As digital technologies continue to revolutionize the restaurant industry, it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends and recognize new opportunities in the market. The digital revolution has made it possible for entrepreneurs in various industries to set up their companies without overinvesting in space, staff, or equipment. The same is now happening in the restaurant business.
Virtual food brands are the latest trend that has been raging around the world in the last couple of years, and in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a sensible financial solution for many entrepreneurs.
Simply put, a virtual food brand, such as LOHA and El Camion Loco brands, is a delivery-only food concept that exists exclusively in the digital realm. There is no other way for the customer to interact with the brand. A single restaurant can have numerous brands running out of their kitchen(s), facilitating financial savings and operational efficiency. Let’s take a closer look at this amazing new concept and what you need to do to set up your own virtual food brand for success in 2021.
Start with meticulous market research.
Every sound business decision is rooted in actionable and relevant data, or at least it should be. The modern restaurant and food delivery business are oversaturated, so if you want to make it big, you must define your unique angle, selling point, and value proposition. Otherwise, you’d end up with a generic food brand that might never even get off the ground.
So, your first order of business is to conduct meticulous market research. For example, the well-known LOHA virtual food brand in Belgrade rose to popularity because the market needed a) more healthy food options, b) food diversification, and c) new and exciting taste notes.
By researching the market and customer trends, you should aim to:
- Discover the less competitive niches.
- Find out what the customers want and need.
- Recognize the fluctuating demands in the market.
- Define your ideal customers.
- Define your food concept and ideal menu.
- Create a data-driven branding plan.
Find a reliable partner to prep the food
Virtual food brands operate from a single or multiple kitchens, and it’s imperative that you find the best partner for your needs and menu. You need a partner who can not only cook the food you’re offering but cook it in a way that delivers on your brand promise and the standards you set. To that end, you can partner up with cloud kitchens, catering companies, and even restaurant kitchens.
Of course, it’s not just about the quality of the kitchen and its staff, it’s also about the location. Because you’re only prepping delivery-only foods, you have to make sure that the kitchen is located in a convenient area. Keep in mind that many couriers only go as far as four to five kilometers from the kitchen, so the location and accessibility of the kitchen are paramount.
Create a distinct brand and visual identity
For a virtual food brand, brand-building is everything. Your brand can make or break your online business, which is why branding should be one of your top priorities. A strong brand and its visual identity will allow you to stand out in a competitive market, inspire customer loyalty, and drive repeat business.
To that end, make sure to:
- Create a detailed brand wheel.
- Define your audience to optimize communication and tone of voice.
- Create a distinct visual identity that follows the aesthetic trends but has a unique angle.
- Set you interviews with members of your target demographic to collect more valuable data.
- Set up tasting groups with family and friends and some unbiased individuals to get some much-needed feedback before rolling out your new brand.
Adopt an omnichannel approach
In the modern online world, omnichannel has become the norm, especially in the restaurant business. To attract as many customers as you can and drive repeat business, you must provide a seamless ordering experience.
This means partnering up with all 3rd party delivery platforms, developing your own direct-to-consumer delivery service, and allocating resources towards numerous marketing channels to grow your online presence. These marketing channels should include SM influencers, paid advertising, and traditional media like radio and city lights advertising.
Optimize the form and function of packaging
Your brand identity and visuals should encompass your entire digital presence, but you also need to weave these elements into your packaging. Remember, people want the whole, branded experience, not just the food.
With that in mind, it’s important that you create a branded food packaging design – but don’t forget about its functionality, either. You see, it’s not just about the form, it’s also about the function, and the most important functionality is conservation.
Your packaging needs to conserve the taste, smell, and temperature of the dish until it reaches the consumer if you want to ensure a stellar customer experience. Make sure to use durable, insulated containers to conserve heat, and use ice packs or insulated liners in the packaging to preserve the cold.
Monitor performance and relevant KPIs
For your virtual food brand to succeed, you have to collect, collate, and act on relevant data. Monitoring the right KPIs and staying on top of the latest customer and industry data is paramount for brand stability and growth, which is why we have created Bitebell Connect.
Bitebell Connect is a single comprehensive solution for your virtual brand management. It allows you to automate order processing and connect with all popular POS systems to create an efficient operation. Most importantly, for the growth of your brand, Bitebell Connect allows you to seamlessly track customer reviews on all platforms and monitor all other crucial data in a centralized location. You can even compare your performance with competitors and industry averages to get an accurate view of your brand in your market.
Plan for your next virtual brand
Needless to say, being an entrepreneur in this niche allows you to brainstorm new and exciting ideas. You are not limited to a single restaurant because you don’t have one – you have a virtual food brand, and you can have many more if your goal is to diversify and expand into other areas to grab a bigger slice of the market for yourself.
That said, this requires strategizing and careful consideration. Before you set out to launch another virtual food brand, make sure to:
- Analyze your financial standing and investment capabilities.
- Research the market for new opportunities.
- Analyze your internal capabilities and resources for branding, marketing, and building a new operation.
- Analyze the capacity and capabilities of your partners, especially the kitchen.
Keep in mind that launching a new brand means repeating the entire process above, so make sure to solidify the position of your first brand before launching any new virtual business ventures. Most importantly, make sure that your partners can support and keep up with your growth and expansion.
Over to you
Building a virtual food brand in the current market is one of the best ways to enter the restaurant and foodie industries with minimal risk and overheads. That said, this doesn’t mean that success is a guarantee, so make sure to follow these steps and use the right digital tools to streamline your operation and ensure continued success in 2021 and beyond.