Instant Business

March 2, 2011: Instant Business

I don’t want to (or mean to) trivialize attention deficit disorder (ADD), a serious learning disorder for millions of Americans, but these days it seems like whole generations of consumers suffer from a type of ADD. Or maybe we’re just bored.

In any case, in this age of instant everything, where tastes seem to constantly shift, and fads and frenzies have a shorter success cycle than ever before, it seems you have to be extra creative in order to capture the attention of American consumers.

And that’s just what the three entrepreneurs behind the New York City-based What Happens When concept are trying to do. What Happens When describes itself as a “temporary restaurant installation that transforms every 30 days for nine months, offering guests an ever-changing culinary, visual and sound experience.” Essentially, this self-described “playground for food” has adopted the pop-up retail concept and applied it to food. They’re also crowdfunding (actively soliciting donations from customers through website Kickstarter), which helps create a bond with their customers by making them public part of the business’s success.

What Happens When did not invent the concept of rotating-theme restaurants. But like award-winning Chicago restaurateur Grant Achatz, they’re certainly taking advantage of fickle public tastes. Achatz’s new restaurant, Next, opens April 1, and will, according to the New York Times, offer classic French cuisine. And three months later, “Next will then morph into an entirely different restaurant, and again three months after that.”

The concept of regularly reinventing your business can be applied to many small businesses. There are certainly enough empty retail spaces around these days that a pop-up retailer could rotate locations and offer completely different inventories depending on where they happen to be housed for the moment. How could your business reinvent itself?

JWT Intelligence, a trend reporting website, says this concept underscores one of 2011’s big trends—“Non-Commitment Culture.” As restless Gen Y consumers come of age (and their spending power grows), this concept is poised to infiltrate the consumer mindset. Change rules the day.