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The food service industry: Adapting to COVID-19

March 23, 2020 - john

The food service industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, the government hasn’t officially told restaurants, bars and pubs to close but has actively told the public to stay away from their establishments.

On social media over the past week we’ve witnessed restaurants, bars and pubs go from maintaining a “business as usual” stance to gradually tapering off their confidence.

Now with the government cranking up measures and rumours of lockdown protocols increasing, the food industry has sadly seen lots of businesses close for the foreseeable as remaining open is just not affordable and for the sake of staff and customers, food business owners are putting their health as a priority.

Whilst the hope is that these measures will be short-lived, the truth is that no one knows how long this may go on for.

One thing that is for certain, many foodservice businesses have adapted quickly and we can learn from their actions in marketing, here are our top picks of adaptability from the food and drink industry:

Tips for Dealing with COVID-19 Measures

Emphasising hygiene measures and adherence to Government guidelines – if choosing to stay open then highlighting the measures that are being taken to help with customer safety is all-important to encouraging people through the door.

Adapting service offering – inventive companies have adapted their skills and expertise to provide new food services. There are caterers providing meals on wheels to their local communities. Local suppliers such as butchers and wine merchants have offered home delivery services if they can’t get to people through restaurants and bars they’ll get through direct. Healthy takeaway chain Leon has gone so far as to change their restaurants into food shops where customers can get the essentials so in demand.

Incentivising customers – as purse strings inevitably tighten, now is the time to incentivise customers through offers and promotions. It’s also possible to encourage social media followers to share promotions through competitions.

Selling gift vouchers – many restauranteurs are encouraging supplementation to cash flow by offering gift voucher sales for future use. By emphasising their ‘support local’ messaging alongside this they’re able to enter the hearts and minds of their communities and hopefully bolster sales.

Keeping in touch with customers – maintaining customer connections will be critical over the coming months to ensuring that momentum can be regained once restrictions are removed. For many customers, the uncertainty creates anxiety and providing clear and transparent information this can only stand a business in a good light.

Living by your values – authentic brands are more than just businesses and their work can influence whole communities from their customers to employees and suppliers. Many businesses have adapted their teams to deliver community help. These brands will gain some future brand loyalty and memorability in their efforts during a national crisis.

The foodservice industry is one that needs to change to survive. If you would like some help making your offering appeal to changing client needs contact us today. Fifteen Design is an award-winning digital agency with years of experience creating and carrying out effective digital marketing campaigns.

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