Category Archives: Restaurants

Wrapping it Up

 

Ever watch The Office, the long-running comedy on NBC? It’s a show about an ineffectual, uninspiring work environment that decreases morale and stifles productivity. Creativity rarely is a result.

Advertising Week is hosting its eighth annual event, Oct. 3 through Oct. 7 in New York City. It’s safe to say that uninspired and listless will not be attending. Leave your boring cubicle at home, please! Conferences and seminars will be held all over Manhattan featuring brand strategy, marketing to target demographics, and technological topics, among other subjects.

Speaking of which, I was watching a political pundit show the other day when someone mentioned that anyone can brand themselves in this day and mobile age. You don’t need an actual product because with social media, you are the brand. Sure. But it sort of reminded me of reality show hacks who manage to convince the public they are either experts or otherwise important. Many fade into the background after a while or become a running gag.

Or, American Idol contestants. Some go on to great success, but many crash and burn. That show has been around for 10 seasons already, but only the diehard fans will remember the runner ups or even the initial auditions. The winners who won and went on to notable careers did so because of not only talent, but consistency. The chameleons who changed every week? Do you even remember their names? The general public won’t.

As far as getting your name out there, even garbage can be advertised. Well, the process of hauling away the garbage. Bagster dumpsters, for example, proudly display the company’s name, despite it being a loaded bag of debris. Presumably, it’s so your neighbors can tell what company you are using when remodeling the upstairs bathroom and getting rid of trash.

One Other Note

I say time and time again that packaging is an integral part of branding. Without effective and inspiring packaging, how are customers looking forward to what product may be inside? How are they drawn to such a product in the first place? By chance? By magic?

No matter what, however, without a product the consumer wants, a nice wrapper is just that, an outside layer.

In addition to retail outlets and cosmetic boutiques, we have served all types of restaurants in our 60 years of existence. I can tell you confidently that most patrons don’t walk into a deli thinking about packaging. They want a nice sandwich, something good to eat for lunch. Paper take-out bags aren’t exactly mouth watering, the food is. But when packaging is not available? Woah, now that’s a problem the patron will remember.

Take a recent review on hoboken411.com. Hoboken is a mile square city across the Hudson from Manhattan. Any given day, you will see hoards of pedestrians on Washington Street, prime real estate for foot traffic. This particular reviewer called ahead for a lunch order and arrived to find his lunch in an unmarked box sitting on the counter. He needed a bag to take the meal home. Several restaurant staff had to search around for a take-out bag. Come on, that’s ridiculous. Forget customized packaging for a moment, but NO BAGS at all? This is a deli is not?

Fortunately someone found a carry-out bag in the back and the patron eventually enjoyed his meal. But his overall impression was not positive. Shoppers, especially in a pedestrian-friendly area such as Hoboken, need bags to carry purchases. Don’t give in to wasted opportunity. Wrap that sale up instead.

Promoting Through Packaging

 

If you’re dining in a fine restaurant, and love the rack of lamb that’s been served but too stuffed to take another bite, you’re most likely going to ask for a doggy bag. Maybe you will share a piece with your dog when you return home later, but the leftovers are likely for you and your stomach.

I’ve worked with a lot of restaurants so I know this offhand, but snazzy statistics from restaurant associations point to an uptick in take-out over the last 20 years. More specifically, the 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast predicts record high sales for this year, $604 billion in total revenue, with $195 billion coming from full service restaurants (an increase of 3.1% over 2010).

Let’s forget statistics for a moment. Imagine there are no bags. No one has even heard of such a thing. Your server asks you to hold open your palm and whatever fits in your hands is what you can carry out. That’s “take out.” Who would enjoy that?

When you walk into a grocery store, do you pour a cup of milk, spoon out some Cheerios from a giant bin, and grab a slab of meat from the butcher pile? Of course not. Everything comes in a package, a bag or a box designed to safely contain food without letting it rot before a due date.

Sure, some large scale grocery outlets don’t offer shopping bags, (BJs doesn’t – most bulk items are carted off to a car in the parking lot, Albertson’s recently went bagless, etc.), but I know of one only grocery in the United States that doesn’t actually package its food. It’s not even open yet. A store called In.gredients in Austin, Texas, will offer all items with zero packaging starting this fall. Consumers must bring their own containers or can use compostable containers offered by the store.

This may sound great on paper and be a phenomenal failure in practice, or it may sound stupid in ink and be a wild success. Either way, I cringe at how many shoppers will be sneezing over the sugar and spices and inadvertently adding their own strains of bacteria to the yogurt. I’m all for farmer’s markets and supporting local industry, by the way. But even local farmers carton their eggs and offer bags for fresh vegetables. Although many consumers promote minimalism, with smaller packaging being ideal instead of large, bulky unnecessary wrapping, most consumers still want products contained and not exposed to the elements all day long.

The Bottom Line

Custom printed grocery bags and restaurant take out boxes are not only convenient for your customers, but promote your business!

Ever go to a trade show? I’ve been to many, many, many over the years, and there are always hundreds of vendors, different entrepreneurs, small businesses and big behemoths all participating and vying for attention. One thing they have in common is their need to promote to a new audience and retain standing with old clients. They certainly can’t do this by handing out items without a logo, items without a recognizable name.

Giving out generic promotional materials to prospective distributors and consumers is like throwing cash out the window, with products getting lost along with your company name. (I know several vendors opt for packaging their items in custom-printed euro-tote promotional bags, available in various sizes. It’s one way to keep your items separate from the rest, along with promoting your brand through the trade floor.)

Same principle with dining establishments. Your restaurant has an image, so why shouldn’t your bags be a part of that?

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