Roadside Catering - UK - July 2010
Despite the inroads made by the increased role of brands at Motorway Service Areas (MSAs), the market remains dogged by consumers’ preconceived ideas of the high prices, poor quality and overall poor value for money available, the latter being particularly significant during a period of economic instability.
- During the recession, increased competition from petrol station forecourts, which are well placed to tap into the trend for convenience and lower sales value purchases, has impacted sales growth.
- One way in which motorway service areas (MSAs) can differentiate themselves from the generic offer of snacks and confectionery available at petrol stations is through stocking a range of more innovative and imaginative snacking products such as those found at sandwich retailer EAT.
- Perception continues to be MSAs’ biggest issue with a fifth of consumers believing that the food/drink offered at these sites is poor both in range and quality.
- MSAs can exploit the fact that 4 in 10 people already stop at them for food and drink and develop their role as part of the travelling ‘experience’ by introducing a range of affordable luxuries and treats such as a ‘car picnic’ of teas/coffees and afternoon tea to takeaway.
- Fast service is the key criteria for consumers stopping at MSAs for food and drink, as highlighted by the fact that coffee shops are the most popular foodservice outlets used. MSAs looking to tap into this trend should look to partner with other made to order service propositions such as ice cream and smoothie bars.
- The proposed "eco" MSA at Matson on the M5 suggests one way in which operators could harness consumer interest in local and green issues through more sympathetic landscaping and a food offer inclding home made, organic and local foods.
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