If you have a passion for pancakes and love their versatility (after all, there aren't many other dishes you can eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner) then you may have decided to open up your own creperie. It's exciting, but first, you need to know your market.
Market research is not only essential in giving you a better understanding of the current state of the crepe industry (from how it's doing, to what concepts are hot or not), but it also helps you decipher how to mould different aspects of your business so that it attracts the right customers.
To guide you through this process, we've outlined here the key steps in conducting thorough market research for a creperie.
What are the objectives of market research for a creperie?
Carrying out a market analysis for a creperie has a clear and simple objective: to evaluate the market potential of your business. You can test this by following the three steps indicated below.
The first step is to make sure that the market is not already saturated with existing creperies or cafes by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is the potential demand for crepes greater than the current supply?
- Is there a specific group of customers that can't find what they're looking for within the city's existing cafes and restaurants?
- Is there a street or area, in particular, that's lacking a creperie like the one you'd like to open?
- Will your desired area for business be able to support the arrival of a new creperie?
Once you've answered these questions, the next step will be using the information you've found to identify a concept that will attract your ideal customers to your creperie. If you're close to a university or residential area, you'll, of course, be more likely to welcome a certain group of customers than others and will have to concentrate on adapting to their habits, tastes and needs.
The third (and certainly not least) aim of a creperie's market research is to gather the data needed to assess the sales potential of your creperie.
Questions to ask yourself when carrying out market research
If there's one more argument to convince you that market research for a creperie is essential before opening a creperie, it's probably this one: one out of every two businesses don't make it past the 5-year mark.
Carrying out careful market research for your future creperie will enable you to considerably reduce the risks involved with setting up a creperie by asking yourself the right questions before launching:
Here are a few of them:
- What type of clientele are you targeting? This answer will, of course, depend on the location you choose. Or if you already have a specific idea in mind (a family crêperie with a kids ball pit for example), you'll know right away that you'll have to set up in a residential or commercial area.
- What types of crepes and services will you offer up (will you offer a vegan option or takeaway service for on-the-go consumers)?
- How do you intend to take market share from your competitors? They probably already have a good reputation, so you'll have to find specific ways to stand out.
- How will you attract and retain your customers? This involves answering the two previous questions, a well as studying the marketing strategies of your direct and indirect competitors. We'll come back to this below.
Trends in the creperie market
The information you need to know
In this stage of your creperie market research, you'll focus on gathering information to understand how the crepe market is holding up. Ask yourself:
- Is the creperie industry growing or struggling?
- What are the major trends in the market?
- What are the competitive dynamics - are franchises doing better than independent creperies?
- How are creperies doing compared to other types of restaurants?
- How many creperies have opened/closed in the last year?
- What are the challenges facing creperie owners - seasonality, difficulties recruiting staff or the fluctuating prices of ingredients?
- What types of crepe or pancake are most popular amongst consumers?
- What are the occasions that lead people to head to a creperie for breakfast, lunch or dinner?
- What is the average spend per head? Does it vary significantly at lunchtime and in the evening, during the week and at weekends?
- What is the typical profile of this customer? This answer will vary depending on the location.
- Is a sit-in, restaurant experience the most lucrative way to sell crepes? You could consider combining this distribution channel by offering a takeaway service or setting up a pop-up crepe van for concerts and street markets.
You also need to think about the rules and regulations of running a hospitality business. Make sure you check out:
- the current state of restaurant regulations
- whether new laws are being introduced
- identify the major risks associated with this industry, particularly in terms of health regulations
Where to find data on the creperie market
When carrying out market research for your creperie, you can rely on the following sources of information to help you conduct your market research on the creperie industry within the UK and US:
- Statistical institutes such as the Office for National Statistics (UK), Eurostat (EU), or the Census Bureau (US)
- Research institutes and specialized consulting firms
- The economic and specialized press
- The UK Health and Safety Executive and the FDA website's, in particular for all matters concerning health and safety regulations
You also can’t forget the main players in the restaurant game: the local restaurant and cafe owners themselves. Take some time out to grab a coffee with a local business owner - as they could provide you with some valuable insider information about the hospitality sector.
Analysing the demand for creperies in your area
Now that you've built up a decent enough knowledge of the creperie sector, it's time to cast your eyes over the characteristics of the local market. You should consider three factors here:
- The size of the local market: how many people live or work in your area, what is their profile (from age and gender to job status and level of disposable income)? How many of them are potential customers?
- Next, identify, within the local market, specific locations that are likely to attract the most potential customers (whether it be a busy shopping street, near offices, or beside the coast)
- Finally, assess local customer expectations. Is there a demand for a hot drink or snack in particular that currently isn't being met?
To answer these questions as accurately as possible, get out and chat to your future customers. You can do so by taking to the streets with a short survey that captures their dietary preferences and expectations regarding new food places popping up within the area.
Checking out the competition
Conducting proper creperie market research also requires a thorough analysis of the competition at the local level.
Start by rounding up all the restaurants (as well as cafes and delis that offer lunch and snacks) located near your business. You should look at their concept, the type of products and services they’re offering, as well as the prices charged, and their target clientele.
This information will help place you in the best position to stand out from what everyone else is offering, by serving up a different concept. Or, alternatively, by selling products that compliment the types of services and products offered by other local businesses within the area.
The size of rival restaurants
You should also check out how much space and seating capacity each of your competitors can offer customers. You'll want to know how many employees they have too, as well as the turnover for each place.
Bear in mind that if some of these restaurants and cafes are operating within an established chain such as Pret a Manger, their large budgets will make them your fiercest competition in this regard.
...and their location
You'll also want to assess the location of each of your competitors in your creperie market research to ascertain whether some areas are more attractive than others. You should also identify if there are any places where there's a demand for hot drinks and snacks that have not yet been met.
Another important aspect is the reputation of your competitors. Do they have a good reputation or have they faced some pretty damning online reviews?
The aim here is to understand what customers like and dislike, so researching both good and bad practices will help you draw inspiration for your own concept.
How can I attract and retain my competitors' customers?
By answering this question, you'll be able to define your own unique marketing strategy. Consider how nearby restaurants communicate with their customers, which channels they use (whether it's Instagram or via billboard ads) and what their promotional offers are.
Then take a step back to answer these two questions: is their marketing strategy relevant? Do you think you can do better?
Looking at your competitors' marketing strategies from this angle should enable you to count up the budget required to attract customers to your creperie - and keep them coming back.
This research of the competition, of course, should not be confined to creperies alone. To find inspiration as to good marketing tactics and get a clear picture of the hospitality market, you'll have to check out indirect competitors such as other sit-in and takeaway restaurants.
And don't forget the online competitors disrupting the market, such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo.
Defining the concept of your creperie
Once you've gathered all the information above, you can consider your creperie market research done and it's time to put this data into use.
Perhaps, for example, your research led to the conclusion that the market is simply too small for a new creperie or the business idea you had in mind isn't in line with customer expectations.
Or you may have found enough data that confirms the existence of a real business opportunity - enabling you to kickstart the process of launching your creperie.
In this case, begin by developing your concept. This will enable you to target a clearly defined customer base and offer a service that meets their expectations in every respect, whilst ensuring you stand out from the competition.
Developing your concept will also help you define the ways in which you'll attract and retain customers. Collate these methods (and their costs) into a marketing plan that aligns with the objectives of your business and the desires of your target market.
Carrying out a quantitative study to test your concept on customers
By this stage, you've invested more time than you have the money into your business. Once the money is involved, it's a risky game. So before devoting chunks of your own or other people's cash into your business, test your concept out amongst potential customers by carrying out a quantitative study.
This test aims to accurately present your offer to a maximum of potential customers and to validate your concept, or to refine it even more if necessary for your creperie market research.
You can carry out a quantitative study in a variety of ways. For example, If you are present on social networks, you will be able to quickly measure this adhesion thanks to clear marks of interest: a like on your page or, better still, a subscription to your newsletter to be kept informed of the evolution of your creperie business.
You can also, before opening your creperie, set up a stall at a local food market and let residents try the crepes for themselves. This will not only enable you to get your name out there and showcase your pancake-flipping skills but also let you chat with visitors face-to-face to get their opinions on the crepes and if they have any suggestions as to how their experience could be improved.
Writing a business plan to take your creperie one step further
Once you have completed your market research, refined your business model and decided to embark on this exciting entrepreneurial adventure, you can move on to the next, equally fundamental step: writing the business plan for your creperie.
The main purpose of a business plan is to enable you to put a figure on your creperie business venture so you can check whether it's likely to be profitable, at least on paper.
A reference point for your business
A business plan is a document that describes your creperie business, and its strategic, commercial, and financial objectives for the first three years of operation.
It serves as a roadmap for your creperie's first three years of operation and is the continuation of your creperie market research. As your creperie moves through its first stages of operation, you can use the business plan to track whether it's flourishing as it should, by comparing the figures estimated in your initial forecasts.
An essential document that entices potential investors
The business plan will also be a valuable tool for presenting your business model to potential commercial and financial partners, such as investors and suppliers who will want to consult this document before deciding whether to enter into business with you.
A business plan consists of two parts:
- A financial forecast that aims to highlight the expected profitability of the business and the initial financing requirement.
- A written part that presents, in detail, your project, the team, your business strategy, and your medium-term objectives.
Although a crucial document, as you can imagine, creating a business plan for a creperie is also a technical and sometimes tedious job - especially if you aren’t a seasoned entrepreneur.
To make the process easier for you, especially if it’s your first business plan, you can use online business plan software.
There are several advantages to using software to create a business plan for your creperie:
- It takes care of the calculations and creates the projected financial statements for you (income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, break-even calculation, etc.)
- With business plan templates available and instructions for each section, you are guided through how to structure your plan
- As an end result, you receive a professional document, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
If you are interested in this type of solution, you can try our software for free by signing up here.
You can also have a look at our creperie business plan template to get some inspiration!
We hope that this article has helped you better understand how to do market research for a creperie. If you’d like more advice on any of the points mentioned above or any other element related to the creation or takeover of a creperie, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Also on The Business Plan Shop
- How to write the business plan for a creperie
- 5-step guide to evaluating the turnover of a creperie
- Our top tips for writing a pâtisserie business plan
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