Depending on which studies you read, the grab-and-go (GNG) industry has been — and continues to be — a booming industry. According to Richard Macomb, a UK-based writer that follows grab-and-go trends, “it’s a booming sector fueling our busy lives.”
The reason he gives for this rapid growth is that GNG has offered so much convenience and “convenience is king”. He also refers to grab-and-go food as “food on the move,” perfect for today’s fast-moving consumers. These consumers purchase food items at all hours in a variety of locations from stop-and-go markets to high-end hotels.
So, if grab-and-go is so hot, why are some retailers having a tough time turning it into gold? There is no one answer, but more likely a variety of reasons why some are not doing as well as they like or had expected. The following are some suggestions that can help all vendors make the most of their GNG food products:
Variety. There’s an old expression that says “abundance invites; scarcity repels.” That applies to GNG food. Include several entrée items in display cases and accompany them with a wide selection of other items, so customers can round out the meal with a variety of sides. This will help you develop a more complete grab-and-go menu.
Signature meal choices. Shopping malls invariably depend on two or more anchor tenants to make the mall successful. These anchor tenants bring shoppers into the mall, which helps support all the retailers. The same applies to GNG. Offer some special, favorite meal choices to draw customers to your entire GNG food selection.
Consistency. Nothing irks customers more than needing to scour a store display case looking for a GNG food item they like and regularly purchase. Develop a consistent display presentation. Don’t rotate items that customers buy consistently or move slow sellers to where the favorite items were once displayed. If a GNG food item is not selling well, it is best to look for another product.
Branding. The food must look good to get the customer’s attention, but take that a step further. Packaging should also have the same look and feel, as well as colors and signage of the retail establishment in which it is sold. Every product in a grab-and-go food case must have a name and branded signage, according to Arlene Spiegel, a business consultant to the foodservice industry. “Make sure the signage is distinctive… this contributes to building a loyal fan base.”
Be neighborhood-specific. Marketing vegan GNG products on a college campus or in a high-tech area filled with younger workers would likely do well; however, marketing those same products in an industrial or blue-collar area where meat, fish and chicken are popular might not do so well.
The importance of labels. As mentioned, GNG labels can be used to help brand a product and a retailer. But they should also provide ample information so that the customer knows exactly what they are selecting, its ingredients, and a clear and understandable expiration date. In the past, this could be a drag on labor. However, with the emergence of automated food labeling platforms such as DayMark Safety Systems’ MenuPilot system, labeling GNG items is a much more efficient process.
Metrics. Finally, it is critical to track what items are — and are not — selling, how long some items take to sell, who is buying what (younger people, older people, women, men) and at what times. Doing so will reduce food waste and waste reduction, and in turn, helps increase profits. Providing what your customers want is what helps turn grab-and-go into gold.