In Singapore, we love our food. It has been said that eating is the national pastime. It comes as no surprise then that brunch is fast becoming a favourite weekend activity for many. Imagine – savouring a laid back day before the hectic week ahead begins, indulging in delicious food and an invigorating fresh cup of brew while soaking in the tasteful décor of a lovely café.
With interest from consumers burgeoning and suppliers see a growing opportunity, new brunch venues are popping up across Singapore. Subsequently, consumers are spoilt for choice with a multitude of cafés being added to their to-visit lists, waiting to be conquered. Today, social media platforms have become trophy rooms with beautifully shot pictures of delectable food and designed dining spaces. So, where shall we go next?
We now have a phenomenon of “first timer consumers” - consumers who have high expectations of their brunch experiences. As diners share their personal experiences through social media or blogs, with some making lists such as “20 Cafés to Visit in Singapore” or ambitious offers of extensive directories such as “52 best brunch places in Singapore,” cafés are attracting brunch connoisseurs, but need to bridge the gap between the initial checking off a place to try it and long-term brand loyalty.
Mind you, these brunch places usually earn the head-nodding approval of their first time patrons. Individually, the cafés have carefully thought out menus, well put-together tables, walls and chairs, and they do have impressive websites and social media pages.
Collectively, the question remains – how differentiated are they?
Leading brands achieve relevance and differentiation; these principles similarly apply to café brands. Beyond taste and aesthetics, owners should aim to win over their first time patrons with a compelling offer. Some initial ideas for starters:
• Providing outstanding service usually leaves a deep impression on customers.
• Explaining the origin of your ingredient sources can help to strike a chord with consumers’ personal beliefs.
• Sharing the brand owner’s philosophy can establish an emotional connection with customers.
• Jazzing it up - having seasonal menus not only implies fresh ingredients used, but also gets customers interested, again and again.
• Tap into chef branding and storytelling to express what makes the cuisine unique.
• Pay attention to the little things - from the names of dishes, tone of voice adopted to introduce the food, to the choice of crockeries and napkins.
These preliminary suggestions provide initial food for thought. Differentiating cafés, or any brand, in an increasingly crowded marketplace is not an easy journey. What makes a restaurant brand stand out for you?
Vicki Lai is a consultant for Interbrand Singapore.