Why more brands should embrace the Away from Home sector in 2022

2 February 2022
Author: Kirsty Whyte

Away From Home is a complex sector, with over 400,000 UK outlets across several channels.This includes commercial food service such as QSR (quick service restaurants), delivery and takeaway, restaurants and bars. It also incorporates hotels, leisure venues and schools and colleges; Not to mention, offices, healthcare and hospitals.

The sector’s ability to reach such a wide set of the population means brands can use this sector to plug the many gaps where they don’t have a traditional store presence. Away From Home is about connecting with the always-on consumer in the places where they spend a lot of their time. Whether it’s grabbing lunch at work, dining out at the weekend or a seasonal break in summer, the opportunities for consumers to purchase - and therefore brands to be present - are almost endless.

In the last few years, Away from Home was impacted as lockdown affected our daily lives. However, it’s set to be full speed ahead for 2022. Hospitality is back and holidays are predicted to be on the rise this year – which means more opportunities to sell!

With the broader sector back to business as usual, now is the time for brands to plan strategies for what is set to be a busy year for this booming channel. We’ve homed in on 3 key areas that brands should be embracing in 2022. Discover why they’re important and what opportunities they can unlock in the Away from Home sector.

1. New strategies for QSR & Takeaways

During the pandemic, one particular corner of the Away from Home sector was impacted as the hospitality sector came to a standstill. Outlets were forced to react quickly to identify new ways of reaching customers. This saw the introduction of home delivery for many restaurants and bars, and an increase in orders across existing online delivery platforms like Just Eat, UberEats & Deliveroo. This shift towards eating at home due to restaurant closures led to growth in the QSR and takeaway sector - which continues to be sustained post-peak pandemic. As a result, many pubs and restaurants have reinvented themselves and businesses have reassessed their sales approach with a move into the online space.

Many outlets have moved a proportion of their business online through the likes of delivery apps. This was significant for the sector and happened almost overnight during the peak of lockdown. More recently, with things getting back to normal, there appears to be a balance of both in-person dining and online delivery. Most hospitality sites have chosen to offer their consumers the option of both. By keeping their options open, they can maximise their sales potential whilst keeping their diners happy. However, some outlets have reaped the benefits of online ordering and chosen this as the new focal point for their business. This has resulted in outlet strategies shifting from primarily in person service, to focusing more on the online customer base.

For brands, it’s important to recognise this shift in outlet and consumer behaviour as it opens the door to new opportunities to sell. Menu support for outlets who offer their services through delivery apps are something that brands may not have considered before. However, as services and delivery menus continue to expand, we’re seeing a wider variety of products being offered via home delivery. If you can get the right strategy in place, you are primed to reach consumers out with a traditional retail presence to increase purchases.


2. Seasonal selling opportunities for brands

2022 is set to be a full year, with a number of national events such as the World Cup and Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which will see an extra bank holiday for the UK. The uncertainty of the last two years led to the cancellation of holidays but this year consumers are back planning trips with increased confidence. Therefore, brands are expected to see more selling opportunities in Away From Home across the seasonal peak.

Staycations have been a firm favourite amongst Brits during recent years. As tighter restrictions and Covid fears prevented holidays abroad, many of us turned to short breaks across the UK & Ireland instead. The trend for staycations is still a factor for brands to consider with many consumers continuing to book these for 2022. This means extra opportunities to sell right on your doorstep. Getting your products seen across local hotels, pubs and leisure establishments will help increase your sales throughout seasonal holiday peaks.

Brands should also take advantage of increased footfall during key events which will welcome more visitors to the country. Sporting events like the World Cup will see increased demand for food and refreshments in leisure and hospitality venues. Therefore, planning ahead for this will be key to secure the best opportunities to sell.

3. Hybrid working and return to education

The ability to work from home became a lifeline for many at the height of the pandemic as offices closed their doors. Today, businesses are promoting more flexibility and we’re seeing a rise in “hybrid working” - a combination of working in the office and from home. Whether on a full or part-time basis, we’re seeing more employees return to offices as they take advantage of hybrid working. Therefore, the need for catering is back and expected to grow this year due to the positivity around getting back to old office culture. Brands should identify these new changes in working life and establish a place in business catering once again.

After years of online classes, there have been reduced numbers at University and College campuses. However, like business premises, 2022 should see this rise again as more students are back on a full-time basis. Brands can target this customer base through the on-site catering sites as the demand for grabbing food and drink on the go will increase.

How do brands approach the Away from Home sector?

Taking an omni-channel approach to planning is just one of the areas that brands can adapt their Away from Home strategy to successfully connect with the changing consumer. Exploring new platforms - offline and online, consumer habits and seasonal peaks will help brands thrive in Away from Home this year.

We asked Gordon Neil, Group Marketing & Strategy Director for his thoughts on where brands should start when considering a move in the Away from Home sector,

“For most brands it's a sector that's either relatively new to them or one that they've not fully exploited yet. I think agencies are best placed to support brands in the Away from Home sector by putting teams on the ground to help build that distribution and visibility. It's not the same in retail - you need a different approach, different contact methods, different hours of work and different people to really succeed in these channels. It changes slightly by individual channel within the sector. The person who's successful in a pub is not necessarily the same person that is successful in a leisure outlet, who is not necessarily the same person who's successful in a takeaway. There’s a real opportunity for brands to leverage expertise that agencies have built in that space.” – Gordon Neil, Group Marketing & Strategy Director.

With the Away from Home sector on the growth path, it’s time for brands to take advantage of the new opportunities this unlocks. Our field marketing teams have the skills and expertise to help you succeed and can help you align your products to the shifts in the marketplace.

Throughout February, we’ll give an insight on why Away from Home is an important sector for brands to consider and what you can do to embrace key opportunities. Follow us throughout the month to find out more.

Get in touch for a 1:1 chat and let us transform your strategy in this growing sector.