I had the opportunity to give a 5-minute talk during the Entrepreneur Networking Night, which was focused on Food Businesses. Instead of talking about the Our Awesome Planet story, I shared my learnings in my 5 years of blogging to the Foodie Market in the Philippines.
From my standpoint, if the entrepreneurs could understand my blogging mindset when relating to foodies, then they could adopt that same stance if they decide to blog or market their food businesses online. (I'm also sharing my insights with you, dear OAP readers. Read on! 🙂 )
It was a great networking event! Thanks to Entrepreneur Philippines for inviting me for the second time to share my expertise during the networking night. Congratulations also for the 10 Strong Years of Entrepreneur Magazine!
(I've previously shared this here: The 10 Biggest Foodie Trends in Manila 2010!)
There are two types of consumers in Manila — The Foodies (which is a growing segment) and the Non-Foodies (who go for Eat-all-you-can Rice and Chicken).
Let me tell you a story about one of our culinary tours of Tagaytay.
A call center company sponsored a culinary tour for its agents to enjoy the food in Tagaytay for a day. We went to the best restaurants — Bawai, Chateau Hestia and ended up in Antonio’s Restaurant. When we were eating at Antonio’s, there were a number of people complaining. They wanted to have more rice, have bigger portions of food, and maybe just order a simple chicken dish. These are the Non-Foodies.
The Foodies, on the other hand, appreciate good food. There are three types emerging:
1. The Snobbish Gourmets. These people have been exposed to the restaurants abroad and take pride in eating in establishments with Michelin Stars. These are the people who really know their food and look down on people who pretend to know all about food.
2. The Wannabe Chefs. These are the foodies who aspire to be chefs someday and look up to other well-known chefs or celebrity chefs. After they complete a culinary course, they already feel and act like chefs. They look upon themselves as part of a higher level from the ordinary people who just love food.
3. The Amateur Foodies. This is the biggest segment, and it's growing everyday. They label themselves as Foodies because they enjoy food. Period. It is very easy to belong to this group, which usually entails just eating out and trying out good food. They don’t care about the chefs or the snobbish gourmets. I belong to this group.
Filipinos talk about food anytime and anywhere. While we eat lunch, we talk about the meal we had last weekend or the meal that we are excited to eat tomorrow. During office breaks, discussions on food and the latest restaurants in town usually pop up.
As a food business, you need to give foodies a reason to talk about you.
Take for example Chocolate Fire and one of their bestsellers — the Dark Chocolate with Chili. It comes in a bar version (like the one above) and a volcano version. The volcano version is basically a pyramid-shaped dark chocolate with chili found in the center. You'll experience an explosive ending when you finish the pyramid. The chili is definitely hot, but it complements the chocolate really well.
When new restaurants approach me to try their establishment, there are only two questions I ask:
1. What are the best-sellers that are must-tries in the restaurant?
2. What are the items people are raving about in the menu?
The ho-hum restaurants would normally respond, "All the items in the menu are good" and would recommend the high-priced items in the menu. I avoid these restaurants because they don't know what they are good at.
On the other hand, awesome restaurants know their best-selling dishes. They also talk to their customers regularly so they know what dishes the foodies are raving about.
Foodies love to discover new establishments — just like us. 🙂 In fact, we are a community of discoverers. We celebrate and feel proud of ourselves when we find the Best Chocolate Place out there, or the Best Chinese place hidden in the side streets of Rockwell (like that Hunan place above 🙂 ).
Being "first" would mean being the first one to introduce a restaurant or food to your own family, peers or officemates. Usually, finding out about a restaurant during the first 6 months of its operations would be considered "new" to your own networks.
Applying this learning to online marketing, you should share with your customers or Facebook/Twitter friends what's new with your restaurant or food business. Aside from price promotions, create special foodie gimmicks (ex. announcing when you have a new item in the menu, or special operating hours for certain occasions, or special events).
In one of the cafes in LA, there is this special secret table where people leave anonymous messages. It is a rule that you don't tell anyone where this special table is. I'm surprised that nobody has reapplied this "secret concept" in Manila.
Feed our need to discover, and you'll succeed in marketing your business online.
It's all subjective when it comes to foodies' taste. It depends on their background, what they ate during their childhood days, and what types of cuisine they're exposed to here and abroad.
For example, we had three of the best lechons in Manila during the Ultimate Taste Test 3.0 — Ulcing's Cebu Lechon, Leonardo's Chicken Inside the Lechon and Sabroso's Native Lechon.
Ulcing's is known for having the Cebu Lechon, but all their pigs are roasted in Bonifacio Global City. Leonardo's is known for the yummy chicken cooked inside the lechon at the same time. Sabroso's is known for its native pig with skin that stays crispy for hours.
The foodies during UTT3.0 last November were very critical of the lechon. The comments and ratings were varied — from "I love this lechon" to "I hate this lechon". Comments from foodies are super subjective, and almost 50% would love your food and 50% would hate it. In the Ultimate Taste Tests, we learned that if you hit above the 3.3 rating (out of 5.0), your product will most likely be a hit with majority of the foodies.
Read more: Lessons from The Battle of the Lechon
We are running our biggest Ultimate Taste Test 4.0 event on May 14, one month from now. It aims to discover the best food that foodies would be excited about. Food suppliers just have to provide sampling sizes good for 500-1,000 people.
The foodies will serve as food critics during that event. They will provide you with instant feedback — quantitatively with a rating scale of 1-5, and qualitatively with their honest comments.
We don't charge any rent for the stalls yet because we want the food businesses to focus their investment on providing samples to foodies. The foodies would have a contribution fee of P200/head.
The Ultimate Taste Test is a fund-raising event for the MASED Foundation of Fr. Arnold, Parish Priest of St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church in Bonifacio Global City. One hundred percent of the proceeds of the event goes to the foundation.
Last year, Dulcelin Gourmet was deemed the best home-based food supplier. 🙂 You could be the next foodie discovery in the next Ultimate Taste Test!
Just email my wife Rache at email@example.com if you want to participate as a food supplier.
For foodies, you can reserve your slot by donating P200/person via Paypal or Credit Card.
Live an Awesome Life,
P.S. Thanks to all OAP friends who attended last night's networking event. It was a pleasure meeting all of you! 🙂