Do recipes matter in foodservice marketing?

Many foodservice companies invest heavily in development of recipes that use their products.

Recipe development is part R&D and part marketing that (hopefully) inspires operator customers with ideas. Obviously, the R&D part is extremely important.  It’d be a bit embarrassing (let alone expensive) to offer a product that has limited appeal or use.

But do recipes offer much marketing value?  If company websites are any indicator, the answer is a big yes.  However, when’s the last time you analyzed your site traffic to see how popular recipes are among visitors?  You might be surprised to find that recipes attract few visitors.

One corporate chef confided in me recently that he’d question the credentials of any working chef that relied on any company-supplied recipe.  And this guy created recipes for a living at his company!

His point?  Online recipes don’t hold much marketing value because any self-respecting chef spends time developing their own signature dishes rather depending on others to do the job.

But odds are your goal with recipes is more about idea generation than believing cooks are looking for a step-by-step plan to create a meal.  Although one could argue non-commercial operators, like K-12 schools, may really appreciate recipes — especially if they meet certain FDA requirements

The first step may simply be presenting recipes in a fresh way.  Recipe sections on many sites are far from inspirational with they’re text-heavy listing of “ingredients and methods.”  The dull recipe postings are the equivalent of naming a signature burger as “brown meat placed on a bun.”

  • Think menu ideas versus recipes.  If inspiration is the goal, photography or very brief video with several ideas are more valuable than the recipes themselves.
  • Link the meal ideas from product pages.  It’s amazing how few still do this.  It’s more likely a visitor will view a recipe if it is linked right from the respective product page.
  • Aggregate ideas.  Briefly present a dozen menu ideas for a product and you have 12 times the opportunity to capture an operator’s imagination.
  • Make menu ideas actionable with downloadable meal calendars for schools.  Or organize recipes by segment.

Next weekThree keys to making recipe videos