What’s on the menu these days? Capitalizing on a proven business strategy, restaurateurs are buddying up with retail to help boost sales. From Coca Cola and 7UP to McDonald’s and Burger King, collaborations with clothing brands, sports companies, shoe retailers, and the worlds of beauty and cosmetics have created some of the most fruitful and lasting business partnerships in history. If you work in the food or beverage industry and want to increase your visibility, create excitement, and attract new customers, consider partnering with another company.
Restaurant Partnerships Are a Meaningful Marketing Tool
Restaurant joint ventures have a robust success history in merging brand powers and leveraging the exposure for profit. Take a look at some famous food and fashion collaborations:
Food and Fashion Collaborations
Replacing the notion of fierce business rivalry with cooperative initiatives, some of the most popular types of restaurant partnerships that have evolved involve merging food with fashion. Think 1973, when Dr. Pepper made a deal with Lip Smacker to create one of the most popular collaborations ever. Other notable past and present food and fashion mergers include:
- Nike SB Sneakers and Ben & Jerry’s, making a killing on “Chunky Dunky” funky sneakers bearing hues and textures that mimicked Ben & Jerry’s signature packaging
- Cheetos and Forever 21, uniting to create a line of apparel, swimwear, and accessories bearing the Cheetos logo and Chester Cheetah
- Kentucky Fried Chicken and Crocs, whose trendy bucket clogs sold like hotcakes
- Nissin Cup Noodles and DKG (the gear and apparel brand for skateboarders), selling out fleece hoodies featuring Nissin’s Cup Noodles
In an innovative blend with technology, powerhouses Nestlé and Android joined forces and grabbed attention with green-colored KitKat bars that mimicked the Android mascot. Kit Kat’s classic red packaging also offered contest perks, such as ways to win $5 credit for Google Play or a Nexus tablet.
Advantages of Brand Collaborations
With more restaurants crossing over to retail to help them ride out the rest of the corona pandemic, you might be wondering what advantages brand collaborations offer? When companies partner up strategically, each enjoys a host of benefits. These include:
- Increased Brand Recognition: Double the brand means double the customers, double the recognition, and double the exposure, as each brand brings their own fan base to the table.
- Profit: While some entities merge to raise money for charity, the goal of most joint ventures is profit. So buddy up, brainstorm an original and effective sales pitch, and enjoy the almost instant increase in sales!
- Share Knowhow and Resources: Each business has an opportunity to access resources they might not have otherwise, such as benefitting from one company’s distribution system or advanced technology platform. They also enjoy the insight and creativity enabled by two minds instead of one.
Food Giants Unite in Epic Collaborations
Food and fashion are not the only collaborations picking up steam. Restaurants, even rivals, are hooking up with other restaurants to create epic partnerships. Check out the following cases where this idea met with success:
- In Sept. 2019, moguls McDonalds and Burger King united in Argentina in an act of charity. Helping McDonalds raise money for childhood cancer, Burger King halted its Big Whopper sales in a promotion dubbed “A Day Without Whopper,” paving the way for more Big Macs to be sold. All proceeds were donated to the cause and both companies benefitted from a boost in brand recognition and public appreciation.
- Combining ingredients loved by consumers of both companies, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Cheetos created a Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that sold like hotcakes for $4.79 during their one-month time-limited offer.
- In a collaboration that enjoyed instant customer popularity, Doritos and Taco Bell joined menus to create new offerings such as the Cool Ranch Dorito flavor.
- Similarly, Salt & Straw and Shake Shack often merge culinary talents to create a buzz with time-limited creative food and drink items.
The Recipe to Restaurant Collaboration Success
Here’s the great news for your local business. You don’t have to be a conglomerate or a national food chain to profit from hooking up with one of your fellow businesses or competitors. Whether you run a café, pizza shop, ice cream parlor, bar, food truck, catering service, juice stand, takeout service, ghost kitchen, or any other type of eatery, the simple ingredients required for an attention-grabbing, productive business relationship include:
- Create a win-win for consumers of both brands. The experts recommend ensuring that at least 50% of your consumer demographics overlap
- Use products, events, or programs to leverage each company’s audience for cross promotion
- Let the media know what you are doing, when you plan to launch, and spread the word via social media, websites, written press, local posters, and word of mouth
- Create a spin about the upcoming collaboration on Facebook and Twitter, including a memorable hashtag to help track social conversations; Post images of your new offerings on Pinterest and Instagram
- Contract ahead of time the split and division of labor
- To test the grounds before going all-out, consider a limited release or time-limited offer
- Additional considerations include: Are your long-term visions aligned? Can you find common ground on issues that matter to you most? Where will business meetings and operations take place (at a neutral location or on one company’s premises?) Is there a vibe of mutual cooperation?
Creative Collaboration Ideas
If you have decided to team up with a retailer, restaurant, or other organization to bring your eatery into the spotlight, the sky is the limit as to what you can conjure up. Use your culinary creativity to cook up any type of scheme that will appeal to the public and make it worth their while to come back for more. Some incentives to consider include: Hosting an art show; planning a weekend street event where you sell both party’s wares; collaborating with a local school or church; teaming up with an author for a book launch; offering tastings; inviting a renowned chef to lead cooking demonstrations; hooking up with the local brewery to concoct a new beer that caters to all your customers….
Promote, Promote, Promote
Finally, don’t forget to promote! Announce loud and clear that you and your partner are pairing up for a one-of-a-kind collaboration. Turning the tables, corona can become an opportunity for entrepreneurship and turn lemons into lemonade… Best of Luck!