Consumers are growing more flexible in terms of when and how they seek and consume food and beverage, as demonstrated by the rise of snacking, small plates, all-day breakfast and on-demand delivery. Restaurants keeping a pulse on the foodservice industry are likely already expanding their dayparts in an effort to maximize their sales. Here are five broad ideas showcasing how operators can leverage expanding dayparts and consumers’ broadening dining habits:
- New dayparts are probably the most recognizable implementation of this industry movement. QSRs have pushed late-night dining with widespread marketing campaigns for many years, and late night continues to grow with help from snacking. More chains are branding their food items as snacks or creating snack-specific menus. QSR breakfast wars wage on, bolstered by Taco Bell’s new $1 value breakfast menu. Brunch is also becoming more important to FSRs, especially on the weekends. Finally, restaurants will increasingly promote off-peak dining occasions in order to drive traffic, using programs such as happy hour specials and midafternoon BOGO deals.
- Menu expansion beyond dayparts is a major strategy right now for turning around sales, which McDonald’s has noticeably done with all-day breakfast. White Castle also began offering all-day breakfast last fall. Consumers want their favorite foods when they want them, daypart traditions aside. This is why we’re seeing more burgers for breakfast and waffles for dinner.
- Off-premise foodservice provides consumers with food and beverage where they want it, when they want it, making it a profitable consequence of expanded dayparts. Catering programs should be developed to preserve brand integrity off-site, and menus should be advertised both on-site and online. On-demand delivery allows restaurants to partner with a delivery service to expand their reach, visibility and product sales. In addition, we will likely see more off-premise, rotational pop-ups going forward, similar to how Chick-fil-A partners with Fooda to sell lunch at rotating office buildings. Food trucks are yet another opportunity for off-premise growth.
- Total food strategy is growing, with major restaurant brands launching retail extensions, some of which are sold in grab-and-go sections in their own storefronts. With total food strategy, consumers can purchase a beverage for immediate consumption and a protein bar for later. Some brands are also releasing frozen and packaged retail products to be sold at grocery stores and warehouse clubs, allowing restaurants to compete more closely with CPGs.
- Vending represents a great growth opportunity for foodservice, as it remains largely untested by leading brands. Only a few Top 500 chains have begun to experiment with it, such as TCBY, which developed a frozen yogurt vending machine last year intended for nontraditional sites such as airports. Farmer’s Fridge in Chicago elevates the bar for fresh, refrigerated vending by offering handcrafted salads made fresh every morning and packaged in reusable plastic jars.
AS I SEE IT, brands that are not taking advantage of expanding dayparts via at least three of the above measures are missing out on sales and will eventually lose market share to competitors, if they haven’t already. Publicizing these new business touch points is key to getting the word out to frequent diners and new customers alike. A major arena for further daypart extension will be at nontraditional sites like home goods stores, transportation hubs and food halls. Brands can build refrigerated vending machines just about anywhere.
Note: This content originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Technomic’s Foodservice Digest newsletter.