If you’re looking to start an online food business, one of the very first things you will need to do is to identify your ideal customer.
Defining the target market for an online food business can be tricky because on the one hand anyone on the internet can place an order on your site but you can only deliver within a finite distance from your restaurant or kitchen.
Also, people who live in your neighborhood may prefer eating out rather than ordering food for delivery. Or they may simply prefer to cook at home. Likewise, if you’re located in a business district your target market will be more interested in quick lunch deliveries than elaborate dinners. And that too only on weekdays.
So, knowing whom you are targeting, with what type of cuisine, and at what price point will be critical for your success.
With that, let’s dig deeper and try to understand the ideal target market for an online food business!
Understanding the Target Market for an Online Food Business
One of the best ways to understand the target market for an online food business is to understand the reasons why someone would want to order food online. What is their need? What is their motivation?
By understanding the customer’s needs we are able to classify the market into different segments. And so here are the different kinds of people who are likely to order food online:
- People who are too busy to cook or go out to eat
- People who work in offices
- People who live alone
- People with special dietary requirements
- People who are health-conscious
- Parents with young children
- People looking for a specific cuisine
Let’s look closely at each of these customer segments.
1. People who are too busy to cook or go out to eat
This target market usually comprises young professionals or working couples who don’t have the time to cook elaborate meals at home. On most evenings they may cook something simple but often they will order food online.
These people are usually located in urban areas and their income levels are higher than average. They are also more likely to order from premium or gourmet food businesses.
2. People who work in offices
People who work in offices or at businesses that do not have an in-house cafeteria are another target market for online food businesses. These people usually order lunch or dinner and have it delivered to their office.
While they may necessarily be as busy as the previous group, they still don’t have the time to go out and eat. And so, ordering in is a convenient option for them.
People who live alone
They are also the ones who are most likely to order food for delivery during lunchtime as they can’t step out of the office.
3. People who live alone
This target market includes students, young professionals, and senior citizens who live by themselves. They are more likely to order food for delivery in the evening as they don’t have anyone to cook for and cooking just for themselves can seem an unnecessary work.
Plus ordering food online is easy, the food is delicious, and the clean-up effort afterward is virtually non-existent.
4. People with special dietary requirements
There was a time when people with special dietary requirements, like those who are vegan, vegetarian, or have food allergies, had to cook their meals at home.
But with the rise of online food businesses specifically targeting special dietary needs, they can now order food that meets their specific needs.
For example, if you have a gluten-free or vegan restaurant, people who follow those diets can easily find and order your food online.
5. Health-conscious people
Just as it was difficult for people with special dietary requirements to find restaurants that served their food needs, it was also difficult for health-conscious people to find restaurants that served healthy meals.
Today it’s much easier for people to find and order healthy food that fits their health goals.
For example, if you have a healthy restaurant that serves organic or locally sourced food, people who prefer to eat organic, can easily find and order your food online.
6. Parents with young children
This target market includes parents who have young children at home and are looking for healthy and affordable meal options. They may also be interested in food delivery services that offer kid-friendly meals.
Parents are always busy, and they may not have the time to cook a nutritious meal for their children every night.
So having the option to order food online that is both healthy and affordable is a great solution for this target market.
7. People looking for a specific cuisine
People interested in a specific cuisine may not know how to cook it by themselves at home. For them, it’s easier and more convenient to order it from a restaurant that specializes in that cuisine.
For example, if someone feels like eating sushi at home, it’s quite likely that they don’t know how to make it. So they will order it from a sushi restaurant or an online food business that delivers sushi.
Similarly, if someone wants to stay at home and eat Indian or Italian or Seafood, the easiest option is to order it online.
Marketing Strategies for your Online Food Business
Now that you know the different segments of the target market for an online food business, you can start thinking about how to reach them.
You will need to create a marketing strategy that targets these people and convinces them to order from your online food business.
Here are some ideas to reach your target market:
- Use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to target young professionals, working couples, and parents with young children.
- Use Google AdWords or other online advertising platforms to target people who are searching for food delivery services.
- Use email marketing to target people who have subscribed to your website or placed an order in the past.
- Use physical billboards and flyers to target people who live near your restaurant or kitchen.
- Sign up for food delivery platforms like UberEats, Foodpanda, or Swiggy to reach a wider audience.
As you can see, there are many different ways to reach your target market. The key is to identify the channels that will work best for your online food business.
As people continue to lead more and more busy lives, they will have even less time than before to cook at home. This means the target market for an online food business is only likely to grow.
If you’re getting into this market make sure you know which of the segments of the target market for an online food business you plan to cater to. Not only will your menu and type of cuisine change because of this, but so will your marketing and promotion strategies.
And remember that there are many different ways to reach your target audience. Explore the ones we have mentioned here and see what works best for you.