Virtual Food May Be The Next Big Thing For Fast Food

The Lempert Report
August 10, 2018

Fortune magazine reports that to lift sales, fast food chains are turning to augmented reality to attract a new generation of customers.

It’s a 21st century version of Sampuru, the Japanese custom of showcasing plastic food replica in restaurant windows, which we have reported on before.

Here’s how it works: patrons point their smartphones at a menu or placemat, and sizzling hamburgers and pizza slices dripping with cheese appear on their screen that they can then share on Snap or Instagram. Customers who use apps like Google Lens or Apple’s ARkit can even appear to place 3-D virtual meals on their tables.

Restaurants are testing virtual reality as the way to better connect with potential consumers through social media and millennials, a prime social media-using demographic that also happens to spend the greatest percentage of their food budget on eating out, are the prime target.

There is a great business reasoning to get the public to share food images on social media—they post 3.5 million food images daily—and it drives traffic to restaurant websites and importantly reduces the need for restaurant owners to buy ads in traditional media. With 300 million Snap users and 800 million Instagram users, the potential audience is huge.

Food related hashtags are the third most popular category on Instagram with the basic #food being the most popular descriptor. According to a study in 2016 by catering supply website sousvidetools.compizza was the top entrée on the service with 19.7 million images shared, following by sushi (13.4 million) and chicken (11.9 million). The rest of the top 10 included salads (#4), and pasta (#5) along with eggs (#8) and steak (#9).

Perhaps an important tool for grocerants to explore.