7 Strategies to Retain Customers for Your Food and Drink Business

7 Ways to improve customer retention in food & drink businesses

We’ve curated a list of strategies to retain customers for your Food & Drink business. In today’s competitive market, it’s crucial for food and drink businesses to embrace innovative approaches for growth and stability.

Retaining customers is one of our 3 pillars of growth. For any business to grow revenue and make more money each year, it needs to effectively execute a combination of the following;

  1. Attract new customers who spend more than it costs to obtain. ROI or Return on Investment – calculated as the CPA or Cost per Acquisition needs to be less than the LTV – Lifetime Value.
  2. Minimise the loss of existing customers (retention).
  3. Encourage customers to spend more frequently, and spend more each time (Average Order Value).

In recent years, many businesses that have taken the stance of being growth-led, or “growth at all costs”. This can often result in businesses that report huge revenue numbers with equally huge costs. Profit potentially takes years to catch up (if it ever does). There has been reduction in funding in recent years in the form of fewer business loans, and Venture Capital funding being often less easily accessible. The “growth at all costs” approach is being replaced across many industries with traditional business strategies. Slower and steady growth, reinvesting profits incrementally, and taking calculated risks are becoming the norm again.

Strategies to encourage Customer Loyalty in your Business

These are 7 unexpected strategies you can use to retain customers for your food and drink business;

1. Attract and Retain Good Staff Members

Source: Licensed under the Unsplash+ License

As stated in the Harvard Business Review² happy staff are crucial to any business. The people who work in your business aren’t just their job description or years of experience. They have so much to offer beyond this.

Empower your staff to become your business’s biggest cheerleaders. They’ll probably surprise you with insight, and ideas that will delight your customers. Create spaces and develop a culture where all ideas are welcomed. Welcome mistakes are part of everyone’s learning – instead of being either ignored or negatively responded to. We’re all human, and thinking outside the box can pay dividends.

Rewarding your best performers is also as important as taking the time to understand poorer performers and give them the support they need to do their best. Job hopping is more and more becoming the norm culturally. However, when your best people leave, they take their experience and insight with them.

2. Create A Loyalty System With A Touch Of Creativity

Host Exclusive Online Events for Loyal Customers

Try introducing rewards which engage your best customers. Exclusive online events, or access to premium content, can help to enhance your loyalty system. By making these events available only to your loyalty program members, you make your best customers feel valued and special.

Customisable Rewards

Allow customers the freedom to choose their rewards. You could develop a tiered system, using your knowledge of your customers, where points can be exchanged for various rewards.

Consider implementing technology and tools which allow them to decide how they want to be rewarded.

3. Data, Data, Data (sorry – this one is expected!)

Ensuring you have useful data collection, and reviewing it at regular intervals can help you to make decisions that are backed up by knowledge, instead of casual correlation. Human beings are notorious for “confirmation bias” and using mental shortcuts to make decisions. Whilst this has made us an incredibly effective species, this can also trip us up.

Through meticulous data collection and analysis, you’re not merely guessing what your customers want. Instead, you’re applying insights gleaned from their actual behaviors and feedback. This allows for a more customer-centric approach. It will allow you to adapt your offerings, services, and marketing to more precisely match your customer’s needs and preferences.

By grounding decisions in data, you sidestep these cognitive pitfalls and base your business strategies on solid, empirical evidence.

Google Analytics Goals

Strong data practices transform intuition into intelligence. You can try using tools like Google Analytics Goals to track user interactions that are valuable to your business. Goals can range from newsletter sign-ups, to product purchases, to time spent on specific pages.

How To Set Useful Goals

Setting good goals is foundational to collecting meaningful data that can drive decision-making and propel a business forward. To establish effective goals, start by aligning them with your overarching business objectives. Ensure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

For instance, instead of aiming for “increased sales,” a specific goal would be “increase online sales of product X by 10% within the next 6 months.”

Incremental Implementation

Incremental implementation of new initiatives can allow you to isolate variables and assign credit to certain actions for particular results. Rather than overhaul your menu or marketing strategy all at once, you can test changes in a controlled manner.

Perhaps adjust your website menu, or target a specific customer segment with a new promotion, then use data to assess the impact.

Reviewing your Goals

Regularly scheduled reviews of your goals enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of recent changes or campaigns. Goal Setting & Data review is a key part of many successul strategies to retain customers for your Food & Drink Business.

Was there an increase in newsletter subscriptions after revising the sign-up prompt? Did the introduction of a new product correlate with an increase in average order value?

4. Engage Your Customers in Product Development

Engaging customers in product development not only caters to their specific needs but also deepens their connection with your brand. It helps to transform passive or convenience buyers into active participants.

For example, consider trialling a campaign to engage customers in the choice between a two orthree of your top ideas for new products. This can be particularly effective for the ‘brand fan,’ who might relish the opportunity to influence the product line of a brand they love.

Provide options like limited-time flavours or customised product bundles designed by fans. Their enthusiasm could also help drive promotional efforts, as they may be more likely to share and celebrate a product they helped bring to fruition.

5. Automate Re-Engagement Processes

Customers will forget that you exist because, well, “life happens”.

Some customers will be lost to competitors, some to demographic, lifestyle & budgetary shifts, and some to the general busyness of modern life.

To counter these forces, automating re-engagement processes can be a powerful tool in keeping your food and drink business top of mind.

Email Automation

By setting up automated email sequences, for example, you can gently remind customers of their previous experiences with your brand, share updates on new products, or offer exclusive discounts to encourage return visits.

Social Media

Design your Social Media strategy with retention as well as new customer acquisition in mind – create posts that cater to different customer profiles. Leverage social media automation tools like Buffer to maintain consistent engagement. Regular, scheduled posts can keep your brand in your audience’s feeds. Chatbots can provide instant responses to common customer inquiries.

6. Implement Sustainable Practices

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a way of doing business that fortunately is growing in popularity. Your adoption of it can significantly influence customer decisions and brand loyalty. Sustainability is one of our key strategies to retain customers for your Food & Drink Business.

Implementing sustainable practices could mean sourcing ingredients from local, organic farms. You could reduce carbon footprints or eliminate single-use plastics from your packaging. Showcase how your packaging can be reused or recycled, or detail partnerships with environmental organisations.

Emphasise transparency in your efforts. Nobody is perfect, and you are not expected to get it 100% perfect immediately. Showing vulnerability (when done in a genuine way) can significantly strengthen the bond between your business and its customers.

Being open about the challenges your food and drink business faces in its journey towards sustainability showcases honesty and commitment to your values. This approach can foster a community of supportive customers who are more willing to engage with and advocate for your brand.

Additionally, acknowledging areas of needed improvement and outlining plans for addressing them demonstrates a proactive and responsible approach, encouraging customer trust and loyalty. These actions not only contribute positively to the environment but also resonate with increasingly eco-conscious consumers, making your brand more appealing and trustworthy.

7. Prioritise Accessibility and Universal Design

Embracing both Accessibility and Universal Design principles isn’t just a matter of compliance. It’s a strategic approach to inclusivity that extends your reach and connects with customers at every stage of their lives.

Some suggestions for improving your Accessibility:

  • Adopt Universal Design Principles: Ensure your physical locations are accessible by incorporating wide aisles, ramp access, braille signage, and seating that accommodates all guests comfortably, including those with disabilities and seniors.
  • Speed and Simplicity Online: Optimise your website’s loading times and aim for a clean, intuitive design that benefits all users, not just those with accessibility needs. Fast and simple navigation enhances the experience for everyone, including those on slower internet connections or older devices.
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): Follow the WCAG to make your digital content more accessible. This includes providing text alternatives for non-text content, captions for videos, and ensuring that all functions can be performed via keyboard commands for those unable to use a mouse.
  • Accessibility Tools: Consider integrating tools like UserWay or AccessiBe on your website. These accessibility widgets can provide users with the ability to adjust your website’s design to meet their individual needs, such as altering text sizes, colour contrasts, and more.

By integrating accessibility into the very blueprint of your business, you not only widen your audience but also demonstrate social responsibility and an empathetic brand image.

Accessibility should not be an afterthought: design your products and services to be inclusive from the outset. This helps to ensuring that every customer interaction is as effortless and enjoyable as possible.


It’s crucial to remember that your business is as distinctive and unique as you are. Therefore, it’s important to select, experiment with, and fine-tune these strategies to align with the unique identity and needs of your business.

Tailoring these approaches will ensure they resonate more deeply with your customer base, fostering a bond that is not only loyal but also reflective of the unique essence of your brand.


Forbes: Banks Making Fewer Business Loans Because Of Recession Fears – https://www.forbes.com/sites/billconerly/2023/12/12/banks-making-fewer-business-loans-because-of-recession-fears

Harvard Business Review: A “Growth-at-All-Costs” Mindset Can Stall Your Company – https://hbr.org/2024/04/a-growth-at-all-costs-mindset-can-stall-your-company

The World Intellectual Property Organisation: Dollars Dwindle, but Number of Deals Sealed Stand Strong https://www.wipo.int/global_innovation_index/en/gii-insights-blog/2023/venture-capital-2023.html

Disclaimer: The information utilised at the time of writing this article were correct.

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