Innovation calling: What trends are driving the luxury food industry?

15 Feb 2023

The service luxury industry has seen its fair share of innovations over the years. After all, technology's primary role is to simplify and accelerate human progress. The Food & Beverages industry is no different - as a plethora of technologies has been instrumental in augmenting guest/visitor/customer experiences. After all, digital transformation isn't a stranger to this industry.

They have also realised that it's not all about smartening things up in front-end experience delivery systems. In the back end, numerous technological advancements have enabled luxury hoteliers and restaurateurs to reduce time-to-market, improve supply chain dynamics, and enhance day-to-day operational efficiency by optimising time, labour, and costs.

Now, let's look at some of the latest F&B innovations that have empowered the service industry.

Virtual and augmented reality

Virtual reality technology is helping bridge several gaps between potential/existing customers and luxury F&B brands. It aids them in transmitting valuable information to people through an immersive and interactive experience platform. For instance, if they are looking to book a room at a hotel, they can take a 3D tour before making their decision.

Augmented Reality (AR) is helping change dining experiences - generating a lot of interest as it seems to have re-energised the dining experiences of customers. For example, AR technology is integrated to better showcase menu/off-menu items - even going on to influence customers to try new dishes.

Blockchain technology

In recent times, the food industry has leveraged blockchain technology to help overcome challenges that once seemed insurmountable. Some of its advantages include reducing food wastage, setting effective certification protocols, and decentralising food-related data. However, its biggest benefit remains building a culture of transparency and traceability in the food supply chain. So, consumers can find out where their food came from, how it was produced, and whether it meets certain standards."

Sustainable packaging

The emergence of sustainable packaging as a competitive differentiator can be attributed to the increase in awareness about environmental footprints left by F&B companies. So, while businesses can greatly benefit from using biodegradable or compostable packaging material, the customer is at the helm of driving the change by expecting to be a part of a zero-plastic, eco-friendly process. Therefore, sustainable packaging has been able to enhance food quality and effectively address safety food-related p[problems like diseases and contamination.

Automation and robotics

The use of automation and robotics in the kitchen is increasing despite the slow start in the F&B industry (when compared to other sectors). Today, more brands across the world have started seeing the tangible benefits of adopting these technologies. On the one side, automation has helped drastically bring down the total cost of operations by eliminating labour-intensive, time-consuming workflows. On the other side, innovations like robotic chefs and robotic waiters have been going a long way to improve efficiency and reduce labor costs while delivering outstanding customer experiences.

Online food delivery (and e-commerce)

There has been a significant rise in food delivery apps and e-commerce platforms even though larger players have already established their presence in those markets. It's due to sheer hyper-competitiveness - and the constant fact that the customer is always looking for a reason to shift loyalties. Furthermore, ordering food online and having it delivered to the doorstep is surprisingly not yet a mature technology. Hence, there's always room for improvement - to make things convenient for customers to access a wider range of food options.

Zitimama's Digital Avatar: The future is already here

There's no doubt that in today's experiential craze-driven economy, it has been a very important part of helping them increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. Is it any wonder that so many brands, old and new, are steadfastly adopting new technologies and capitalising on emerging trends?

So, when NJ Intelligence (NJI) decided to launch Zitimama - the first Italian-American QSR concept in Singapore based on a franchise model - we focused on delivering futuristic experiences. We implemented an in-house Digital Avatar that automates crucial storefront processes and increases customer engagement. Then, at the franchise owner's end, it can assist in amplifying promotions/offers with interactive voice and display-based technologies. Thus far, it has led to the following:

  • Reduced human resources
  • Lesser error-prone processes
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Heightened social media connections

Neelendra Jain, the founder of NJI, says - "The concept of Digital Avatar is based on creating an enhanced human host-like experience for customers at our storefront. And we want to showcase our brand mascot through cutting-edge technology - as it will double up as a virtual brand tour guide, showcasing our branding and marketing assets to customers."

He added, "We also understand that the Digital Avatar can be our virtual salesperson. In fact, some customers may feel uncomfortable exploring the items/offers while balancing peace of mind and the use of gadgets to decide accordingly. In such scenarios, this Digital avatar will be of great assistance."