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Rustlers Hot Subs: The Successful Transfer of a Foodservice Concept to Retail

In September 2009, UK-based company Kepak Convenience Foods extended its Rustlers line of hot snacks to include a range of Rustlers Hot Subs microwaveable sandwiches. Sales over the first 12 months of the line’s launch exceeded £10m, accounting for around 10% of the UK’s retail hot snacks market.

Thanks in no small part to the expansion of the Subway chain from 300 outlets in 2005 to 1,400 outlets by 2011, the UK fast food market has been reshaped: sandwiches are no longer seen solely as a lunchtime item for office workers, but are also consumed by young adults as evening or post-going-out food.

“Freshness” is a major product feature consumers look for when they are making food and beverage choices. This has had a direct impact on fast food consumption behaviors in recent years, with traditional chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King losing market share to perceived healthier and fresher alternatives.

Although hot-eating snacks (handheld snacks sold at retail to be microwaved and eaten by the consumer) are a larger category per head in the UK than in most countries worldwide, the market is still somewhat niche. Nielsen data for the 52 weeks up to September 2010 puts the category at a value of £107m, or less than £2 (approximately the price of one snack) per capita. Growth throughout the 2000s was slow.

Consumer awareness of the health connotations of mealtime fragmentation and skipping is growing: 40% of UK respondents to Datamonitor’s 2010 Consumer Survey said that they felt guilty about snacking between meals, compared to 31% of respondents in 2009. At the same time, 69% of UK respondents to Datamonitor’s 2010 survey say that they are making active attempts to eat healthily, up from 64% in 2009.

The concept behind the Hot Subs launch was simple: in the same way that the existing Rustlers range allowed consumers to replicate the fast food burger experience at home, Hot Subs would replicate the Subway experience at home. This would attract new customers to the hot snacking category; broaden the appeal of Rustlers outside its core audience of 16–24 year old males, thus building awareness of the brand among females and consumers aged 25 to 44; and increase the share of consumption that takes place at lunchtime.

Find this interesting. For more, please read Rustlers Hot Subs Case Study: The Successful Transfer of a Foodservice Concept to Retail or check out our industry reports on UK food retail market.

 

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