5 Customer Types You Must Know When Starting A Food Business

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So often eateries are designed around the cuisine that they will be preparing or a certain theme but for me I would always start with my customer in mind. The goal when starting a food business (which until you open the doors has no customer) should be to develop an environment conducive to our aspirational loyal customers and merchandised to appeal to the impulse shopper. Let me explain the five types of customers as I see it.... 

  • 1. Loyal Customer
  • 2. Discount Customer
  • 3. Impulsive Customer
  • 4. Needs Based Customer
  • 5. Wandering Customer

Loyal customers want and desrve individual attention from your business. The challenge is how you develop this personal attention either in store or at a more general level with customer loyalty schemes or private social media groups.

Discount customers are frequent visitors to your business but will only avail of your menu design ideas when it is accompnaied by a great offer. In this age of social media, groupon and other discount websites this truly is a customer that cannot be ignored. Even high end lower volume restaurants use offers to attract customers in during less busy times of the week. The challenge with all offers or discounts is whether you can upsell them in store or use this as a teaser to then get them to increase their purchase. Everyone loves a freebie after all


Social Media is a great way for interaction with customers, brand promotion and detailing offers

Impulsive Customers are heavily influenced by location or reputation. If the customer is going to purchase based on impulse then your food service business either needs to be right in front of them when they get the urge or you have an app or online ordering capability to sort them out when the urge strikes.  

Needs based customer beyond needing fed and watered might be looking for a venue for a special occassion like a kids birthday or a wedding reception. They could even be looking for a hub or community space for their cycling club, craft beer group or card school. This can be a challenge initially but remember this could be a regular source of income

Wandering Customer comes into your business with no specific need in mind, they are looking for an experience or a sense of community. 


So loyal customer is what we all want but in reality we will do well to have a small number of these very satified individuals. The loyal customer will promote more sales and profits by regularly revisting your food service business, hence you will need more catering food supplies. Compared with any other customer they are completely satisifed with your cafe menu ideas, service and choice of catering supplies.

But the real question is how do you convert an impulse, discount, needs based or wandering customer into a loyal one? 

All this comes down to every facet of your business, sorry but there is no silver bullet here. For me so much of a successful business depends on your desire to please your customer and being prepared to adapt your offering or services to meet their needs.

In my experience wandering customers are the hardest to convert to long term loyal customers. Discount customers can be a very profitable focus for your business but the promotion needs to be appealling enough for the punter that will make them avail of the offer but still profitable or with the opportunity to upsell when in store. Discounters are notorious for buying when on offer, do not expect to convert too many to regular menu customers but can be loyal if you can regularly maintain your offers calender.

The impulsive customer is a huge opportunity to develop into a loyal customer as location is quite often key here, Whether it is proximity to work, college or social club etc. These customers will regularly be passing your door so will you have a good enough product/ service to convert them to loyal customers?

Finally the needs based customer is a great opportunity for regular loyal sales as they are looking for a home for their weekly event but even if its for birthday parties do it well and they will tell their friends.

Thankfully we have quite a number of loyal customers for our catering supplies and some of this is because we have a similar history and story to others that where once starting a food business

Watch Our Story

We are always happy to help out when starting a food business so feel free to ask questions below in the comment section or alternatively click the link for some free samples. Best of Luck!! 

Free Samples


I am 3rd generation sauce man, so the business is in my blood. Does that explain my low cholesterol? My principal role is marketing manager of Rich Sauces but I also regular help with testing, sampling, any general duties are gladly undertaken.

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Guest Friday, 30 October 2020
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