We are travelling more and more, whether this is lengthy commutes extending our work days, or exotic holidays further afield. With more time being spent in transit, there is growing demand for F&B options that meet our travel-needs.
The UK food-to-go market will be worth £23.5bn by 2022, increasing £6.1bn in five years (IDG, 2017), and brands wanting to grab a share of this growing market face tough competition.
Customer expectations are rising and food-to-go means much more than a sandwich. Of course, certain elements will still be quick wins for customers when it comes to food-to-go, solutions should be portable, reliable and cheap. Household’s recent emotiveye project revealed there is a direct correlation between time spent enjoying a meal, and the amount customers are willing to pay for it. When in a rush, customers seek cheaper options as time spent reflects the experience’s perceived value.
Healthy options are also increasingly a key priority for customers when travelling as we are no longer willing to compromise on health. Gone are the days of disappointing mid-journey meals, Gloucester Services is transforming the motorway stop-off with its Quick Kitchen & Deli, serving healthy and balanced meals made on site. The services even has an on-site beehive, with the hyper-local honey used in the kitchen and sold in the shop.
Customers don’t need to compromise on longer journeys either. Singapore Airlines is launching the longest non-stop flight in the world (9,534 miles from Newark, NJ to Singapore) and is working with nutrition experts Canyon Ranch to craft in-flight meals tailored the body’s needs during the long journey. The airline is re-evaluating portion sizes, and selecting drinks that both hydrate, and promote bathroom trips to encourage regular movement en route.
‘Food-to-go’ is often associated with a lack of time, with time spent preparing a main meal dropping from 90 minutes, 30 years ago, to just 30 minutes today (Tesco, 2017). Customers’ busy lifestyles are squeezing minutes out of meal times, and as a result, convenient meal solutions and on–demand restaurant delivery continue to grow.
Brands are striving to create the most streamlined purchase journeys, perfectly illustrated by Amazon’s new PickUp option that allows Prime members to pick up Whole Foods groceries without even leaving their car. In France, shopping for the basics is streamlined via baguette vending machine. Yes that’s right, the machines dispense freshly heated baguettes, any time of day, for just €1. Very convenient when you consider the limited opening hours of French boulangeries!
However eating on the go, does not always mean eating in a rush. Transient spaces, whatever your mode of travel, involve a lot of rushing but also a lot of waiting. So how does having time to kill affect our F&B needs? Even when waiting, travellers don’t have the luxury of time, there is always a finite amount of time until departure and when one small delay to the meal or purchase can make you late, reassurance is key. Customers want to know that they will not be delayed, whether they have 30 minutes or 30 seconds to spend.
Schiphol airport is going the extra mile to cater to customers whilst they wait, partnering with Deliveroo to bring food to customers at their gate. If similar offers become more widespread, the brands that previously capitalised on captive customers, will need to readdress their offers to continue to compete.
Growth of food-to-go shows no signs of slowing down, and brands must cater to a multitude of customer missions. Eateries in transient spaces with a fast turnaround yet space to dwell, will be the best at catering for all.
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