Standing out in a crowded market: What’s your Unicorn?

Restaurant Tech Live blog post 1

It was early 2017 and Starbucks was once again the subject of a media storm, but this time for all the right reasons. Their latest product, a limited-time only ‘Unicorn Frappuccino’, sent the internet into meltdown with its eye-bulging neon colours, teeth-tingling sweetness and the ability for eager customers to create their own version of the mystic looking beverage. 

The drink’s vibrant appearance combined with its limited availability turned it into a social media status symbol overnight, perfectly positioned to leverage one of the best filter-ready viral marketing tools around – Instagram. Whilst we’re sure that social media coverage was one of Starbuck’s main objectives, the exercise highlighted something important – even the most established of businesses can redefine themselves overnight with a strong USP at their disposal.

However, you don’t have to be a big brand to unlock the massive potential a great USP can bring, a theory which was definitely proved by The York Roast Co last year. An already well-established roast business with several sites in the UK, the company did something that took the world by storm in 2017 – they put their Yorkshire roast into a wrap. Easy to take away and eat on the move, the new offering went viral and caught the attention of the BBC, LadBible and an array of social media influencers, who flocked to try it out. 

Marketed as ‘The Yorkypud’, the product was a runaway success and elevated the company from a local food business to new global heights… but was it actually that different from what they already offered? With some agile thinking and clever engineering, the company simply turned products they were already selling into a new format and made sure their prospective customers knew about their new USP. And the rest, as they say, was history. 

Whilst the above are two extreme examples of how finding and promoting a USP can make a difference to a business, they don’t always have to be so radical. At Hello Tasty, we come across great businesses every day who already offer excellent food, drink and service, and more importantly already have several USP’s that make them special – they just don’t shout about them enough.

Have a quick look over these recent food statistics – they provide a glimpse into trending factors that are influencing where and what people eat:

• 70% of people say they're more likely to choose venues offering healthy food options

• 66% say they're more likely to visit a venue offering locally sourced food

• Whilst only 5% of the UK need to avoid certain food groups, 54% of UK households bought a healthier ‘free from’ product during Q1 2017

• More than half of UK restaurant businesses spend less than 10% of their time on marketing; 80% believe they should be doing more.

So, if you own a restaurant or food business, ask yourself what else your customers might be looking for beyond the obvious. Do you already offer a great range of gluten free options? Is your food locally and responsibly sourced? Do you cater for specialist dietary needs? Do you make sure potential customers know you offer these things?

In a crowded food market, where it costs on average 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one, your menus and marketing need to be more than just a price list - promoting what makes you different on top of what you offer is absolutely essential in standing up above your competition. 

Don’t assume that people know what your USPs are, just because they exist - make time in your business to step back, scrutinise what your printed and digital marketing says about you and evaluate if it’s easy for your prospective customers to identity the great stuff you offer beyond your core products/services.

You never know - you might just discover your new Unicorn.

Hello Tasty are a restaurant, food & drink design agency with strengths in restaurant/bar branding, menu design, food marketing and product packaging. If you’re looking to take your food brand to the next level, we can help.

www.hellotasty.co.uk

Data sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39488047 

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/TripAdvisorInsights/w605 

http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/retail-press-centre/mintel-announces-five-global-packaging-trends-for-2018 

https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/3380352/starbucks-unicorn-frappuccino-uk-information/ 

https://www.yorkmix.com/food-drink/video-york-food-sensation-takes-internet-take-world/