Taking a pause on foodservice marketing research

foodservice marketing researchBroad foodservice marketing research studies make skeptics like me to pause — especially when it comes predicting buying behavior in a B2B industries like ours.

It gets harder to believe each day that you can reduce all foodservice operators down to a few common characteristics from which you bank a marketing plan around.

Every conversation I have with a restaurant manager or cafeteria director leaves me spinning.  On one hand, 90 percent of the conversation is filled with obvious conclusions (those “common characteristics”).  Then the other 10 percent involves a twist I didn’t see coming.

Problem is the 90-10 mix varies like the DNA of the person I’m speaking to. Understanding that 10 percent, frankly, is where great sales people come on the scene to do some micro marketing.

But there are some broad analyses — like a this article from Avtar Ram Singh, a social media lead for the global brand marketing giant Publicis — that make sense.

Singh’s cites research that foodservice marketers might consider:

  • Customers despise being constantly pitched on promotions and discounts. In fact, “marketing” to them in the classic sense is becoming more of a negative than a positive.
  • Customers believe and are loyal to brands that consistently inform and educate them on relevant topics. In other words, show them the trick on how to extend hold times for French fries… rather than extolling the virtues of your brand of fries.
  • The quality and relevance of content is much more important than how beautifully it’s presented. That’s not to say do a schlocky creative job… but few (if any) are going to appreciate the five-hour internal argument about the proper PMS color on your next email campaign.

Singh ends his article with the stat that 78 percent of consumers say “relevant content” influence their intent to purchase.


Yet, sometimes stating the obvious is a good reminder for us all when we get trapped into philosophical arguments over “what the brand means.”

Customers don’t care — at least in the clinical way we marketers try to uncover the “real” brand personality.

Customers want to rely on people and companies that help them figure stuff out.  It’s not much more complicated than that.

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