Today we are going to answer the question on every entrepreneur’s mind in 2021– How Can I Create Massive Brand Relevance in a Post-Pandemic Marketplace? And to answer this question we are going to do a quick case study of Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen, and possibly uncover a new way for your brand to evolve and fulfill the rapidly changing consumer demands of a post-pandemic world.
Okay, so in the midst of the worldwide shutdown, celebrity chef, Guy Fieri—whose signature dishes were once only to be found by visiting one of Fieri’s own restaurants—has decided to take his name and his signature dishes to a whole new level of marketing that is now beginning to emerge as a result of the pandemic with Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen.
The shutdown was hard on brick and mortar businesses. Really hard. And as we all know restaurants have been no exception. It’s been surveyed that over 10% of all restaurants across the US are now permanently closed. To give you an idea, that’s roughly around 75,000 restaurants all over the country gone in the course of one year.
Virtual Dining Concepts Launches Amid the Pandemic and Uses the Power of Celebrity Brands to Help Restaurants Survive…
What Guy Fieri has done is teamed up with a company called Virtual Dining Concepts to establish what some are referring to as a ghost kitchen.
So basically, what Virtual Dining Concepts, VDC, does is they find celebrity brands who already have a huge following, they develop a delivery-only menu concept surrounding that celeb, design unique packaging—and then they initiate a collaboration between an existing restaurant and the celebrity brand to add the food items to their menu, and distribute them to the customers. VDC provides the recipes, training, and marketing support. The restaurants prepare the orders in their kitchens and arrange the delivery. (Usually through Grubhub, Postmates, or the like)… It’s like the Airbnb of food!
Now I want you to lean in real close, could this potentially 1 trillion dollar strategy be possible for your brand, in any way? Start thinking about it, around it, through it, creatively open your mind to it— to see if there is a massive income stream just sitting there right under your nose but you never saw it before you had to see it!
So—when the lockdown sent thousands of brick and mortar restaurants heading toward the brink of extinction, VDC swooped in and offered them a low-risk way to increase profits by collaborating with celebrities who already have MASSIVE brand awareness.
Buca Di Beppo was one of the first restaurants to sign on to become one of these ‘ghost kitchens’ during the pandemic, and the extra support helped the Buca Di Beppo brand survive.
MrBeast Burger is one of the Virtual Dining Concepts, VDC’s most successful collaborations. MrBeast is a social media influencer, and his followers LOVE his fast-food menu simply because they love him. His brand community went so far as to spark a MrBeast Burgers Full Menu Challenge, where basically MrBeast’s followers order one of everything and attempt to eat it all in one sitting. Some of these challenges currently have upwards of 23M views! Some other celebrity food collaborations include Mariah’s Cookies (yes, THAT Mariah. Mariah Carey), and Mario Lopez also has a menu of tasty tortas that he endorses through Virtual Dining Concepts.
Now let’s get back to Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen—Guy Fieri is the owner of several restaurants across the US, and the host of several TV shows on Food Network, and he is the very first celebrity to sign on with Virtual Dining Concepts, VDC who is ACTUALLY a chef. So now the stakes are much higher. Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen has signature dishes that he has already built into his personal brand, and for his fans who have never gotten a chance to try some of his most popular dishes, they are now going to get the opportunity to order them from a “ghost kitchen” operating right in their area. Seems like a really fun and really good thing for these customers, and for these brands right? I mean what could go wrong?
Mariah Carey’s Cookies Aren’t Exactly a Sweet, Sweet Fantasy…
Let’s circle back to the powerhouse singing sensation, the incredible Ms. Mariah Carey, and her um, cookies. Millions of Mariah Carey fans have made it a point to place their orders, much to the delight of the collaborating restaurants, but unfortunately, the reviews are mostly negative and indicate that the quality of her cookies has been WILDLY inconsistent. But Mariah Carey is MARIAH CAREY the singer— And her fans still love her music even if her cookies crumble short of her fan’s expectations. Reading through some of the reviews on Yelp, I’d say a fair overall summation of everything would basically be, “These cookies suck, but they’re never gonna shake me, ooh, darling—cause Mariah will always be my baby…” Lots of people disappointed with the cookies, lots of people affirming that their love for Mariah still endures, and lots of references to her most popular lyrics.
Will the quality of Guy Fieri’s Flavorhouse Kitchen demonstrate this same lack of consistency as Mariah’s Cookies? And what can VDC do to create better quality control within this new brand-building business concept? If you have any brilliant suggestions for them, I’d love to see where your entrepreneurial brains go with this one! Leave your insights in the comments below.
When considering how this marketing concept can work for your brand, having a strategy for ensuring quality and consistency is going to be vital to your brand’s reputation. Aligning your affiliations with other brands that have similar values and ethics will go a long way toward ensuring your customers are consistently getting the experience that is promised by your brand.
Imagine you LOVE Guy Fieri’s TV personality, and you’ve always wanted to try his famous S.M. Cheesesteak Egg Rolls. (For those of you who don’t know Guy Fieri lingo, S.M stands for ‘super-melty’). Finally, the opportunity has arrived for you to actually try some of these recipes you’ve heard so much about for yourself! When they arrive at your door, you are preparing yourself for a trip to Flavortown, and…Oh, no. They are soggy, or bland, or the cheese isn’t even close to ‘super-melty…’ This kind of inconsistency can lose brand loyalty for not only the restaurant but for Guy Fieri himself. Cookies were never Mariah Carey’s big draw anyway, her brand can recover. Will Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen be able to say the same? Only time will tell, as this is still a very new strategy in branding.
What Is Your Brand’s Equivalent to a ‘Ghost Kitchen?’
So now back to you, and how your brand can tap into this virtual branding strategy to create massive brand relevance in our post-pandemic marketplace, in a way that is authentic, consistent, and not only boosts profits— but also inspires Brand Loyalty.
Because no matter what business you are in, Brand Loyalty is your business plan!
Ask yourself what type of resources are required to procure and deliver your products or services, and identify what people, groups of people, or existing businesses already have those resources readily available. Be open-minded, and explore what a collaboration with those people might look like, and then make a pros and cons list for both your brand AND theirs. You’re looking for the win-win-win strategy. Where’s your brand’s ‘ghost kitchen?’ And how can your brand help someone else use the resources they already have available to deliver your products or services to your Ideal Individuals more efficiently?
In 2021, virtual brands and delivery-only concepts are BOOMING, and with 70% of the US workforce now saying that they’d rather quit their job than go back to the office full-time, working from home is here to stay—In fact, recent marketing research estimates that virtual brands and deliver-only concepts could be a $1 trillion dollar industry. Talk about an opportunity to Come Out of Nowhere! You can see why I had to just stop what I was doing and talk to you about it, today! You need to know this asap, so you can tap into this new way of expanding your brand.
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