RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, UK

Nisbets releases industry positivity survey

It reveals a strong feeling of business positivity from 400+ catering professionals.

76% claim to be on-track to hit their planned growth in 2017, whilst 80% revealed that they have a slightly, or very, positive outlook for their business in 2018. Driving the positivity was an increase in UK mini breaks and ‘staycations’ with many respondents highlighting diversification into new areas such as street-food as key reasons for their optimism.

The latest Nisbets Pulse survey also delves into how the industry chooses to promote their business and what they consider to be the most effective methods of marketing. Word of mouth (WOM), social media and a business website are the three most impactful with 34% seeing WOM as the key influencer. This is backed up further by the impact of customer review sites, specifically TripAdvisor, where 72% of those surveyed felt that the site had had a positive impact on their business. Facebook appears to resonate with the industry with 52% of respondents preferring to use this platform to market their business, followed by 20% using Twitter and 18% using Instagram. Facebook’s popularity is further evidenced within the results of The Nisbets Pulse Survey which revealed 81% of respondents feel that it is the most important social media channel for marketing their business.

Given 93% cite that social media has had a positive impact on their business, the content posted online is extremely important and sharing a business’s views with regards to food trends, menu development, sourcing and other topical issues is an ideal way to engage with an audience. The Nisbets Pulse Survey has also identified evolving food trends within the catering industry, with healthy eating continuing to lead the way with 30% (up from 28% in the Spring Pulse Survey) of respondents referring to this trend as still being the most important for them. Vegetarian food is still key with 15% referencing it as the second biggest food trend prompting more operators to increase the number of vegetarian dishes on their menu. 52% of caterers now offer between 1 and 3 vegetarian dishes; however increasing this offering further could be an easy way to drive sales and differentiate from local competition. With small plates/sharing platters (13%), home cooked (11%) and local sourcing (10%) also identified as trending, the biggest concern for a business was identified as the costs associated with catering to these trends.

According to the Autumn 2017 Nisbets Pulse Survey, the catering industry is anticipating a positive 2018 despite some uncertainty around Brexit and the impact of increasing costs. Keeping ahead of evolving food trends and engaging customers via excellent service and experiences as well as interaction via social media, appears to be the way that the industry is currently prospering.

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