Proof is in performance. Always. Turn to students who demand something new to prove your product’s viability.
Students tucked away on campus may not be the first audience that comes to mind during a product launch or early marketing activation. Yet C&U is often the most valuable testing ground to get your product into the kitchen or commissary, get cases moving, and get real data on how to position your product for now and the long term. Here’s why.
Campus consumers have adventurous, trend-forward, and diverse tastes.
Dining services factor into overall C&U recruitment to a high degree. So when students are vocal about their food preferences (and they are), directors listen and act accordingly. This also means that foodservice directors need help – with products that allow them to offer trend-forward and healthy choices using a limited labor pool.
Rising opportunities include:
- Innovative, global flavors – Asian and Hispanic/Latino influences are at the forefront
- Weird & whacky – Bold mashups get attention and boost interest
- Viable plant-based options – The need is driven by top-down commitments to meet students’ call for plant-based options they want to eat
“Having plant-based foods isn’t a buzz or a trend, it’s a need and a demand that we deliver with creativity and flavor. Creating equitable offers is part of our strategy with Sodexo’s Campus commitment of 50% plant-based entrees by 2025. Inclusive options are key – having the 1:1 animal to plant entrée makes it approachable, relatable, and tempting to try.”
Jennifer DiFranceso, Director of Culinary Innovation for Sodexo Campus
Source: PBFA State of the Market Report
You can reach a practical multiverse of channels with a single C&U buyer.
The sheer number of different cuisines, operation types, and dining occasions on a single campus means multiple ways in for your brand. Consider:
- Cafeterias and dining halls
- Grab-and-go convenience and commissary options
- Athletic facilities
- On-campus QSR operations
Colleges are purpose-driven institutions – where your sourcing story will resonate deeply.
If a key point of differentiation for your brand is what happens behind the scenes, C&U is a fruitful place to grow awareness. Students are highly interested and engaged when it comes to topics like sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Purpose-driven institutional goals open the door for brands that follow suit, such as:
- Plant-based food options
- Sustainable practices (regenerative agriculture, lower carbon footprint, etc.)
- Local sourcing
- Eco-friendly containers
- Businesses owned by people who identify with BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities
Finally, and most importantly: Volume, volume, volume. Plus trial with a (mostly) captive audience!
Here’s the clincher: A single C&U account could be enough to force product distribution from a volume perspective. There are also myriad opportunities for mass consumer trial and in-market feedback. Get creative and make it fun. Think on-campus trial events and station takeovers. It’s a testing ground, after all.
We’ll be seein’ you in C&U!