Bag

Reinvent the Brown Bag

Add options to your menu that are good to go!

Canadians are hungering to add minutes to their day without compromising on taste or health. Whether a snack, lunch or full dinner, they want easy, healthful and delicious options, with a particular emphasis on “health.”

According to research by Innova Market Insights, tracking launches between 2013 and 2017, there was a 17% increase in the growth of snacks with a health claim and a 22% increase in those with a nutritious claim.

At the same time, more and more consumers, especially Millennials, are turning their meals into snack occasions. Snacks by their very nature are convenient – grab 'n go, on-the-move, portable.


WITH SIMPLE ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR MENU OFFERINGS YOU CAN GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS BACK SOME VALUED MINUTES.


Why not become their go-to for convenient eating? Here are five Ws to show you how:

WHO are you serving?

“Do your research. Find out what’s missing and fill it, but be organic to your business.  Don’t lose track of who you are,” suggests Sabrina Hutchison, owner of Imperial Market & Eatery in New Hamburg, Ont. Sound advice if you want to add convenient eating options to your menu. 

Hutchison and her husband were already operating another local food business so they knew the clientele before opening Imperial Market & Eatery.  

TIP: TARGET AN EXISTING CLIENTELE TO FILL A VOID (AND THE TILL). 

Hutchison knew that feed mill workers close to Imperial Market & Eatery had only 30-minute lunch breaks. 

“During a busy lunch time, we didn’t want them to wait in the chit line for a custom sandwich,” she says. “Our Brown Bag Lunch evolved for them – a Signature Sandwich, made daily with choice of side and drink.”

Imperial made their Brown Bag Lunch self-serve so the workers could fill their bag and drop an even $10 cash in the jar and be on their way in seconds.

WHAT's on the menu?

Think outside your existing menu. Can your sandwich offerings be made ahead, wrapped and still be delicious by lunch or late afternoon, or even dinner? Do your customers love your sriracha lime aioli? Well-positioned and packaged, customers might opt to take some home.

Local products are featured in Imperial Market & Eatery's menu, but they took it a step further to offer these local products on their shelves: a perfect fit for their brand and image – local family in an historic building offering global comfort food. The chefs also have a range of back-of-house made preserves available for take-home.

Customers' expectations are high no matter the eating occasion. Meeting trends within trends can set you apart in this competitive business. Yes, healthy is important, but consumers are also looking for mindfulness in ingredient choices, artisanal in style and portable, eco-friendly packaging. 

TIP: GO THE EXTRA STEP. 

Snacks and meals with clean labels, healthy ingredients, high protein content and vegan options are strong on the trend radar and should be part of your convenience strategy.

WHERE's the food?

“Positioning. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the freezer (right beside the cash) has done so well for us,” says Hutchison. People who are coming in to eat a meal are increasing their check size because of the physical convenience of adding on. “When a customer comments ‘that was the best soup I ever had’, it’s great to be able to say, we have some frozen for you to take home and enjoy, right here.”

A cooler, freezer or display case, in the right location can pump up customer spend.

TIP: DON'T FORGET CLICK AND COLLECT.

If you are expanding your takeout offerings, remember to make it easy for your customers to come in for pickup and payment – a separate entrance, good signage or dedicated cash can ease traffic flow and reduce frustration. Remember to have product placed for customers to add more to their order at pickup – it’s hard to resist a homemade butter tart when it’s right in front of you.

Taking the food to the people might be an avenue to navigate – adding delivery, using a delivery service, even a taxi service for those more remote locations, can fill a need.

WHEN to offer?

Eating has become an all-day affair. Traditional snack and meal times no longer run by the clock.

Having hot soup available as a takeout option in your coffee shop at 6 a.m. might not work, but having it already packaged, cold, right beside the counter could. Or consider packaged breakfast wraps to grab while picking up dinner.

Timing is everything. Waiting too long for a takeout order might deter a customer from ordering again. When adding to your existing fare, ensure the kitchen is capable of managing the increased volume.

TIP: ALWAYS THINK AHEAD TO THE NEXT MEAL.

Whatever your typical offering, be ready to fill your customers' needs for later. When grabbing lunch their stomachs are already thinking about snacks and even dinner.

WHY?

See a need, fill a need. And sometimes a need your customers don't even realize they have. Convenient eating is being in the right place at the right time. With simple adjustments to your menu offerings you can give your customers back some valued minutes.

“Be willing to try and willing to change,” says Hutchison. “But stay true to your brand roots and keep your eyes open.”

Grab one (or two or a dozen) convenient eating add-ons and you are good to go.


Imperial Market & Eatery made their Brown Bag Lunch self-serve so the workers could fill their bag and drop an even $10 cash in the jar and be on their way in seconds.


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