2020 has been an extraordinary and unprecedented year so far.
In the UK, the year started with significant uncertainty around Brexit.
No sooner was that out they way when there was news of a devastating new virus in China and before we knew it, COVID-19 had arrived in the UK and lockdown took effect from March 23rd.
Now at the start of June there has been a tentative and nervy lifting of some of the restrictions as the government looks to make the first steps towards normal.
But what is the post-COVID normal going to look like, particularly within the food and hospitality sector which has been devastated by enforced closures and the switching of some 30% of spend on eating and drinking-out to the large retail food outlets and online?
It’s far too early to predict of course, but I think what is evident that more and more consumers will look for food and drink experiences, and in particular, a way to rediscover bon viveur and the wonderful emotions associated with sharing food with others. Not to mention the feeling of enjoying a reward for working hard and the joy of being looked after by others.
A number of Michelin Star restaurants and some of the higher-end, high street chains have already put their toes in the water as they experiment with various home delivery offers – joining the fast food chains which had moved to a home delivery only service earlier in the year.
But can these offers truly satisfy the needs of experience and company starved consumers, who are craving revisiting their favourite pub or restaurant with friends?
Are they just delivering stuff rather than the brand experiences that their reputations and brand are founded on?
Great eating experiences combine fabulous food with wonderful service and that magical other ingredient which separates a fabulous eatery from an average one – brilliant staff.
Without doubt, the restaurants and pubs which achieve the highest ratings are those whose service is impeccable.
Staff who are always attentive, who can spot a problem before it happens, who are just visible without being disruptive.
Of course, home delivery can’t offer this important dynamic – but for me the smart players will look at various mechanics which can go some way towards replacing this lost service element.
Without doubt, one of the cleverest food brands of recent years has to be Graze.
The surprise snack selection was a brilliant idea – the unexpected gift, the conversation piece, the anticipation builder.
Graham Bosher, the founder of Graze had previously launched the successful, movie rental business LoveFilm.
In my mind, there was no doubt that Graham understood all the wonderful, positive attributes of people watching a film together at home.
The special occasion, the ritual of getting everything ready – super comfy, snacks, drinks, surround-sound. And then to enjoy the treat, a surprise and the unexpected, the escapism as the drama unfolded before them.
And in founding Graze he considered all these attributes and hit upon the idea of the unexpected addition.
Each week, avid subscribers would wait with excitement and anticipation to receive their box. And as many had them delivered to work it was only a matter of moments before colleagues were crowding round to see ‘what was new’ and to try and pinch a taste. Brilliant marketing.
Without doubt, the smart home delivery restaurants will all be considering how they can make their offer very special too.
Something to be anticipated with excitement and positive emotion. I wonder who will be first?
For more information about how I help my clients launch new food service concepts take a look at Food Brand Strategist.
And take a look at BoomBod as an example of my work.
If you’d like to explore how I can help you launch a new food idea, ping me an email so we can schedule a call.