The second session of the Lumina Food Strategy Forum focused on a more informal panel discussion around some of the key topics around reopening hospitality with Vita Mojo, MCA & Lumina. Here are our top take-outs:
The first staging post seems to be very much focused around pubs with outdoor areas who are currently gearing up for Covid safe service once again and praying for sun!
This is the date most operators are concentrating on, with a real desire to welcome people back in person and get back to what they do best.
Whilst working from home remains there is still likely to be a tendency for consumers to stay local.
A tricky one, as these will be very difficult to operate with social distancing. However, many investors see them as the format of the future and once we are past social distancing, they are likely to have a resurgence.
Consumers will likely fall into two teams. Those desperate to get out and about and back to eating and drinking with friends and family in pubs and restaurants, and those who are still cautious about the safety risk and worried for their job security and income, who will be likely to stay away until later in the year.
Take Out Picnics
As the weather (hopefully) improves along with the rule of six meeting up outdoors, we can expect to see a return of the ‘park picnics’ where people buy take away food to eat outside. A trend which was seen last year during the good weather.
The buzz word of the moment will see operators looking to maximize revenue through retaining delivery, collection, fake aways/make at home kits etc. as well as opening up to eat-in customers come May.
Already on the rise pre-pandemic, dark kitchens have come into their own over the past year. Offering brands a convenient way to open up other markets (with previously central London brands reaching the regions) as well as launching virtual brands like Wing Daddies (targeting delivery), all whilst avoiding any impact on in store service. So, it looks like they’ll be here to stay.
As some of the bigger operators cut their estate, we will see more top locations empty. This offers up an opportunity for smaller brands looking to expand, possibly attracting more regional brands into London.
Retail Spin Offs
Taking out of home brands a step further is the move into retail with Cote and Pret selling via grocery. Something we may see other brands looking to expand into.
The rise of tech due to the pandemic has been well documented and offers consumers convenience and operators a source of insight. Often a way to up-sell (one operator was quoted as seeing a £9 spend increase per order via in app ordering), drive loyalty (with unique offers to app users) and access markets they perhaps hadn’t reached before (via dark kitchens and delivery).
The move to app ordering and associated data collection offers up a big opportunity for operators to personalize their communications, target their marketing and learn more about their customers than ever before. This will prove to be a powerful tool moving forward if operators can learn to leverage this valuable data.
With online and app ordering likely to remain, there are still some older consumers who will be deterred by this. Offering a choice in the future will be key, so that consumers can decide how they want to order and pay to suit the experience they want and are most comfortable with.
With a lot to discuss, these were just some of the topics touched upon over the hour. The session ended aptly on the topic of what everyone was looking forward to most. The answer…food they hadn’t cooked themselves, cold draft beer in the sun and seeing friends. Something I think we can all relate to! To find out more about Lumina visit www.lumina-intelligence.com/