California is known around the world for two major things: Silicon Valley and hippies. While a crossover between the two seems an anathema, in reality there is a lot of potential. One of the biggest growing movements in California, and indeed the U.S. overall is the movement towards entirely plant-based diets.
In the Golden State, there has been a major jump in the availability of entirely vegan or vegetarian restaurants, especially in our technological hub cities. As a tech development firm, our team is trained to notice potential opportunities for business and recently our VP of sales, a vegan himself, noticed that none of the local businesses targeting the market appropriately leveraged the existing tech solutions.
The recent growth in plant-based health and fitness represents an untapped market of millions. In the modern era of technology and mobility, a mobile app is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door of this expanding market. Mobile apps drive engagement, increase loyalty and promote your brand not only amongst your target market but amongst the general public overall.
So let’s take a look at how a mobile app or website can drive engagement and increases the overall profitability of your company.
Currently, there are over 17 million Americans who have a predominantly vegetarian diet; additionally, there are 7-10 million of those 17 who are strictly vegetarians, 1 million vegans. Plus half the country eats one vegetarian meal a week, at least.
More importantly for our purposes is the type of people who are attracted to a vegetarian diet. These are people who use apps and similar technologies for everything and anything, so the best way to reach them is through the medium to which they have grown accustomed.
The idea here is not to create a standard food services app; it’s to create an interactive tool for fitness, through the lens of plant-based eating and healthy living. Vegetarians, more so than the average bear, care immensely about what they are putting into their bodies. No where is this more true than with Vegan body builders.
Vegan bodybuilding has been around for a while now (there are some guys who have been living this way for nearly 40 years), it’s only recently taken off. The movement emphasizes eating right for your body type, with specific fitness goals in mind. This means not only tailoring meals and tracking caloric consumption for specific goals and body types, but knowing exact nutritional facts of every meat consumed.
While many restaurants know the advantages of an app, only a few recognize the true potential applications represent. already list caloric content on the menu and even provide nutritional calculators, there is room for growth. Specifically, the addition of a fitness tracker would drive engagement and would be extremely useful to fitness-oriented folks. The tracker should have the following options:
- The ability for users to input specific needs, from the number of meals their fitness plan requires to the exact nutritional values needed;
- Another option is to have users input their fitness needs and the app itself will breakdown what nutritional values are needed in order to meet said goals;
- Food ordered within the app has all nutritional information added automatically to the tracker and so that users can manage their caloric consumption and their nutritional intake;
- Users can input their daily caloric expenditures (i.e. specific exercises or activities) into the tracker. This will give users a realistic idea of how many calories they’ve consumed and how many they’ve burned;
- The app will recommend specific menu items that meet the user’s nutritional needs based on time of day, calories burned, nutrition requirements. This will be a dynamic feature that changes depending upon what has already been consumed.
An app that allows users to set specific fitness goals would be even more useful. For instance, if a user’s goal is to lose 5lbs of fat and put on 6lbs of muscle, the user can put those goals into the app. The app will then suggest menu items that fit the user’s restrictions and possibly even offer substitutions to build a better meal
Vegan and vegetarian restaurants would benefit from higher sales per customer if the app could offer an additional protein source (from your menu) that can help increase muscle growth, or recommend different side dishes to reduce carbs / fat intake.
When a user meets these goals, the app can award users with points or dollars towards a free menu item or other product. The purpose of this is to drive engagement to your app and store and increase customer loyalty.
More Than an App
The overarching theme behind this idea is to turn a restaurant or vegan/vegetarian food line into the place for people interested in plant-based diets, fitness and health. There are plenty of apps out there that approach some of the issues discussed here, but there is no current app that does it all. More than that, there’s the opportunity to create an actual resource for people in the movement, not just an app.
One way to do this beyond tracking diet and exercise is to put blogs, vlogs and interviews with leading vegan/vegetarian fitness and health experts within the app itself. This creates a product that not only aids users in a very physical manner (tracking caloric and nutritional intake/expenditures as tied to specific goals), it also provides a way to learn from the best in the movement.
This will pivot the app from a food-ordering app to a much-needed informational source for vegans, vegetarians and others interested in a plant-based diet. This pivot a pivot such as this will help any business because it will increase the amount of time people spend within the app. Additionally, it will make users more likely to purchase food within the app.
But Wait, There’s More!
An additional idea is to drive in-app purchases is to leverage the pedometer installed in most smartphones. Users will be able to track the amount of walking & calories they burn in a given day and, when combined with the manually entered exercise data, the app can send direct push notifications when a user needs to consume something. When these notifications are sent, they will include a list of 5 or so menu options that would fit the user’s needs.
There are even opportunities for growth into the fitness market: Fitness bands that track and monitor biometrics are all the rage – for a reason. Fitness bands monitor heart rate, caloric expenditure, and general fitness levels, all of them great features for those of us dedicated to a healthy lifestyle.
A band such as the one described would not only be appreciated by your users, it also provides a unique chance to raise your brand’s awareness. If the band were to be branded with your company’s logo it would be seen by more than just people on their phones – branding still works folks!
Of course, the band will connect directly to your app and a user would be able to track and update their complete fitness information. Even better, it would be an easy thing for it to also send out push notifications with menu suggestions when a user needs sustenance.
The plant-based diet is all about being healthy and taking care of yourself. Unfortunately, most fast food places aren’t exactly the ideal vegan location (though exceptions exist – our local favorite is Veggie Grill!) and cooking a meal from scratch is laborious, at best.
Worse still, people who consistently exercise need to eat a lot. As any full time professional will tell you, preparing daily meals is no easy task; now imagine you have to make most of your meals from scratch and you eat twice as much as the average Joe.
Entrepreneurs and startups, get free tips how you can grow your non tech SMB. Experts at SDI can guide every step of the way.