While many operators face a difficult road to recovery, the foodservice industry as a whole is adapting to the times to meet consumer needs.
Takeout and delivery continue to drive sales at the restaurant level. Meal kits and family-centric grocery bundling have changed the perception of what a restaurant can provide. Non-commercial operations are embracing no-contact grab-and-go meal solutions to meet public health challenges.
Whether your product is ideally suited for the artful restaurant chef or the on-the-go c-store visitor, off-premise consumption represents a significant long-term revenue opportunity.
Here’s how our clients were able to take advantage of the current market:
1. They knew their product.
Retail clients achieved new channel growth by moving their brand into a foodservice space, and they succeeded by doing so with great intention. They crafted new positioning strategies to ensure proper resonance with the buyer. They asked themselves: Is this product a supporting ingredient in the chef’s arsenal or the star of a signature dish? Perhaps your product is good-to-go as is for the ever growing grab-and-go space. Consider how consumers are using it currently to help shape your utility positioning in the away-from-home space – but tread carefully – as consumer usage scenarios do not always translate to a foodservice environment.
2. They understood the problem they were solving.
Like any business buyer, foodservice operators, chefs, and procurement managers are faced with a complex set of challenges and aspirations. Your brand promise is at the intersection of what your product does best and what your customer most deeply desires. Here are some areas they focused on for relevancy to the average foodservice buyer:
Some of our more successful clients communicated their benefits clearly to potential foodservice buyers, using tools like profit calculators and comparison charts to show how their brand stacks up (or cuts) against competitors. When talking to chefs, they thought in terms of ideas or concepts rather than recipes. They formed relationships with professional chefs to establish the credibility they’d need in the market. Like any creative professional, the chef is constantly looking for inspiration, but they also want to put their own spin on the idea.
3. They paid attention to their packaging.
They knew their retail packaging configuration would not necessarily translate to the foodservice space. Back-of-house cooks and employees are working with large volume product, so they thought about how the pack size might scale up to meet their needs. Ease of use is also critical in the fast-paced foodservice kitchen. The often-neglected shipping box may be the primary means through which a customer interacts with a brand in the kitchen, so don’t miss an opportunity to reinforce the message. And remember, cooler space is at a premium, so lean into shelf-stable offerings when possible.
4. They pushed and pulled.
Most foodservice operations, whether independent restaurants, national chains, or non-commercial cafeterias, tap into major distributors to supply their products. For clients launching new products within an established foodservice space, their distributor sales reps (DSRs) were a key touchpoint for getting their new products and brands in front of the potential buyer. They nurtured these relationships and sought opportunities to keep their brands top-of-mind with this valuable partner. At any given time, the DSR has thousands of SKUs they could be selling to their customers. Headspace is crowded, so keep your sales pitch clear and compelling with hard-working selling tools.
Conversely, if your brand already has a strong consumer following, you might leverage a pull-through strategy to generate awareness and trial by way of consumer demand. Make it easy for consumers to ask for your product by name or to find what establishments are carrying your brand.