Marketing simply means selling or sale of a product or a service. Marketing is a societal process wherein products and services are exchanged for a value. In food business good quality food and excellent service has to be marketed in order to get profitable business. The success of a food service institution irrespective of whether large or small, global or national lies in its sound marketing skills. Marketing is practiced by star hotels and international food chains.
Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders. – American Marketing Association, July 2013.
Importance of marketing
The baseline of marketing is to attract new customers every day by offering superior attributes so that customer satisfaction is maintained and the food service will have a good customer turnover. Repeat customers are possible if good marketing trends are followed in a food service. For E.g.: A hotel might offer complimentary foods on special occasions like festivals or national days that attract customers.
The marketing concept is used by a company to analyze and implement ideas to satisfy customers’ needs, increase sales, maximize returns and sustain among the competitors. There are many marketing concepts, which are interrelated and rely on each other.
The five major marketing concepts are:
1) Production concept – Consumers will favour products that are available and highly affordable. For E.g.: availability of simple snacks like popcorn, fried groundnuts and soups near schools, colleges, supermarkets and theatres are good marketable production concepts ideal for children and adolescents.
2) Selling concept – Consumers buy products when there is large scale selling and promotion. For E.g.: if a new food is marketed, an offer in price or a gift given along with the product free of cost is a selling concept.
3) Product concept – Consumers will welcome a product that has durability and multiple usages. For E.g.. Modular or custom made equipments which perform a variety of tasks are ideal for a food service organization.
4) Marketing concept – In this concept customer first approach is followed. A customer first approach means that a product to be marketed is produced or manufactured keeping the needs and wants of a target customer in mind. For E.g.:many food products are specifically prepared for a target age group that is, foods like pastries are very popular among the younger age group and such products are marketed in kiosks, cafeteria and small shops.
5) Social marketing concept – Marketing strategy should deliver value to the customers. The social marketing concept gives importance to human welfare more priority than profits and keeps customer satisfaction as the prime objective. One example can be environmental responsible marketing like avoiding plastics in food packaging and service.
A number of variables will be used by a food service to achieve its sales target and the mixture of variables is called as marketing mix.
The marketing tools that are generally accepted as the tools of the marketing mix are the 7P’s which are product, price, promotion, place, process, physical evidence and participants. They may be applied to food and beverage operations in the following way:
1) Product: The product basically consists of tangible and intangible features. The tangible or physical characteristics include all those which the customer sees, eats and enjoys. Examples like the restaurant décor, table arrangements, menu design, portion size, lifecycle, and quality of foods and beverages produced and served. The intangible features of the product are those that satisfy the ‘feelings’ of the customer like the overall ambience of the restaurant and the attitude of the service staff.
2) Price: The price charged by the catering operation is based on its need to achieve profitable sales. T he price will vary based on the availability, pricing variables and market segments. Depending on the menu offered whether ‘a la carte’ or ‘table d’hôte’ menus, government and service taxes are to be inclusive or exclusive, or discounts can be given to group bookings, or reductions of price for meals if ordered before certain hours can be taken into account.
3) Promotion: Promotion is informing the prospective customers about the products in an innovative way either by advertising, or using the different channels of communication like, media, newspapers, display boards or coupons. Discounts in price for more than 10 members visiting restaurant or discount given on showing school or college identity card may be promotional techniques.
4) Place: This aspect of marketing mix is concerned with the location of the catering outlet, performance of the food service outlet, acceptability of a particular food in a locality and so on. For E.g.: economical restaurants near industries and colleges and small outlets near busy areas.
5) Process: The actual procedures, mechanism and flow of activities by which the service or food is delivered is the process. For E.g.: Seating the guest, taking of food orders, dealing with questions and complaints and getting the customers feedback.
6) Physical evidence: Exterior/ interior appearance of the building, restaurant floor plan, décor, lighting, table layout, staff uniform, menu card and menu displays are the physical evidences in the marketing mix.
7) Participants: The individual-staff and other personnel with whom the customer interacts with for E.g.: Hostess, restaurant manager, waiter and other customers, are the people involved in the marketing. A waiter is the first person a customer comes in contact with and therefore he is the marketing person in a food service.