Foodservice has become one of the most important areas of branding, marketing and direct consumer connection for a growing array of food and drink products. This report explores how brands are successfully using foodservice and other away-from-home channels to build whole new categories, as well as how foodservice players, retailers, delivery aggregators and others are becoming powerful new product developers themselves.
Consumers are cooking less and ordering more prepared meals and snacks, from physical restaurants as well as retailers, delivery players, and others.. This is placing pressure on packaged food and drink players as traditional marketing strategies potentially become less effective.
The expansion of prepared food into new eating occasions and times of day broadly favours foodservice players, yet the biggest beneficiaries will likely be foodservice players yet to be formed, combining apps, a limited number of effective physical outlets, and a well-considered delivery strategy.
Long term, there will likely be fewer customer-facing physical retail and foodservice outlets, but they will serve as far more than pick-up points. Instead, they will function as branding tools, as service nodes, and as points of discovery, vital to DTC brands, mostly-virtual restaurant brands, and (increasingly) food and drink manufacturers.
The on-trade to off-trade innovation pipeline is becoming more important than ever, yet there are real signs that third party delivery, by bringing more freshly-prepared food and drink products from on-trade to the home, is rendering this less relevant to upstart foodservice players.
As packaged food and drink players face growing private label competition from both foodservice brands and retailers, new strategies become necessary. Ghost kitchens and third party delivery potentially allow for targeted foodservice “experiments” with less capital and thus less risk, for both small restaurants and vast packaged food and drinks players alike.
For many brands, the key to a truly successful direct-to-consumer strategy is a real community around a brand, with consumers creating content, exchanging ideas, and above all providing data. While highly effective in categories such as beauty - is it possible to build an ongoing community around food, beverage and dining in a way that can drive new products and business models?
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