Opinion: Delivering Value Beyond Discounts

You have a whole lot of ways other than price to tempt consumers

Kevin Higar, Author, Foodservice Marketing Consultant

Kevin Higar

I genuinely expect 2012 to be a unique year for the foodservice industry. For the past few years, operators and suppliers have walked a delicate price tightrope. Input costs often created a need to pass along some price to consumers, but the question of how much is too much always lingered nearby.

Based on what consumers are telling us at Technomic, this year may be shaping up differently. While price is certainly still going to be important, many individuals are also considering other “experience” elements when forming their personal value equations. Innovative operators and suppliers are jumping on this changing mindset as a great opportunity to showcase their unique food and service attributes.

Let me guess: Right about now you’re probably saying, “Kevin, do you happen to know what some of these other differentiating value strategies might be?” Glad you asked. Just so happens I’ve spent the past six months traveling around the country identifying the various ways concepts of all sizes and price points are strategically creating value.

When the exhaust smoke from my road-tripping car had cleared, what emerged was a list of 70 unique value strategies that creative operators are currently offering. I organized these tactics into 14 larger categories called The Value Circle:

  1. Price-point perceptions;
  2. Accommodating “busy”;
  3. Focus on flavor;
  4. Comfort foods;
  5. Indulgence;
  6. Premium;
  7. Portions;
  8. The road trip;
  9. All about options;
  10. The perception of fresh;
  11. Quality of life;
  12. The preparation process;
  13. The supporting role;
  14. Concept core.

Notice anything in that list? While 14 of the 70 strategies dealt with price (all lumped into the “price perceptions” category), 56 others, found in the remaining 13 categories, did not. That means operators have a whole lot of ways other than price to tempt consumers. While it isn’t possible to go into each of the 13 categories here, I would like to give you a couple of unique examples.

Accommodating Busy
Pie Five, a fast-casual concept in Fort Worth, Texas, offers guests the opportunity to customize a fresh, high-quality personal-size pizza in less than 5 minutes via a conveyor convection oven. This model should create major value for on-the-go individuals in nontraditional locations such as office buildings, airports and convenience stores.

Comfort Foods
Do you like waffles, eggs, ham and pesto? Me too. How about when the waffle is folded like a taco and a fried egg, shaved ham and pesto sauce is lovingly placed inside? Bruxie’s in Orange, Calif., has become a local cult favorite with this sandwich, known affectionately as Green Eggs and Ham. Comfort-food value can be created in either a traditional or contemporary manner, and this dish captures a little bit of both.

Concept Core
Value doesn’t necessarily have to focus on food. The Original Pancake House works hard to establish an environment where customers enjoy lingering comfortably after a meal. Its Frisco, Texas, unit goes so far as to ask regulars to volunteer time when the restaurant serves breakfast at a local charity event. For these guests, the value of a concept that offers as part of its core a sense of “gathering place” expands well beyond its four walls.

The moral of this story? Consider strategies beyond price. Explore the strategies above, and use them one at a time, simultaneously, or apply different ones at various times throughout the year.

So until next time, if you know of any unique, off-the-beaten-path places, send me an email. My car is always pointed toward the road less traveled.

Kevin Higar is director of research and consulting services for Technomic Inc. He can be reached at [email protected].

By Kevin Higar, Author, Foodservice Marketing Consultant
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