Instagrammability- the suitability of a product / experience to be shared on Instagram and other platforms in a way others find appealing, attractive or envy-inducing.

The government initiative to give 50%-off meals Monday-Wednesday, or what has been christened ‘Rishi Sunak’s Meal Deal’ by commentators, has been a huge success, being used over four million times in the first two weeks.

Launched with a social media post, featuring the tagline ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ written in cursive over an Instagram-esque picture of Rishi Sunak serving food at Wagamama, the policy has done well to engage social media. Benefiting from modern-day word of mouth, hashtags like #Rishi’sMealDeal and #SaveTheEconomy have spread with customers joking about ‘doing their bit’ for the good of the nation. The government initiative, though a relatively small part of the overall economic measures being taken in light of the coronavirus, was the most well adapted to Instagrammability, which fits right in with existing trends in foodservice, particularly among the younger consumers.

Since the smartphone came to be the dominant digital companion in the 2010s, foodservice has received huge boosts in free publicity in the form of social media pictures of food, decor and novel eating experiences. Although criticised by some as vapid, vain or just unnecessary, the fact remains that a brand’s online presence is key to how they will be perceived by consumers and social media is an integral part of the terrain that all types of foodservice compete on. As such, most eateries can be found across social media, attempting to get some form of control of the narrative, surrounding who they are, how they look and what they can offer.

This ties in with the trend of the ‘experience economy’ where people’s monetary transactions are not just for a product but the experience of buying and consuming the product. Conveying those experiences well through succinct and attention-grabbing posts is crucial. Taking it one step further, the sharing of the experience is an experience in itself, a further incentive to frequent restaurants that enable this social media trend and help drive growth overall.

Foodservice operators should be aware of younger politicians and political advisor’s increasing awareness of social media trends. Government initiatives like this, aimed at boosting economic activity in a sector-specific way, may well become more prevalent, following the success of ‘Rishi’s Meal Deal’. Politics is notoriously PR-driven, and in these tumultuous times, those in charge will be getting advice on how to make their initiatives cut through. This is evident in the accompanying press material from the office of the chancellor – signed off with the signature of Rishi Sunak and the word ‘chancellor’ stylised as if it were a brand instead of an office of state.

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Following the success of this scheme, we will continue to see other politicians, parties and governments attempt to garner support this way, incorporating social media culture and tapping into trends both aesthetic and social to get their message across. ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ can now be seen plastered across the windows of pubs, cafes and restaurants across the UK as outlets strive to let everyone know where they can get 50% off Monday to Wednesday.