National Food Holiday Pairings are Paying Off for Big Food Brands
By Dwayne Reno
National holidays are usually assigned by a government official such as a mayor, but this is not always the case for many of the national food holidays celebrated throughout the year on social media. For example on the day I started my research for this article it was National Cheesecake Day and by the time this article will be published it’s going to be national beer lover's day.
Some of the influences behind many of the national food holidays are lobbyists or PR firms looking to gain sales for a particular food product. Due to social media's influence on popular culture we are seeing many big food and fast food chains get onboard the holiday food pairing trend. In this month’s article I would like to review the national food holiday pairing trend and how fast food chains are benefiting from its popularity.
Rise of the National Food Holiday
The food holiday trend originally evolved from John-Bryan Hopkins who is a food blogger and social media Influencer. According to Wikipedia, John-Bryan Hopkins created many of the celebrated food holidays simply by adding interesting and loved foods to a base of already established food holidays. Thus the food calendar and website Foodimentary was born. The site became so popular with foodies that it was adopted by Google in 2015 to populate its search results and food holidays. The food holiday trend has become so successful that some days even serve up a double helping of foodie goodness. For example September 17th, will be National Apple Dumpling Day and National Monte Cristo Day.
How Fast Food Chains are Benefiting from Food Holidays
This is done in three simple steps:
Recently, Mexican food chain Chipotle executed this formula perfectly when it offered online customers free Guacamole with their online order in celebration of National Avocado Day. As a result, Chipotle’s online sales and downloads of their app skyrocketed. The popular Mexican chain said in a press release that they used almost 700,000 Avocados in the one day promotion that’s 200,000 more than they would use on a normal day, holy guacamole that’s a lot of guac! After record breaking sales due to their National Avocado Day promotion the Mexican food chain decided to extend the one day promotion until August 3, 2018.
"We were blown away by the excitement around our free guacamole offer," said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Chipotle. "Demand was so high, our app and online store were flooded with orders, resulting in our biggest summer sales day to date. Breaking this record also broke the internet, so we want to make sure everyone can take advantage of our offer by joining us today for more free guac."
What made this food holiday and fast food pairing so successful is that Chipotle offered an item they make in-house and from scratch. Also, Chipotle’s Guac is a prized add on among chipotle customers, no matter what you order at Chipotle its better with Guac.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, Chipotle is a large chain and many independents cannot afford to offer much of anything for free with rising food and labour costs. This is true but offering free food is not the only way to drive foot or online traffic with a national food day pairing.
As I mentioned in July’s blog post, Tim Hortons offered a limited edition breakfast sandwich concoction on National Donut Day. Customers were treated to a breakfast sandwich topped by a honey glazed donut on June 1, 2018. The one day promotion came just weeks before Tims announced their all-day breakfast program rollout across Canada, coincidence? I think not.
Customers had to pay for the limited edition sandwich which gave the coffee chain loads of free advertising weeks before their all-day breakfast rollout. In my opinion, Tims needed to make a big splash as competitors like McDonald’s continues to grow their all-day breakfast menu with recent news of their McCafe bagel expansion.
Another U.S. fast food chain, White Castle recently got into the food holiday pairing mix when they offered bacon-loaded options in celebration of National Bacon Day on September 1, 2018. America's first fast-food restaurant and slider pioneer announced the addition of new, limited-time $3 Bacon Threesomes – $3 value meals including three options of bacon-loaded sliders with a side and a small drink. The slider chain also allowed anyone with bacon in their name (Kevin Bacon) to eat for free while the promotion lasted. No other details where made available about the national bacon day promotion but with Chipotle's recent success it's no surprise that this trend continues to be adopted by other fast food chains.
So no matter how you look at it, the pairing of national food holidays and food brands will continue to grow. Consumers enjoy them and food brands can generate huge payoffs simply by combining a national food holiday to an already successful menu item, making it a win win for all parties involved.
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
Social Chat Blog
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