Building powerful food delivery brands in a world without restaurants, by kaykroo’s Dalia Eit

Merchandising is a particularly powerful tool for food delivery providers that are unable to lean on real-world interaction inside a restaurant, writes Dalia Eit, head of marketing at kaykroo.

The meteoric rise and maturation of the online food delivery market has created incredible opportunities – but enormous challenges. It has rapidly become a saturated and highly nuanced market, serving many different communities, trends and lifestyles. Gaining and maintaining a competitive edge in a world where restaurants are increasingly less relevant means creating new lifestyle connections with a powerful brand promise that cuts through the online noise.

For companies in the cloud kitchen space – operating multiple brands all from the same vast kitchen – it is crucial to building a digital brand experience for multiple communities without the luxury of a physical venue with lights, music and ambience. A crucial starting point is listening – which is where data steps in.

Data analysis allows cloud kitchen marketeers to drill down deep into specific communities’ needs, appetites and expectations. It allows us to meet the rising demand for niche trends like food personalisation, vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, locally sourced ingredients, sustainable sourcing and cultural authenticity. Understanding these nuances allows for the creation of distinct products, each with its own identity and a brand promise that is carefully communicated to customers – from the packaging all the way up to marketing channels.

Digital marketing activities can dovetail into the wider lifestyle experience that customers are looking for. QR codes are a case in point. By placing them on food packaging and delivery bags, the customer can explore the brand experience beyond the food itself. Linking QR codes to menus makes it possible to create dynamic ways of exploring what dishes are made of and where ingredients are sourced – and they provide a powerful platform for promotions, food trials, merchandising, giveaways and other more established marketing tactics.

Merchandising is a particularly powerful tool for food delivery providers that are unable to lean on real-world interaction inside a restaurant – and it creates opportunities to engage with customers and influencers through social media. This is about creating a lifestyle connected to the brand that reaches out way beyond the food experience itself: a lasting, memorable brand story that resonates and has meaning.

That experience can be further enriched through collaborations with like-minded brands that talk to customers in the same kind of language, and about the same kind of issues. A new soon-to-be-launched brand from kaykroo that places particular emphasis on the communities and cultures that it sources its ingredients from, is partnering with other start-ups that focus on wellness and lifestyle issues. There are also opportunities to collaborate with lifestyle services providers like gymnasiums or wellness service providers: expanding the brand experience through a range of other digital and real-world touchpoints.

Of course, those customers will only keep coming back if the product itself is as good as its promise: to create incredible food experiences with a restaurant-grade quality of service, presentation and production. Every part of the brand experience has to create an emotional connection. Packaging obviously has to look great – but it also has to protect contents from damage, spillage and compromised temperatures.

Staying relevant and beating the competition in this highly saturated market requires innovation of product, brand experience and emotional connection: and that means no matter how successful we are, and whoever our social media influencers are, we must keep listening. Cloud kitchens exist not in the world of bricks and mortar but in a virtual, dynamic and ever-evolving ecosystem of trends and fashions: those who fail to listen will fail to evolve and fail to survive.