By Tim Powell, Vice President of Consulting, Q1 Productions
One of the tenants of marketing a product is very simple: It must be worth the price. In foodservice, the same applies. If a retailer sells a dispensed lemonade for 50 cents, shoppers will probably buy it.
If, however, the lemonade tastes like lemon juice and dishwater, then consumers will probably never buy it again. The point is, no matter how much money a consumer may have, or how inexpensive the product is, if the quality is poor, the product will fail.
The relevance of this classic adage emerges once again in Q1’s latest research of foodservice patrons. When asked what would encourage them to visit restaurants more often, the majority of consumers (51%) reported “having more money.” However, from the introduction, convenience stores and restaurants alike are aware that money alone won’t increase foodservice sales, but more income along with other critical attributes will.
What, besides price, would encourage you to visit restaurants more often?
(Up to three selections permitted)
|If I had more money||51%|
|Dishes I cannot easily prepare at home||18%|
|More specials or limited time offers||17%|
|Different portion sizes or options||11%|
|More natural, organic ingredients||10%|
|More unique/authentic ethnic foods||9%|
|More unique ingredients and flavor profiles||9%|
|More convenient takeout||8%|
|Better access to the nutritional information||6%|
|More comfortable or attractive décor||5%|
|Special events that tie in with my community||4%|
Source: Q1 Productions 2016 Mindset of the Food and Beverage Consumer. October 2015 Survey.
One of the key implications is that consumers want to stretch their money—considering the biggest hurdle to increasing foodservice visit frequency is low disposable income. This means that limited-time offers, combo deals, rewards offering a free item after a certain number of purchases and even couponing (though not encouraged as a long-term solution as these may actually discourage loyalty and visit frequency) will help to build traffic and check averages.
Outside of more income, attributes such as healthier options, dishes not easily prepared at home, LTOs, better service and group-sized meals, among others, entice consumers to increase restaurant visits. A number of important factors to consumers also revolve around the store itself – such as better service, easier takeout, comfortable/attractive décor (e.g., – “fast casualizing) and better access to nutritional information on menu items.
The point is, successful restaurants consistently perform the “basics” of hospitality—which are excellent staff service, well-presented and craveable food and (particularly in c-stores) a spotless store that influences a guests’ perception of overall satisfaction. Consumers generally include all of these critical factors when pricing an item, hence creating the value equation. It is only when one of these basics is not met that consumers believe the price is not “worth” the quality. And when price and income are paramount, as confirmed in the latest survey results, the basics are not optional, but necessary.
While this research is geared toward the greater foodservice consumer in various away-from-home segments, c-stores can learn a lot from these findings as they continue to “steal” share from traditional segments and improve the general perception of “gas station” food.
Questions or comments? Contact Tim Powell, Vice President of Consulting, Q1 Productions’ Food and Beverage Practice. Visit: www.q1productions.com/consulting. Q1 experts help food and beverage clients make sense of this cyclical industry by interpreting the data they possess, deriving meaningful insights, and developing product and marketing strategies that create stakeholder value. Contact Tim at [email protected] or (312) 602-9899.