Booming Asia Pacific middle class splash cash on dining out and know how to spend it: Mango Tree Worldwide
BANGKOK, THAILAND: A paradigm shift is occurring throughout Asia Pacific as an exploding middle class rejects old notions of sacrifice and saving to spend up big on dining out, says Trevor MacKenzie, Managing Director of runaway culinary success story Mango Tree restaurants worldwide.
Mr MacKenzie, the driver of Mango Tree’s ambitious global expansion programme which has seen the group grow to more than 70 restaurants in eight countries, becoming the leading Thai restaurant brand worldwide in the process, said the implications for those in the restaurant business were profound.
Speaking at the recent Top Menu Masters Food Conference in Manila, Mr MacKenzie said the days of people marrying young and saving to send the kids to university were over. “Now people are getting married at 35 – much later than in the past – and it’s all about living a fuller life, as opposed to saving money,” he said.
Mr MacKenzie, the prime mover behind Mango Tree’s success in franchising its brands worldwide, said the region’s middle class was growing rapidly and was set to increase a further 571% by 2030. With more cash in hand, diners were prepared to spend extra to try imported ingredients. “They are getting out of poverty and getting into new experiences – and are showing them off,” he said.
The love affair with dining out was partly driven by social media, and the Instagram phenomenon, whereby diners photographed and posted each dish before taking a bite of the food.
“It has gone crazy,” he said. “People are using Instagram and similar sites as a way of marking their status”, he said. “Interesting dining experiences, great quality and attention to detail and some flair in presentation is what will win the day. It’s not about ‘slapping food on plates’ anymore, but making teach dish look beautiful and photogenic.”
Mr MacKenzie heralded the end of ‘fusion confusion’ and said a back-to-basics mentality prevailed, with authenticity, simplicity and quality prized by increasingly green-conscious and well informed diners.
Another important trend in the industry – the birth of numerous bar and grill and bistro concepts – was being driven by increasing rental and labor costs. With higher costs, restauranteurs were investing in more bar and grill concepts as they were less labor intensive.
“The bar produces 50% of the income, and businesses are now waking up to that fact,” said Mr MacKenzie, who was instrumental in Mango Tree launching new brand Mango Tree Bistrobar two years ago to stay ahead of the curve.
“The young generation are also having that one social drink now, whereas before they didn’t,” he said. “Ten years ago Thais never drank wine. Now everyone’s into it.”
To stay ahead of the pack, Mango Tree has teamed with the ‘world’s greatest mixologist’ Joseph Boroski to launch the hip new Mango Tree Bistrobar Plaza Senayan in Jakarta. With a chic, contemporary setting and a showpiece ‘long bar’ that delivers a new bistro experience direct from Bangkok, the restaurant encapsulates Mango Tree’s innovative approach.
Mango Tree’s dramatic growth shows no sign of slowing and the group is on track to comfortably exceed its target of 100 restaurants, BistroBars and cafes worldwide by 2015, with new flagship Mango Tree restaurants in the mix – including in Bali and another A-List location in Jakarta, with the group set to launch its first US Mango Tree in Washington DC later this year.
Mr MacKenzie said the hunt was on for locations on the Gold Coast and in Sydney, Australia, as well as in Shanghai and Mumbai.