How Instagram Has Changed the Food Industry

Beautiful bowl of salad

By Tricia McKinnon

In a world where social proof rules, one of the industries that has been most impacted by Instagram is the food industry. 20% of Brits have shared a picture of food online in the past month and 18-24 year olds are more than five times likely to share a photo of their food online than people that are over 55 years old. 

Remember the days when charcoal ice cream was all the rage?  It was hard to miss seeing a picture of the iconic black ice cream while surfing the net.  If you are in the food business and do not have a strong Instagram presence you might be in trouble.  30% of millennials would consider not going to a restaurant with a weak Instagram presence.  Over a two-year period between 2015 – 2017, Yelp noticed a 3,000% increase in searches for the words food or restaurant and Instagram.  In response to this, restaurants are creating “Instgramable” interiors and dishes.  The restaurant Black Tap describes itself as: a “classic luncheonette modernized for the Instagram age.” It sells funky looking milkshakes called CrazyShakes which would make even the smallest Instagram account attract more followers. 

Teddy Robinson, Creative Director for a London café-bar called the Grind, spent five years making the chain as "Instagramable" as possible. For example, they "replaced every table in the company with white marble, just because it looks good on Instagram.”

Ehab Shouly, the Director of Tea Terrance on Oxford Street has said: "for us, today's dining experience is no longer just about having great food and drink, it's all about creating unique experiences that our customers can document on Instagram and social media”.

Instagram is also the driving force behind crazes such as rainbow donuts, charcoal cream and unicorn Frappuccinos at Starbucks.  Even menus are being redesigned for Instagram worthiness.  While the focus on Instagram over quality of food may signal a time where people have become more self-centred, it is giving many restaurateurs access to more customers in a way that was not available in the past.  Having a great Instagram presence can help a restaurant to broaden its customer base by luring customers in from adjacent markets and even internationally.  In the age of Instagram the saying that people eat with their eyes is more true now than ever.


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Tricia McKinnon