the many restaurants and supermarkets that built their operations and profits on food with low nutritional value. Supermarket floor plans will change radically yielding more space for healthier options.

2. Financial Services
As banks continue to build distain with their customers by charging fees and increasing borrowing rates, new entrants offering ease-of-use and a fee free approach will shake up the industry. Emerging players such as Simple have this very vision.

Another driving force of change will be mobile payments. As many financial industry players scramble to offer their versions of the mobile wallet, consumer centric companies such as Google and Apple challenge with better solutions. However mobile wallets and pre-paid card solutions remain clunky (see the Kangae post, ‘One Continuous Groove’), and its only a matter of time before this step is removed altogether and replaced with a single monthly invoice – perhaps as mobile operators such as AT&T, Virgin Mobile (leveraging Virgin Finance in UK and Australia) or Vodafone for example move into the credit space with their advanced billing systems and large customer base. It wouldn’t take much to win over customers – lower rates and an innovative rewards scheme. Card providers such as American Express and Visa suddenly have new and powerful competitors capable of taking out sizable portions of their business.

3. Social Discovery
Just as online search replaced spending hours in libraries looking up reference material, Social discovery is what threatens classic search as we know it today. It should come as no surprise therefore that Social discovery is what differentiates Google+ from Facebook (see Google+ hits the social sweet spot).

Community managers are no strangers to social discovery – they have after all been working in this space for many years. They understand the immediate value in connecting people with a shared interest and expertise in a topic; not to mention the numbers which count in your favor over a traditional social network such as Facebook or LinkedIn as – you don’t know more people than you know.

Through social discovery we are already following and connecting with people who interest us. Influencing and being influenced. With the emergence of the social enterprise following the good work of, departmental silos are being broken down as we speak and employees are being connected – as these internal deployments mature subsequent phases will include joining partner and customer networks. You can just imagine salesforce advertising, “ 10m corporate silos smashed and counting.”

The modern work environment changes considerably as customers seek out the subject matter experts (who are already establishing their personal brands). Professional communities today such as, and have the ability to better understand the behavior of a companies employees than the company itself. How many questions they answer, and how many people they help for example. This shift opens many possibilities for innovation and evolution of the work environment. The benefits to an organization of this type of visibility are outstanding – the ability to share the knowledge, foster discussion organization wide and also not forgetting fringe benefits such as ousting the soon to be control freaks of yesteryear who built their careers hoarding information thinking ‘knowledge is power’.

It will be interesting to see how we evolve our governments and institutions which have traditionally controlled these aspects. Will it be a case of riding the wave and in doing so prompting further evolution with new business models, revenue streams, product and services, or perhaps there will be an attempt to yield control in some way – SOPA being a great example of a wake up call to governments.

This all makes for an interesting decade ahead and one we should be excited to be part of. What makes you excited to be a citizen of earth?

Photo credit: flickr/hm11kcom

One Continuous Groove – A Solution For Mobile Payments

As American Express promotes Serve (its digital pre-paid account), Google opens its ‘Wallet’, and PayPal rolls out in-store payments – it would appear, at least for now, we’re in for a clunky ride with mobile payments. The reluctance of players to make a bold move leaves the space wide open. Ultimately the one who provides an integrated service will win and most likely cause significant disruption to the mobile and financial services industries. This could come in the form of a mobile operator, such as AT&T, offering credit lines to customers – luring them with discounted rates and a single consolidated monthly statement. Certainly this should be a threat credit card companies are considering. Perhaps a credit card company will make a pre-emptive strike for a mobile operator? Will Apple evolve the checkout experience using the iPhone 5 paired with Near Field Communication (NFC) and your iTunes account? Will Google leverage its Android platform or will Amazon offer an alternative payment method. Perhaps we’ll see the network effects of the Virgin group come into play as Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile leverages the Virgin Money division to offer a seamless experience. The point –  mobile payments are going to radically change the financial services industry forever as consumers will drive the change.

Behaviors and the value-chain
Similar to how Apple reinvented how we collect, store and play music; the opportunity exists for mobile payments to create a paradigm shift in our behavior. By removing the ‘wallet’ part from the daily ritual of wallet, keys and phone – mobile payments have the potential to replace the need to carry cash / credit cards and provide us with additional benefits such as a consolidated monthly statement. This alone cannot be overstated.

The behaviors of today will be replaced tomorrow. I experienced this first hand last year after walking into the conference room to start my weekly team meeting. A younger member of the team had just announced the fact vinyl records have a continuous groove that runs from the outside to the inside. To my surprise, there were several people in the room who found this fascinating. To people who were brought up with digital music formats it was a factoid – something they may not have even bothered to think about not ever having used or perhaps even touched vinyl.

Gone are the days of going to record stores, humming a recently heard tune to the amusement of the people who work there or thumbing through thousands of vinyl records. Now that behavior is replaced by devices such as the iPhone, apps such as Shazam and iTunes and 3G+ networks. There is an entire value chain making this possible.

Mobile device –> App –> Network provider –> Cloud service –> iTunes –> Payment provider

Apple had the device and subsequently realized a vital link in the chain was missing – the music store; so they stepped in and filled the gap with iTunes.

Good-bye wallet
It won’t be long before apps are able to replace keys – to open and start a car, to open and lock doors. (I recall many moons ago at university researching technology which recognized the unique electronic signature within our bodies and using this to open doors.) As mobile payment technology matures, credit cards and cash will become increasingly unnecessary. So the 3 touch tap to check for wallet, keys and phone, becomes the 2 touch then the one touch – phone.

Mobile payment technologies remain in their infancy however the space is super hot. However current iterations of mobile payments such as Amex Serve, Google Wallet, Starbucks and eBay’s PayPal all fall short. Why? Because an integrated service simplifies the checkout process, and offers opportunity for value-added services such as loyalty card integration and social comparisons. Ultimately my desire is to have a single bill. Linked or pre-paid accounts and the funding of them, which can take between 1-5 days, is cumbersome and unable to meet my need of now – meaning the current solutions provide little value to me.

Players in the value chain have the opportunity to create one integrated experience. What would be exciting is being able to charge items I buy against my mobile phone bill for example – and at the end of the month receive a single combined credit card / mobile phone bill.

Two peas in a pod
If you think about the basic phone services provided by a mobile network provider such as AT&T and a credit card company such as American Express they are not far off. Each month mobile network providers issue bills to their customers for services used during the period. These services are heavily transaction and usage based. A credit card company also issues a monthly statement made up of transactions during the period.

In terms of systems, telco’s have perhaps the most advanced billing capabilities – offering itemized per second / bit based on services used and the reconciliation of any time spent roaming.

If we are able to charge to a single invoice, life would be easier / more convenient. Personally I’d be happy to see payment charges showing up on my mobile phone bill. In thinking through potential mass disruptions one possibility would be for a credit card company to buy up a telco. In the United States, AT&T recently gave up on its plans to acquire Deutsche Telecom’s T-Mobile USA. Perhaps this is an opportunity for American Express to muscle in on other components of the mobile payment value chain and in doing so offer value-added services, disrupt the competition and defend against the more likely possibility of telco’s offering financial services. MVNO Virgin Mobile is well positioned here certainly in the UK, South Africa and Australia where it has banking arms already established.

As consumers we’ve proven we like convenience, consistency and value. This is why people purchase albums – we are the needle on the record, the vinyl is the internet, the groove on the record represents integrated channels and the data in the grove is the content. Simply put whoever creates this experience will dominate mobile payments.


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