Eating Vs. Dining

It’s Foodie Friday! Today I want to talk about something that was pointed out to me by an older friend.

English: Minangkabau cuisine (Padang food) ser...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were talking about the quality of a number of restaurants and we happened to hit upon one that we both agreed was not of particularly high quality. The interesting thing was that it always seems to be full of people, generally younger ones.  I was expressing my wonder that their business was doing so well despite that lack of a quality product when he said this:

They’re there to eat.  We like to dine.  You can eat anywhere.

I knew immediately he was right.  The young audience to which this place caters generally doesn’t cook.  They need to eat and are less fussy about the quality of the experience as long as the food is serviceable and not particularly expensive.  They want to perform the human equivalent of gassing up a car.  They need fuel!

My friend and I, both decent amateur cooks, prefer to dine.  We emphasize the quality of both the food and the atmosphere in which it is served.  It’s a very different standard in many ways.  While you and I  could have a good discussion about whether that difference is good or bad, we can probably agree about  one point of differentiation: once you have us as regular customers, we’re not leaving.  Which is an interesting business point.

Having a customer base that treats your product as a commodity is risky.  It opens you up to the whims of the market.  There’s always someone who can play better music or offer cheaper food.  If your customers don’t recognize your product and the experience through which it’s delivered as unique they’ll be gone.  Having a clientele that savors your product is very different from one that views it almost as a necessary evil.

This isn’t a young vs. old or cheap vs. expensive issue.  It’s about building deep relationships between customers and products.  We want them dining and not just eating.  Wouldn’t you agree?

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Filed under Consulting, food, Reality checks

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