The Target Market for a Hot Dog Vendor
Getting hot dogs from a vendor’s cart or truck is an American tradition, experienced everywhere from sporting events to city streets. Each vendor’s target market depends on the types of hot dogs he serves and his overall business model. A vendor on a busy city street corner, for example, seeks to reach a different market than a gourmet truck in the suburbs.
If you have a basic hot dog stand, your market covers a wide territory. You’re mostly looking to reach as large an audience as possible around the times people likely want hot dogs, which means locating your stand where people congregate from lunchtime to the dinner hour. This can be expensive if your state or local government requires licenses for certain areas. In 2009, for example, it cost $642,701 per year for a vendor in New York City to use the space at the front and rear entrances to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In locations where food trucks are common, hot dog vendors may move to different locations every day. If that’s the case for you, your target market changes daily, as geography plays a key role in food-purchasing decisions. Potential customers won’t be eager to drive around the city looking for you, so help them out by encouraging them to sign up for your social media presences, and make good use of email, Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook updates to let everyone now where you are and where you're going. Combine that with location-based technology for a cheap and effective marketing push. Pinging everyone each morning with your location may inspire customers to stop by and buy a hot dog instead of packing a lunch.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and avoid having to compete mostly on price, fancying up your offerings might lead to a lucrative niche market. Using farm-raised meat products, artisan-made buns and gourmet sauces and toppings makes your hot dogs something other than the usual frank fished out of lukewarm water -- and you can price it higher as a result. You’re chasing a different target market here, however, and you need to select locations near customers who value quality or organic products and have the disposable income to pay more for them.
Hot dog vendors also can make money partnering with businesses and catering private events. If you develop a following, a local retail store might welcome your parking outside in the hopes of siphoning off some customers. Look at how your target market compares with that of other businesses, and market your services accordingly. Being contracted to serve food at the grand opening of a sporting goods store, for example, can allow complementary target markets to patronize both locations. Similarly, a large local business preparing for its summer picnic might find your hot dogs a perfect addition -- once you let businesses know you're available.