In the example of MrBeast, restaurants carrying out this virtual brand’s delivery-only menu serve specialty fries, hot chicken sandwiches, and other American-style items to customers on third-party delivery apps. But depending on the virtual brand, brick-and-mortars can opt to serve different foods, like baked goods from singer Mariah Carey’s cookie concept. The concept also offers restaurants an array of non-celebrity virtual brands to work with if they choose.
On Virtual Dining Concepts’ side of the celebrity partnership, the brand takes charge of the market research that goes into the brand, which includes identifying popular food genres and delivery locations. But influencers play a big part in creating the menu and branding. For both Virtual Dining Concepts and its partners, these brands are a prolonged relationship rather than a one-off deal.
“We're not renting them. We're not paying them a royalty. They're our partners. So that really helps in their commitment,” Earl says. “A lot of the people that we've engaged with have genuine concerns to help the whole industry survive.”
As the pandemic exemplified demand for restaurants in the virtual space, Earl predicts success for the company even after the eventual vaccine rollout.
“My personal belief is that the entire country, because of COVID, has been formally introduced in a very big way to delivery. I believe over a period of time, there will be differentiation between a brick-and-mortar delivery, i.e. somewhere you drove past, or a virtual delivery where you don't really think about where it was produced,” Earl says. “I believe that even when we're back to normal, there is a large percentage that will change their workplace and their habits forever.”
The brand plans to take a slow approach to releasing new celebrity brands, opting to solidify each relationship before moving on to the next. Earl says there are many partnerships in the works for Virtual Dining Concepts, which is ideal for an environment especially receptive to branding.
“The general subject of celebrity being involved in branding––there's never been a greater time. It's a whole other subject,” Earl says. “There's nothing that you turn on the TV or look in a magazine that doesn't have a celebrity connected to it.”