In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. A year later, many of us are grappling with the COVID 15, or the weight gained by Americans forced to live drive-thru and delivery as the pandemic closed dining halls across the country. That’s why 2021 will be the year of the diet franchise.
Franchising holds up better than other business models during economic downturns, and the pandemic was no exception. Of the 110,000 restaurants closed during the pandemic, franchises performed well, especially in quick service and pizza areas. But as any working adult knows, we finally have to eat a green vegetable.
That’s why FranNet is planning an increase in healthy food franchises and all that goes with it. When gyms reopen, expect them to look like the New Years Resolution crowd again on January 2. When people choose to eat, expect to see them turn into a salad.
The younger generation has placed a a renewed emphasis on healthy and sustainable food. In addition, the pandemic has forced us to view our health and well-being like never before. Expect to see fast food restaurants and pizza concepts adding healthy options to keep their momentum going, but these never quite work as expected.
2021: the year of the Underdog franchise?
The problem with salads Mcdonalds menu or vegetarian options on a Domino’s pizza is that no one associates these brands with healthy foods. Instead, expect healthy food concepts like Freshii and Salata to take off. During the pandemic, consumers’ access to McDonald’s or Dominoes was little restricted. When the pandemic ends, millions of people will realize that it’s time to have a light salad with friends for lunch.
We all know there is a growing demand for healthy food and on-site spaces to enjoy it. The question now is whether companies are best placed to take advantage of this coming wave.
To ride this coming wave, brands need to adopt health-conscious terminology. Brands will affiliate with a certain winning niche – maybe it’s gluten-free, low-carb, or sustainable protein. Quick, casual salad concepts that can show you a chipotle-style assembly line of workers making your salad from a sprawling mix of fresh vegetables will have all the credibility in this space. If a restaurant has healthy options that customers aren’t familiar with, it’s time to modernize that messaging.
Additionally, in the franchise space, this moment marks the perfect time for small brands to take a prominent place as large franchises have had their turn during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, quick-serve brands that half-heartedly ventured into healthy foods or high-veggie offerings may have shot themselves in the foot. All it takes is a gooey tomato on a Wendy’s burger for a consumer to decide Wendy’s can’t make fresh produce. When the time comes for consumers to choose a healthier option, they will surely turn to brands specializing in this area.
Brands like Nekter juice bar, Clean Eatz and Vitality bowls, should take off with healthy vitality bowls and shakes.
In short, expect a generation of consumers shaped by the pandemic to have high and demanding standards. The pandemic was excellent for the sake of convenience, and it’s here to stay. But now, customers will demand healthy, convenient foods that they can order and eat in or out of, when and where they want.
Jania Bailey joined FranNet in August 2006 as President and COO as the company moved to new ownership. In 2015, Jania assumed the role of CEO of FranNet. Under his leadership, she led the company through unprecedented growth and made FranNet the most respected voice in the franchise consulting industry in North America. His career includes more than 30 years of experience in the banking and franchise sectors. Bailey served for 6 years on the Board of Directors of the International Franchise Association (IFA) and is a Certified Franchise Expert. She is currently chair of the IFA Membership Committee. Bailey is also the author of the book “Thriving–The Journey to Success in the Business World ”and co-authored Amazon’s bestseller,“ More Than Just French Fries ”.