Industry watch: food trucks, entrepreneurs and you
September 16, 2014
Ok we are going to state the obvious – we all love food right? Well, some of us love it more than others and some of us go for the weird and whacky while others just like that sweet taste of home. But, we are not just heading out to our favourite restaurants anymore we’re heading into food truck country for those delectable delights and boy do some pretty savvy entrepreneurs know it!
In fact, just a few years ago there were people who thought of the local food truck as a little bit of “roach coach” mixed up with a little on the fly, make it up as you go along cooking – today they couldn’t be more wrong and one reason for it is, according to Kenny Lao, Co-Founder of Mashable, “..the social aspect.” Kenny goes on to say “It’s really about shared experiences around food. I think what we’re doing with Twitter is an electronic version of that share.”
Researcher Jane Seo reflected on the growth of the food truck industry in New York as she unpacked her thesis:
“Food trucks, such as Korilla BBQ, have gained remarkable popularity in recent years. For my senior thesis, I am exploring the emergence of this new U.S. market for food trucks, a rapidly growing business that in 2011 accounted for 37 percent of the $1.4 billion in street revenue nationwide. My research delves into the transformation of the public's attitude towards food trucks from denigrated "roach coaches" to pop culture phenomenon, and more broadly, the change in the landscape of American food culture. The research explores two interrelated factors that helped to change the image of New York City's food trucks: the evolving customer base and unique marketing strategy via social media.”
“Most food trucks emerged in the late 2000s at the start of the economic recession as customers began demanding quick and inexpensive meals. With their relatively low marketing and operational costs, food trucks proved to be extremely prosperous; within a couple of years, the business solidified as a lucrative venture that chefs lauded as being more rewarding and financially feasible than maintaining brick-and-mortar restaurants.”
“But economics only partly explain the transformation of the food truck business. Perhaps an even bigger factor is the change in its customer base, which can be noted by the type of food served in these food trucks as well as the role of social media in spreading their popularity.”
“French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu specifically talks about class-related tastes, arguing that tastes in food depend on the idea each class has about the effects of food on the body. Bourdieu describes the eating habits of the working class and the professions, with the former being "more attentive to the strength of the body than its shape, and tend to go for products that are both cheap and nutritious," while the latter opts for "products that are tasty, health-giving, light, and not fattening." Likewise, the quality of food in food trucks has also improved -- no longer are these trucks serving defrosted, instant meals, but gourmet food prepared by former chefs of upscale restaurants."
"In addition, the world of food has become increasingly entwined with the world of technology. Social media marketing has enabled food trucks to interact directly with their customers to foster a sense of community and to create brand loyalty. Indeed, with close to a billion people on Facebook, marketers are beginning to realize the power of social media as a tool to build personal brand image and establish consumer trust. GIS social media platforms, such as Twitter, have been particularly useful for food truck vendors because they can communicate to specific, local audiences about their latest locations or special menu items. Social media also allows customers to engage in a thrill of "the chase" as they track the location of their favourite food trucks.”
So there you have it – our food habits are becoming more and more intertwined with our social media habits I mean ask yourself this question – how often have you taken a picture of your breakfast, lunch or dinner and posted it on your Facebook page, sent a tweet or uploaded it to Instagram?
Isn’t it ironic that the way to a man’s heart with through his stomach? Now the way to entrepreneurial success for budding food truck entrepreneurs is to have a social media strategy ready to go, work on increasing your fan and supporter base and have them be your instant food reviewers…of course, you have to make sure your food truck ain’t no roach coach!
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