The food and drink landscape is forever changing, regardless of whether that’s out of necessity or natural improvement. Modern technology, such as smartphones, has played a huge part in the incredible growth of the online world of food and drink, simply because of convenience. You no longer have to get your best gear on and head out to your nearest Lucias to get some quality grub – now it’s as simple as downloading an app and clicking a button to have some of the best cuisines delivered directly to your door.
It’s human nature to seek out convenience; when it’s this easy, it’s no surprise that food delivery apps such as JustEat, Deliveroo and UberEats have become extremely popular. We’ve all been there, hungover on a Sunday, craving a juicy burger, some unnecessarily salty chips and maybe an Oreo shake too. In fact, our survey shows that over 36% of people order food twice every month, with another 36.62% ordering at least once per month – I wouldn’t count on that all being a result of too many pints though.
If convenience alone wasn’t enough to make people pick up their phone to place a delivery order rather than make a restaurant reservation, the pandemic was only going to further influence this decision. The widespread closure of restaurants, bars and pubs, coupled with the need to reduce person-to-person contact, meant that ordering food for home delivery was not only one of the few options available but also a preferred option, especially when it was safer to be a couch potato.
But what about life after the pandemic? Flaunt Digital ran a survey to find out the nations habits when it comes to dining out, ordering takeaway, loyalty programmes and more.
Although the pandemic has fueled the mass use of online food delivery services, it is by no means the be-all and end-all of the digital food industry. Tasty snack boxes, healthy meal kits and diet-friendly food packages have been a repeat order for many people over several years. Although it’s not quite the ready-prepared Crunchwrap Supreme or Double Whopper they could have had, it’s definitely more convenient than a big supermarket shop and cooking for the whole family from scratch.
It’s not just convenience that has made these so popular, but the assistance with meal planning and prepping that customers are drawn to. This is especially true when you take into account the number of different diets that are becoming more popular, such as veganism, which has now been adopted by roughly 79 million people worldwide, with over 26% of people we surveyed indicating they’re considerably reducing their meat/dairy/egg intake.
Other diets, which require people to eat specific foods and measured amounts, can be more difficult to follow. Traipsing around Aldi looking for the right ingredients for a range of recipes and then slaving away making each meal whilst juggling a busy working life can be a real drag – until a ready-made box with everything they need arrives on our doorstep to save the day. We have meal kit delivery services such as HelloFresh to thank, who have supplied this demand expertly and become one of the go-to providers of easy-to-cook meals for 38% of our surveyed demographic.
Food delivery services, meal kits and even weekly shops have now gone digital, adapting to the ever-growing digital landscape. The number of people switching to these online services is likely to continue growing too. To dig a little deeper into the consumer mindset, we’ve conducted a survey, asking the all-important questions about the digitisation of the food industry.
a bitesize history of the food & drink industry.
The past few years have taken a heavy toll on the food and beverage industry, from having to close their doors for long periods to dealing with seriously limited supplies of stock. However, being faced with challenges on all fronts has led to many food companies stepping up their digital transformation efforts in a big way.
The goal for these businesses wasn’t only to survive the challenges they were facing but to come out stronger and ready for whatever challenges may come next.
Not only has the food industry and delivery service changed, but so have customers’ behaviours, attitudes to food and access to technology; all of these have affected the messages brands have to deliver through their marketing. Food marketing is all about connecting with the consumer through tantalising content and mouth-watering imagery – that much has never changed – but the targets, methods and messages that marketers use are constantly changing.
Great marketing both reflects and revolutionises consumer behaviour, as brands try to catch their customers with new information they may not even realise they are looking to find. Brands that want to stay current today are presenting more information than ever through their marketing in order to stay relevant, as consumers thrive on transparency.
Even though food marketing has been around for over 100 years, it was only about 30 years ago that it began to take off and marketers were working to create products that targeted specific groups. Brands would find their target market, such as young adults, and work on messages that would engage only them. They didn’t care so much about where the message was shown (TV, radio or print) but they did work on in-store positioning to help push the impulse buyers.
As the internet continues to become more intertwined with consumers’ everyday lives, food marketing has seen a massive shift. With a wealth of information at our fingertips, it’s never been easier to find in-depth information on the products we consume. Not only are people interested in what they are eating but also the background of the company that made it, where the ingredients come from and the story of the food itself. All of this means food marketing needs to be more honest than ever.
This desire to understand more about what we consume can arguably trace its roots back to the protest culture of the 1960s. As awareness grew around an abundance of social issues, from the environment to foreign affairs and civil rights, people began to take an interest in the smaller things that were more important to them as an individual, including the food they were putting into their bodies. In the 1990s we saw a shift in the way people looked at food, as TV started showing increasing amounts of programmes focused on cooking, food manufacturing and what we eat, creating a huge change in the content food marketers needed to produce.
A few years later, social media came onto the scene and became central to the lives of consumers and brands who wanted to communicate with their customers directly. Social media gave brands the ability to make marketing more of a two-way conversation, as developing a relationship with a food brand allows customers to feel connected.
More than ever, food manufacturers are basing their marketing messages on the story behind their brands – telling a story around their proud history, devotion to quality ingredients or what they are doing for the environment. Marketers and manufacturers are working together to change the stories that products tell through their ingredients and nutrition labels.
Rising food prices as data hit a record high
Supermarket food prices have risen rapidly since Brexit, the beginning of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Food prices began rising as the pandemic upended the food supply chain and the higher prices helped fuel retail grocery sales, including a dramatic increase in online sales.
The CPI, which is the official mechanism used to measure inflation in the UK, showed the cost of food and drink had gone up 3.9% year-on-year and 4.4% against January 2020. Pasta on its own rose a staggering 26.3% in price.
The issues which have caused much of the price inflation we’ve seen – namely, labour shortages, supply chain disruption and higher production and transportation costs – look unlikely to be going away anytime soon.
Grocery sales surge, online and off
Online grocery sales skyrocketed in the spring of 2020 as consumers went online to buy essentials whilst staying at home – many even shopped online for the first time. While grocery retailers had more business than ever, this didn’t translate to larger profits. The pandemic brought an increase in expenses – additional cleaning, labour costs and a bigger logistics burden all offset the growth in their sales.
The COVID effect
The Covid pandemic had an abundance of effects on the food and beverage industry – closures lasted weeks on end, food prices were impacted and there were many complications around the food supply chain. When it comes to the rise in food prices, there are four main Covid-driven factors for it:
- A rapid shift to eating at home, which many people have still not moved away from.
- The loss of food service demand. People were ordered to stay at home, so restaurants, farmers and more lost key buyers.
- The increased production and processing costs. Investing in safety measures and facility upgrades was key to protecting workers and keeping products fresh.
- Increased operating costs for grocery stores. Supplying protective measures and plexiglass barriers as labour costs increased. The cost of acquiring goods also rose as rush orders became common and transportation costs increased.
When it comes to the food industry, they certainly experienced a massive move toward eCommerce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but many are still behind the curve when it comes to digital transformation. Keeping up with the current climate is challenging as data around what people are eating, whom they buy from and what social channels they use are evolving rapidly.
As the scale of the pandemic started to become clear, the food industry suffered huge disruptions, including online food orders increasing overnight, supply chains facing massive strain, a shift to remote working and more. Choosing to follow the status quo through this disruption has been detrimental to the success, or even the survival, of many food and drink businesses who persevered with a more traditional approach.
Pre-pandemic, the tech-savvy players utilised a range of digital channels, giving customers instant information about capacity, demand, and costs, which was key to surviving throughout these unprecedented times. The path to digital transformation within the food and drink industry is clear, as since the pandemic B2B buyers primarily purchasing through digital self-serve channels have increased by 28%.
Businesses that are able to deliver frictionless digital experience, and personalised offers with competitive and value-based market-relevant pricing will gain a competitive advantage. All the steps to building a user-friendly site are simple and straightforward to implement. From off-site channels such as socials and emails and guiding users to the right place to helping them find what they want online, having personalised features right up until they pay, these steps can help drive buyers
Digital transformation in the food industry takes a lot of forms, but there are common trends that have hugely exciting potential for the future
Sustainability – When it comes to buying food, consumers are now more interested than ever in knowing more about where it came from. This puts pressure on food companies to provide supply visibility and showcase more information about the ingredients in their products and how they are made through their marketing.
AI – Artificial intelligence technologies and real-time analytics can play important roles in helping the food and beverage industry to respond rapidly to trends in order to fuel business growth and avoid food waste.
Cloud – The food and beverage industry has recently accelerated its migration to the cloud in order to be more responsive to rapidly changing marketing conditions. This cloud presents a whole new way to work, new ways to deploy, tools and services that can help you automate and self-heal your infrastructure.
Omnichannel – The ability to serve customers directly through integrated online channels is more critical than ever, especially during the pandemic.
Food and drink businesses have to embrace a highly accelerated approach to eCommerce channels, as customers were already moving to buy online and changes in buyer behaviour as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have expedited this. Businesses need to move fluidly between online and offline marketing platforms to enable them to learn and adapt to buyer preferences and market shifts ahead of their competitors.
Despite the changes the food and beverage industry faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and any that arise in the years ahead, they must embrace the opportunity to move to digital selling and eCommerce platforms to be ready for the ‘new digital normal’.
the evolution of online food shopping.
Gone are the days of scribbling down a quick shopping list and sticking it to the side of your fridge – the digital world has seen to that. As technology continues to evolve quickly, more gadgets and gizmos are becoming available that make the more mundane errands easier, such as doing the weekly shop, so that we can spend less time parading the aisles and more time whipping up a tasty plate of bangers and mash. In the age of convenience (and as a result, generally low patience), it’s no surprise that people want quick and easier ways to shop.
The late 90s was the start of the revolution with online grocery baskets, which has been taken a step further in recent years using AI technologies that blur the line between an online and physical shopping experience. But will Amazon and meal-kit deliveries begin to shake up the online food shopping industry?
Trotting on down to your local supermarket is a thing of the past for many – a chore that has slowly become less and less frequent over the years. In 1996, Iceland and Tesco were the first to launch their online shopping system, and since this momentous day, the growth in online food shopping has only skyrocketed. Great news for anyone who didn’t enjoy the weekly food shop (pretty much all of us, let’s be honest), allowing them to do it from the comfort and convenience of their own home.
Making a profit, of course, is a huge factor with all online food shopping business. While traditionally, the consumers put most of the effort in with regards to making their own way to the supermarket, picking the items they want from the shelves and heading home, the cost of making the trip has never really been considered.
When it comes to grocery shopping online, the overall business model is a little different, as customers are often not willing to pay the cost for delivery meaning that profit margins are lowered, although it can actually work out cheaper than making the trip there and back. Despite this, the online grocery retailers continued to open throughout the 1990’s up to the most recent of 2014.
1996 – Iceland
1996 – Tesco
1998 – Asda
1998 – Sainsburys
1999 – M&S
2000 – Waitrose
2014 – Morrisons
Proportion of People Buying Food Online During Covid-19
The growth of online food shopping has been a steady incline since the 90’s, however, following the Covid19 pandemic this dramatically increased with internet food sales jumping up by 130%.
When Covid-19 first hit the headlines, hundreds of thousands of people headed straight to the supermarkets stockpiling on cupboard essentials, like pasta, rice and tinned goods, which also led to the great toilet roll shortage of 2020. The already popular service of online food shopping only grew, withGoogle searches for “food delivery” reaching an all time peak on the week commencing the 22nd March 2021. Similarly, searches for “food shopping online” jumped from 6.6k searches in January 2020 to 246k searches in March of the same year, showing intent to buy groceries online for delivery was growing exponentially.
However, this doesn’t tell the full story of people’s shopping habits during the pandemic. With more people stuck in their homes, learning to appreciate their surroundings and getting involved in a ridiculous amount of Zoom quizes, but also learning of others financial hardships, shopping locally became a whole lot more prevalent. People searching for the likes of “greengrocers near me” increased by 524% between January and March 2020.
How Has The Pandemic Impacted The Way We Shop Today?
The pandemic has impacted several areas of most people’s lifestyles, but there have been significant changes within the online shopping industry too.
- Online is still king – Despite the world returning to normal, search data suggests that online shopping is still more popular today than it was before the pandemic.
- Supermarket trips are fewer – While more people may be shopping in stores compared to during the height of the pandemic. People adapted to a new way of living with fewer trips to the supermarket preferred, meaning longer and better shopping lists stuck to the side of the fridge (or in the notes section of our phones).
- Shopping local – Helping out local businesses is often still on people’s minds, with more people looking for solutions on Google “near me”.
As online shopping continues to grow in popularity, the speed in which the process is improving and becoming more future-focused is vast. With new artificial intelligence options, not only does the process of doing your shopping become simpler it also becomes a whole lot faster overall. With the likes of personalised promotions, the predictive basket and personalised search results becoming more common on online food shopping services, the ease of shopping with online supermarkets is only going to increase.
Amazon is another platform which is beginning to overhaul the online food shopping business. With same day delivery available on a wide variety of groceries, convenience for consumers is a huge part of the business plan. To gain access to the Amazon Fresh same day delivery service, consumers must be signed to Amazon Prime. By doing this, Amazon are putting the pressure on their competition, potentially requiring other supermarket chains to offer similar delivery benefits in order to keep up with the big boys.
While the more traditional supermarkets are still at the forefront of online food shopping trends in the UK, meal-kit deliveries such as HelloFresh and Gousto are quickly becoming increasingly prevalent. With a full meal delivered to you in a box, including all the ingredients, spices and recipes needed, there’s less room for food waste and more space for learning new, healthy recipes.
A study shows that in 2022, while Tesco is the most popular online provider for groceries, Hello Fresh is ordered more often than Waitrose and Ocado. The future for meal-kit deliveries is promising, and with more people wanting convenience, will the service one day over take the online grocery shopping platform? Only time will tell.
We asked family, friends and members of the Flaunt Digital team their thoughts on meal kit deliveries. Simply Cook is on a mission to get Britain cooking fresh, healthy meals again as most of us only have 6 meals or less in our repertoire. This is what meal kit connoisseur, Dean Brook – our Senior Content Marketing Executive, Mackenzie’s dad – had to say:
Why did you decide to start using meal kits?
“We wanted to try to make more homemade meals. There are also a whole host of deals and special offers on most of the meal at home kits for first time use, it was a great way to try different things with different ingredients.”
When did you start using meal kit delivery services?
“March 2020, at the start of lockdown”
Do you use a meal kit delivery instead of doing a weekly food shop?
“We use them more to enhance our weekly shop. Services like Simply Cook give you a list of ingredients, making the shop much easier. We also wanted to see if we could save money and maybe eat healthier due to everything being provided and easy to follow recipe cards.
Have meal kit deliveries changed your mindset on the weekly food shop?
“I think Simply Cook changed our mindset for a while but we have reverted back to how we were, still undecided about what to eat with no forward planning. With Simply Cook it was great as you could foreplan but without the offers, it became very expensive. Also with everything accessible again there is no longer a struggle to get our usual shop like we were in lockdown.”
Let’s hear what our Paid Media Strategist, Joe, has to say,
Which meal kit subscriptions have you tried?
We’ve used both Hello Fresh & Gousto over the last couple of years! We started using them because the introductory offers are outstanding, 50% off your first box and 30% off the other 3 (so a full month’s worth of meals, full price is £34.99 so it actually works out pretty cost effective if you’re getting a good discount).
What do you think are the benefits of choosing a meal kit subscription?
The menu to choose recipes from is massive and it’s especially good for couples who have one meat eater and one veggie, it means we can pick a good variation most weeks of new recipes and ones we have had already and really like. It’s SO easy… all turns up in one box with individually weighed out ingredients so there’s literally no wastage at all. It is quite a good enabler for trying new meals or recipes we wouldn’t typically have – there’s meals we would make now that we wouldn’t have done if we hadn’t tried them first on Hello Fresh or Gousto.
Are there any downsides?
However, you do get only 4 meals per week (you can add more but it ends up being a lot more expensive) so you still have to go to the shop and buy ingredients for the other 3 meals you need. The recipe instructions are sometimes a little confusing in terms of timings, for example, it’ll tell you to start your rice off first but then the timings to cook other things like meat mean your rice is done WAAAY before anything else so has occasionally been a bit cold, we now tend to read ahead quite a bit to see if we can leave it and do that bit a little later on.
Which is your favourite meal kit subscription?
Both are slightly different but equally good. We feel like Gousto has a bigger menu and more choice, also the recipe cards that come with it are thick cards and have holes punched in them so you can keep them easier. Hello Fresh is just a piece of paper and quite often when they arrive they’re all battered and scrunched up. We’ve also had a few issues with ingredients being missed or arriving battered which is a bit annoying but if you get in touch with them they’re very quick to offer you a free box or some discount off your next one for the issues.
the evolution of takeaways & food delivery.
Nipping into your local chippy on the way home from work for a crispy haddock and chips is no more, now you can just do it all online. Sure, you can still swing by if you want to skip the delivery time but most people are opting for a longer stay on the sofa and using delivery apps such as JustEat and UberEats to have their favourite fishy dish-y dropped on their doorstep.
But why has this popular tradition become near-obsolete, you may ask?
Well, the blistering growth of the digital food landscape has a large part to play. Food delivery apps are not only super-convenient for a mid-Netflix-binge snack haul, but they also gave people a safe way of getting restaurant-quality food during the pandemic.
Although many takeaways were already evolving by offering their services online, it’s undeniable that the pandemic forced many businesses to evolve, not only far quicker, but in ways they probably hadn’t imagined, such as offering COVID-safe no-contact deliveries.
Starting off with the simple delivery of milk to apps that bring food to your doorstep and healthy meal prep deliveries, the food delivery industry has grown rapidly and is currently taking the world by storm. By 2023, Forbes has estimated that the industry will have annual sales of $365 billion worldwide – but how has the industry developed through the years?
1785: Milk Delivery
With use-by dates shorter than they are now, daily deliveries of milk were essential. People relied on milk delivery vans and it became the standard way of living.
1889: Restaurant Pizza Delivery
During their visit to Naples, King Humberto and Queen Margherita (aka the king and queen of Italy), requested to have pizza brought to them. The chefs topped the queen’s favourite pizza variety with mozzarella, tomato and basil. This was then named the Margherita pizza and became the first pizza to be delivered to someone’s door.
1950: Fast Food Delivery
TV had just become extremely popular, meaning people were more likely to stay home and enjoy meals watching their favourite shows. Restaurants saw a decline of footfall and responded by introducing collection and delivery options.
1954: Meals on Wheels
As the economy declined in the early 50s, hot meals had become scarce for the less fortunate. Doris Taylor, Member of the Order of the British Empire, aimed to help the disadvantaged and home-bound by providing hot meals to their doorsteps. 11 volunteers delivered meals to 8 recipients and, over the years, Meal on Wheels has grown to thousands of volunteers across the country.
1960: The Start of Food Trucks
The popularity of food trucks skyrocketed, as they allowed people to enjoy restaurant quality meals within an outdoor setting. They also became an excellent way for aspiring restaurant owners to get started with lower running costs.
2005: Launch of JustEat in the UK
Restaurants that previously could only offer dine-in experiences now had an outlet to offer delivery services in the form of a one-stop hub.
2007: At Home Meal Kits
As culture within the UK became more fast-paced, home cooking seemed more of a luxury. In 2007 the business model of home-delivered meals grew in popularity and companies such as Blue Apron and Marley Spoon allowed customers to choose a recipe, delivering pre-portioned ingredients directly to your door. This continues today as businesses such as Hello Fresh and Simply Cook are booming.
2013: Freshly Prepared Meal Delivery
Suitable for those with limited time and specific diets, services offering freshly-prepared healthy meals hit the mainstream.
2014: Launch of UberEats in the UK
Diversifying the range of food delivery apps available, Uber began taxiing more than just people.
2015: Launch of Deliveree
Not to be confused with Deliveroo, Deliveree put the focus on the cuisines of independent and local restaurants.
So, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s wind the clock back pre-2020 and take a look at the path the takeaways were already set on. Arguably, although JustEat was introduced to the UK in 2005, it wasn’t until around 2014 when Deliveroo and UberEats launched that ordering food online really became ‘a thing’. Sure, you could whip the Chinese menu out from the drawer and dial-in an order for a cash-only delivery, but apps were nowhere in sight.
Of course, this correlates with the growth of technology too. For example, Apple has consistently released smartphones, each one more advanced than the last, since around 2008. Not everyone converted to an Apple device straight away though, but look forward four years and you’ve got 125 million people using the iPhone 5S.
This meant that more people than ever had access to technology that would allow them to download apps and order food without speaking to a single person either over the phone or in person. To tap into an unprecedented amount of people with smartphones looking for a quicker and easier way to order pizza, takeaways started to go digital.
In 2017, there were only 5,000 restaurants on Deliveroo, and by 2021 there were… drumroll please… 160,000 – a 3,100% increase. And if we take a closer look at the stats, between 2020 and 2021, there was a 14% increase in restaurants on the platform – growth which was likely fueled even more by the restrictions enforced by the pandemic.
Fun Fact: We can actually trace meal deliveries right back to the Ancient Romes. Romans loved convenient meals or, as they called their fast-food restaurants, Thermoplium. Serving meals in large clay pots in cities such as Pompeii, Thermopliums were a place to get hot meals on the go, especially for those with limited access to hot foods.
This has set the food delivery market, and takeaways as a result, on an unprecedented trajectory of growth – just look at this graph…
COVID is not the sole reason you can enjoy food from some of the most popular restaurants such as Five Guys and Taco Bell delivered, but it could be the reason that you’re seeing more local takeaways on delivery apps and not just the big guns.
For those who have been able to adapt and provide food delivery as a service, Deliveroo, JustEat and more have offered a new lease of life to otherwise potentially doomed scran-houses. Unfortunately, around 10,000 licensed premises were forced to shut in 2020, due to the pandemic, which gave an ultimatum to many smaller establishments that couldn’t survive even a small drop in revenue: adapt or close.
In an effort to adapt, many takeaways became available on popular food apps, despite restaurants being required to pay a percentage fee to the app provider. Reports suggest this could even be as large as 20-25% per order – a huge figure when you consider the cost of rent, equipment and ingredients for smaller businesses.
This has its upsides and downsides. On the one hand, businesses are able to tap into a much larger market of customers and likely receive a much higher number of orders than they could have ever expected from footfall. However, large chunks of the money they’re receiving from these orders aren’t going into their pockets.
So, where does that leave takeaways now?
The number of takeaways available on delivery apps is bigger than ever before, with a more extensive selection that pre-2014’ers could have ever dreamed of. This has left us with a re-defined term of what a ‘takeaway’ is, with fancy restaurants, delivery-only food places and meal-prep businesses, such as Hello Fresh, now also technically under that umbrella. This has led to a takeaway market that is larger than it has ever been – roughly £18.9 billion in 2021 – with all signs pointing to further growth.
As for what’s next, we’re likely to see not only more food delivery apps and services from America, such as DoorDash, coming to the UK but also more independent apps for your local curry house and chip shop becoming available too.
As the market has become extremely saturation, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to invest in a marketing strategy that get’s people bellies rumbling. But how can they ever stand out from the crowd? It’s all about understanding the key needs of the customer and what kind of advertisement they respond too. For example, one of the popular types of content on platforms such as TikTok has been offering behind the scenes look at the kitchens in huge chain restaurants. That means that those photoshopped and highly edited pictures of cheeseburgers you see on the menu of some fast food restaurants is no longer the way to do things.
You want out take? Transparency, better yet, honesty. Just be upfront with your customers. Show them exactly what they’re getting with no smoke and mirrors and make that your brand image.
the digital evolution of eating out.
It’s no secret that eating out and even dining at home is becoming more digital. We’re not talking about a holographic meal Spongebob-style, but more about how you’d get your paws on a real meal purely through digital means. From scanning QR codes for menus and shouting through the intercom for a BigMac meal at the McDonald’s drive-thru, to making fancy restaurant reservations at a click of a button, almost every interaction when eating out is becoming digital.
In this section of your new favourite food and drink report, we’re exploring how eating out has become a much more interactive experience over the years. With contactless ordering and payment becoming a necessity thanks to a certain pandemic which shall not be named, should restaurants be jumping on the digital bandwagon?
QR Code Menus Are The New Norm
Restaurant menus have typically always been printed out on paper or smudged onto chalkboards, but now, scanning a QR code at the table and scrolling through the menu on our phones is the new norm. It was a quick solution within the food and drink industry when we knew little about how Coronvirus actually spreads, but this method has proved to be effective and although it can be annoying having to re-enter your card details every time you get to the checkout, it’s a great way of going paperless.
In some places, you may be handed a menu that can be easily cleaned or even thrown away. However, from big chains like Nandos and Wetherspoons to small independents, they are all jumping on the QR bandwagon – cutting down on wasted paper and helping minimise the spread of germs – bravo.
Waiting At Drive-Thrus
In 2020, 35% of all restaurant orders were made through a two-way speaker in a drive-thru lane, according to the market research firm NPD Group. However, even with restaurants opening their dining rooms, the car traffic at fast food drive-thrus doesn’t seem to be dying down.
It looks like these dining lanes will continue to evolve with more restaurants joining the trends, with brands such as Starbucks, even building establishments with no eat-in dining rooms and Mcdonald’s testing software that scans your licence plate and essentially acts as a digital butler, suggesting dishes based on your past orders.
Now we no longer have to wait on the phone for what feels like hours or have to go to a reception desk to make a booking, with just a click of a button, a table can be reserved at prime times in the hottest spots. Restaurants also benefit from not having to juggle tables and recording bookings as the system even sorts the table plans for you – one less job for restaurant owners.
Online reservation servers, like OpenTable and Togo, also adapted their systems and policies to help customers and restaurants. First with navigating the world of takeaways and then helping restaurants when they were able to reopen after the recent pandemic. Many companies waived the subscription fee that they charge restaurants, with OpenTable starting their charges back up in March 2021 – helping restaurants get back up onto their feet after the pandemic.
Meals Of The Month
Subscription plans, wine clubs, meal boxes and more have become popular strategies for restaurants eager for new income sources. Many restaurants deliver subscription packages of food, drinks, merchandise and other items regularly. These plans are a great way of adding revenue and building up long-lasting customer relationships and loyalty.
From weekly freshly prepared meals to gin boxes, you no longer have to spend time scouring the shelves of the supermarkets – you can have the restaurant dining experience at home. There are some cracking eateries out there offering regular deliveries of our nation’s most adored libations.
For example, Craft Gin Club pulls out all the stops, giving you everything you need for restaurant-quality gin and tonics without having to leave the comfort of your own home – showing how dining out has truly changed over the last couple of years as more are choosing to keep their Saturday night fever to a minimum and swap clubs for a chilled night in.
Building Guest Relationships
Many technology advances that have been implemented in restaurants have, of course, affected the guest experience. Initially, they were implemented to provide safer, contactless environments but they also offer more personalised interactions for customers and empower restaurants with data-driven insights. These technological advances include digital loyalty/reward programs and self-serve kiosks, and prepaid revenue options.
When someone refers to a loyalty scheme, the thought that first springs to mind usually is points on an in-store account (à la Tesco Clubcard) or stamps on a coffee card (à la literally every coffee shop you’ve ever been to). However, these days loyalty programs are using smartphone-enabled methods to allow customers to interact with their restaurants, coffee shops and more on the go. Customers choose to be loyal because of the subconscious connection to the brand, the rewards gained and the free items received in return.
Over the last few years, people have become more comfortable with technology within the restaurant industry and establishments are taking advantage of this by offering digital solutions to improve the overall customer experience. With the help of self-ordering kiosks, customers can place their own orders and even make payments without having to stand in long queues during peak hours. These also offer useful insights into customer preferences which help restaurants to suggest menu items that match their interests.
Ben Travis, Marketing Manager at Airship and Toggle shared with us why digital technology is improving the dining experience.
‘Prepaid revenue drivers, such as gift cards, became an essential tool for hospitality operators too. Not only did gift cards act as a pay-it-forward method, but they also complied with the cashless operations that became prevalent during covid. Gift Cards additionally worked as a pay-it-forward scheme, allowing the public to ‘love their local’ and helping them through the financial difficulty of covid.
Gifting operations have stuck around. They have become both parts of the consumer’s lifestyle and the marketer’s toolkit. Now, people utilise gifting platforms such as Toggle, which allows restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels, and more to create physical, and digital gift cards, and sell retail and merch, whilst also helping businesses make their venues more immersive by selling ‘experiences’. Before covid in 2019, companies using Toggle made a total of £2,137,000.
In 2022, Hospitality operators using Toggle to sell gifting, are projected to make sales of over £24 million. Evidently, the consumer’s mindset around gifting has shifted into a more consistent spending habit.’
The Rise Of Ghost Kitchens
Ghost kitchens aren’t as spooky as they sound, they’re just built to focus on food deliveries and the quality of the meals they are providing, over creating a great ambience These restaurants don’t have a physical dining facility, as they only prepare orders placed online via apps and websites.
The restaurant industry is rapidly transforming and ghost kitchens are growing around the world. An online review site, Yelp, found that more than 51% of restaurants have adopted this business model to overcome the loss during the Coronavirus impact.
The Final Charge
E-receipts are the latest method of how you receive proof of purchase when at a shop or restaurant. The rise of e-receipts is prevalent across high street retailers like New Look and Gap, as well as eateries such as Nandos – who doesn’t want an email reminder of how much they spent on peri-peri chicken? In these places, you have the option to provide an email address to receive your receipt via email, and where they also send you personalised and targeted campaigns within similar products you’ve purchased.
There are many benefits of e-receipts including helping the environment due to them being paperless and not being able to misplace them or accidentally putting them in the wash and getting all the little paper bits stuck in your jeans pockets. They also allow stores to gather shopping history, both online and offline.
The single customer view that is a priority is being taken even further and allowing the customer analytics teams to collect additional customer information to analyse. It is becoming a lot easier to analyse customer behaviour and trends through the multi-channels ensuring more personalised campaigns.
Are hospitality brands 10 years behind ecommerce brands? James Mobbs, Sales & Marketing Director at hospitality group East Coast Concepts seems to think so. The biggest challenge facing hospitality marketing leaders like James is this: hospitality brands may never be able to accurately track spend to bums on seats in their venues. The opposite is true with digital industries like ecommerce where the customer journey is wholly online, allowing brands to accurately track an individual’s spend with their baskets. Nevertheless, there are many ways food and drink companies can begin to bridge the gap between their online visitors and their offline customers.
Consumers react to brands in several ways, meaning marketing can no longer be divided into ‘offline’ and ‘online’ and striking a balance between the two is integral to attracting new customers and achieving business goals. Day-to-day life for hospitality may seem a world away from the digital world, but in reality, they are connected in more ways than you may think.
Digital innovations have worked towards transforming both online and offline expectations of guests and this is due to a couple of things:
- Increased access to customer data driving innovations in the hospitality sector
- Leveraging data can help in customising services as per customer expectations
- A combination of tech innovations and employee proficiency can enhance guest experiences
- Digital tech to enable both high-touch and low-touch customer services in the sector
Digital evolution has become the name of the game, with digital advancements affecting every aspect of our lives. In terms of business within this digital era, the modern opportunities have led to considerable changes in consumer demand, allowing businesses to connect with customers in a more effective and genuine manner. Customers are now expecting even more from brands which are hugely noticeable within the food and drink hospitality industry.
How is digitalization changing the online and offline expectations of guests? What can the hospitality industry do in response to these changes?
Bringing personalised engagement in online interactions
Restaurants need to ensure they are doing everything to prevent customer reactions from becoming impersonal and detached. When it comes to streamlining your processes with digital means it shouldn’t amount to sacrificing genuine customer care. Guests may be using mobile phones to book tables, yet they still require personalised interaction and engagement.
Customers still seek the gratification of their demands and expect to have a memorable experience when coming in to dine. Therefore there is no reason to think online interactions can’t create a humanised experience from the minute they are in contact with your business. You can, in fact, use digital platforms to ensure better responsiveness for your business.
It is all about combining technology with great staff and hospitality to deliver exceptional and responsive guest service. Whenever a food and drink brand considers introducing new tech to its processes it should ask the following questions. Will the technology help employees curate a better guest experience? Does it add to your existing capabilities of connecting to your guests in a personal way?
The responsibility of effectively handling data
The effective management of data within the food and drink industry is a major responsibility. Many customers don’t mind sharing their personal information in exchange for personalised offers and discounts. The increase in digital access for the guest and the business has allowed for a stronger connection between the two.
With an increase in access to consumer data, it means there are more touch-points for the hospitality industry, giving them the opportunity to change their operational models, create better apps and train their staff to deliver an exceptional personalised experience to each and every guest. Besides the opportunities it brings for food and drink businesses, their responsibilities now extend to ensuring the data is protected and kept safe.
Delivering a personalised experience both on and offline through greater access to guest data is a crucial aspect of the food and drink industry in streamlining the customer’s journey and creating an unforgettable experience.
Making the most of hybrid service demands
Every guest will come with their own set of expectations and this allows food and drink companies to modify their guest service process so they can accommodate the respective needs and interaction preferences of each guest. So, for the guests who are more into self-service experiences, there has to be a greater emphasis on delivering fast and mobile services and for those looking for a high-touch experience, they will be looking for instant attention from staff.
This allows staff to tailor services to what guests are looking for and shows that the hospitality sector understands the value of manpower as its most important resource, and the hybrid service structure enables the best use of that resource.
It is a very exciting era for the food and beverage industry and having more attention to bridging the gap between online and offline marketing is key to the success of hospitality businesses. Ensuring that blurring the line doesn’t affect customer service and helps to further improve the way we eat out.
environmental changes in the food & drink industry.
The food and drink industry has come a very long way since the first ever McDonalds premiered in the 1950’s as a prodigy of its time. From the rise of restaurant culture to the ease of ordering from the comfort of your home, this booming industry has been shaped significantly by the digital age. We’re delving into how the evolution of the digital world is helping shape the food and drink industry to adopt a more environmentally friendly culture.
UberEats & Deliveroo
Without a doubt, the food industry is benefiting from the digital shift we have seen over the past few years. With an estimated 81 million users on UberEats alone, it’s fair to say that the food industry is more than utilising the digital world.
Food app giants UberEats and Deliveroo have been keen to play their part in making the ever evolving food and drink industry more environmentally friendly. Most notably, they encourage employees to ditch the fume churning cars and transport customers’ orders by bicycle – in most UK cities it’s easy to feel you’re the minority if you’re not cycling around with the distinguishable branded food carriers strapped to your back.
They have also recently brought out the option to share your ‘driver’ with a neighbour ordering from a nearby restaurant. This comes at a discounted delivery price and is UberEats and Deliveroo’s way of reducing carbon emissions by limiting the amount of trips their drivers make. UberEats also famously offers a continual 50% discount for grocery shops as they attempt to cut down on excess buying which is easily done when in person shopping.
Grocery Stores Say Less Plastic
From 10p charges on plastic bags to refill stations, grocery stores across the country have been taking a stance on plastic waste. Since the Government brought in a small tax on plastic bags, we’ve seen the infamous Tesco carrier bag become an icon of noughties nostalgia. In more recent years, grocery stores have even brought in refill stations where you can bring in empty containers and refill them from the store with absolutely no waste involved. The consumer group Which? found that items in the no waste scheme were on average about 10-15% cheaper when loose. Happy bank account, happy planet!
We have also seen an increased market for ‘boxed’ groceries in an aim to reduce plastic waste. Local farms offer bundles of fresh fruit and vegetables, packaged loose in cardboard, recyclable boxes with absolutely no plastic in sight.
Hello Pandemic, Goodbye Food Waste
It’s hard to mention the past few years without touching on the Covid19 pandemic. With all hospitality venues being closed indefinitely and supermarket opening hours being limited, the food and drink industry undoubtedly experienced the effects of the pandemic first hand.
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic prompted a shift in people’s cooking habits. A report by sustainability expert WRAP revealed some interesting changes in people’s eating and shopping habits during the pandemic.
According to the report, 41% of people took to pre-planned food shopping which is most definitely a result of the shopping restrictions that were implemented throughout the pandemic. Ordering your grocery shop online is a great way to reduce your food waste. Physically doing your grocery shop in store can encourage over buying as you’re likely to be enticed by the consumer marketing we have all fallen victim to probably a few too many times. There’s something about those sweet treats next to the check outs that we just can’t say no to.
With the majority of the nation having a mobile phone with them at all times of the day, it’s easier than ever to order your grocery shop with the click of a few buttons. Supermarkets have also been playing their part to become more eco friendly by bringing in an option for no bag deliveries.
The report also found that during the pandemic, 40% of people cooked more creatively, with 30% using up more leftovers. As the threat of food shortage was very real at the time, people were understandably keen to use up all of the food products available in their homes and took to creative cooking. This is living proof that when incentivised, the nation can reduce their food waste.
Another great advantage of the digital age is having an abundance of recipes readily available at the palm of your hand. Having unlimited recipes readily available on Google is a great opportunity to reduce food waste. Simply search what you can cook up with your fridge leftovers and say hello to more creative cooking.
We’ve also seen a big effort being made to stop discrimination against wonky and arguably uglier fruit and veg. The brand Oddbox has been in the spotlight in recent years with their innovative business and marketing plan. Not only do they rescue the fresh food that would usually be wasted, they even send your items in recyclable boxes. A business grown from a passion for reducing food waste and a few ugly groceries. Morrison’s Wonky Fruit and Veg Campaign is another great example of a campaign aimed at reducing food waste. No longer will we exclude the eye sore carrots!
Food Saving Apps Are ‘Too Good To Go’
Did you know that globally almost 40% of all food goes to waste? Yup – that’s almost half of all food produced. If you love food as much as we do here at Flaunt Digital, you’ll understand how heartbreaking that stat is.
A study in 2020 by Project Drawdown revealed that reducing food waste is the most effective thing we can do to curb climate change. Apps like Too Good To Go are saving the environment one meal at a time. Founded in 2015, what started as a relatively small idea has evolved into a renowned and globally recognized food saving app. Food waste is estimated to be responsible for around 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions so making sure you’re playing your part in reducing the food you waste really can make the difference. If you needed another reason to enjoy a delicious, discounted meal, well there you have it – save food and save the planet!
“Every day, delicious, fresh food goes to waste at cafes, restaurants, hotels, shops and manufacturers – just because it hasn’t sold in time. The Too Good To Go app lets you buy and collect this food – at a great price – so it gets eaten instead of wasted.” – Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go have branded themselves the founders of ‘the food waste movement’ and have so far managed to save over 11 million magic bags – containing 1kg of food each. Through brilliant marketing, strong ethos, and just an overall cracking idea, the app has attracted over 19,416 businesses to participate and have built an impressive customer base of over 19 million people over the last 8 years.
Striving to make the world think differently about food waste, Too Good To Go really is the flagship of food saving apps and we can only hope that more businesses will follow suit in the years to come. We think this app is sticking around for the long term – it’s simply too good to go anywhere soon.
We can’t wait to see where the continuing digital evolution will take the food and drink industry and what this will mean for sustainability in the future.
the impact of social media on the food & drink industry.
why every food & drink brand should have a website.
In today’s world, an online presence is everything. A website is a quick and easy way to provide valuable exposure for a brand, while also assuring customers of a company’s quality and credibility, through a pretty about us page. You should be able to find everything relating to a company or service on their website. Whether it be the menu, contact options or testimonials, everything a prospective consumer needs to know about a food and drink service is available at a glance on a website.
Far and away the most important feature of a food and drink website is its image usage – nothing gets the mouth watering quite like a snap of a juicy burger or a creamy tagliatelle. As the old adage says, a picture is worth a thousand words.
According to Twitter, tweets with an image receive an average 35% boost in retweets compared to their imageless counterparts. The same applies to a website, particularly for a website in the food and drink industry. Consumers are viewing the website with one goal in mind: to eat. Showcasing delicious looking food and drink will reign in customers and increase the chance of an order.
A website should have the perfect mix of usability and complexity. There should be enough content to keep the user informed, while also balancing this with white space and a clean design. If content is displayed in confusing or over-the-top ways, users may become dissatisfied with the service as a whole, before they even get to the grub! Keep it simple, clean and well informed to keep customers coming back.
For restaurants in particular, their websites should have easy-to-use booking functionality. Users need to be able to quickly and easily book a reservation through the website. If core functionality like this doesn’t exist or work properly, users will likely become impatient with the service and look elsewhere – we all know how quickly patience flies out the window when we’re ‘hangry’. Booking should be quick, simple and hassle-free.
Delivery functionality is essential for capturing an ever-growing market. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery from restaurants, cafes and takeaways has risen dramatically and shows no signs of declining. Providing quick and simple delivery options helps to keep the website relevant and boost sales.
Accessibility is a massive consideration when developing a website, as users need to be able to comfortably and easily access information. Sometimes, websites don’t work for everyone and people may prefer a human touch. It’s important that a website provides accessibility options for all types of users and makes sure that it’s usable by everyone, particularly when it comes to having clearly defined contact information.
Gusto Italian blends ambience, beautiful imagery and vibrant content to provide a restaurant website experience like no other. With a straightforward booking system and regular updates via the blog and mailing list, it’s easy to keep coming back to this website for more.
Ego Mediterranean Pub & Restaurants brings a classic dining experience into a modern frame. All the information a consumer could need is no more than 3 clicks away, with stylish animations and bright, vibrant imagery to sweeten the experience.
Deliveroo is a service that remains unparalleled in terms of convenience. Featuring thousands of restaurants and eateries at a click, it’s difficult to ignore the significance of this website giant. Housing some of the biggest restaurant names, such as KFC, Nando’s and Five Guys, Deliveroo is a heavy hitter in both the corporate and local business sectors. Not to mention the handy rider tracking map which allows you to get a headstart in your sprint to the door.
McDonalds translates fast service into a fast website. The website is clean, simple to use and features dedicated pages for each food item. Anything and everything a consumer needs to know about a menu item is easy to find, with nutritional and location-based information available at a glance. We’re lovin’ it (you know we had to).
The beautiful thing about food and drink is that it sells itself. People know what they like, what they don’t like, and what they want to try. The challenge when designing a food and drink website is showcasing everything that a company has to offer without the customer stepping foot in the door. The website needs to reflect the service being offered – the quality, service and atmosphere of the eatery. It can be a real challenge to bridge the gap between the restaurant and the prospective customer.
Successful food and drink websites need to be bold and stay true to the brand. The cuisine needs to be the star of the show, with the design of the website reflecting the atmosphere of the environment. The best food websites make you hungry when you look at them – which is the only downside when developing them!
The Flaunt Way: Ego Restaurants – Design & Development Case Study
For Ego restaurants, we carried out a full website refresh including an all-new home page, along with numerous technical SEO improvements, which propelled Ego forward by increasing conversion rate and improving SERP visibility.
Impressing with these initial pieces of work, Flaunt undertook more and more technical improvement tasks, such as;
- Enabling the user to remain within their chosen venue through navigation. This stops users to have to re-select their venue of interest when browsing across menus, info and ultimately bookings, removing conversion friction.
- Allowing more venue-specific content to be published. This allows a bigger footprint in the SERP, specifically around venues, to capture longer tail searches such as “ego booking ackworth” or similar, and direct the user to a totally relevant landing page, reducing friction to making bookings.
“It was such a pleasure to work with the Flaunt team on this development project. Their industry knowledge meant they aligned perfectly with our team and understood the business objectives. We were regularly updated with the progress of the project, the timeline delivery was spot on every step of the way and any requests were actioned immediately, a genuine pleasure to work, if you’re considering working with Flaunt, just do it, you won’t regret it.” – Jennifer Stuart – Head of Marketing
To learn more about our work with Ego restaurants, visit the case study on our website.
digital pr in the food & drink industry.
In a rapidly evolving digital world, brands are relying more and more on impressive digital PR campaigns to showcase their business to the world. With a vast and highly competitive industry like the food and drink industry, it’s even more essential to make sure you are promoting your brand through strategic digital marketing.
What Is Digital Pr And What Does It Mean For The Food And Drink Industry?
Let’s start with the basics – what is digital PR? Simply put, digital PR is a marketing strategy used by brands to increase their online presence. Much like traditional PR, brands use this marketing strategy to secure press coverage to gain exposure and increase awareness for the brand. However, with 73%* of us admitting to using the internet to get our news and updates compared to TV and print publications, digital PR has the ability to reach a much broader audience compared to traditional PR whose focus is outside of the digital space.
The food and drink industry that we all know and love so much is so heavily saturated that it can be easy for new and upcoming brands to get lost amongst the likes of fast food giants McDonalds or KFC. This is why the food and drink industry needs digital PR to be an essential part of their marketing plan if they want to increase brand awareness.
In a highly competitive digital space, it can be survival of the fittest for brands trying to land links and PR coverage. We’ve compiled our foolproof top 5 tips for outreaching food and drink campaigns to press to secure links and increase that all important online presence.
1. Timing is everything
When outreaching to journalists, it’s easy for your email to slip through the cracks of an overflowing inbox. Not only do you need to plan what time of the day is best to send your press release out, but looking through the calendar to check which important dates are coming up is an essential part of planning too. Are there any awareness days coming up that you can take advantage of? Are there any big news stories happening that will have future effects on the food and drink industry that you could tailor your press release to? Be strategic with your timings, it can mean the difference between coverage or no coverage.
2. What’s the relevance?
Similar to the above point, make sure your press release is relevant to the publication you’re sending it to. Keeping your press release concise and avoiding information scattering is key to getting your press release recognised. Tweak your press release for different publications and journalists, it can be a good idea to have a few up your sleeve before you begin your outreach activity. Think about why the journalist would want to use your story. Is it relevant to their publication? Is it relevant to what’s happening in the news currently? Let them know why they should be telling their readers about your topic.
3. Flaunt your personality
It’s not just living mammals that have personalities to flaunt, your brand does too. Showcasing your brand’s personality can elevate the appeal factor and encourage journalists to want to be involved with your brand. This is a particularly important tip for the food and drink industry as there are so many competitors out there with different versions of the same food. It’s key that you develop a strong sense of brand within this industry. It’s also important to be consistent throughout your communications to further showcase your brand’s personality – if you have a fun and chatty tone, keep it consistent throughout all means of communication. That includes press releases, emails, social media and graphics.
4. Be different
Impressing journalists with wow factor campaigns is key to success. Have a look at what your competitors are doing and, more importantly, what they’re not doing. Get super creative with your campaign. Include mouthwateringly good photography of your products with niche twists to make them stand out.
5. Grab attention
You have just a few seconds to grab a journalist’s attention. Create a subject line that they won’t be able to ignore. Be personal, use their name and tailor your email to their publication. Why is your brand different to all the other food and drinks brands out there and why should their publication be talking about it?
The last year brought us so many memorable PR campaigns during a time when comfort eating had never been so relatable! We’ve handpicked a couple of our favourite stand out foodie campaigns from the last year. Take a look at our picks and let us know what you think!
Weetabix – Weetabix ‘n’ Beans
It’s hard to mention the best foodie PR campaigns from the last year without mentioning the memorable beans on ‘bix for breakfast! Weetabix launched this campaign with a simple, yet very effective tweet that sparked a light hearted argument we didn’t know we needed. This campaign went viral instantaneously, generating 131.3K likes and 68.8K quote tweets. Not only did this campaign hijack our entire Twitter feed, but it also gained television coverage too. From Piers Morgan trying the delicacy on Good Morning Britain, to BBC News broadcasting the dish being debated in the House of Commons, we couldn’t escape this questionable culinary concoction! This genius campaign from Weetabix is a prime example of being super creative and concocting a very different campaign that we won’t be forgetting any time soon – bravo Weetabix!
Aldi – #FreeCuthbert
Ah Cuthbert, our favourite caterpillar culprit we love so much! Aldi launched this campaign following legal action from M&S who alleged Aldi’s Cuthbert cake bore an uncanny resemblance to M&S’s famous Colin the Caterpillar cake. We love to see some light hearted competitor rivalry and when this campaign took over our social media, we all couldn’t help but get involved.
The campaign kicked off with a simple tweet from Aldi referencing M&S’s tagline and quickly enticed an array of brands to join the conversation. A string of humorous tweets were posted by Aldi throughout this campaign which added to the light-hearted debate taking Twitter by storm and even gained coverage for the caterpillar court case on BBC News. This campaign is crisis management at its finest, with Aldi spinning what could have been a big PR issue into a light-hearted, award-winning campaign.
Nando’s – Heatwave PERI-Ometer
Nando’s were quick off the mark with their reactive PERi-Ometer marketing campaign during the recent heatwave. Record-breaking temperatures put the heatwave at the forefront of the news agenda and the reactive campaign ensured Nando’s were part of the conversation.
Reimagining their iconic ‘PERI-Ometer’, a graphic usually displayed on their menu for customers to decide how spicy they’d like their order, Nando’s put the 19th July at the very top of the ‘heat’ scale, using their instantly recognisable imagery to stand out on the hottest day on record. Nando’s utilised the very British weather conversation both online and offline with a series of prominent full-page visual print adverts alongside online ads to make sure their tongue-in-cheek campaign was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It would be interesting to know whether the chain saw an increase in customers, perhaps eager to make use of the aircon while they got their spicy fix!
For Ideal Heating, we created a campaign to “fuel a nation of winter workers” by providing free warm drinks and celebrating winter heroes during lockdown.
Central to the campaign was a social media competition asking followers to nominate a friend, family member or colleague who deserved a surprise for their hard work over the winter months. We also collaborated with influencers to amplify the campaign and competition, gifting them a winter warmer kit which included a branded Ideal Heating travel mug to promote the company’s green energy credentials, Ideal Blend coffee and a percolator.
We gained coverage across each of these verticals and positive feedback from the influencers who took part in the campaign.
To learn more about our work with Ideal Heating, visit the case study on our website.
five essential tech seo tips for food & drink websites.
If you’re in the business of serving up delicious food and drink, you’ll naturally want your website to provide a feast for the senses. It’s not just hungry humans you need to appeal to though – search engines have their own particular tastes, which can have a big impact on how successful you are in the search results.
Technical SEO may sound tricky, but it’s much easier to understand when you break it down into bite-size chunks. It involves optimising your website to make it accessible and understandable to search engines, helping them understand the terms (or keywords) you want to rank for.
Technical SEO Tips for the Food & Drink Industry
Want your website to be a tasty treat in the eyes of Google and other search engines? We’ve cooked up our top five technical SEO tips to ensure it cuts the mustard.
1. Don’t Settle for Slow Service
We’ve all been there… waiting what seems like forever for our food or drink to arrive. Generally speaking, if service at a restaurant is slow we’re less likely to make a return visit – the exact same is true if a website leaves us glancing at our watches as it struggles to load.
There are plenty of ways to improve site speed, from checking image sizes aren’t pointlessly huge to making sure all plug-ins that are loaded in are definitely being used. Site speed is a ranking factor for Google too – if you and a competitor have sites that are technically similar in every way, slower loading times mean your chances of success could be cooked.
TOP SEO TIP: You can get a great idea of how fast your site is using tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
2. Cook Up Some Useful Heading Tags
Just like a new product or menu needs a strong identity to set it apart and spark people’s interest, it should also be crystal clear what your site is all about. Using header tags properly will help search engines and visitors understand exactly what it is they’re looking at.
Header tags are applied to headings and subheadings and are named in order of their importance as a ranking factor: we can use H1s, H2s, H3s and so on. For example, a H1 tag effectively acts as a big flashing sign to Google about what a website page is about; the rest should be used as subheadings, deployed in order of their importance.
TOP SEO TIP: Each site on your page should only have one H1 tag – any more than that is a recipe for confusion.
3. Structure Your Data with Schema Markup
We’re back at that imaginary restaurant… a staff member hands you a menu, but the starters are mixed with the mains and the desserts are listed with the cocktails. Pointlessly confusing, right? Your website can look exactly the same to Google.
Every site is built differently, so it makes sense to take advantage of any opportunity to help search engines understand what each page is about. Adding Schema markup to your page is a way of highlighting key information to Google and adding some sparkle to your pages in the search results, such as showcasing additional details about products.
TOP SEO TIP: The ‘Schema Builder & Tester for Structured Data’ extension for Google Chrome helps you spot Schema errors on your site quickly and easily.
4. Try to Make Your Cookies Palatable
Everyone loves cookies right? The chewy, chocolate chip-filled type – yes. When it’s HTTP cookies on the menu, there’s often a more mixed reaction. One thing we can all agree on is having to click through a banner on every site we visit is getting really old.
In the UK, there’s been a lot of discussion about how the law will treat cookies going forward; for now we’re stuck with them though. The ICO says that consent for using cookies “must be given by a clear positive action” and not doing so may have a negative impact on how users view your site from a trust perspective.
TOP SEO TIP: Google has announced that it could be changing its policy on third-party cookies sooner rather than later – one to keep an eye out for.
5. Optimise Your Copy with Goose
When it comes to conquering Google’s rankings, there’s only one bird to turn to. Suitable for all palates and completely vegan friendly, Flaunt Digital’s handy Goose tool helps you understand how Google interprets key content on your site’s pages.
Goose provides all the information you need to refine your on-page copy, meaning search engines will have a much better idea what your site’s pages are actually about. Powered by clever NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology, it’s a true recipe for success.
TOP SEO TIP: When writing SEO-focused copy for your site, always remember it needs to appeal to users as well as Google – and neither react well to a keyword-stuffed word salad.
Enjoy a Refreshingly Good Service
When you’re busy staying on top of the day-to-day of creating tasty treats and delicious drinks, finding time to navigate the nuts and bolts of your website can be tricky. To keep your business’s digital offerings as fresh as your menu, having SEO experts on hand can help. Whether you want to work with our specialists ahead of the next big digital upheaval or want our team of experts to take your SEO strategy to the next level, we’re always on hand to help. Drop us a line or head to the Flaunt Digital blog for more digital marketing advice.
get on a roll to stop the scroll with paid media.
Food and drink is all about the visuals, meaning that the best opportunity is to leverage platforms where you can showcase the aesthetic of your brand and your products to pique the interest of your target audience.
Pick Your Platform Wisely
A simple scroll across your social app of choice will highlight how popular food influencers have become – you can’t swipe through your Instagram reels or TikTok without seeing someone knocking a meal together! So, when choosing the best way to advertise, it’s important to choose platforms and placements that best allow your brand or products to be seen.
Get Creative With Your Ads
Within such a visually-led industry, certainly if you’re a young brand looking to grow brand awareness, getting strong visual creative out there will help to drive vast reach volumes and put your name out there. Making sure that you’re engaging enough with your creative is crucial here. We’ve seen from the sheer volumes of followers some of the biggest foodie influencers boast that there’s a huge demand for food and drink content out there, but to make your mark on a crowded market you’ll need to make sure you’re tapping into what works well.
Authentic Ads Will Triumph
Users want their social media experience to be as seamless as possible, so we’re seeing a generation of shoppers that are increasingly averse to being advertised to. Food and drinks brands should focus heavily on serving engaging content across the correct placements to stop audiences from turning off. Luckily, there’s a vast volume of content and creative ideas to tap into, you just need to ensure that your ad creative fits in nicely alongside what’s out there organically.
Making your ads fit seamlessly into the experience of a social channel user will allow you to sit alongside content that a user already enjoys, stopping your ad from standing out for all the wrong reasons. Don’t waste the opportunity and dump a jarring advert amongst organic content. Supplement the user’s existing experience and you’ll allow your advert more screen time to make an impact.
Keep On Top Of The Latest Trends
The way social media platforms are engaging with brands is ever-changing. Ultimately, platforms receive a significant income from brands wanting to boost their audience, increase engagement and ultimately convert social media users into long-term customers.
So it’s not surprising that social platforms are trying to find a balance between serving their users and making their advertising options appealing to brands.
A great example of this is TikTok’s Branded Mission ad product. It allows advertisers to crowdsource authentic content from creators on TikTok, turn top-performing videos into ads, and improve brand affinity with media impressions. This form of two-way engagement between brands and creators enables the TikTok community to have a creative hand in the ads that are a part of a brand campaign and helps brands discover emerging creators broadly.
In an industry with as much content out there as the food and drink currently does, capitalising on paid opportunities can play a massive part in elevating a brand, whether that’s a small start up or a global giant with a household name.
fill up on quality content.
Website copy needs to leave your readers wanting more and, of course, wanting to try your food and drink products. But it also needs to be written in a way that Google is able to interpret correctly. You may think delicious, Instagram-worthy photographs are the big craze at the moment, which they are, but they won’t do all the talk for your brand – that’s where copy comes in.
Writing content around your brand’s gastronomic delights with the right keywords and structure can help you strive to be at the top of the SERPs. Even just a few simple optimisations of your existing copy can make a huge difference to the way your content is interpreted by search engines.
In this section, we will show you how top food and drink content is really ranking on Google, how our in-house tool, Goose, can help you create the tastiest of content and finally our top tips for creating mouth-watering copy.
Introducing Flaunt Digital’s Content Tool – Goose
Here at Flaunt, we are proud of our all-singing, all-dancing marketing tools that we’ve developed in-house. One of our favourites is our content optimisation tool, Goose. Yes, years of industry knowledge and experience guides our path when content writing. But, as we write for a range of clients across all industries, it’s key we ensure Google loves our copy just as much as we do.
Using Google’s Natural Language Processing engine, Goose analyses content to establish how Google interprets it – because no one likes a guessing game! Goose is able to give us a classification analysis, letting us know what topic search engines think the content is referring to and also picks up the most prevalent keywords. If the content doesn’t match the topic you are writing about, it’s time to tweak it.
We asked Flaunt Digital’s CEO, Lee Fuller, why the team built the tool and what he thinks it truly does for clients:
“We built Goose to get a better understanding of how Google interprets the copy we write for clients. Not only does Goose give us a higher degree of certainty that we are getting it right but it saves us time when it comes to measurement and optimisations. If we know that a piece of content is going to land right the first time we can focus on the results rather than having to tweak a piece after it’s gone live. We have seen some fantastic results from using Goose and it has become a tool that the team uses on a daily basis.”
Taking an extract from our blog, You’ve Been Goosed: Analysing Food & Drink Brands, we show you how we can help take your food and drink content to the top.
Wagamamas’ above-the-fold content fits into the topic of cooking and recipes, but highlights keywords such as ‘philosophy,’ ‘business’ and ‘consumption choices’ – not words that put hearty bowls of nourishing noodles and katsu curry front and centre.
“since the first day our noodle canteen opened for business, our philosophy has remained the same, true nourishment from bowl to soul
we believe that the quality of your life is greatly determined by the quality of your food + by the consumption choices you make. which is why it pays to be fussy about your food. because when you eat positively, you live positively
a base of noodles or rice to give you energy
quality protein + good fats to sustain you
an abundance of fresh crunchy vegetables to nourish you
spices, sauces + steaming broths to ignite your taste buds”
When it comes to the food and drink business you want your copy to stand out, be different and, of course, entice people to eat your food, but at the same time Google needs to be able to understand it too.
You’ve Been Goosed: Making Oodles Of Noodles The Talking Point
From changing the sentence structure to talking about tasty food and bowls of noodles from the get-go, we can ensure Google knows Wagamamas is talking about food and delicious bowls of noodles. Small tweaks within your copy can make all the difference!
“Our food philosophy is unchanged from the day we served our first noodles: true nourishment from bowl to soul. We believe quality of life is greatly determined by the quality of your meals + the choices you make. That’s why it pays to be fussy about the food you consume – when you eat positively, you live positively
a delicious base of egg noodles or sticky rice to give you energy
quality protein + good fats to sustain you
an abundance of fresh crunchy vegetables to nourish you,
and flavour-packed spices, sauces + broths to ignite your taste buds.”
Next up is Little Moons, a brand that really took off during the covid pandemic, especially on TikTok. Yet they could be pulling more people in with their website content according to Goose. Take the opening paragraph on their about us page, for example. Google currently thinks they’re talking about cooking and recipes rather than their much-loved ice cream ball desserts, picking up keywords like the ‘moon’, ‘parts’ and even ‘puffer jacket’ – not the best keywords to be going after…
“Little Moons are made of two parts. A deliciously sweet, soft and chewy rice flour dough. This dough is steamed, pounded and gently wrapped around a centre of gelato ice cream, like a soft, snuggly puffer jacket on a cold day. Eating it is a unique experience. A delicious bite-sized mochi ball of perfection. They’re unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before, but then again, they’re ice cream from another world.”
You’ve Been Goosed: From Cooking and Recipes to Mochi and Desserts
We’ve used our brain power to intensify the opening paragraph, sticking with the indulgent tone of voice and drawing not only people in, but search engines too. Now talking about desserts and food, Goose is picking up prevalent keywords, such as ‘mochi ice cream balls’, ‘gelato ice cream’ and ‘mochi dough’. This really shows how our tool, Goose, can drive the most powerful foodie content.
“Taste the deliciously sweet, soft and chewy rice flour dough before biting into the gorgeous gelato ice cream. These two flavoursome ingredients are what make Little Moons mochi balls the perfect dessert. The mouth-watering mochi dough is steamed, pounded and gently wrapped around a yummy scoop of gelato ice cream. Eating these delicious bite-sized balls of perfection is a unique experience. Our mochi ice cream balls are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before, but then again, they’re ice cream from another world.”
You can see more examples of how we took well-known food brands’ websites, optimised them and ran them through Goose over on our blog post – You’ve Been Goosed: Analysing Food & Drink Brands.
So how can you make sure your food or drink brand walks the walks and talks the talk?
- Be Yourself
Okay, this one’s obvious. But Oscar Wilde’s famous saying ‘be yourself, everyone else is already taken’ really does apply here. In an over-crowded market, the best place to be is standing right in the middle of the hubbub standing out. Find a tone of voice that truly represents your brand and what it’s all about. If you’re a high-end eatery shooting for those Michelin stars, your tone of voice should exude luxury, knowledge and expertise. A street food van selling vegan junk food at festivals, on the other hand, might be better represented by a punchier, funkier tone of voice.
- Allow SEO to come naturally
Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past. If you are talking in a natural, authentic way about your products and services, chances are you’ll be telling search engines exactly what you’re all about anyway. Pay particular attention to the technicals, though, such as header tags, internal links and metadata – these are the kind of things that are going to hold you back in the SERPs even if your copy is spick and span.
- Dish up some delicious copy
Any food or drink brand takes pride in pleasing the senses. Your food will be sensational – it will taste dreamy, smell divine and no doubt look delightful all served up. The deliciousness is in the detail, and the same applies to your content. Be original. Take some care over the words you choose, how they’re put together and the flowing rhythm of your sentences. View creating copy with the same care you’d take serving up a delicious meal or shaking up a cocktail.
- Consistency is king
“But we thought you said content is king!” Well, it is, but consistency should be pretty high up on your priority list too. If your menu sings off the page with abstract descriptions and your website is packed full of whimsical, creative copy yet your social media posts are bold, brash and matter-of-fact, your audience won’t have a clue what your brand is all about. A sassy tone of voice should be sassy everywhere. A luxurious, premium tone should be reflected across every marketing campaign you run. Trust us, there’s nothing more confusing to customers than not knowing what a brand stands for.
- Sell the sizzle, not the sausage
This is a very popular phrase in the marketing world and, since we’re talking about food and drink brands here, it feels particularly apt. A sausage is a sausage, at the end of the day. It’s how you talk about that sausage that’ll really make a difference. Are you slam-dunking it in a hot dog roll with a dollop of Tommy K and slapping on some frazzled onions for good measure, or are you serving your thyme-infused premium outdoor-reared pork sausages with sauteed green vegetables and fluffy buttered mashed potatoes? Same sausage, very different vibes. Make sure you get your vibe spot on, or ask a content expert to lend you a hand.
how to build your tasty branding.
Often your branding is the first thing customers see, whether it’s through social media or walking past your establishment on the street. Strong branding tells a story all by itself, so make sure it’s the story you want people to hear. Flaunt Digital’s branding brains debunk some common brand myths to help you get to grips with just how important brand building can be for your business.
Myth One: A Brand Is Just A Logo, Right?
Your logo is a tool but your brand is so much more than that. Your brand encapsulates your proposition, your values, how you talk and how you look and feel. A logo is just one small cog in a very big set of wheels, so don’t be fooled by thinking your logo is all you need to think about.
If you’re a new business, it’s a great idea to set yourself up with a brand or tone of voice workshop with a team of branding and content professionals. You’ll discover so much about your brand, from who your competitors are to how you want your business to be perceived in five years’ time and beyond. If you don’t have external help to guide you, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut – there’s nothing wrong with being challenged and digging a little bit deeper to truly understand what makes your brand different from all the rest. This will help you to create a marketing strategy that targets audience demographics that are actually relevant to you, helping you to grow your business and ultimately boost your revenue as you’ll be talking to the right people at the right time.
In terms of creating a logo… yes, it has to look pretty, but it’s also got to reflect your business and your personality. You wouldn’t have a burger graphic plastered to the front of a sushi restaurant or a donut logo designed in shades of neon green now, would you?
Myth Two: Building A Brand Just Happens On Its Own
Your delicious food won’t cook itself, and your brand won’t build on its own either. That’s why so many successful businesses have a brand manager in place to make sure opportunities to grow the brand are utilised.
Think of your brand manager as your brand guardian. They are the ones who make sure the branding you’ve invested in is used properly and appropriately. They’ll make sure no one’s posting blurry pictures of food on your Instagram account and that your street food burger shop with a live DJ isn’t being described as an ‘intimate, delightful’ setting in the local press.
They will know your audience inside out and develop strategies that appeal to them to grow your following, hence growing your business.
Myth Three: I Already Have A Brand
This one’s kind of true. If we’re going to be really generous, any business that puts thought into their marketing strategy is likely to have some sort of brand. However, having the seedlings of a brand doesn’t mean you don’t have to nurture it as it grows.
Even well-established brands with decades of experience in the industry grow and evolve. Think about just how many logos and brand iterations the likes of Burger King have gone through over the years! As your business develops and the world around us changes, you’ll need to rethink and redevelop your brand to make sure it stays relevant to your consumers.
And finally, here are our five tips to help you build your food or drink brand…
- Know your audience. You simply cannot build a brand without knowing who you want to appeal to.
- Do your research. What is everyone else doing? Are there three logos on the same street all the same colour as yours? Is your one-of-a-kind revolutionary dish actually being served at the cafe down the road? If you have a genuine USP, it’s so much easier to set yourself apart from the competition.
- Passion is contagious. You can’t build a brand that you don’t believe in as your audience will see right through it and they won’t believe in it either.
- Don’t just wing your marketing. Have a strategy, set goals and know what you are aiming for.
- Give your team the tools to help you. If you have someone who wants to be involved in running your social media accounts, train them and get them involved. Make it easy and fun for them to take part in building your brand by keeping them in the loop with your goals. The more the merrier and, with a brand manager at the helm, you’ll soon have a team of passionate brand advocates ready and waiting to spread the word about your business.
robot food on the false economy of the ‘quick win’.
We all love a quick win. The problem is, if that’s all you’ve got in your playbook, you’re setting yourself up for a fall in the long run.
There’s no denying that short-term marketing strategies have their role to play and undoubtedly helped us through the turbulence of the past few years – but short-term only does so much without long-term brand building backing it up.
We get it. Amidst the slog of the day to day and commercial pressures – brand is the first thing that gets jettisoned. But to neglect your brand is to neglect your competitive edge. You only have to look at the influx of thousands of online mattress brands that followed Casper to realise that even something as unique as being the ‘mattress in a box’ isn’t something you can hang your hat on for long.
With the next crisis looming, it feels like a no-brainer to stick to quick. But high inflation, stagnant wages and soaring energy bills means consumer confidence and purchasing power is as trash as the pound.
No less fickle, savvy or picky as they were the last ‘once in a lifetime’ crash ago – consumers are looking at and scrutinising the real value of the brands behind the clicks you pay for. Trust is easily broken and loyalty is hard won.
Learn from the discounter supermarkets that swept the nation’s hearts. The brands that stand out are the ones that stand for something important AND give you value for money. They embed a belief system to feel part of and offer a genuine solution that consumers can’t live without.
To tell your story and have your target audience truly believe it, you need to have a plan. One that’s consistent but can adapt to changing behaviours and needs. Without it – no matter how true your intentions – you run the risk of coming off disingenuous. Or worse, desperate.
Marketing is a game of the short and long-term after all. But neither of the two extremes can work in isolation. To win the hearts and minds of consumers and achieve any respectable marketing growth, finding the perfect balance between the two is critical.
Don’t let the easy goal be your only goal.
the ultimate guide to hfss legislation.
The new rules are in and are set to come into place on food and drinks that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) in the UK, imposing media and promotional restrictions on ‘unhealthy’ products. But will this have a negative impact on brands?
We’ll discuss what the restrictions are, why they are being put in place and the best way to prepare for the HFSS regulations to come into place as a food and drink brand.
What Are The HFSS Restrictions And Why Do They Exist?
Restrictions on the advertising and promotion of foods high in fat, salt and sugar are forever changing within the food and beverage industry. However, there is a huge opportunity for brands to get ahead of the game and take advantage of the forever-growing focus on healthier products. It is clear that the Government has become more and more focused on its aim to reduce the issues currently stemming from HFSS foods, one of the most alarming issues identified is a rising obesity rate and the ‘Junk Food Cycle’.
Therefore, the Government has now imposed new HFSS legislation, which is due to come into place in January 2023, to restrict the promotion of foods that are HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) that contribute to the rising obesity rates.
An increased focus on getting the nation healthy will also reduce the pressures on the National Health Service (NHS) and healthcare costs for obesity-related illnesses. By encouraging retailers and manufacturers to promote healthier choices of food free from (or with lower) HFSS, it’s likely families will be persuaded to make healthier changes.
What Qualifies As HFSS?
Restrictions apply to pre-packed HFSS products in;
- Soft drinks
- Sweet biscuits
- Ice cream
- Cakes, chocolate confectionery, sugar confectionery
- Breakfast cereals
- Ready meals
- Crisps and savoury snacks
- Chips and equivalent potato products
- ‘Morning goods’ (e.g. pastries)
- Processed Meals, including breaded and battered products (e.g. curries, chicken nuggets, breaded chicken/fish)
Why There is a Need For Change?
Throughout the UK there is a large focus on improving the nation’s health in all aspects of society and this is sure to continue to grow far into the future. These new HFSS regulations are a great opportunity for brands to focus on driving success through developing innovative and healthier products to retain and gain customers – it’s a time to embrace the change and get ahead of the competition.
With everyday consumers becoming more and more health-conscious and with increased scrutiny on ingredients, adapting food and drink products will mean businesses don’t get left behind in this faced-paced industry. Food and drink manufacturers and retailers will need to work together to maximise sales amidst an inability to promote products that do not meet the new HFSS rules – but how they both adapt will vary from product to product.
UK food and drink brands are busy digesting the planned HFSS regulations coming this October, which will prevent companies from marketing and advertising HFSS products on TV and online whilst also limiting where they can be placed within shops.
Here’s how three brands have already reformulated or designed their products to be HFSS compliant:
Mars launches new Bounty, Snickers, Mars and Galaxy bars
Mars has jumped straight onto the bandwagon by launching a new range of non-HFSS confectionery and is one of the first to respond to the new junk food laws. The Triple Treat range consists of new editions of Mars, Snickers, Bounty and Galaxy bars, and was launched exclusively in Tesco stores from the start of June. The products are made from dates, raisins and peanuts and only drizzled in chocolate, so they meet the new HFSS rules.
Its core range of confectionery – which also includes Maltesers, M&M’s and Twix – will be banned from checkouts, store entrances and aisle ends along with other HFSS foods, but they can now be replaced by these new tasty, healthy treats.
Eat Real Cuts Out The Salt
Already seen as a ‘healthier crisp’, Eat Real has just got even better for you. Following the new HFSS rules and health campaigners complaining about the product containing 3.6g salt/100g, Eat Real has lowered the salt content of its Chilli & Lemon Hummus Chips.
This potato snack brand is rooted in a mission to make snacks using all-natural ingredients and remain totally focused on ensuring their crisps are as healthy as possible… and now even more so following the new legislation. In August 2022 they plan to introduce four new products that will demonstrate their ultimate ambition to be a fully non-HFSS brand.
KIND’s New Breakfast Almond Butter
KIND is also fighting against the new HFSS rules as it says it unfairly discriminates against its high nut content. Products with a high nut content will be impacted by the HFSS regulations and KIND has therefore proposed a new breakfast range. They recently launched a new Breakfast Almond Butter bar which meets HFSS standards as they have swapped nuts with oats, quinoa and buckwheat, with the addition of almond butter for extra fibre.
When it comes to brands needing to meet the HFSS legislation, a rapid turnaround could be required. These impending changes may appear daunting, and there are several ways in which manufacturers can adapt. It’s not just about changing the whole product solely through its ingredients to meet the new rules. Brands need to manage consumer acceptability, ensure the product is still child-friendly and enjoyable, and communicate the right messages.
When it comes to mapping out your roadmap to becoming HFSS compliant you will need to consider the following points:
Identity – Is your product HFSS compliant?
Innovate – Have you got an HFSS-compliant product that is unique and stands out from the rest?
Prototyping – Have you got fast consumer feedback on early prototypes to help provide important guidance for development?
Retail – Is your HFSS-compliant product eligible for secondary display and has it the potential to become a consumer favourite?
The path to success during the implementation of HFSS legislation is to move with the times by innovating and optimising, instead of resisting the changes. Here are our five top tips to help you stay ahead of the game and meet those HFSS challenges:
1. It’s all about the product
Different categories of food and drink product will need to adapt in different ways. From rethinking the formula of the actual product to reduce the amount of unhealthy content to taking calculated decisions to avoid guessing and deciding the next steps depending on what the consumer wants, not what companies think they might want. For example, in luxury chocolate brands that are purchased for indulgence – would cutting the sugar be cutting the luxury?
Some food and drink brands won’t benefit from reformulating without suffering a loss of quality and/or taste, but there may not be a need to change if they have high brand loyalty. Take Coca-Cola, for example, people actively search for their products and therefore the new legislation is not likely to affect sales of these HFSS products too much.
2. Build a database
Once the rules are in play in October it will become more difficult to target certain customers, but your brand will still be able to use direct marketing to communicate. The best way to do this is to start collecting customers’ data legitimately, especially email addresses as this is probably the best way to share offers and new product information. Be particularly mindful around GDPR compliance at all times, though.
Hosting a prize draw that requires entrants’ positive consent to use their data is the safest and most effective way to gather customer insights and personal information such as contact details. These customer details can then be used to send out samples or offers in the future – but only if the customer has consented to their data being used in this way.
3. Grow your social presence
The new rules don’t mean it’s the end for paid advertising, but it does make advertising ‘junk food’ a little harder. The new HFSS has said that organic and native social media posts are still allowed, so it’s best to start using this time to increase your follower numbers across all platforms as much as possible. This will help to raise your profile and maintain the ability to advertise and communicate legitimately when the new rules come into play.
A great way to gain new followers and increase brand loyalty is through running a prize draw or competition.
4. To innovate or to iterate?
As previously mentioned, not every product will need changing in order to fit the HFSS rules but it doesn’t mean companies should simply sit back and do nothing. Brands can adjust pricing and promotional strategies or conduct smaller iterative innovations – making their products HFSS compliant.
When reformulating it is key to not jump to reduce or replace ingredients but to consider balanced changes that will create little disturbance to the flavour of the product. Plus, if people are familiar with a product, completely changing it to forcefully fit into an HFSS-compliant category might have disastrous impacts.
5. Make the most of seasonal events
Seasonal events, such as Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are something customers love to engage with, therefore brands should be taking full advantage. Start by filling out a twelve-month calendar with seasonal special offers and promotions that stand out and encourage customer interaction. You can use a mix of competitions, prize draws, instant wins and social media promotions, this will be sure to help build a relationship with your brand.
In terms of large out-of-home food businesses, including restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees there are a couple of new regulations that have come into place following the HFSS guidelines.
Eateries with more than 250 employees must add calorie labels to their products e.g. on physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels. Plus if they are larger than 2,000 square feet will be banned from free refills of sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks
HFSS Rules Within The World of a Digital Agency
When it comes to tackling the HFSS regulations you should look to collaborate with a digital partner who understands the new rules and can flex their creative muscles to elevate your brand. For example, ads within digital audio will still be allowed, such as podcasts and music streaming, so make sure you’re prepared to tackle these new, exciting formats of advertising,
Small to medium businesses – businesses that employ 250 people or less – will be able to continue to implement their full marketing strategy from organic and influencer marketing to PPC and more. However, larger brands will have to pivot away from their current marketing tactics and get creative in order to advertise their brand whilst sticking to the HFSS rules – this is where social media channels will become key!
HFSS is a great opportunity for brands to forge new connections with consumers and explore different marketing strategies for success. Sometimes the most difficult challenges lead to the greatest destinations. Take the alcohol industry as an example – the sector has tackled years of legislation, and yet the alcohol industry continues to boom due to building great advertising strategies and finding new ways to engage with potential customers. Take this opportunity to let your creative flair run wild. It can open up new doors for brands, and lead to new consumer connections, whilst letting you explore different marketing avenues.
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