There are 4 key areas to consider when you’re looking to keep your customers happy in the next few years. That is by providing healthier ranges, providing greater value, enabling technology at sites to improve service, and by offering more hot options.
‘Healthier options’ is the number one thing customers want to see in contract catering sites in the next 2-3 years, with 40% of people wanting this1. With additional scrutiny on fresh healthy options being available, this is only going to become more of a must. In relation to this, it co-insides with the fact that customers want more vegan/vegetarian options available1. In fact, we have seen a 360% increase of those who have a vegan diet in the UK in the last decade2. To support you with the vegan trend, we have our vegan cookbook which has over 30 vegan recipes, and our New4You inspired by Vegan food and drinks guide which has our latest innovation, new ideas and key insights, all found here.
According to Mintel research, 59% of people believe that having a healthy breakfast is a springboard to having a healthy day, suggesting that healthy options in your breakfast offering is an absolute must!3. Customers will still want to indulge at times though so it is important that you ensure that your range provides fresh ‘healthy’ options alongside ‘treat’ options to fuel a balanced diet.
Another way to promote your healthier range is the use of labelling products/meals with their health benefits to give customers the tools to inform their decision. Buzzwords that customers are looking for in their meals are things such as ‘low sugar’, ‘low fat’, ‘low calories’, ‘high in protein’ etc, and these are a great way to help customers with their decision making.
Hot food is the second most popular choice for what people want to see more of in food-to-go for the next 2-3 years, with over 33% of people wanting more1. This may partly be due to sites lacking capabilities to facilitate lots of hot food options, but the rise in hand-held hot food has had a large impact on this too. Hand-held options are continuing to grow each year, with new adaptions and flavours coming out all the time. They continue to be popular because they are quick and easy for customers, perfect for those in a rush. This is the main reason why 38% of all food-to-go purchases are hot hand-held options6. Included in our “It’s snack time!” brochure is a number of top tips, insights, and hand-held options we have available to support you with to provide the right range for your customers to help with keep them happy.
Providing greater value
As discussed in my previous blog on “What are customers increasingly looking for when eating out?”, value is the biggest factor considered by customers. Value is essentially, the satisfaction the customer experiences in relation to the cost. Value does not refer to price, but the perceived benefits offset against the price.
In the list of areas that customers are wanting to see more of in the next 2-3 years, loyalty schemes and meal deals aimed at breakfast and snacks have appeared as important factors that link to providing greater value1. Using a customer loyalty program is a great way to make your customers feel valued as it provides them with a feeling that they are getting a good deal and more value for their money. In fact, 69% of consumers say choice of purchase is influenced by where they can earn customer loyalty/reward program points on4. This is a great way of incentivising as 92% of customers view discounts and value as the number one reason for their loyalty5. To find out more on how loyalty cards can help to boost your sales, have a look at my previous blog here.
More meal deals aimed at breakfast and snacks is the other big factor relating to value1. Both are areas to focus on which can have a big impact on sales and we are seeing these increasingly blur together to create ‘snackification’ of breakfast, particularly with young people3. This is where time poor consumers avoid having the typical large breakfast meals and resort to grazing throughout the day. These consumers are therefore looking for smaller and more portable items to have in the morning, such as porridge pots, breakfast bars, and granola pots. If you are looking for support with your snacking range, take a look at how we can help you with getting the right range in our “It’s snack time” brochure.
Technology is already having a massive impact on food service and is only set to make more of an impact in the next few years. We are likely to see more self-service checkouts in restaurants and in the workplace as consumers want more straightforwardness when ordering thanks to the success that these ordering systems have had1. The simplicity that technology brings also means that pre-ordering online will be another key factor to consider for contract caterers1. This is because more people are time poor when deciding their options for lunch so want to know exactly what they’re ordering to not waste their time.
So what can you do as technology continues to change customer habits? You can set-up your own online ordering system, or you can make it easier for customers to see what you have to offer through social media. Instagram in particular is great for Contract Caterers to use to share what you have on offer in your restaurants so staff can see how it looks and to tempt them in. This then links well to the fact that people are looking for an offering of deliveries to their desk when running low on time in their day1. Food ordering apps like Deliveroo and Just Eat have had great success in the UK and their ease of use that is so appealing to consumers is expected to make its way more into the workplace. As a result, it might be worth trying to compete with these type of brands by setting up similar offers where you deliver to desks.
Of all of the 4 key areas to consider when trying to keep your customers happy, providing healthier options is the stand-out factor for customers. With so much focus being on healthier eating in the press and through new government legislation at the moment, there is no surprise that this is the case. If you are looking to make your range healthier, take a look at our ‘Better me’ guide here for some of the healthier swaps we can support you with. For even further support, please contact your Account Manager.
1 MCA Contract catering report, 2017
2 Mintel – Attitudes towards leisure venue catering, 2017
3 Mintel – Breakfast eating habits, July 2018
4 Maritz Loyalty Marketing, 2013
5 ICSC, 2017
6 IGD Shoppervista ‘Food to go’, 2016