The Backlog: Product Intuition vs Data; Why Local Restaurants Aren't Dead

More product management thoughts and why I'm long local restaurants

Hey there! I occasionally send it out shorter posts on topics that I’ve been thinking about it, but aren’t long reads. These posts will be titled The Backlog (I’m a PM after all). They will be more evergreen and foundational in nature. Onto today’s post!

Product Intuition, Data and User Feedback

  • Intuition then data. In that order.

  • With that said, product intuition, data and user feedback loops are all necessary. Data and user feedback should validate or invalidate your product intuition. Think of this framework as product checks and balances.

  • Don’t get cute or hung up on your intuition. Humans are highly susceptible to self-deception and motivated reason. Course correct, course correct, course correct!

  • View your data and user experience through a lens of moments. These moments create a path that guides your customer or user to success using your product. These moments are levers for growth that you can pull. These moments can also serve as failure moments in need of iteration.

  • User feedback is most useful when it helps user get to the “success” moment faster and in a more delightful way. Secondarily, user feedback is useful if it helps highlight a failure moments.

  • The user can always get to the “success” moment faster.


Finding Product-Market Fit

  • Focus on one market at a time and build a concentration of user engagement, success and, yes, failure moments. This concentration will produce invaluable learnings that can be used in future markets.

  • Product-market fit and distribution are different things. You need both to succeed. P-M fit will make your distribution more efficient. Distribution will deepen your P-M fit and make your product better because you get more at-bats. More at-bats *break* your product in a good way.


Why Local Restaurants Aren't Dead

Fast food chains and local restaurants offer very different value propositions. Post-Covid, I think the remaining local restaurants will thrive with indoor dining.

Fast food companies compete on convenience and brand. Indoor dining dining has been afterthought for atleast the past 20 years. 

Mobile ordering, food delivery and drive-thrus (old school tech!) work well for fast food because these technologies accentuate convenience and brand!

For example, Taco Bell has every incentive to multi-tenant food delivery marketplaces because 1) the Taco Bell brand reduces discovery and choice issues for its customers and food delivery makes Taco Bell more convenient. 

Indoor dining doesn’t align with its value props.


Where the value in local restaurants lies

Local restaurants compete on more tangible factors like price, location and diner experience. Food delivery marketplaces create new demand for local restaurants, but they also reduce margins and it is unproven that the increased demand can make up for margin compression.

Diners have gotten accustomed to their favorite restaurants offering delivery, but it’s loss leader for the industry.

Covid was direct attack on the location and diner experience factors that local restaurants compete on. The switch to mostly food delivery is unsustainable.

But Covid won’t last forever and during the pandemic there has definitely been pent up demand for indoor dining at local restaurants (again location and diner experience), as we’ve seen the growth of outdoor dining. Once there’s a Covid vaccine, local restaurant will thrive again.

So what does this mean for the future of local restaurants?

Better tools like Chow Now, Slice, Square, Shopify, Toast and BentoBox to help restaurants manage their diner experience (front of house and back of house) and payments. New funding models. New operating models.