With less and less people going grocery shopping to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19, big food brands are vying to keep consumers full from home.
On Monday, Impossible Foods became one of the first examples of this by allowing Hong Kong restaurants to resell their burgers in bulk directly to customers. Here are some of the creative ways big food brands are competing for business during the pandemic.
As the industry quickly adapts to fallout from the pandemic, many players quickly realized the potential of treating restaurants more like retailers as part of the broader shift. But since that’s not an option for many, others such as Shake Shack and Blue Bottle Coffee have recently introduced new initiatives worldwide to try to reach more consumers as they spend more time at home.
In the hopes that customers will want to make its plant-based burgers from home, Impossible is sending bulk supplies, including its 10-pack of patties, to a handful of Hong Kong restaurant partners around the city. The company introduced similar initiatives earlier this year in the US and Singapore with great success.
As government restrictions and lockdown orders hurt demand in Hong Kong, much like other parts of the world, Impossible Foods had been brainstorming how to help itself and its partners diversify. In a short period of time, it has already seen an impact.
Restaurants in Singapore 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,” CNN reported.
Blue Bottle Coffee
It’s not just Impossible. Nestle-owned Blue Bottle Coffee has set up several vending machines in Tokyo — where vending machines are extremely popular — to reach people more easily. The cashless machines offer pedestrians a chance to purchase a conveniently bottled cold brew, instant coffee or branded reusable cups.
According to Blue Bottle, the idea is not new, but it was a good time to try it out. If the initiative proves successful, the company said 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.
Also cashing in on the do-it-yourself trend is Shake Shack. In April, the popular burger chain launched meal kits in the US, allowing customers to prepare, cook and assemble the chain’s infamous Shack burgers at home for the first time.
The kit includes all the elements, from the patty to the bun to Shake Shack’s signature sauce. This summer, the chain rolled out “Shack Camp,” another box set offering that “includes all the supplies you’ll need for six weeks’ worth of activities to keep the whole troop happy this summer,” according to a company press release.
Rather than food, this box is supposed to sell an experience. Equipped with water balloons, bandanas, an ice cream scoop and sprinkles, the box comes with a suggested itinerary to keep the family satisfied for the summer.
How Big Brands Will Retain Consumers
The trend is only expected to grow as the slump from COVID-19 continues. More chains and local restaurants will likely expand beyond their normal operations by turning to more flexible options, such as delivery and smartphone ordering.
Restaurants are coming up with new sources of revenue that don’t rely on in-store diners. Combining offerings with traditional groceries, such as through meal kits and other packaged goods will give restaurants a significant lifeline.
Businesses are making it clear of their intention to remind consumers that they’re still around – and hungry for business.