The confusion of choice – tourist restaurants fail to develop into brands in Turkey
I mentioned in my last post that there were 2 thoughts from my recent trip to Turkey. The second related to the common approach amongst tourist restaurants to not specialise in a certain style of cuisine, in the hope that offering more may appeal to a wider audience.
I could become very British middle class at this point. It would be easy to sneer at how I should doubt the chef cooking in a restaurant offering a menu of Indian, Chinese, Turkish, English, Mexican and Italian dishes, all for £6 – £10 a head, could never possibly produce anything of any quality or distinction?
But instead I found the main issue to be one of consumer confusion. Every evening confused British consumers would shuffle around the small town we stayed in, being assailed by restaurant PR’s who try to tell you about their similar looking restaurant and the similar food it offered (often no different to the one next door with the same bewilderingly mixed menu).
Making a choice was very difficult, more confusing than anything else. Pricing was at parity with promotional offers instantly matched by the neighboring competitors. But where should one go for the best steak? The finest seafood? A great curry? A traditional pizza? Every restaurant offered the same thing – everything. All of the specials were no longer special, as they were available from anywhere.
When everyone claims to offer everything they simply loose focus, distinction and depth of range within each cuisine. Choice becomes broader but shallower. The quality also appears to average out without any danger of anyone even catching sight of the heights of truly great cooking. An average meal is available everywhere at a similar price, while a fine one is almost entirely absent.
In fairness, while we tried a different restaurant almost each night for the 2 weeks we were away – we did return to 2 of them for a second visit. One of these was a traditional Turkish restaurant with excellent entertainment for our children. The other offered excellent Chinese food (their Indian dishes were also praised by people we met). What brought us back to these two? It was the service and experience more than the reasonable quality food. While hospitality was clearly apparent from every restaurant, it was the service and different experience offered by some which made them stand out.
There is probably a lesson for brands here. Why try to confuse people by offering everything, while doing it only moderatly well? When you could offer more specialism, depth of expereince and excellence – and possibly with more differentiated pricing? Where products do become commodities, a brand, service quality and experience may still differentiate.
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