Define different? Oxford defines different as "not the same as another or each other; unlike in nature, form, or quality", the beauty of the word different is that its meaning is subjective and its expansive (no definition can truly define it). Honestly, nobody knows what and how to define different. So, during my winter holidays I decided to travel for a different reason, I traveled to explore FOOD (specifically vegan food!), each city not only fed me excellent food, it also taught me basic but vital marketing hacks.
The way I see the word different, "If you keep following the crowd, you will end up being the crowd".As Robert Frost once said "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Being a vegan is an unique experience, most people consider it to be a diet based lifestyle, but for me its a lot more than just being a diet choice, it's a way of living. So, in a world where more than 90 percent of the population consumes diary products, how do these "vegan" restaurants survive? Do the innovative alternatives they offer help them improve revenues? Is the consumer behavior evolving? So many questions pop up in your head, when you think about it. So, I traveled to four major cities across Europe, Berlin, Paris, Munich and Amsterdam, just to observe and learn how consumers are responding to this change.
Berlin: Berlin is an extremely unique city. Not only is it a historical city, it is also one of the most vegan friendly destinations in Europe. The food you find here is cheaper and more innovative in comparison to other major cities I visited. Veganism as a concept is growing really fast in Berlin, with a lot of restaurants now offering vegan menu's which is a positive sign for vegans like me. When you ask the owners of these restaurants about food and consumers, it's refreshing to know how far can innovation drive your business, even when the industry is niche. If innovation drives you, then the destination isn't the most beautiful thing, it's the journey. Business in Berlin especially vegan food outlets generally focus on "innovation" as a tool to differentiate themselves. One of the reasons why Berlin can be called the "Vegan capital of Europe". Paris: One of the world's most visually appealing cities is also home to amazing food art. Over the years, there has been a significant rise in the number of vegan restaurants and patisseries in France. The driving force for all these restaurants is, "shift in consumer demands". Just goes to show the line between growth and survival is getting thinner, a slight shift in consumer demand can bring a lot of change in the way one runs his business. What makes Paris so special is the creativity, the restaurants often shape themselves as per the demands. Pretty encouraging to see people asking for alternatives to diary products, it's shifting the needle towards new businesses and more employment opportunities, a win-win situation for all.
Munich: Similar to Paris, Munich is one of the world's most efficient cities. Almost every restaurant that does well in Munich offers something different to its consumers. This shows the importance of market insight (knowing your consumers). A business that doesn't have knowledge about shifting market trends would suffer the high and low tides of changing consumer behavior. Munich as a city is an example that "consumer know things", makes techniques like inbound marketing a must for growth. Personal recommendation would be to try the mock meat burgers and sandwiches....and yes, German beer is always a plus.
Amsterdam: A city famous for its "Coffee Culture" and scenic appeal, is also one of the most underrated cities when it comes to vegan food options. Not only is the food affordable, they are extremely well presented. These restaurants grow their business through customer service. The art of building a relationship with customers is a vital cog to one's growth engine. If you serve well and right, it leaves a lasting impression on the customers. A clever tactic to make the customer want more...
Who says traveling is all about tourism. I think one must travel to know more about something you know less about, at least that was my idea of travelling. Marketing is everywhere, creativity/innovation is always around it. Being different from others in a way that your food becomes your marketing tool is innovation. But, when you travel the word "different" changes and it grows on you, expands your thoughts and definitions. At the end of the day you ask yourself:
"How different am I?".