F&B Hotlist
Placemaking through food

F&B is the special sauce that can take brands beyond satisfying a craving, to building a life-long bond with guests.

Everybody eats. And as people become more informed about the food they consume our global love of food is growing. It is no surprise that food has emerged as a key footfall driver. Over 20% of units in many shopping centres are currently dedicated to F&B (C&W, 2017) and this is only set to increase.

Manchester’s Sadlers Yard puts people at the heart of its food story. From the selection of its name, to the handmade furniture in The Pilcrow pub, the space has been shaped by locals. Fostering community investment in a project is a savvy move on the part of any brand, as when guests feel ownership of a space, they are more likely to return, bring their friends and spread the food story.
However just like traditional woodwork, it takes time and effort to build community from scratch. Guests are more likely to bring their own posse to the metaphorical table, rather than risking the social isolation of visiting alone. Destinations like Sadlers Yard miss a trick if they don’t actively encourage a supper-club feel at ticketed events. Brands can help foster new social connections with simple gestures that nudge guests to look beyond their pre-existing groups. Sharing moments, intimate seating areas, or even a happy hour will break the ice and get conversations flowing.

Food brings us together, but people are what make a place, who we are enjoying it with is often more important than the food itself. Brewdog’s Chain Gang cycling club has members from a range of countries, uniting beer lovers with a passion for cycling, and successfully creating an experience beyond the beverage. By bringing together like-minded individuals brands can benefit from the bonds that already exist and become the place where memories are made.

Food is not only a lynch-pin for community building, but also for community preservation and celebration. Take St Paul in Minnesota; the area was renamed ‘Little Mekong’ due to large South East Asian immigrant population. The Little Mekong Night Market leverages the area’s strong cultural identity to build a hub for the community, drawing thousands of visitors a year.
In the case of Kings Cross’ Granary Square, once a hub for bringing Lincolnshire flour for London’s bakers, the area’s redevelopment has returned a food focus to the area, aspiring to be a place for all types of people at all times of the day.

There is real demand for local food stories, with US local food sales predicted to reach $20bn by next year (Business Insider, 2017). It is local stories that make a place unique and brands can borrow credibility from locations’ existing credentials. From real Cornish fudge to Scottish smoked salmon, each corner of your country has a unique food story to tell.
Even if our food is not produced locally we still want to know its origin story, with 45 per cent willing to pay extra to know the exactly where a product came from (Mintel, 2017). We worked with award winning food centre Ludlow, to help the brand tell its farm to fork story to a growing audience. We took the time investigating and understanding how Ludlow works, lives and breathes quality food, translating this understanding into a revised name, identity and tonality for application across touchpoints.
Food has real value for brands beyond footfall, and non-food brands will increasingly establish partnerships or create their own F&B offers to drive revenue and fight for a slice of this rapidly growing market.
Images courtesy of Brewdog, Manchester’s Finest and Unsplash.

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