Dedicated to marketers in the eating and drinking out industry, the MCA Marketing Conference 2017 brought together marketing experts from the ‘giants’ of the foodservice industry, as well as exciting emerging brands, to discuss innovative marketing ideas and the opportunities in the sector.
The 2017 MCA Marketing Conference covered:
- Sugar reduction: the key trend for 2018… Read more >>
- Why operators should not ignore the £1bn free-from market… Read more >>
- Driving a brand in tough times Read more >>
- Co-creation: New(ish) thoughts in marketing theory Read more >>
- Innovation through partnerships Read more >>
- How to make a big impact on a tight marketing budget Read more >>
- The ‘digital’ restaurant: Utilising the power of digital to drive footfall, spend and loyalty Read more >>
- Preparing for The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Read more >>
- Innovative brands reveal what is in their marketing toolbox Read more >>
Sugar reduction is a key trend for 2018
Kelly Healing, senior manager – leisure, Coca-Cola European Partners, said that ‘consciously eating’ was the biggest consumer trend it had identified in its research. “In 2004, consumers bought three regular drinks for every one low/no-sugar drink – in 2014 that was one for one,” said Healing.
In light of this consumer trend, and in preparation for the government’s increase in tax on sugary soft drinks, Coca-Cola European Partners is to focus all of its marketing on its light Cola brands, as well as look at other aspects such as pack size.
Marketing campaigns that highlight low sugar contents in food and drink have therefore a strong chance to resonate with health-savvy consumers, as well as drive brand loyalty.
Why operators should not ignore the £1bn free-from market
Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, chef and entrepreneur at Genius Foods, said the free-from category was currently worth £1bn in the UK (£100m for the gluten-free market), with 25% of the population buying into the gluten-free occasion – 8% of which had a medical need.
Looking beyond the size of the free-from market, she also pointed out that if there is a gluten-free person within a group who are eating out, that person will often influence the choice of eating establishment. Pubs and restaurants may therefore lose the custom of the whole party. Furthermore, people on a gluten-free diet are passionate about operators who cater for them, and will be brand ambassadors. Time to add gluten-free options to menus!
According to MCA’s own Menu Tracker data, the number of gluten-free dishes has risen in London chain restaurants by 5% – to 367 dishes overall (2016 vs. 2017 spring/summer menus).
Driving a brand in tough times
Charlie McVeigh, CEO & Founder of Draft House, the craft beer pub operator, demonstrated how word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. He stressed that fun and good hospitality are at the heart of everything Draft House does and that the brand represents an accessible “reinvention of a great pub”.
The venues’ bright, modern design means that all are recognisable as Draft Houses. However, each are different in appearance as McVeigh relishes the opportunity to approach every building with fresh eyes and to make it relevant to its particular location.
Co-creation: New(ish) thoughts in marketing theory
Jackie Clarke, Oxford Brookes University, showed that the true value of a product is “co-created” by the consumer during consumption. Without the consumption element, that value is in fact just the “value proposition” offered by the brand. The product delivers its full value in terms of function, experience and symbolic meaning depending on each consumer’s culture, social status and physical/mental endowment. Therefore, consumers are best placed to comment on how a product fits into their lives and what benefit it brings to them.
The implication is that collaboration with consumers is essential to marketing. This can take many forms, from involving them in NPD and product innovation, to encouraging them to leave reviews and generate brand awareness on social media. The theory of ‘value co-creation’ also implies that a brand needs to identify groups of consumers who attribute the same value to their products so it can tailor its marketing efforts to each segment.
Innovation through partnerships
“Innovation can often be fast-tracked through leased and tenanted operators – there’s little brand reputational risk, you can be nimble, and many of the landlords want to do different – we’re essentially creating start-ups” said Russell Danks from Greene King on how genuine partnerships can drive innovation and revenue.
During his presentation, he demonstrated how, by creating an environment of mutual respect and honest communication, business partners can look long-term and align their goals. This creates genuine reasons for the partners to be dependent on each other, offer innovative solutions and deliver results. This collaboration can take many forms, such as participating in study tours, creating supper clubs and partner forums, as well as getting involved in project groups.
How to make a big impact on a tight marketing budget
Tapping into current social media trends is one of the key ways that fledgling start-ups can be creative when it comes to marketing on a tight, or non-existent, budget. But not just… Representatives from BabaBoom, Yumchaa and Bundobust talked to us about their innovative marketing approaches:
- Beyond the foodie community, Eve Bugler, founder and managing director at BabaBoom, explained how the business has tapped into the influencing power of fitness bloggers, who can promote BabaBoom’s focus on healthy ingredients in its kebabs.
- Chloe O’Hare-Carroll, marketing and communications manager at Yumchaa, created a short video demonstrating how its Blue Voodoo tea changes colour to purple if you add lemon to it. Time Out, Culture Trip and AOL Foodie picked up the content, resulting in millions of views in a short space of time and an overnight peak of orders.
- Marko Husak, co-founder at Bundobust, invited people who are popular on Instagram to come and try their food, offering secret menu items and even merchandise, which it created with the help of a local illustrator.
The ‘digital’ restaurant: Utilising the power of digital to drive footfall, spend and loyalty
Helen Slaven, Chief Commercial Officer, Eagle Eye Solutions, explained that restaurants, pubs and fast-food brands have much to gain by being digitally enabled and data-driven. Especially with the newer generation of highly connected customers, eating out brands should encourage them to not only snap pictures of their food, but also use their phones to provide feedback, participate in loyalty schemes and benefit from offers.
Helen went on to show some examples of innovative campaigns she worked on with customers such as Chiquito, Smirnoff, Malibu and Las Iguanas. These brands have had great success by leveraging social media and even Tinder. She also pointed out that some foodservice brands have taken the digital approach a step further and launched their own app, with offer conversion rates significantly higher than those on email, thanks to push notifications and geo-fencing.
Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Jonathan McDonald, Senior Associate at Charles Russell Speechlys, highlighted the critical points eating and drinking out brands should act on to be compliant with the upcoming data protection regulation (GDPR), when it comes into force on 25th May 2018.
He shared a couple of tips, primarily focused on direct marketing and consent:
- Brands should obtain consent for sending out emails
- Good practice for obtaining consent is to add tick boxes with a message along the lines of: “Please tick if you would like to receive information about our products and any special offers by email [ ], by telephone [ ], by text message [ ], by recorded call [ ]”
- If brands do not have records of consent from their existing contacts or if that consent was not obtained in a GDPR-compliant manner, brands are allowed to re-consent their customers under specific rules (please click on the image to view the details)
Innovative brands reveal what is in their marketing toolbox
Megan Burton-Brown, Marketing Manager at Tortilla Mexican Grill, Paul Hurley, Founder of Dum Dum Donuts and Jenny McPhee, Head of Brand at The Alchemist Bar & Restaurant, closed the conference with a panel discussion on their marketing secrets.
Paul had even planned a surprise to the conference attendees and had boxes full of fresh yummy doughnuts from Dum Dum Donuts delivered to the conference room – way to generate awareness!
The three speakers agreed that keeping it real, offering real value to consumers and having honest communications with them are key ingredients to succeed in the market. They also stressed out that a brand should not be afraid of trial and error, and see what works for them.