With the recent purchase of the iconic restaurant review brand Zagat by The Infatuation a relative newcomer with a more ‘social influencer’ approach to reviewing restaurants, I ask is the traditional restaurant review dead?
Zagat – The Old School Way
Zagat was founded on the most basic principle of word of mouth recommendations and over the years the influence grew.
What I liked about Zagat was its user-generated approach to restaurant/bar recommendations – usually by those local neighbourhood patrons that would champion local spots.
Somewhere along the way the original Zagat model changed or got diluted within the sea of user-generated reviews.
For those of you asking what is Zagat Eater do a great job explaining in their way.
Where Have the Food Critics Gone?
For years, we have relied on the reviews of food critics to determine which restaurants are a must and which should be avoided.
When a food critic wrote a rave review on a brand-new restaurant, it wasn’t long before that restaurant became a big hit among diners.
If a food critic reported that a restaurant wasn’t worth the hype, diners would immediately go elsewhere. However, in an age of digital journalism and social media, has the more traditional restaurant review been replaced by something a little more modern?
The Food Critic has evolved
In recent years, with the more traditional media closing down and new media their replacement critics seemed to have broaden thier skillsets.
Jay Raynor a prominent UK food critic for the Observer has appeared in over 25 TV-related and has more strings to his bow than most.
My question is how relevant is Jay to the generation known as Millennials and those that follow? How much longer will his view on Food stay relevant?
The generation known as the Millennial those that follow Gen Z will have less of a focus on food critics and their professional opinions but will look at a new breed of ‘influencer’.
Instead of seeking out the review of a prominent industry expert, they are seeking out the review of those they can identify with – social media influencers.
The Growing Role of Social Media
Whether you’re a big fan of social media or an infrequent user, you’re sure to know that there are certain people who have a big following.
These individuals often referred to as social media influencers, have legions of fans that take their reviews and recommendations extremely seriously.
For example, if a young beauty blogger recommends a brand new makeup product, you can bet that it’ll be a ‘must have’ item in no time. This also works for the food and restaurant industry.
The Importance of a Social Media Influencer
Whether they’re tweeting about a fine dining experience or posting Instagram photos of a delicious lunch, social media influencers have a big say over who succeeds in the food industry.
All it takes is one social media influencer to recommend a restaurant to their followers and that restaurant will immediately reach a specific target market.
This also works when it comes to bad experiences, poor customer service and less than impressive meals.
With one post, a social media influencer can let thousands of people know that a specific restaurant isn’t worth visiting.
The only question I have is, do they? Are they really that transparent?
The Future is now
Social media influencers are becoming more and more important to the food industry, simply because their following is so large.
Instead of relying on food critics and their honest reviews, restaurants are beginning to focus on gaining the support of prominent social media figures.
Not only are they likely to have a larger outreach, but there’s less of a focus on impressing an industry expert.