Business and Operations
Marketing insights: January-February 2013
By Michelle Brisebois
A trend is defined as a general direction in which things move. Trends
are not to be confused with fads, which are popular products or
activities that come and go in a blaze of glory.
A trend is defined as a general direction in which things move. Trends are not to be confused with fads, which are popular products or activities that come and go in a blaze of glory. Trends are roadmaps to the future and so divining where things are headed is important to ensure your business is capitalizing on the opportunities these trends present. As we enter a new year, the “Great Recession” talk continues to drag on with worries over fiscal cliffs and other scary omens. It’s natural that the financial health of consumers will influence certain eating trends. Other factors driving culinary trends include immigration, demographics and popular culture. So let’s get out our crystal ball and see what’s on tap for 2013.
|Join the Meatless Monday movement and promote your vegetarian dishes.|
Farm to Table
This trend is about food produced locally and served to local consumers. The movement is gaining momentum partly fuelled by a desire to support local businesses and keep money close to home. Those who support the buy local movement purport that when you support a locally owned business every $100 spent there retains $45 to the local economy. Conversely, only about $13 stays in the local economy for every $100 spent at a big box store (Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Austin (Tex.) consulting firm Civic Economics). It’s reasoned that local businesses tend to do their purchasing locally, while large chain stores usually centralize purchasing from a head office. Some propose that local foods are easier on our bodies because they’re grown in the soils and conditions that we live in so we aren’t as likely to have an allergic reaction. One food trend that plays to this theory is “zip code honey,” or allowing consumers to purchase honey from an area close to them. There are other equally strong well-known arguments that are converse to the proponents, such as actual eco-savings in buying local food being grossly overstated and the concept that buying local can be “selfish” in possibly adversely affecting poorer communities who suffer if you do not buy their goods that come from afar. What we do know is people are emotionally invested in where their food comes from and they are interested, so make sure you list the origin of ingredients you use on your menus and use this messaging on your Facebook and Twitter posts. Refer to the farmers who grow your ingredients and speak to their locations – your customers will love it.
Day Part? What Day Part?
Those of us on the business side of the restaurant industry used to look at things in terms of breakfast, lunch and supper. As snacking has gained in popularity, meals have started to shift into times of the day that haven’t traditionally been busy. According to the “Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report” by Technomic, 48 per cent of respondents report that they’re snacking at least twice a day in 2012, compared to 25 per cent in 2010. Longer work days and busier lifestyles mean more frequent but smaller meals are the order of the day. SymphonyIRI’s 2012 Consumer Snacking Survey reveals that more than one-third of the population often eats snacks instead of meals when on-the-go. Look to have fresh single-serve options at times such as late afternoon and late evening.
Recent drought conditions from the summer of 2012 have made beef more scarce and more expensive. Pork has been the darling of the restaurant world but it too is expected to increase in cost. Look for chicken and ancient grains such as quinoa, bulgur and millet to take centre stage as alternatives to beef and pork. Burgers and sliders are becoming passé while cheese plates are strong. Meatless Mondays are an old trend resurrected for today’s culture. Meatless Mondays were used during both world wars as a way of helping with rations. The initiative was relaunched in 2008 as a way of cutting down on environmental effects related to meat production such as pollution, fossil fuels, and water and land consumption. Promote your vegetarian pizzas on Mondays as a way of joining this initiative and giving customers a tasty meatless option that drives traffic to a traditionally slower day. Check out Meatless Mondays Canada website meatlessmondays.ca for more information.
Canadians are drinking more wine than ever, and specifically, more Canadian wine. The Bank of Montreal’s research on the wine industry reports that consumers purchased an average of 22 bottles of wine in 2011. This is up from 13 in bottles per year on average in 1995. “Wine has drained away market share from beer and spirits to the point where it’s nearly a third of all alcohol consumption in Canada, the recent report said.” Wine’s share of goblet (total alcohol consumption) rose from 18 per cent in 1995 to 30 per cent in 2011. During the same period, beer consumption fell from 53 per cent to 45 per cent and spirits fell from 29 per cent to 25 per cent. Wine and beer can also tap into the farm-to-table trend, with 25 per cent of Canadians indicating they are consuming more Canadian wine than ever before and 52 per cent indicating they think the quality of Canadian wine has improved (Harris/Decima, June 2012). Although overall sales of beer are down; within the category, sales growth is coming from craft breweries (LCBO reports craft beer sales are up 53 per cent in 2011 over 2010), continuing the trend to seek out local producers.
Austerity at the table
Have you noticed sales of your appetizers are up whilst sales of your main courses are down? If so, it may be that your customers are trying to keep their costs and waistlines to a minimum. In 2009 a U.S. food blog called A Mighty Appetite invited readers to save money on groceries for a week and “eat down the fridge.” The challenge is about using what you have in your pantry, fridge or freezer instead of stuffing it to the gills with new food every week. The movement has gained momentum and consumers are embracing their newfound frugality all the way to the restaurant table. The popularity of tapas and small plates has also readjusted consumer expectations around portion size, and for many, two appetizers might give them a way to taste more of the menu on a lighter scale. Look at value bundles that are a win/win for you and the customer. Promote your by-the-slice offerings and single-serve pizzas.
As we glance at these trends, it’s clear that eating out is impacted greatly by the environment and the economy. These are overall large movements that are not new, but seem here to stay.
Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She specializes in retail brand strategies.