Branding Their Business and Developing and Refining Their Menus: A Qualitative Study of Mobile Food Vendors in Southeastern Michigan


A modernized aspect of the food away from home (FAFH) culture are food trucks, as they allow consumers to make more educated decisions about their food consumption, while basing their business practices around co-creation. Thirteen qualitative interviews were conducted using semi structured questioning to investigate how food truck operators brand themselves and refine their menus. Using open, line-by-line coding in order to identify key phrases of text, coded information was analyzed to determine overarching themes. Following interview analysis, it was concluded that food truck operators developed a unique identity for their trucks to stand out amongst competitors and attract customers. These identities were primarily based on life experiences and personal cultural perspectives. Upon implementation of their identity, external (from consumers) and internal (from truck operators) feedback influenced menu adjustments in a physiology-like feedback loop model. Consumer’s specific menu needs, ingredients, nutrition, preparation, and ethnicities in the food all had an influence on menu specifications. Applicable to both food trucks and restaurants at large, co-creation, or working directly with the consumers to better reflect their desires, allows consumers to make more educated decisions about their meal purchases. Thus food trucks may just be the bridge between healthier meals and FAFH.



Food trucks, Food away from home, Food environment, Menu creation, Menu feedback, Co-creation, Food retail, Nutrition, Brand image, Consumer behavior