Industry: Contract Food and Support Services
Name of contact: Leslie Wilson, VP Marketing
More than ever before, people care passionately about their food: its origin, ingredients, preparation and serving. Tomorrow’s leaders in the culinary industry need to be more than gifted chefs. They need to be ready to lead their teams, organizations and companies in advancements in culinary direction, new product development and menu innovation. They also need to be skilled in anticipating changing consumer palates and lifestyles. Never has that been more true when considering life for students on campuses while away from home.
Four years away from home! For some students, it’s a dream come true. For others, a frightening rite of passage. But for every young adult, it is trans-formative. Perhaps this is because there is no other period of time when a student is immersed in so many new ideas, experiences, and opinions. Add growing participation as creators, critics, collectors and joiners to social networking sites for this cohort; and the business opportunities around product development for contract caterers become apparent.
93% of digital marketing and advertising professionals believe that utilizing social media as a mechanism for customer feedback provides an exceptional opportunity for product development, according to the latest research by Crimson Hexagon.
Social platforms offer Chartwells, a subsidiary of Compass Group Canada, access to a vast pool of students, with whom we can engage and converse in real-time, through out our products’ life-cycle. A “product” could come in the form of a new culinary offer, a brand franchise partnership or simply a recipe or category promotion.
Chefs have a new opportunity – to bring consumers in to the development process through social media. Chefs have more pressure than ever before. It goes beyond presenting the plate, it includes marketing, social skills and personality. Social product innovation enables us to deliver better and more profitable offers to the market, at faster speeds. Chef Wayne Nichols, Corporate Executive Chef Compass Group Canada
Social Product Innovation: The practice of leveraging Social Computing principles and technologies to support the product development process, innovation and business goals, programs and resources. Kalypso Consulting
Tim Horton’s Bring it Back promotion is a best in class example of this working well in the food industry in Canada. In honour of its 50th anniversary, the company unveiled five classic menu items – one per decade – and allowed the public to vote on which item they would like brought back for a limited time. The candidates were the eclair, sugar twist, pecan butter tart, chocolate sour cream glazed donut and the bread bowl. Voting ran from May 1-14 and Thursday morning they announced the eclair, which garnered 40% of the votes, as the winner.
And the winner is… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o1GR8eNQQA
“With over 200,000 votes counted as part of our Bring It Back campaign, and thousands of comments on social media, we couldn’t be more excited to be giving back to our loyal guests, by reintroducing for a limited time The Eclair in restaurant later this year,” Tim Hortons’ President & CEO Marc Caira said in a press release.
As a part of the Chartwells culinary development process, the culinary and marketing teams engage with front line operators for idea generation, on-site development, pre-launch buzz and post launch support.
3 NEW Ways for Chartwells use Social Media for Culinary Development
1. Beta-testers / Consumer Driven innovators – Recruit students from across the country, from multiple campuses to provide early feedback on a new food offers before they launch. Why not use crowd-sourcing to engage with interested students via social channels to provide feedback vis open forums, offer community support, and product messaging ideas?
2. Partners – Involve ingredient and distribution suppliers. Our suppliers such as Sysco, Rich Products and Weston Bakeries (to name a few) have teams of executive chefs that already actively participate in the early design and spec days. In a community forum, they add expertise, market data to our audience, and further community support.
3. Put the data collected to work – Indicated to our product development community that we will collectively work on an initiative and plan to carry it out, we must deliver on that promise. When the community participates and has given their time to share their needs and wants, let’s reward their efforts through launch campaign messaging!
Lessons Learned: You may be surprised to learn that your customers do not just want to buy/receive products and services from your company, they want to actually participate in the process, too! The results have demonstrated benefits: more and better product ideas, faster time to market, faster product adoption, lower product costs, and lower development costs. Social media is a cost-effective and efficient means to further development.
Submitted By: Leslie Wilson, VP Marketing Compass Group Canada
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of Compass Group Canada Ltd., its subsidiaries, affiliates, or employees. The information contained herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed by the author to be reliable. However, the author does not make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the information’s accuracy or completeness.