How brands can prepare to take advantage of opportunities in the Away from Home sector in 2021

16 November 2020
Author: Linzi McGuire

Away from home is a complex sector, comprising of over 400,000 outlets across several channels.

Prior to March 2020, the Away From Home sector in the UK was in a period of growth, reflected in the increasing number of businesses operating in the industry.

Household spending on eating out in all types of food service venues had also been on the rise, suggesting a demand for new restaurant premises. In 2018 the eating out market in the UK reached an enormous £89.5 billion - an increase on the previous two years.

You might be asking, how is Away from Home relevant to us now, in a time where hospitality and food service outlets are closed or severely restricted in how they trade? We spoke to Stewart Sims, CEO and Founder of Caterlyst, to get his view…

Stewart comments, “Foodservice & Hospitality is a resilient sector and they WILL recover from Covid and the lockdowns that have come with it, but it’ll take time.

As the sector opens back up, consumers will return. The UK eating out population will tire quickly of eating at home and will want to get out and enjoy pubs and restaurants once again. We saw this when the Eat Out to Help Out government scheme ran in August, with outlets were booked out night after night for the duration of the scheme.

Post the first lockdown, the Away from Home sector demonstrated that they can provide a safe environment for diners, and data shows that less than 2% of Covid cases have been tracked to Hospitality. Operators have excelled in creating safe environments, which will further draw more diners back into these outlets when we can return as normal.”

So, what does this mean for brands? And how do they know where to start? We spoke to Strategy and Marketing Director, Gordon Neil for his view:

“Away From Home presents a significant opportunity for FMCG brands in particular. With a high proportion of independent operators and decisions made at outlets level, the right strategy to grow brand distribution and visibility will unlock significant sales growth. It’s fair to say the channels within the sector with the biggest opportunity have changed since March, the best example being the sharp decline in Business and Industry due to office closures and less staff on site, and the continuing rise of the Aggregators like Just Eat in the Takeaway and Delivery channel.”

So, what do brands need to consider when approaching their Away From Home strategy? We’ve summarised it into 3 areas:

Identify clear channels to focus on for your brand and get your pack strategy right

Is the opportunity in service led outlets, fast food establishments, in delivery or somewhere else? The key here is being selective based on your brand strength and not trying to tackle the whole market. The market is too big and too complex to go broad; be laser focused on the channels that will work best for you.

The right pack strategy is also key, a direct transfer of retails packs into the AFH sector rarely work, so you need to think carefully about whether your product is going to be sold front of house directly to the consumer or used back of house.

Get your route to Market in place

Strong distribution and product availability is key. Focus on the areas identified above and the Wholesale operators to ensure distribution is achieved, and work to move the end users towards purchase. Afterall, sales cannot be achieved until stockists have been obtained. The Catering Operators are critical to success.

Essentially, having identified the right channel to target, you need to know the route to market for those end users and ensure your product is available to purchase in those wholesalers/distributors.

Get the contact strategy in place to influence end users

Different contact strategies work in different channels, it’s not a one size fits all approach in AFH. In some channels, field will work best, in others it’s telesales and in some, it’s a mixture of both.

It’s important to be clear from the outset exactly where the opportunity, and therefore the focus, lies.

At McCurrach we work in close partnership with Caterlyst, because the power of their data and ability to target outlets, and our ability to influence end users through field and telesales teams, is ultimately what delivers sales growth for brands.

Caterlyst are an invaluable partner because their data is unique in the marketplace. The ability to combine pipeline management with a bespoke database of Foodservice, Ontrade and Convenience outlets with granular detail and demographics. It’s a sales enabler that when applied properly can help brands with precise sector targeting. It has been proven as the best-in-class data by many leading brands and suppliers. When combined with expert sales teams and innovative digital and data products, selling more becomes easy in the sector.

Stewart continues, “The granularity and accuracy of our data enables us to uniquely model the market and provide clients with actionable data against the opportunity value of each operator. Both National & Regional Operators and single site independents. Our Market Modeller process helps bring category sales data together and create unique lens of which operators can deliver the most value.”

Ahead of the sector reopening up post lockdown and post restrictions, brands should consider their strategy for best results in the Away From Home Sector in 2021.

Stewart comments, “Brands need to challenge their internal thinking that believes the brand has many USPs. For best results, test them with experienced (& cynical) Caterers who might confirm that one or two actually have most substance – then go tell the world about those one or two. Focus and simple communications to the right people will deliver the result.”

For more information on the Away from Home sector, watch our LinkedIn page all week, or contact us for a one-to-one conversation.

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Want to see how we achieve success for brands in the Away From Home sector?

Read our Ben n Jerry's case study to find out how we helped them win in Away from Home.

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