retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports that there is a new trend affecting the restaurant industry: “Taking a cue from Twitter and Facebook cultures, serious foodies and casual consumers alike are using digital technology to document each bite, then sharing or swapping the pictures online.

“Chefs call them the food paparazzi, and these days, no morsel is too minor.

“Flickr, the photo-sharing website, has seen the number of pictures tagged as ‘food’ jump from about half a million in 2008 to more than 6 million today, according to company officials. In the group ‘I Ate This’ on Flickr's site, nearly 20,000 people have uploaded more than 307,000 images of their latest meals, from a 7-Eleven hot dog smeared with mustard to the butter dish at the Michelin three-star restaurant French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.”

There is, of course, a downside: “Maitre d's regularly face diners demanding to be moved away from camera flashes and the sound of firing shutters,” the Times writes. “Waiters find themselves tongue-tied as customers thrust voice recorders at them to capture a recitation of each course. Some chefs have had enough.

“Chef Grant Achatz allows only non-flash photography in his tony Chicago restaurant, Alinea. He, like many chefs, finds himself torn between being flattered by the public's enthusiasm and aggravated over the effect the picture-taking is having on the restaurant's operations.”
KC's View:
This may be my favorite paragraph from the story: “Camera manufacturers are joining the trend. Nikon, Olympus and Sony sell cameras that offer ‘cuisine’ or ‘food’ settings, which adjust to enhance colors and textures on close-ups.”

Go figure.

It may be annoying, but engagement is important in such situations...because the criticism, observations and discussion is going to take place anyway. To fight it is to appear anti-transparency, which nobody can afford.

Today it is restaurants. Tomorrow it will be supermarkets. Get ready now.