Food for thought on Freshmenu’s magazine, Food For Thought

I tried FreshMenu’s Dragon Noodles with Veggie Dumplings 2 weeks ago, while in office, and loved it. I immediately made a note to order it once at home since my wife and son would love it too. So, last Sunday, we ordered lunch from FreshMenu and yes, everyone loved the dragon noodles.

While delivering the order, the delivery person also handed me a magazine of sorts! It was the FEB-MAR 2018 issue of Food For Thought. I flipped through it, given my interest in the written word, and found it to be a well-produced, if not too explicitly selling assorted items from FreshMenu’s… well, menu!

It reminded me of airlines’ in-flight magazine. Now, I see that there is a month added on top (FEB-MAR 2018), so this is not a one-off effort – there is a continuity and some commitment behind this. But I do wonder, what is the purpose of this magazine? Or, to frame it differently, how would FreshMenu deduce the purpose or usefulness of this magazine?

Here are 2 possible ideas.

1. I noticed that there is no cover price for this magazine. Taking the airlines’ in-flight magazine example, that effort at least has advertisers paying for a part of the cost of production and content (there are usually tons of ads in in-flight magazines, given the possibility of reaching captive audiences).

There is no captive audience in case of FreshMenu’s magazine, of course. So, forget advertising income. But, what about charging a price?

I know you’d balk at that suggestion and go, ‘Oh c’mon… it’s a 24 page glorified menu for FreshMenu! Who’d pay for this?’. Valid question, and I agree. So, why produce a 24 page glorified menu for FreshMenu at all, free or charged? What purpose does it serve in the overall marketing or customer care spectrum?

If, for example, FreshMenu charged a very nominal Rs.5 or a Rs.10 and added a checkbox (opt-in, not opt-out) just before the customer finalizes an order (with a helpful note on what the customer can expect in this magazine for ‘just Rs.10 more to their order’), that would at least give the brand an indication of,
a. whether people value this effort or not (enough to pay the nominal Rs.10 for it, even if it clearly cannot cover the cost of production and content)
b. whether people appreciated the hook on what the magazine is for (as explained in the last screen before payment) – a good enough estimation of the need for such an effort.

Given the thousands who order every day on FreshMenu, even a week or month’s effort to try this out would give FreshMenu some meaningful data to decide what to do with this magazine and how to frame its content better.

Now, I do understand that FreshMenu is not in the business of publishing magazines. But remember, in the digital/social media era where every person can publish whatever he/she wants, we are in all publishing. If FreshMenu has decided to publish a magazine, for whatever purpose, why not explore its potential fully by making the effort meaningful, instead of treating it as a glorified menu?

This would mean, taking a serious second look at the content – is it of value to our users? Is it something that our users are better off getting via Facebook or Twitter, or, if they get it through a printed magazine, would they like it enough to share it with others? Is it that good? If it is not that good, how can we make it good and shareable, since we’re vying for our users’ attention in an already incredibly crowded and noisy market where free and fluffy content is everywhere? Why bother putting free, Facebook-worthy content in a print magazine? What purpose would that serve?

A simple/sample/reasonable cover price would at least tell the editorial team behind this effort whether their content is ‘working’ or not. It’s a simple feedback mechanism through which they can go one step beyond the retainer fee from FreshMenu’s marketing team and prove to the client that their effort is actually paying off in some meaningful manner.

2. Besides the cover price, can there be another feedback mechanism that showcases this effort’s value?

Yes, there can be, if we think from that perspective.

This magazine has 24 pages. Imagine adding a coupon code on page 23. Say, Rs. 25 or Rs.50 flat off, on one order (within the February-March months). And this coupon code is mentioned ONLY in this publication – nowhere else. So, even if one customer stumbles on it while flipping through the magazine casually, and shares it with a friend while talking, or through Whatsapp, and if that person, even without having access to this publication, redeems using this coupon code, the credit should still go to the print publication (for it being the ONLY source of this coupon code).

This is a monetary method of feedback too, but the difference being that in this case, the customer gains, unlike the earlier one where the customer pays.