Riffing on yesterday’s post about the changing demographics of the American consumer, we thought it best to look at how channels are changing the way companies market food.
In the Golden Age of Marketing taught in B-school, food & beverage companies made products for retail, while restaurants handled “eating out.” Convenience stores sold gas, soda and cigarettes (think of “Mad Men”), and we all ate three squares at home.
OK, maybe we didn’t eat all our meals at home, but we ate three squares.
Today’s consumer eats whenever he/she wants to. Food & beverages are available 24/7 in almost any place you can think of. C-stores not only sell frozen food, they compete with fast food (QSR) restaurants, and even with grocery stores (who themselves are taking market share away from restaurants by offering salad bars, grab ‘n go meals, and even opening up restaurants where you can have a meal while you shop.
Surprisingly, many marketers continue to think about “channels” as if they were railroads carrying us towards our dreams. The notion that a restaurant, for example, can control its brand and dole it out to consumers is now laughable. Companies who can’t engage with their consumers are slowly shed as those consumers find brands that do (or flee to private label).
Adapt or perish.