Big food and beverage brands are vying to keep people consuming their products during the coronavirus pandemic, and they are coming up with some crafty ways to make it happen.
Impossible Foods became the latest major example of that on Monday. The company announced it would start allowing restaurants in Hong Kong to resell their burgers in bulk directly to customers.
The move to start treating restaurants more like retailers is part of a broader shift as the industry scrambles to adapt to fallout from the pandemic. Other players, such as Shake Shack and Blue Bottle Coffee, have recently also rolled out new initiatives around the world to try to reach more customers as they spend more time at home.
In Hong Kong, Impossible is sending bulk supplies to a handful of its restaurant partners around the city in the hopes that customers will start picking up its 10-patty packs to try making their own plant-based burgers. The program follows similar initiatives that the company has introduced this year in the US and Singapore.
Impossible Foods had been brainstorming how to help its partners diversify as government restrictions hurt demand in Hong Kong, much like other parts of the world, and it has already seen an impact.
In Singapore, restaurants that participated in the resale program saw an average increase of 88 percent in total sales within the first month, with more than half of this coming from direct-to-consumer sales of Impossible Burger.
Blue Bottle Coffee
It’s not just Impossible. Blue Bottle Coffee, the popular beverage brand that is majority-owned by Swiss food giant Nestle, has set up several vending machines in Tokyo to reach people more easily. The cashless machines offer passersby a chance to grab some cold brew, instant coffee or branded reusable cups.
While the idea is not new, it came at a good time, according to Blue Bottle. The company said that if the initiative proves successful, it could expand the concept and add more machines in other locations.
“Although [this] was planned pre-pandemic, we are happy to be serving people’s needs, especially amidst the summertime heat and humidity in Tokyo,” the company said in a statement.
Another iconic burger brand, Shake Shack, is also seizing on the do-it-yourself trend. In April, it launched meal kits in the US, allowing customers to assemble their own Shack burgers at home for the first time.
The set includes beef patties, potato rolls, cheese slices and Shake Shack’s signature sauce. This summer, the burger chain is doubling down on that idea. It rolled out “Shack Camp,” another box set offering that promised to provide supplies for six weeks of activities to families cooped up at home.
This time, the box is supposed to sell an experience. It comes with water balloons, bandanas, an ice cream scoop and sprinkles, along with vouchers for free burgers and a suggested itinerary.
How Big Brands Will Retain Consumers
As the slump from coronavirus continues, the trend is expected to grow. More restaurants will likely branch out from their normal operations, and turn to more flexible options, such as delivery services and smartphone ordering.
Restaurants are coming up with new formats that don’t rely on dine-in services. Operators that can combine its offerings with traditional groceries, such as through meal kits and other packaged goods will have a significant lifeline.
Businesses are making no secret of their intention to remind customers that they’re still around – and hungry for business.