I see Subway as a sandwich bar where they drown you with options. Yes, I am glad to micro-manage my sandwich. But the choices and the questions intimidate most of their customers. Add the Indian sense of indecisiveness and you have a potent Mexican standoff at the counter before you can say Chipotle Southwest. They can do with some instructional design to make things easier. But that is another post.
Subway has been my first ‘port of call’ for a meal when I travel. It feels like actual food unlike the rest of the fast food chains peddling substances that resemble food. Recently they have been pushing their flat bread subs and I got myself one. Other than prompting me to write this post, the sandwich did not do any good. The truth is, it was abysmal. The bread was too thin to hold the filling, it broke into pieces when folded and it went soggy with veggies and sauces. When I unwrapped the sandwich it looked partially digested. And then it occurred to me that food brands should ‘design’ their products for a better eater experience.
Now, if you are a food and beverage retail brand you should consider these aspects before jumping into your kitchen:
- Understand the eater better Are they the middle management? Are they stuck in a conference room eating with one hand while saving their pristine clothes? Or are they mall rats with no good options?
- Experience modeling Watch people eating drippy sandwiches. Better still, watch American Food Truck Shows. Count the number of paper napkins used. Make confusing Mindmaps of your findings.
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Consider designing food to fit our hands and mouth. This helps us not bite more than we can chew.
- Materials and structural design Create the content for the casing and the casing for the content. Think about the dripping, breaking, bursting or oozing.
- Eater environment and behaviour Will the eaters walk or jog, stand or sit when consuming your product? Will it be in the park, mall, beach or on a rollercoaster? Will they get paper napkins or beach towels, plastic cutlery or silverware? What will they drink? How will you pack it for them?
- Texture and taste Of course, you will think about it. But when set along with all the other parameters these work harder.
- Design Further you can work on the content architecture of the product (what is in it?), task flow semantics of how you eat it (I know someone who ate a part of the banana leaf), interaction design of the food (will it wiggle when you touch it? Or will the yolk flow when you cut into it?) and visual design (for Instagram)
These considerations will set you apart from your competition. Remember brand is the experience. Or your brand is what you eat and how you eat it. Bon appetit!