Shifts in the global economic reality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic mean that “business as usual” is no more.
The buyer journey in the food industry has changed dramatically as restaurants and other businesses rejiggered their operational models, carved out new distribution systems and retooled to meet consumer demand as well as to feed their own bottom line. Restaurants that closed for dine-in service met the challenge head on by offering options such as takeout and delivery, as well as by operating as neighborhood grocery hubs.
Some of these changes may be temporary; others may stick around. Particularly promising — and exciting — is the opportunity to pursue an alternate wholesale channel that makes products available to retail consumers. Already, businesses that have taken this step have become go-to resources and heroes to consumers who, themselves, have adapted to and embraced new retail realities.
Welcome to the new normal.
Is your brand retail ready?
We’ve teamed up with fellow packaging experts, PTIS Global, to compile a set of considerations for identifying and optimizing your product mix for a retail environment.
The three Rs of Retail:
Re-examine. Reinvent. Reach out.
Today’s changing business climate reinforces the importance of being agile.
Channels have become more fluid as traditional B2B modes shift into hybrid B2C opportunities, showing there’s more than one way to be customer-facing.
The road to retail leads to opportunity. The route involves some changes in direction, but take a strategic approach and the ride doesn’t have to be a bumpy one. We’ve mapped out ways to get you off to a good start.
1. Re-examine business models.
How do you think of your business? Strictly B2B? B2C? Strictly service? What’s in your product portfolio? What are all the ways in which that portfolio currently serves your customers? Is there more you could do for them if you reconsidered the parameters of business?
Break down any lines of demarcation that exist only because of tradition. Expand your thinking. Which formats could readily be optimized for retail? Look for opportunities everywhere. Conduct research to identify unarticulated consumer needs. Fresh, outside perspective can shine a light on key marketing avenues.
Rise to the occasion and think in terms of the scope of opportunities before you. Your business may have always operated in a set way to meet a particular set of needs, but carefully planned proactive changes to production, functionality and distribution allow for expansion that leverages the expertise you’re known for and takes it into new territory. What’s easily transferable to the plate? What would help a restaurant operator prepare for mass takeout in terms of food that holds well and can be part of profitable family bundles? What could you retail as pantry provisions, stock-the-freezer entrées or meal kits?
2. Reinvent your business.
Gear up and tech enable for new ways to satisfy consumer needs and build sales.
- Determine optimal packaging for new ways of presenting and transporting products. Choose packaging that keeps food secure, preserves and showcases its quality and facilitates convenient consumption (reduced mess, flat packaging for stability on laps, reheating, container reuse, etc.).
- Image-building. Optimize opportunities to use packaging as a brand-differentiation asset in terms of communicating authenticity, security, sustainability, recycling, etc.
- Launch leading-edge online and mobile apps that provide customers with fast, easy access to product information, ordering, payment and delivery tracking.
3. Reach out.
Build positive word of mouth as you’re shifting product-mix strategies. Get the word out about all the ways in which your retail efforts serve customers and provide unmatched value.
- Ramp up direct-to-consumer marketing with a digital-first mindset.
- Train your sales force to support the needs of this new channel and actively promote its unique benefits based on key research findings.
- Generate buzz via chef endorsements, influencer marketing, social media and traditional press.
- Make it easy to shop. Give customers and prospects the inside track on how to shop your retail offerings to their best advantage.
- Develop relationships with fellow retailers.
The bottom line?
When it comes to succeeding at retail, the readiness is all.
Get Your Business Retail-Ready
Schedule a free 30-minute consultative discussion with NK.
The Zero Moment of Truth: Influencing Consumers Before They See a Product
With the mass adoption of smartphones and use of social platforms to engage with each other, consumers are visible to and begin familiarizing themselves with brands before ever experiencing them personally. B2B brands prove no exception here. As you consider bridging from foodservice to retail or retail to foodservice, don’t lose sight of channels like social, email and other digital means of getting in front of potential buyers.
Looks also matter. Think outside the plate. However good your products may be, the appearance, feel and functionality of your packaging can influence purchase decisions, value perception and overall customer satisfaction. The following is outside-the-box thinking about packaging and customer interactions.
The First Moment of Truth – The Purchase Experience
- Packaging design: labeled for individual sale; brand equity/impact; consumer-relevant product names/descriptors; merchandising opportunities; nutritional attributes, ingredient highlights, etc.
- Look and feel. Form and function. Emotional connection to the brand.
- Materials/design enhancements. Paper = good for the environment. Foil suggests premium/hot/cold, etc.
- Digital transformation. AR, VR, AI, codes, etc.
The Second Moment of Truth – User Experience
- Physical packaging design. Ease of use. Dimensions/shape/weight. Optimized for home kitchens versus commercial kitchens.
- Clear instructions.
- Emphasize easy prep, e.g., 30-minute cooking. Families want to feel that they were delivered something nourishing for their family, something they can prepare using common kitchen tools — toaster, microwave, conventional oven, etc.
- Packaging that preserves food quality — e.g., keeps the hot-side hot, cold-side cold, crispy elements crispy, moist foods from drying out, etc.
- Ease of storing and reheating leftovers.
The Third Moment of Truth – Intent to Repurchase
- Product quality.
- Resealable packaging?
- Digital content, recipes, etc.
- Reorder prompts for “time to buy more."