Here Comes a New Foodservice Challenger: The Local Gym
By Dwayne Reno
Over the past few years foodservice operators have had many challenges to overcome, some of those challenges include higher rent and food costs. Other challenges come in to the form of competition from other restaurants, food retailers (grocers), C-stores (convenience stores) and now the local gym. Local gyms are trying to siphon consumers with prepared meal options that offer time staved patrons a healthy meal option that is in accordance with their current dietary needs and promises to also taste great. This month I would like to look at this new foodservice challenger and their plans to increase profits with prepared meals.
Introducing the New Challenger
Gyms have a great track record when it comes to offering healthy advice and have been known to sell protein powders, smoothies and protein bars to their members looking to recharge after a workout. Since Consumers already see gyms as a purveyor of good health and wellness it should come as no surprise that gyms have ventured into prepared meals. Also, gyms will be able to fuse together great tasting meals that carter to patron’s dietary needs, making gyms a very formidable contender for foodservice traffic.
The Convenience Card
Gyms have many competitive advantages when it comes to offering prepared meals and drinks, let’s look at two.
Personal Trainers: Personal trainers are seen as trustworthy and knowledgeable of all things concerning health and wellness, that includes food. When the personal trainer says don’t eat out anymore and pitches the gym’s prepared meal plans chances are the gym member (your customer) will listen.
Dayparts: Gym members workout before and after most meal dayparts so gyms will be able to capitalize on this by offering eat in or takeout. Furthermore, consumers will see gyms as a very practical and time saving option for breakfast, lunch or dinner after a long workout.
Also, a study conducted in 2016 found that consumers will eat more food if it was fitness branded and not what they considered forbidden foods. The study titled, “The Effect of Fitness Branding on Restrained Eaters’ Food Consumptions and Postconsumption Physical Activities” was conducted by Joerg Koenigstorfer a Professor of Sport & Health Management, Technische Universität München and Hans Baumgartner the Smeal Professor of Marketing, Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University.
What was interesting about the resent study was that most restrained eaters (consumers who are chronically concerned about their body weight) exercised less when they ate fitness branded foods because they believed that by eating fitness branded foods they are addressing both sides of energy balance, HERE.
The Double Team
Hy-Vee, an American grocery chain announced this summer that they would be partnering with Orangetheory Fitness to open locations in or adjacent to select Hy-Vee stores. Both companies will integrate their training and nutrition services, offering store tours, healthy product samples and other programs to consumers. This partnership creates an integrated fitness component to bolster Hy-Vee’s focus on health and wellness – including in-store dietitians, HealthMarkets, chefs, fresh and organic produce and pharmacies, HERE.
“There is a changing landscape in the retail industry,” said Hy-Vee Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker. “These unprecedented collaborations reinforce our company’s longstanding commitment to health and wellness, culinary expertise and customer experience,” he also added.
With the announcement of the Hy-Vee and Orangetheroy Fitness partnership you can bet that other grocers and fitness centers will be watching to see if the idea pays off for both companies. Even if it pays off just a little bit, we are sure to see the food retailer and fitness center partnership bandwagon grow in size.
What can Foodservice Operators do to Stay Ahead
Gyms will only be focused on selling high-end prepared meals so their members will have to fork out $8 - $14 per meal, on top of regular membership fees. This can really add up and in my opinion the high-end prices will only help to deter those who are looking for indulgent meals (cheat meals) when they eat out. However, foodservice operators should continue to innovate and diversify their menu offerings by incorporating seasonal produce which can help to reduce their food costs. Furthermore, appealing to health-conscious consumers with clean menu options will help foodservice operators clawback some of the traffic they will likely lose to local gyms.
Until next time your customers want to know why they should spend money at your restaurant, bar or cafe. So give them the goods!
Dwayne Reno CEO & Founder
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