The digital age is having a strong impact on the way business is conducted around the world. A recent survey conducted by Protiviti of 728 business leaders globally found that corporations view disruptive innovation and rapidly changing new technologies as the top risks facing them in 2018. The foodservice industry is no exception.
A second major risk, the survey found, was that resistance to change may cause organizations to fail to make the necessary adjustments to their business models.
But for those who understand the advances in technology and strive to use them to change their business models, the digital age need not be risky, but beneficial.
Here is a look — based on a presentation by marketintelligence — at the major changes facing the foodservice industry in the digital age and how it can effectively embrace and use them.
Disruption in the Foodservice Industry
Disruptive innovation has been made possible by applications that work over the Internet and have been developed for computers, tablets and smartphones. These applications have put power into the hands of consumers at all levels. No longer do consumers play a reactive role in selecting among services and products placed before them. They play an active role in searching them out.
For foodservice in the digital age, these new technological advances mean:
- Operators no longer wait for a broker or distributor sales representative to come to them with new products or services. Nor do they seek out new products only by attending food shows. They use applications on the web to find them and to learn about them — and the challenge is that they might find them through disruptive forces outside the established foodservice industry.
- Consumers are looking to eat anywhere at any time even as tastes change rapidly in some areas. The industry must be ready to serve their needs.
- The message to foodservice manufacturers is that they need to act proactively rather than reactively. They can do so by making more use of the extensive data that today’s technology has made available to them. So far, they have tended to wait for national brokers and distributor sales representatives to come to them in search of products and services rather than to develop new products to cater to new tastes and to market them more aggressively.
The challenge to the foodservice industry is to connect with consumers at all levels and to use the new technology to work for them to advance their strategic business plans.
Seven Insights for Food and Beverage
When assessing foodservice in the digital age, it is important to know how the world is changing. The key is to check out what works in the new age rather than relying on what has worked in the past.
- Understand Changing Consumer Trends – Today’s consumers are more varied in their choices than before, from urban to rural, millennial to seniors, wealthy to lower income. Work with foodservice operators to get to know what the trends are and how to cater to them.
- Work Across Channels – Make sure that your teams work together with new methods to make your brand known across all channels.
- Reach Across the Spectrum – Consumers in the modern world want choices available anywhere at any time. The foodservice industry needs to reach out to them and understand their needs as a vital part of cross-channel marketing strategy.
- Reconfigure Your Marketing – Your foodservice team members reflect consumer trends. Ensure your marketing to retailers and operators are designed to include those changing consumer demands.
- Talk to Consumers – Join in dialog about your brands with consumers, whether they are dining out or buying retail. They are talking about you and your products; make sure you take part in the discussion.
- Speak with One Voice – Ensure that your front-office message is consistent throughout your organization.
- Act on Your Findings – Once you understand the impact across channels of changes brought in the new digital era, adapt to them in the most innovative ways possible.
Drive Performance and Fuel Growth
Once you comprehend the changes that are being brought about by the digital age, it is important that you use them to maximum effect.
Today’s technology means, for example, that you are able to connect with your supply chain and with consumers in ways that were not possible to the same extent before. You can obtain sales and services data more effectively, more quickly, and more efficiently. In turn, you will be able to drive demand for your products or services and boost your sales in new innovative ways.
These new tools also enable you to measure your trade investments more accurately. As a result, you can understand what impact your dollars are having in which areas and how effective they are. You can thereby pay for performance that works.
Another benefit of big data made available by today’s technology is that manufacturers can tell operators about trends that are taking place among consumers. They can become more flexible, stay ahead of opportunities that are emerging, and pass these opportunities on to their field sales staff as soon as they are available.
Key Areas to Explore
As the digital age continues to explode with new applications and even greater collection of data across 1.4 million operators, we can use analytics to look for new, innovative ways to act on the data.
- Accountability – Efficient use of analytics, for example, will not only enable you to seek out new opportunities but also assess your sales representatives’ effectiveness more accurately.
- Improved Predictability – The digital age also makes possible more accurate predictions of selling opportunities that lie ahead. Armed with this information, the sales force itself will be able to adapt more effectively to new products and other opportunities to increase sales.
- Adaptability – By adapting to the opportunities provided by the digital age, the foodservice industry will meet disruptive innovation and new technological advances with actions that are innovative and therefore, in a sense, disruptive, too.
The time for foodservice manufacturers to embrace the new digital era is now. Identify ways your company should make technological advances and do it now or you may get left behind.