Towards a new relationship between clients and restaurants

Picture Michael Browning on Unsplash

France’s Culinary Collége recently launched a barometer to measure how French consumers feel about restaurants, and to help create relevant measures to support the country’s national gastronomy.[1]

Here are some of the results of the study.

Human factors are number one

Respondents were asked what drove their choice of restaurants.

When it comes to looking for information about a restaurant, human relations are most important: 82% favour word of mouth, far ahead of customer review sites (48%) and other gastronomic guides (20%).

When asked what they prioritise when going to a restaurant, the overwhelming majority look at the welcome, the service, and the atmosphere (99%), as well as market-fresh cuisine and seasonal produce (94%). The gastronomic level of the cuisine was nowhere near as important (80%).

Customers are ready to help

80% of French consumers are willing to take active measures to support restaurants and their producers:

  • 94% of respondents say they are ready to support their restaurants by going there more often;
  • 68% say they are ready to pay in advance when booking;
  • 53% would like to help finance a project for the restaurant owner; and
  • 34% would even be tempted by the adventure to become partners in a restaurant.

As a result of these findings, the Collège Culinaire de France is exploring several avenues to help the client become a co-author of quality:

  • They are interested in the origin of the products and the production methods of what is served to him: according to the study, 38% say they like to have information on producers and artisans who work with restaurants and 39% want to have access to the addresses of these artisan producers;
  • They are no longer satisfied simply with what is good to eat, but also what is good in other terms;
  • They seek to understand;
  • They ask questions; and
  • They seek to get involved.
Pierre Lantuéjoul: “People have clearly demonstrated their will to preserve living heritage”

Pierre Lantuéjoul was recognised as a Producteur de Qualité – Quality producer by the Collége Culinaire de France. In 2020, he started crowdfarming, allowing people all around Europe to adopt his cows, with outstanding success. Far from being digital savvy, he nonetheless manage to lever enough money on crowdfunding platforms to renovate his cheese cellar.

Towards a new role for restaurants

This awakening of consciousness can only be truly sustainable if it is accompanied by changes in behaviour. This will help restaurateurs become a central link in a chain that goes from land and sea to plate, where everyone is a participant in the quality they seek. It will involve restaurateurs emerging from a traditional business framework, to deepen the relationship with the customer.

Relationships therefore become the engine of value, binding quality artisan producers, restaurateurs and customers all together. In this scenario, the restaurateur is no longer simply a commercial provider, but has an opportunity to transmit passion and knowledge to the customers.

This vision goes beyond the now worn-out notion of “service”. It offers the possibility that customers can contribute to the success of the culinary culture. Restaurateurs will therefore deliver and co-write a story, to help customers become cultural ambassadors.

For more information about the Collège Culinaire de France and in-depth interview with Celia Tunc, General Secretary, see our podcast episode Inside France’s Culinary College for a glimpse of the future.

[1] Study carried out at the end of January 2021, for the Collège Culinaire de France, by the EasyPanel research institute on a sample of 1,500 people representative of the French population aged 18 and over.