Latest wellbeing trend: Ghost kitchens
Restaurants with no storefront, like online shops, continue to grow, thanks to the pandemic and the rise in food delivery services. What can we marketers learn from these virtual ventures?
“Ghosting someone” in slang means to stop responding to their communications, to more or less disappear from their lives. Ghost kitchens, on the other hand, are everywhere you want them to be. They provide on-demand food delivery from extensive menus through multiple services. The only caveat: you can never visit them in person.
Although it may seem like this is a pandemic trend, the term “ghost kitchen” was coined as early as 2015 and started trending in late 2019. Experts don’t see ghost kitchens vanishing anytime soon. It’s estimated that virtual restaurants could be a $1 trillion market by 2030. In the meantime, virtual eateries have become so popular and profitable that celebrities like George Lopez and Wiz Khalifa are getting into the market.
Why do ghost restaurants work? In short, the rent is low and the profits are the same as any business that offers delivery. Because the business only needs to rent use of a kitchen, the location is unimportant. It doesn’t need a busy neighbourhood or lots of foot traffic.
It’s similar to how we work at Felicity. Our Brains not Bricks™ virtual business model means that our clients pay for expertise and service, not for our fancy offices. We’re an experienced team, from seasoned journalists, media relations professionals and dietitians to digital and financial experts, bringing the right specialists to your table. One key difference between us and a ghost kitchen is that we work as a well-oiled, interdependent team, whereas each restaurant in a ghost kitchen operates individually.
Of course, while ghost kitchens sound simple, you can’t just throw together a menu and expect the orders to start flowing in. Branding and marketing must be en pointe, especially when there’s not a physical representation of who you are and what you stand for. Your website, menu, language and logo speak for you.
Although we hope we’re seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, it doesn’t mean a return to pre-COVID practices. The convenience and efficiency of digital habits mean that many will stick around. A U.S. study showed that 75% of shoppers will maintain digital habits they picked up during the pandemic. And a State of The Industry report says that 68% of consumers are more likely to purchase takeout from a restaurant than before the pandemic. It also looks like curbside pick-up has become a consumer favourite service with 64% planning to use curbside pick-up in the next six months and 33% saying they plan on using curbside pick-up services more often. Even Walmart is changing its buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) services to meet consumer preferences.
What can wellbeing marketers learn from this? The shift to digital was accelerated by the pandemic and it doesn’t look like we’re going back. This allows you to market to a much larger audience—as long as you can deliver before the food gets cold, or ship a product for a reasonable fee, your geographic reach can increase. But marketing to more people means making your message even more crystal clear, communicating it across the right channels and ensuring your audience can easily find you online. If a quick web search for a product you produce doesn’t serve up your brand, you might as well be a ghost.