Food safety, traceability and sustainability blog


Friday Round-up (7/24/20): How Restaurants are Capturing Consumer Attention

Every week FoodLogiQ will be aggregating the latest updates and resources for businesses navigating the changing food industry. Learn how the industry leaders are adapting to protect and feed consumers, while building resilience in the face of global crisis.

Yelp released a new report this week on business closures since the pandemic, indicating that restaurants have been hit the hardest. As reported in Restaurant Dive, the findings from Yelp show that “permanent business closures from the COVID-19 pandemic now account for 55% percent of all closed businesses since March 1, a 14% increase since June.” The article continues, “For restaurants, the picture is even more grim, with a 60% permanent closure rate, or a 23% increase since June 15. That equates to 15,770 permanent closures.”

The dollars being spent on restaurant food have become more competitive than ever, meaning that both small restaurants and QSR brands need to be innovative in how they market their products and services. National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president of public affairs, Sean Kennedy, told the publication Baltimore, “What has been really remarkable about this industry is how quickly so many small businesses redefined themselves and their business models literally over a 10-day period.” 

From developing additional sales channels, to take-out cocktails, to rethinking the menu, various overnight changes have kept many businesses afloat. Both large and small brands are also improving their unit economics by streamlining offerings. Kennedy explained, “A lot of restaurants are making their menus simpler. They have fewer dishes with fewer total ingredients that the kitchen needs to have. This helps lower costs and increase efficiencies in the back of the house.”

Some brands have opted to tell new stories to grab consumer attention at this moment. Burger King made headlines for offering some tongue-and-cheek respite from 2020–which, as a year, seems to draw unanimous criticism for its poor performance since January—by celebrating the holiday season in July. This follows a stunt in March, where the brand advertised a Quarantine Whopper

Other brands are pairing new programs with initiative for good, appealing to more advanced sensibilities around ethical consumerism, while addressing the tremendous hardship brought on by the catastrophic health and economic impacts of the pandemic. As part of their new Grocery program, Subway has prominently included an easy way to donate food to first responders when placing an order (but you can also donate without ordering here). Similarly, as part of their COVID-19 response, sweetgreen launched Impact Outpost, “a program to deliver free sweetgreen to hospital workers and medical personnel.” You can donate to the Impact Outpost Fund here.

Ultimately, reaching consumers in the new normal requires avenues for safe purchasing. For many restaurant companies, this means a renewed investment in technologies that enable more seamless ordering, pick-up and delivery, as well as digital visibility into food products. Brands like Dunkin’ have even created new C-Suite roles in order to develop their digital platform strategy. These investments indicate a longer term view for adopting solutions that build resilience in the new normal.


View FoodLogiQ's COVID-19 Food Industry Resource Center for industry-specific updates, resources and information on the coronavirus crisis. For supply chain traceability and risk mitigation guidance, see our general Resource Center.

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Posted by Anna Ploegh on Jul 24, 2020 6:17:39 PM