The food truck marketing phenomenon: Luxury brands take it to the streets

Photo provided by Sweetery NYC

What are luxury brands doing these days to cut through the clutter?  This year we’ve seen high end brands flock to street promotions involving branded food trucks and Twitter.  We’re not talking about any trucks, but high end trucks with fully operating kitchens or mobile bakeries.  From New York to Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland and other major cities there has been a revolution in street marketing that appears to be thriving.  In New York, you can find trucks for just about anything from espresso drinks and cupcakes to tacos, dumplings, crepes and pizza.  Note: I’m not talking about street vendors! These are high end trucks.

Which brands are using them?

I recently spoke with one of the leading mobile bake trucks in New York, Sweetery NYC (formerly Street Sweets) who has been very busy this year executing promotions for brands such as Food Network Magazine, Scharffen Berger chocolate, SeamlessWeb, Real Simple Magazine, Saks Fifth Ave, American Express, Gilt Groupe, Sur La Table, Lacoste, Lexus, and UGG Australia, just to name a few.

Denise Richards gets a cupcake from the Gilt/American Express Truck. Photo provided by Sweetery NYC

This year we’ve also seen successful campaigns from other large brands including:

  • E&J Gallo Winery: Launched a tequila brand, Familia Camarena, and gave away tacos in a branded truck with top Mexican chef in LA in June and July this year.
  • ABC Family: Launched their summer lineup using a cupcake truck and gave out free cupcakes to Manhattanites.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Launched their new Soho Flagship store in Manhattan with a food truck.
  • ESPN used food trucks at the US Open to NY and Chicago by parking 26-foot-long trucks outfitted with video screens, putting greens and other golf-related accessories at local bars.

What’s the attraction for brands?

Food truck promotions can:

  • attract several thousand people in one day
  • be wrapped with branding making it hard not to notice them
  • be located anywhere in a city allowing marketers to target by parts of the city
  • work very well for targeting consumers in concentrated cities
  • have thousands of followers on Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook and some have email newsletters to notify their communities where they are at any given time.  They are all actively using social networking sites to show consumers where they are.
  • be great for live events or store launches to draw attention to your promotion
  • get picked up in blogs and mainstream media for innovative promotions

Sur La Table Truck, Photo provided by Sweetery NYC

What kind of promotion will really get attention?
Often times brands use these trucks for launches, store openings, events, special promotions to get attention, get people to the location and build buzz.  Cupcake or food giveaways can work wonders but be prepared for the crowds.  Depending on your budget, food trucks in NYC can give away between 3,000 – 10,000+ items a day.

Photo provided by Sweetery NYC

What makes these trucks a sweet deal for marketers?

Depending on your goals, ROI can be measured in a variety of different ways.  If the giveaway item is part of a contest, or tagged with a secret code requiring the consumer to do something online to enter, this can be a good way to get sign ups or site traffic, or both. Regardless of a distinct call to action, promotions like this can still be a great way to get your brand in front of your target market.

You can also measure how many items were distributed, the number of tweets that were generated, the number of sign ups to an email newsletter, the number of flyers distributed, media attention and impressions.

Thanks to a great article by New York Magazine, here are some of the Food Trucks in NYC:

Sweetery NYC, The Cupcake Stop, The Jamaican Dutchy, Go Burger, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, Asia Dog, Calexico Carne Asada Cart, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Papa Perrone’s, Wafels & Dinges, Hallo Berlin, Eddie’s Pizza and Halal Cart.

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2 Comments on “The food truck marketing phenomenon: Luxury brands take it to the streets”

  1. mobilecuisine December 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Great article keep it up. The more people made aware of the mobile food industry, the better.


  1. Long Live The Growth of the Gourmet Food Truck Movement « Tina Hui - January 21, 2011

    […] trucks are amazing as a marketing vehicle in and of itself – when done right the luxury marketing phenomenon, can become one of the best ambassadors of a brand, well known or avant garde, especially for […]

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