There is no doubt that the pandemic severely impacted restaurants and the food industry. Many restaurants shuttered their doors and thousands of employees were out of work. While some restaurants were able to pivot to providing take-out food rather than in-store dining, food trucks seemed designed to handle the pandemic.
Food trucks are rolling restaurants that can go where the demand is at and meet consumers where they live, work, and shop. They can follow the customers and move to a new location when demand at one location falls off. Food trucks are flexible, can be innovative with menus, and quickly became a sought after option for diners who missed restaurant food!
According to IBISWorld, there are 26,228 food truck businesses in the U.S. as of 2021. There has been a 6.8% growth in the number of trucks and 7.5% increase in business growth from 2016 to 2021. While food trucks are labor intensive, they are also flexible in operations and products, as well as cheaper to start than a fixed restaurant location. The food truck market size is now more than $1.2 billion in revenue annually.
However, even food trucks need promotion. Many trucks launched social media advertising campaigns, as well as added credit/debit card payment options. Uber Eats and Grub Hub also became delivery options for food truck diners. Trucks have also relocated from city centers and large festivals, to suburban locations and local street fairs. As food trucks move to better integrate social media and work to connect with customers, online menus and orders have become necessary.
Yum. Are you ready to order?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for promoting food trucks.
- There are videos available on YouTube about food trucks: https://youtu.be/gZgmmzw3-30
- As an example, show various websites for food trucks:
- Tacos el Jery: https://www.tacoseljerrywatsonville.com/
- Blue Sparrow: https://www.bluesparrowpgh.com/
- Shiso Crispy: https://www.shisocrispy.com/
- Show website a national listing of food trucks booking and ordering ahead – Best Food Trucks: https://www.bestfoodtrucks.com/
- Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
- Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
- For a food truck (their choice of food and geography), have each team select three different tactics. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.
Source: IBISWorld; New York Times; other news sources