When you are thinking about setting up a business, it is important to do market research. And part of this research should include keeping up with what is happening with trends in the market you want to enter. The research should help inform what product you want to sell. Of course you should also continue to keep on top of market trends once you have set up, though this often slips down the priority list as the workload of running a business escalates.
Food like most products has trends. You shouldn’t follow these trends slavishly but you can use them to your advantage. To help get you thinking about using trends, I wanted to share this article about people not going out for lunch and how you could think about using it to your advantage. The article notes that only 1 in 5 Americans step away from their desk for their lunch. What does this mean for your food business?
Looking at your product and your marketing there are a number of ways you may be able to use your knowledge of this trend to your advantage:
Tailoring your products
If you are a café that is used to sit down clientele then this trend is not good news for you. Even if you do takeaway that needs to be prepared after it is ordered you might still be missing out on business as you can’t lure people away from their desk. But can you offer something that still meets the quality of product you are known for and provide a pre-prepared meal. If you are a café that people pop in to for their morning coffee before they start work, can you offer something they can take away then and there to eat for lunch?
Or if you don’t want to go down the takeaway route are you able to offer a small menu of meals that are available quickly as a lunch special. Do you have a few recipes that are much quicker and easier to cook than some of your other meals? But remember if you advertise speed you need to deliver.
Where you sell your product
You could also look at where you sell your product. If you are in a highly concentrated business area, then you may want to get in to the delivery basis to get closer to your customer. Or if you are a café you could look at what sort of environment you are providing. Do you have spaces that people can still work and have a meal. While free wi-fi may not be the selling point is used to be, you could offer a quiet space in your café for people who want to work.
How you market your product
In terms of marketing, this is where you have the opportunity to get creative. The article discusses the health benefits of getting people away from their desks. This could be an opportunity to offer special promotions to businesses who are keen to look after their employees. For example, you could offer a discount if more than 5 people from one office come and have lunch together. You could think about partnering with a personal trainer who offers a discount to companies for exercise sessions at lunch time and then you provide healthy packaged lunches after the team workout.
Not all employees may feel they can get away from their desk, but still want to eat healthy food for their lunch. Good employers may be interested in helping their employees achieve this. I have worked at places that supply boxes of fruit in break rooms to provide employees with healthy food options when they are lunching at their desks. You could also look at working with an employer to offer cooking classes or a set of recipes for employees that provide suggestions for preparing healthy lunches to bring to work; incorporating your product of course. Again you could do this in collaboration with another small food business.
If you are selling food products at a market or supermarket are you demonstrating how they can be a lunch? Can you package your products in such a way that it becomes a complete lunch? Or can you partner with another small business to make lunch packages? By presenting your products so that they look like a meal, means people don’t need to make that leap in their imagination, you do it for them.
Of course any of these options need to be properly costed and market tested before making any major changes to your business. And this trend may not be relevant for your business. But there is pretty much a trend for everyone, it is a matter of working out which ones are appropriate for your business and taking advantage of them when you can.
How do you take advantage of trends in your business?