2020 has became an unusual year for most of us. Going to through the pandemic disease Covid-19 that affect everyone globally. The Government has announced the Movement Control Order (“MCO”) or Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (“PKP”) to make sure every one of us stays at home and fight Covid-19 together.

Brick and mortar business like the restaurant is facing an unprecedented challenge in this time. Many restaurant owners are also pessimistic even after MCO is lifted by the Government. Demand won’t get back to normal immediately. Furthermore, some can’t even sustain until the end of MCO. They went bankrupt during the period although some landlord kind enough to grant a rental waiver.

This is the reality and it is always cruel to many of us. 18 March 2020, Malaysian Government announced 1st MCO in the country. On 25 March, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin through a live national telecast announced that the control order is extended till 14 April 2020. Lifting the MCO to another level, the Government also limit “The movement must not be more than 10km from one’s home, or to a place nearest to one’s residence. One must not be accompanied by another person unless it is reasonably necessary to be accompanied by any other person.” Source: New Straits Time.

With all these in place, restaurant owners start worrying about what happens after the MCO. Will customers will come to visit the outlet as per normal? No one knows.

So, how can our restaurant cash-in on Covid-19?

1. Branding is the most important aspect of running a food and beverage (“F&B”) business.

People pay for the brand name. You’ll find this especially true in the bad times with Covid-19 because you are dealing with edible food that people consume. You realise that the existing business who are performing better in Malaysia now are all large chains of small shops, such as Domino’s Pizza, Tealive, FamilyMart, MyNews, KFC etc. (McDonald’s has strength in food packaging and delivery and we will discuss it later in this article.)

What makes these businesses stand out from yours?

Brand credibility

Having the right branding in place gives people the confidence to buy from you. In a situation full of negative news and virus infections now and then, consumers are now more affluent than ever. They appreciate goodwill and buy from a credible restaurant even paying a premium to ensure they are getting a well-prepared food that comes in food-grade packaging. Do not hesitate to invest for branding. Branding is a long term investment. It might not generate instant cash return, but will definitely come back to you when you need them.

Brand identity

A brand identity is as simple as you delivering what the brand promised through marketing campaigns and all other communication channels. For example, no matter where you go in the world, McDonald shows the same logo, food packaging, burger box and similar experience globally. Can you tell which restaurant sells this menu from the picture?

Yes, you’re right. This is McDonald’s and it is McDonald’s from Egypt. Most of us probably can’t read Arabic but you have no fear to buy from them even you can’t pronounce it.

The “branded consumption” of consumer groups has gradually become mainstream. People will choose to consume in branded stores with branded food box or packaging. Learn how to transform your food packaging. At the same time, because of the overall scale and brand awareness, these branded chain stores have a much stronger ability to acquire customers than private small stores. Besides, the team has strong support and supply chain support behind it, store management, and services are also more standardized.

 

2. Be small and relevant. Consumers behaviour is changing towards close proximity consumption.

The large-scale and full-coverage model of traditional shopping malls bears the brunt. The disadvantages of low passenger flow, high rental pressure, and low profits are increasing sharply. Crisis often also contain opportunities. This epidemic reveals the “distance” relationship between business and consumers. To reduce the risks brought by long-distance travel purchases, consumers’ daily activities have shifted from “centralized consumption” to “decentralized nearby consumption”. From “closed” super shopping malls to “open” free shopping spaces.

Other than customised food box and packaging, F&B owners should move into small area setup that is more efficient, more flexible to adjust and lower investment amount. It is also more conducive to mobilise local community to participate in joint operations and there are more places for site selection.

The picture shows a growing burger startup in Klang Valley MyBurgerlab which expanded well by going closer to consumers to serve the local community. The second rule of success is not to forget rule number one here. Branding is critical when you go into several locations as consumers will remember your brand identity more than ever. It is very important to look for a reliable long term printing and customisation partner who can support you with consistent signage installation, stickers printing, customised food packaging box and designs. You must ensure the quality, colour and delivery is top-notch. Remember, the devil is in the detail.

3 keys to creating a harmonious environment:

  • Lighting
  • Interior design and stickers
  • Welcoming signage

TIPS: A good printing and customisation partner such as Coffeeprint will always provide professional consultation to achieve your objective with the least cost.

 

3. Beautiful and cost-effective takeaway or food delivery is a must. We repeat, it’s a MUST.

In the past, restaurant owners spent 6 digits for the renovations to set up a proper restaurant aimed to impress and retain customers. Deep in heart, every restaurant owners want their outlet to be shared in social media to increase brand exposures. In simple, to go viral.

Today, with the consumer behaviour changing towards close proximity spending and the “lazy” economy driven by technology. F&B owners should rethink the strategy to allocate budget to impress the customers. Spending money on the high rental and high overhead is no longer effective when there is stiff competition out there. Going towards consumers partnering with food delivery channel such as Grab Food, Foodpanda, Hungry is compulsory to open a new channel for distribution. Most of the restaurant who are not on either of them will feel the pressure in MCO period the most.

The takeaway consumers are a group of  “convenience driven” young people who love freedom or some busy office workers. Taste and ambience in the restaurant are no longer what they are chasing after day-to-day. Therefore, brands must work hard to customise food takeaway packaging to build your own unique identity such as funny style, funky, modern and etc. Food packaging box like Dabobox attracts everyone’s attention and can become a brand highlight.

Feeling hungry now? Your logo is a manifestation of consumers craving about food. After all, most young people are not financially well to do in our country. While pursuing a passion for branding, it is also advisable to introduce cost-effective packaging for consumers to manage the cost of the restaurant. Read our 5 tips to transform your food packaging here.

Start small but start something. Look for a printing and customisation partner who can support you with low minimum order quantity for customisation. There are not many of such a partner in Malaysia and we will recommend Dabobox by Coffeeprint who can help you to start off with a very low order quantity of just 33 boxes a day. What makes it better is the 0% interest-free instalment so you can start your takeaway food box branding journey today.

 

4. Be innovative with menu, designs and marketing. Consumers remember unique intellectual property and not just big brand.

We rarely see brands with many SKU being able to form the number one scale. This is mainly because the large number of SKU makes it extremely difficult for you to focus on the quality and cost control. Try to compare the number of SKU on your menu with Nando’s Malaysia. All the successful brands carried out extensive research on market demand and popularity of product before they launch one. This will ensure they spend the least resources on marketing and operation in the long run.

Fewer SKU means you have more resources and strength to create more quality, cost-effective, strong-sensing super-explosion products. You can spend more resources for better design of IP symbols or marketing gimmicks. All of these efforts will come together to elevate your brand value further. When it comes to IP and marketing, we always recommend omni-channel marketing online which is proven to be very effective for brick and mortar businesses. Since there are many blogs on omni-channel marketing, you can read more at Hubspot Marketing

Digital marketing itself is powerful. Social media network is influencing. But they are not enough. Offline marketing such as a good staff uniform, customised apron, foamboard display, roll-up banner, flyers, paper bag, and a series of promotional products are still very relevant to bring up advertisement recall to your customers. Don’t believe it? Look around successful restaurant chain example like Nando’s Malaysia.

 

5. Multi-mode operation with strong supply chain capability become the core competitive edge of restaurants.

Restaurant business is no longer limited to just commercial outlet and shopping mall operator. The local scene of F&B is becoming more and more diversified with the new upcoming trend of “Box Restaurant”. Thanks to technology today enabled by food delivery partners and commercial printer. Coffeeprint enables a super low minimum order quantity order for food packaging box.

Other than that, F&B operators are also appearing in office buildings, petrol station, mobile food truck and online Live channel etc. Restaurant business no longer confined to traditional scenes, and the new business model has become a new path of rapid scale.

Nowadays, with the rise of the e-commerce industry, more and more young people choose to start a business after work. The trend towards integration, standardization and chaining is an important development trend. Conventional restaurant owners should not neglect the other new channel before it is too late. For example, a successful local entrepreneur who started Mat Rock food truck model in 2015 now owns 16 outlets as shown on the website.

 

Conclusion

With the rapid change of consumers spending behaviour, restaurant owners and entrepreneurs must be more sensitively towards customer needs, and propose differentiated solutions to the pain points. We can’t predict when the next opportunity or pandemic will come. Entrepreneur should find his own differentiated features and constantly improves products, services, packaging and brands. Speaking to Coffeeprint professional consultants to get help with printing and customised promotional products. When the opportunity arrives, it will definitely rise.