FORGET THE WHO, LETS TALK ABOUT THE WHERE?
“Who is our customer?” I am old enough to have sat in on countless sales and marketing meetings where this question has been posed. But with everything that has gone on in the world recently, specifically Brexit and covid, are we now asking the wrong question? Should we actually be asking “Where is our customer?”
Remote working has had a huge impact on where people actually are when they need to be fed and/or watered, so how does this impact foodservice operators? Essentially, all it does is change the shape of the demand rather than lowering it.
Those who would normally have eaten in city centres are now doing so in suburban and rural areas, whilst workplace catering has lost out to small, local coffee shops and restaurants.
Many consumers remain wary of covid which means that they are travelling less than before, whether that be commuting, or going further afield for either business or leisure. This, along with working from home, has heavily impacted city centres, along with major financial and business centres, all of which have experienced a significant downturn in footfall. And it’s not just ‘local’ travel that has fallen. The lack of visitors to the UK has had a big effect on tourist centres and leisure attractions.
And, of course, we have the surge in home delivery, which is being driven by consumer demand – we want food delivered to our homes more than ever before. But here too there has been a significant shift. Where previously food was delivered as part of a traditional grocery shop, we now have “dark supermarkets” delivering groceries in just minutes. And for those who don’t want to cook there is now the option of having finished dishes and restaurant quality meal kits delivered straight to their door.
As we return to some form of post covid normality there is bound to be some kind of correction, especially as more and more people return to offices and transport hubs, but for now I would like to argue that identifying where customers are is every bit as important as knowing who they are.