Food Marketing: Your bread and butter
When you have a food product of any description it can be incredibly hard to market it. In fact, in the United States, the food marketing system is the largest direct and indirect non government employer.
What is Food Marketing?
Food marketing is simply the chain of marketing that take place between the food producer and the food consumer. It sounds like it should be incredibly simple – man grows potato, man sells potato. Woman grows runner beans, woman sells runner beans. Sadly it’s not. It’s actually a very complicated system that involves an awful lot of processes that are used even before it’s sold. These processes include wholesaling, food processing, transport, retailing and food service. Because it’s such a complicated system, there are a lot of organisations that are involved in the sale of just one product.
To give you an idea of the scale of the industry, to make one can of chicken soup, it takes 56 organisations. This also includes the people who make the cans, design the labels, and print the labels, but still it’s a lot of companies to produce one product.
If we look at it on a global scale, the food marketing industry, well it’s one of the largest industries on the planet. Different countries have different systems depending on their level of economic and technological development, as well as their politics and the laws and regulations that involve food production and processing.
In the UK food marketing is not just about companies and individuals who produce food and drink, it is also for restaurants.
Why is food marketing important?
Marketing is the key to success in any business, but people can also waste a lot of money on unnecessary marketing. Understanding who your target audience is, the platforms they use and how to best interact with them, is something that requires research, experience and dedication that you may not have time for when you are also running a restaurant. Richer Sound, the electronics store, decided not to spend any money on traditional marketing and instead put all of its money into customer service. They chose to create the best customer service on the planet and let word of mouth about their stores and their staff market their store.
Richer Sound found a lot of success using this method and for them this was the right choice for their business. They understood that the way to reach the clients they were aiming for, was through customer service and word of mouth. Richer Sound also understood that excellent customer service, is what brings people back time and again, building customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is something that is sadly undervalued by many companies. If you need any proof of this, then think about the offers you get from car insurance companies when you are a new customer and the difference between the renewal price you are offered as an existing customer and the price if you are a new customer.
TGI Fridays launched a loyalty programme due to lagging sales, using mobile technology to deliver it. The design was sleek, easy and it gave the company useful information about the customers. In the first four weeks of launching the new scheme, the company saw a rise in 66% loyalty revenue. Finding new customers is great, but keeping loyal ones will keep your doors open for years.
Word of mouth is something that spreads faster than ever before, now that the internet links people not only through social media but through review sites as well. You cannot control what people are going to say about your restaurant on social media – you can only make sure they have had the best dining experience possible and understand that some people are never going to be happy, no matter what you do for them. This is a marketing stream that exists, whether you choose to engage with it or not, though any good marketing firm will tell you that in this internet age, you need a social media presence. A Facebook page, a twitter account and an Instagram page are the bare minimum that you’ll need and they will all need maintaining.
Many younger people now will look at the restaurant hashtags on Instagram before deciding to go eat somewhere and though you may not be interested in younger users now, they are going to grow up and the way they search for dining options is not going to change all that dramatically.
Food marketing lets you create your own brand that you want the world to buy into. Your brand sets expectations and it is your brand that you should be marketing. Branding works and it’s a powerful marketing tool, but it requires co-ordination and a clear aim of the face you want to present to the public, as well as an understanding of exactly who your customer base is. Any author will tell you, that they want to sell books to everyone, but if you’ve written a werewolf slasher horror book marketing to people whose major interests are Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and English Heritage sites, you’re not going to see very many sales and the money you invested in that marketing is wasted.
How do I market my restaurant?
The first thing you need is a clear idea about what you want to achieve with your marketing.
- Who do you want to reach?
- What do you want the outcome of the marketing to be?
- What level are you looking to advertise (local, countywide, national)?
- What can you afford to spend?
- What will you use social media for?
These are just a few of the questions that you should be asking yourself as you start thinking about marketing.
The next thing you’ll need is a clear idea about the brand you are selling and why the selling points you highlight are going to appeal to the audience you are targeting. This is something that requires hours of market research and experience in the field of marketing, that’s where a marketing professional can help bring things together. However, you’ll need to know what you want your brand to represent.
To help you start thinking about your brand, or rebranding if you need to, here are a few companies who have well-known brands in their fields. Have a look down the list and think about what each brand means to you. Then ask a friend to do the same. Compare the notes you both have and see what an impact a clearly defined brand can have.
- Virgin Atlantic
- Ralph Lauren
- Jamie’s Italian
- Pizza Hut
When a brand is clearly defined, people know what to expect and in the leaner times, the restaurants with a brand that they understand and are fully committed to are the brands that are surviving.
Wagamama had sales go up when other brands were closing stores due to falling sales. The same was true of Zizzi, Ask Italian and Coco di Mama. Each of these brands has a clear message about what their brand is, what they deliver and the quality that you can expect. Opening a restaurant is a huge undertaking and going in hoping that people will hear about your restaurant and come flooding through the doors, isn’t a good way to succeed. Once you have your idea for a restaurant, you should focus on your brand and craft everything to do with your restaurant, around the brand and the customer experience.
If you want to learn more about the different food marketing options open to you, contact Seedless Marketing today, and we will help you!