Blog: The Brands are Coming!

01 February 2013

The Brands are coming: 40% of IFT restaurants now have a branded food outlet within 1 mile

Following a flurry of universally positive trading statements from leading operators recently, it is clear that Branded Food concepts are doing well. Given the risk adverse nature of many consumers in the current economy, a reliable and increasingly sophisticated branded offer can seem a natural choice.

Combine this with significant focus and continued investment from major groups and this trend looks set to continue. The latest on trade universe numbers (via CGA’s Outlet Index) shows contrasting fortunes for the managed food concepts and their free trade equivalents. Today, there are 670 more Branded Food Pubs and Restaurants than there was just a year ago, yet over the same period the free trade restaurant market has shrunk by 370 outlets.

In short, local restaurants face much greater competition than ever before with nearly 40% of all free trade restaurants now having a branded food outlet within 1 mile of their front door…an increase of 26% in just the last 5 years.

So, what can free traders learn from the branded concepts? Clearly, excellent value food (regardless of price) is essential. Consistency in all areas is more important than ever as it diminishes perceived risk, and visible online feedback channels can be incredibly useful in gaining ‘advocates’ online. In general, branded concepts have seriously lifted their game across social media, customer engagement, loyalty and reward.

In doing so, there is increased competition for front-of-mind awareness when the consumer is deciding where to spend that bit of spare cash. As a result, it is now essential that non-branded venues build their own brand or ‘buzz’ in order to get the attention they need to survive and thrive in this increasingly crowded marketplace.

Scott Elliott, Account Director