Ghost kitchens are here to stay. The Coronavirus pandemic has created an interesting space in the restaurant industry. Many cities and towns worldwide have been in strict lockdowns or stay-at-home orders for almost a year. People have become tired of cooking meals but at the same time don't feel comfortable (or are unable to dine-out). Delivery has become a staple of the pandemic, and restaurants are re-imaging their menus to adapt to consumer behavior.
While some restaurants with established brands are merely adapting to these uncertain times, other virtual brands have burst on the scene, offering unique delivery offerings to satisfy every craving.
In today's digital landscape, every business has a virtual brand, an online extension of their physical offering. However, with the possibility of offering delivery to customers and not having a physical dining establishment, there are now also ghost kitchen brands. While ghost kitchens and brands share many commonalities, they are inherently different. Let's take a closer look at the two.
A virtual brand is a food or beverage business that utilizes a ghost kitchen to prepare its offerings. These goods are then delivered to customers, who never step into a dining room or traditional brick-and-mortar building.
The concept of using a ghost kitchen is not new, but they currently allow for aspiring chefs to share their food with a wider audience at a fraction of the cost. It's likely that customers will not know this chef or their food, and so in order to create brand awareness, a chef or aspiring restauranteur will create a virtual brand. The goal of a virtual brand is to showcase your food and USP in an engaging and compelling way. In the attention economy, customers have thousands of restaurants and major food brands trying to persuade them to be the choice for their next meal. The only way to stand out in this type of environment is to create a conversation and offer value.
Virtual brands are everywhere, on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and of course, Tik Tok. They are finding ways to engage with customers on a deeper, more emotional level. They are also persuading people to try their offerings through special discounts, coupons, and giveaways.
Digital ordering efficiency continues to improve, which allows virtual brands to provide fast service in a society where consumer behavior love instant gratification. The virtual brand will only continue to expand alongside the rise in delivery applications and contactless service.
Many restaurants have been forced to close for dine-in service. However, as food is considered an essential service, many businesses have tried to pivot in order to still serve customers and not operate at a complete loss. Dining establishments that never previously offered delivery began rolling out special food packages and menu items. Others started offering more home-friendly items to customers who were cooking at home, such as sauces or dried portions of pasta. Others even began offering make-it-at-home meal kits.
While the ghost kitchen has become the norm during these times, not all brands on your delivery app have a physical restaurant, nor do they plan on opening one in the future. However, the ability to reach customers and deliver one-of-a-kind experiences has never been easier. Although restaurants can replace their revenue by having only delivery service, it helps alleviate some costs. Also, because of additional space in the restaurant, more meals can be prepared, allowing restaurants to take on more orders.
The rise of the ghost kitchen t is expected to continue, as social media applications like Instagram add more shopping capabilities and delivery services continue to make elevated at-home dining accessible to more people. We can only make predictions about what dining will look like in the future, but many restaurants will likely keep growing their virtual brand, even if they no longer have a ghost kitchen.