With safety on everyone’s minds, every aspect of the foodservice experience must be carefully scrutinized and, if needed, optimized. Focus on these three areas of innovation to strengthen and deepen customer loyalty.
Show you care about quality
Even before COVID-19, 74% of convenience store retailers said they were experiencing increased competition for foodservice sales from other foodservice operators, according to The State of C-Store Foodservice, a Technomic report released in early August. Now that many customers’ routines are changing, quick-service restaurants and other foodservice channels pose even greater competition.
That’s why quality is crucial. According to Technomic, 35% of consumers say they are increasing their foodservice purchases because the food looks or tastes fresh; about the same number say they spend more because they perceive the food to be higher quality. Many operators are listening: Wawa, for example, is testing out a dinner menu that includes rotisserie-style chicken and a new Angus burger, while Cumberland Farms is piloting a Farmhouse Fresh To Go store serving freshly made sandwiches, baked goods and more.
When modifying your menu, don’t forget about flavor. The Institute of Food Technologists’ 2020 Flavor Forecast identified “complex heat” and “tangy, tart and sour” among the top flavors consumers would be seeking this year. Hot sauce makes it easy to satisfy their demands for flavor and quality, and the TABASCO® Family of Flavors® delivers on both with a variety of flavor profiles and heat levels—from classic TABASCO® Brand Original Red Sauce to tangy TABASCO® Brand Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce to rich TABASCO® Brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce.
Build confidence with packaging
To meet customers’ heightened concerns over safety, c-stores (including New England’s Nouria) have switched to prepackaged formats for popular, traditionally self-serve items like pizza and hot dogs. In fact, consumers most frequently pointed to “tamper-proof seals on containers or bags” as the “most crucial” packaging elements, according to Datassential. But it’s not just about the food and the container it comes in. Sealed, factory-packaged sauces and dressings were also perceived as the safest components of takeout and delivery orders, cited by 56% of survey respondents.
Innovative packaging solutions not only help your customers feel more confident in your offerings, but they also add a measure of delight. In fact, Datassential research finds that 75% of consumers say TABASCO® Mini Bottles make dining more fun. Though they may be small, TABASCO® Brand’s convenient Mini Bottles and PC Packets can make a big difference in the foodservice experience you deliver—and will keep customers coming back for more.
Lean in to low-contact
As restaurant chains begin to launch low-contact restaurant designs—from walk-up windows to touchless ordering—c-stores are quickly following suit. A recent RTi Research survey found that 30% of consumers used contactless payment technology for the first time since the pandemic was declared in mid-March, and 70% say they will continue to use it once the pandemic subsides.
Digital ordering also paves the way for bigger baskets by encouraging upsells—for example, adding a hot or cold beverage to a food item, or vice versa. And it’s important for building loyalty among younger consumers, who are most likely to engage with and expect high-tech amenities, according to Technomic.
C-stores like Casey’s General Stores, the 2,000-unit chain known for its pizza, just launched curbside pickup, while GetGo, the convenience arm of supermarket chain Giant Eagle, is using checkout-free technology from Grabango to provide a completely contactless experience. Shoppers simply choose their items, scan a code on their app and receive a digital receipt—no waiting in line or interacting with a cashier required. While “low contact” looks different for every operation, these solutions are as much about consumers’ desire for convenience as they are about safety.
TABASCO® Brand is here to help c-store operators build customer loyalty in the new normal. Single-serve solutions from the hot sauce brand customers know and trust add value to your foodservice program in formats that are safe, convenient and fun. Explore our c-store solutions at TABASCOfoodservice.com/convenience.
This post is sponsored by TABASCO® Brand