EXPERIENTIAL GASTRONOMY .A new area of knowledge in the culinary universe to meet the challenges of the “Experiential Economy”.
… “ In new restaurants, the role of the food will be 50%, the other 50% will be lived by the diner experience”…. A great lady of the national cuisine (well, and international) did this forceful declaration during a phone call some weeks ago. We began to plot future plans after our meeting a few days before at 2015 Cuisine Dialogues celebrated by Basque Culinary Center where Inhedit presented our projects in Experiential Gastronomy developed in collaboration with the curious chef Begoña Rodrigo. It seems to me a very clear, forceful and authoritative confirmation that something is, ALREADY!, happening in the culinary field.
Nowadays a superficial concept of Experience is being increasingly associated to any product we see everywhere, and yes, it begins to be something regular, and even, valuable. Everything is advertised as an experience, and it really is, but another issue is that brands or companies really communicate this value through their offer of products or services.
The cuisine and its world, even more creative and innovative, have been always experiential, but today is identified as that way of understanding the gastronomic ceremony more than ever. Once the technique and quality of product are overcome, the chef and their team try, more or less gracefully, to transmit the diners this perception to inspire love and stay in its memory… and in this nobly way, to be differentiated from their competence or increase the average ticket.
The sequence of moments before, during and after the meal who the diner enjoys, along with the perception of the environment in which the food is served and enjoyed, it plays a decisive role in providing emotional cues who finally become the “gastronomic experience”. . Obviously, it can not be the same to eat an “arroz a banda” in the Grao de Castellón than in a tapas-bar in New York or on a terrace overlooking the lake Titisee in the heart of the Black Forest. The experience is different. But this hides a huge power of innovation to exploit: Provide emotional dining experiences (often multisensory) while integrating the gastronomy and the management of the environment and perceptions that are lived by the diner ( I like to mean them as “gastroglambers” anxious to eat well and enjoy it).
What now seems to be new inside the culinary field, with this reformulation, this fact was detected and published with a great talent by two American authors in their article (a referent) The Experience Economy, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 1998 where they defined the new scene… <em “If you are paid due to something physical, you are in the product market; if they do it for the activities you offer, you are in the service ones; and if it is because the time that they spend with you, you are in the market of experiences…”
The following year, they detailed all about their theory through its book “ The Experience Economy: Work is theater and every company is the stage” (1999), which came to mean is a certain experience occurs when a company uses deliberately the offered service as the stage of a theater, and the products as accessories to attract and engage customers by creating a memorable event. . Commodities are fungible, processed products are tangible, services are intangible and experiences are memorable. For customers of experiences, if we use the term employed by Walt Disney, undoubtedly leading the creation of experiences, we should call them “guests” or, why not … “commensals” – these experiences are inherently personals and only exist in the individual’s mind who has been involved on an emotional, physical, intellectual or even spiritual level.
Pine and Gilmore argue that customers want to live somehow a memorable experience, with the capability to transform them and change their way of thinking and interacting. .
And here the question comes… ” Economics of Experiences “
During the agricultural economy, mothers made their own cake using basic products from his farm (flour, sugar, eggs and butter). In the industrial phase, mothers paid a certain amount for semi-processed ingredients. Already in the service economy, some busy parents ordered cakes in a bakery or patisserie, a price that implies tenfold the cost of raw ingredients… Now, parents make any cake or even organize a party. Instead, they pay a high amount to “outsource” the whole event in some many specialized retailers that have emerged to meet this demand. Welcome to the Experience Economy!!!
The sample serves to explain that any kind of companies, especially those who comes from the gastronomic field, in case that they wanted to stay or be situated in forward positions and keep competing have to offer experiences. Also, if they are approaching to final customers or other organizations. They must be able to provide unforgettable moments which make that customers will desire to buy them, memorable events involving customer through an absolutely individual way. .
The experiences have always been at the heart of the entertainment industry, such as Port Aventura or Warner do, but now the concept of selling experiences should go beyond theaters and theme parks. . The innovative fact would be to incorporate these experiences as a differentiating aspect alongside the supply of new products. The creativity, the innovation and the detailed design of the elements that define the experience will become the key. How to design these experiences is not a minor question.
Given the subjective but, in addition the apparently aesthetic issue, many proposals emerge to come across the Design of Experiences. The reality is that the definition of a methodology to carry them out is not available to any company related to the world of events and entertainment. Do not forget that here multiple areas of knowledge comes into play to achieve what really can “excite” the public who is increasingly saturated and insensitive to the stimuli. . We have our method and we call it HES (Human Emotion Shuttle) Design of the Experience is going to Provide Authenticity, is not about create sensations… if we want to make it work, it’s necessary to “excite” and, also, understand that people are happy while we spend our time and money and meeting our desire for authenticity.
If we’d have to configure the most suitable profile to deal with any business, especially one related to gastronomy, restaurants or hospitality, we would start from the creative talent and, of course, the necessary and essential technical knowledge which have reached high levels of qualification today. But, is that enough? anyone who has undertaken a business, will tell us that it’s necessary to be educated in Business management. Everything is complex so we can not remain out of touch with reality about how businesses run, even if we are not excited about it… but … .is this enough in such a competitive environment? Let us say without fear… NOT today. Inevitably, we observe that the Design of effective and emotional Experiences which come with the offer are increasingly getting importance.
We are witnessing the emergence of a new field of knowledge, a new strategy that complements the current ones. Experiential gastronomy that studies all that factors which are able to modify the dining experience for the diner beyond the tasting of food.
- Experiential Gastronomy is feeded by diverse sources as emotional engineering, Sensory Engineering, Neuromarketing, Industrial Design or Architecture, through Psychology or Sociology. It make use of social and market trend analysis to define behavioral patterns of the commensals. In addition, it applies high-tech by means of a noninvasive way, but as a tool to achieve the generation of stimuli that provoke feelings …. that lead us to the emotion.
- Besides this influence on the business model, Experiential Gastronomy stimulates creativity of professionals to expand the range of interaction between their culinary creations and the rest of design elements that configure the environment and the activities that the diner experiences: before, during and after tasting the food..
The experiential gastronomy must complement the skills of professionals which stimulate their creativity and acquire knowledge related to cooking techniques, management, operations and organization. It is also looking for modifying the perception of dining experience of the commensal to achieve the competitive differentiation aspects referred to its offer.
All this will not happen, it is already happening and we will come too late if we do not have it in mind when our proposals are being configured… and also our formation.
People who detect if our proposal is being sincere, authentic and, in order to develop this, it is important to consider that….
CEO-Innovation Director InHedit