But the think tank, it turned out, didn’t have the gift of Nostradamus. Nor The Amazing Kresgin. Or even Carnak. Here were some of the changes it foresaw:
To be fair, the forecast was on the mark in several respects.
For instance, it advised full-service restaurants to engineer more efficient ways of offering takeout, citing pent-up demand. Today, curbside service is a standard offering for the big casual chains.
It also counseled full-service restaurants to differentiate themselves. Too bad they didn't heed that recommendation.
Almost eerie was the prediction that consumers would simultaneously demand “individuality,” or what chains of all stripes would now label order customization, and “belonging,” or the sense of inclusion that social media is viewed as delivering.
This isn’t meant as a knock on McKinsey or the groups that sponsored the study. It's actually a bit of self-criticism. One of the study's backers was Restaurant Business magazine, which I served at the time as editor. I was also one of the people who were interviewed to give input into the qualitative study.
Rather, the look back underscores how difficult it is to peer a year into the future, never mind a decade. Credit-default swaps were unknown at the time. And yet they’ve profoundly changed the industry’s fortunes since last summer. Who could've imagined such a thing.
Indeed, Foodservice 2010 was marketed as the best of its sort, with a price tag of $2,000 for non-members of the sponsoring organizations.