In recent years, the concept of a vegetarian diet has gone from a relatively rare dietary choice to a popular and trendy lifestyle choice for many. Statistics from Kantar Worldpanel show that more than a quarter of all evening meals in the UK are now Vegetarian or Vegan. These statistics are reflective of how nutrition is becoming increasingly important to consumers and how they are getting more selective about what they eat.
So how can food operators cater to the growth of vegetarianism? One way businesses can accommodate consumer trends quickly and efficiently is by adopting digital ordering. This is an excellent way of digitising businesses and provides customers with an ordering experience that drives real value. For the operators, facilitating trends like vegetarianism is quick and easy by having the technology available to create flexible menus as well as generating crucial customer insight into buying behaviour that can inform future menu options as well as streamline operational efficiencies.
How can online ordering facilitate trends such as vegetarianism?
Offer more choice
The appetite for vegetarian dishes is undoubtedly there and restaurants are being encouraged to offer more creative dishes to cater to a growing number of flexitarian diners. We even saw Greggs hit the headlines in early 2019 with their vegan sausage roll. The meat-free product was initially rolled out in 900 stores but proved so popular with vegans and non-vegans alike it fast became one of the fastest selling products for the company and is now available to over 1800 stores.
For food operators, being able to update their menus quickly is a vital factor in responding to growing customer trends. Having an online menu that is easily adaptable is an essential factor when capitalising on trends such as vegetarianism and veganism. Our Restaurant Struggles research that was published in 2018 revealed that consumers rated a great menu (91%) and the quality of the food (85%) as the most important factors when considering a food venue, proving that an appealing to a wider audience is essential in a struggling market.
Get to know your customers better
Data generated by online ordering provides invaluable insights into customers and their buying behaviour, which is fundamentally not available from cash customers. Capturing and using this data intelligently offers opportunities to engage with customers through well-targeted marketing initiatives such as personalised vegan offers, loyalty rewards or particular interest themed events. It can also provide a measure of how customers think, feel and behave, so if a food operator wants to know how well its customer base has taken to a new product like a more inspired vegetarian dish, then checking the data helps to make informed business decisions with greater ease.
Be sustainable and ethical
Offering vegetarian choices not only opens up a new market of consumers but also gives operators an opportunity to show that they care about the environment. The industry is becoming increasingly aware of the conscious consumer who is interested in environmental implications such as sustainability and waste. With online ordering, knowing what customers have ordered ahead of service time enables kitchen managers and front-of-house retail teams to reduce avoidable food waste by simply managing their production volumes. Over time, with cumulative data about customers’ buying behaviour, avoidable food waste can be reduced significantly.
The increased demand for vegetarian dishes has undoubtedly seen more food operators think about what they could be doing to appeal to a broader base of customers. Ultimately, more and more people are trying to eat healthier, and are more conscious about their food choices; therefore every business owner needs to be thinking about how they can continue to appeal to their customers effectively.
This article was featured in Restaurant Industry News.
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