Food Marketing Debate – Dinner for One

The consumer reality doesn’t always match the images that food delivery marketers project when promoting their services. Visions of family dinners around the table, along with larger gatherings of friends lifting a glass, don’t reflect the trend of single person dining. According to the Hartman Group’s Food and Beverage Occasions Compass data, almost 50 percent of eating occasions are completely alone. Societal changes such as delayed marriage norms, two working parents and always “on” work environments have more and more people eating solo dinners.

Marketers need to embrace this reality and talk to the single diner in a way that is accepting, entertaining and delicious.

Food Away from Home that Feels Like Home

food marketing
Source: Fred

American spending on food away from home has been on the rise, with a daily average of $8.35 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. Stores such as Wegmans and Whole Foods continually fine-tune offerings to match this trend. They supply ready-to-go food stations offering a variety of healthful, delicious and culturally relevant food choices, along with increased in-store seating for either communal or single seat options for the entire range of diners.

So, how can you help your client stand create relevance for this audience?

Meal Kit for One

Meal kit delivery services launched with Blue Apron back in 2012. The industry has grown to over $400 million and has just started to see some specialization. For instance, Purple Carrot offers meal kits for vegetarians and vegans and recently entered into a partnership with Tom Brady to deliver his TB12 high-performance meal kits.

I have a very large family and love to cook for a big group, but when alone I am likely skip the stove and opt for a bowl of cereal. For those of us who regularly eat dinner on their own and love to cook, it would be great to have a meal kit that was packaged specifically for dinner for one. Meal kits services need to offer niche options for single serve meals or add in make once eat twice messaging.

TV Dinner Brought to You by Uber

If restaurant owners are not currently in the delivery game they need to get there now. Investment firm Cowen is forecasting a 79 percent increase over the next five years in the total U.S. food home delivery market.

Consumers have embraced Uber for travel and have learned to trust the service’s reliability.  Restaurant owners can jump ahead of the competition by utilizing UberEats as the channel to profits.  In fact, UberEats is the most profitable portion of Uber’s business and projected to continue to grow.

Tell a New Story

Creating relevance with the audience will require understanding what motivates and drives this consumer – whether it be cost, convenience, quality, choice or all the above. The words and images used to tell that story must connect back to the customer needs, and provide reasons to change and believe. Tapping into market research like and keeping direct tabs on your customer needs, be it via online surveys, email newsletters or social media is essential to returning customers.

Trends are moving U.S. dining away from the traditional table setting.  Weather its solo dining, in-home ordering or changing preferences on food quality and portion size, those in the meal industry need to refine their marketing and go to market strategies to stay relevant.

Annie Perkins
SVP, Consumer Practice


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