From grocery stores to fast food, the food and drink industry is among the world’s most competitive. To succeed, companies need to not only constantly be updating their customer experiences, but also their products. That often means taking big risks in hopes of big rewards. This week saw companies testing three new ideas in the food and beverage space that could improve the customer experience and allow them to better meet customers’ changing needs.
McDonald’s And Starbucks Test Reusable Cups
Imagine having your drink served in a cup you used a few days earlier or that your neighbor used last week. It could be a real possibility if pilot programs to test reusable cups take off. Starbucks and McDonald’s locations in California are testing reusable cups over the next few weeks. The smart cups include tracking chips that can be scanned to see where the cup has gone. McDonald’s and Starbucks use billions of cups a year, and most of them include a plastic lining that makes them impossible to recycle. Reusable cups could solve that problem, but customers must first get on board with returning their cups instead of throwing them away.
Customers are willing to make changes that will help the environment. We’ve seen that in recent years with the death of single-use plastic straws, and single-use cups could be next. Starbucks and McDonald’s are investing large resources into testing the new cups, along with compostable single-use cups, which shows how seriously they view the issue. The idea of reusable cups could go either way for customers, but if the tests are successful, many other chains will definitely follow in these two companies’ footsteps.
General Mills Launches Healthy Cereal For $13 A Box
As consumers make a push for healthier breakfasts and move away from sugar-filled cereal, General Mills is hoping an expensive box of cereal could save the industry. Morning Summit features almonds as its first ingredient, as well as a number of other healthy whole grain ingredients and retails for $13 a box, much higher than the average box of cereal.
The cereal industry has struggled in recent years, but a product that offers convenience and whole ingredients could turn things around. Consumers are increasingly more health-conscious, but the question is if they are willing to spend more than four times the average price of cereal for a better alternative. General Mills is making strides to give customers what they want and adjusting its products to meet current needs, even if it comes with a risk.
Food Delivery Companies Lose Steam
What once seemed like the future of dining could be on its way downhill. Food delivery services have rapidly grown in popularity in recent years, but the profits for companies are slim and the competition is fierce. Customer loyalty has also started to fade in some areas. The leading four delivery services—Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates and GrubHub—are open to new ideas to stay afloat, including possible mergers or public listings. Joining forces could be the boost the companies need to better serve customers and keep up with strong growth while also turning a profit.
Just because a service is popular doesn’t mean it’s profitable. Food delivery was novel when it first became mainstream, but now customers have grown used to being able to get everything at their fingertips. The increased competition and lack of loyalty have caused issues for companies. The four main food delivery companies understand that to stay alive and continue to serve customers, they must look at alternative business plans and solutions. This is another example of the need for companies to be agile in the constantly evolving world of customer experience.
No matter the industry, companies must stay on top of trends, demands and concerns for customers. Finding innovative new products and procedures can lead to big rewards, especially for companies that are willing to take risks for their customers.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and the author of two books including her new book The Customer Of The Future. You can learn more by signing up for her newsletter here.