Sunday, July 23, 2017

In Retail Foodservice Influencers Matter

Success does leave clues and every now and then the team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® likes to hear from other on what they see coming down the road within the Grocerant niche that’s filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  This week our team like the term Vocal Aficionados. Here is what we learned:
In a new study titled on The future of retail, from Daymon Worldwide, we learned that shoppers evolving into advocates, helping brands determine ways to meet their new demands.
The study, "From Shopper to Advocate: The Power of Participation," presents six key shopper insights that will shape the future of retail. The insights have to do with looking beyond demographics, allowing for co-creation, catering to new ideas about “freshness,” understanding the value of private brands, interacting with engaged shoppers, and integrating mobile strategies.
It’s Not Just Generational
Customers are breaking the bounds of their demographics. It’s now more about values, attitudes and lifestyles than age, gender and income. Daymon breaks customers into three categories: Vocal Aficionados, Balanced Enthusiasts and Struggling Apathetics. Vocal Aficionados, with their zest for shopping and overall awareness, are the most valuable to retailers. Not only are they most likely to buy products themselves, but they also make for good brand ambassadors and marketers. Among other attributes ascribed to Vocal Aficionados are creative, passionate, wellness-oriented, socially minded, and digitally savvy. Comparatively, Balanced Enthusiasts, while engaged, are more pragmatic when it comes to shopping and slightly less digitally proficient. Struggling Apathetics, the least engaged of the three, are often more concerned with price due to financial constraints and other circumstances; despite this, the group is overall aware of trends.
Co-Creation Is the Future
Under the shopper-turned-advocate trend, co-creation provides a significant opportunity for growth. Shoppers, especially Vocal Aficionados, want to provide feedback to companies and assistance to brands in designing new products or services. Of those considered Vocal Aficionados, 55 percent are interested in giving company feedback, vs. 45 percent of Balanced Enthusiasts. And 51 percent of Vocal Aficionados are interested in helping a company design a new product or service, vs. 42 percent of Balanced Enthusiasts.
Fresh as the Gateway to Loyalty
Six out of 10 shoppers cite "fresh" categories as being important factors in their store choice. For engaged shoppers like Vocal Aficionados, "fresh" categories extend beyond produce, meat and seafood and into factors that fall within the “Participation Halo.” Fifty-three percent value in-store restaurants more than the average shopper; 33 percent more want a wide variety of natural and organic products; 31 percent expect more fresh prepared foods; 24 percent want more sustainably produced or sourced products; and 22 percent seek a more broad selection of local products.
A New Dimension of Private Brands
The most engaged shoppers are committed to, among other things, learning more about private brands and the features they might provide. Vocal Aficionados, compared to average shoppers, are 41 percent more likely to perceive that private brands have attractive packaging, 37 percent more likely to find them trendy, and 36 percent more likely to believe that they offer unique flavors they can’t get elsewhere. Other factors include whether the brands understand local needs, provide higher quality, offer the variety of products one cares about, meets one's needs, and fits one’s lifestyle.
Conversational Engagement
Daymon’s research indicates that shoppers’ relationships with brands now extend beyond the transactional and outside of the store — be it brick-and-mortar or online. To meet new expectations, brands have to use technology as a means to connect. Facebook, blogs, live online chats, Twitter, mobile apps and text messaging are all ways in which shoppers can provide feedback to brands. Vocal Aficionados are 58 percent more likely than the average shopper to want to provide feedback via Facebook, according to the study, and 44 percent more likely to want to provide feedback through Twitter. While it’s great to provide a platform for consumers to provide feedback, it’s also important to respond to feedback, making communication between shopper and brand a two-way street.
Seamless Integration With Mobile
While being digital savvy is great for communication with shoppers, it’s perhaps even more valuable when it comes to actual sales, which is why mobile integration is key. In fact, according to Daymon’s study, the digital experience an engaged shopper has with a retailer more often than not determines where they decide to spend their money. A stunning 83 percent of Vocal Aficionados are more likely than the average shopper to use their mobile phones during a shopping trip to help them make a purchase. And 90 percent are more likely to prefer stores that have apps for shopping that enable payment. Click-and-collect programs are 48 percent more popular with Vocal Aficionados, too.
“With legacy categories declining, digital strategies emerging and shoppers’ demand for engagement and customization increasing, retailers and brands must better understand the emerging needs and behaviors of shoppers on a global scale and dramatically rethink their go-to-market strategies,” said Dave Harvey, vice president of thought leadership at Daymon. “As shopping becomes more on-demand and increasingly personalized each day, we find ourselves amid a seismic shift that promises to reshape retail as we know it.”
So, what’s next according to Damon? Retailers can meet new customer expectations with the five following strategies:
1. Offer opportunities for collaboration and co-creation.
2. Allow for hyper-personalization of products and services.
3. Incorporate multi-sensory experiences, from discovery to digital.
4. Accent new interpretations of “fresh.”
5. Simplify the experience of shopping with an eye toward making it effortless. 

Regular readers of this blog know that the team at Foodservice Solutions® has over the past six months edified each of these findings in one way or another helping retailer find was to create complexity free meals, dinners, and food discovery.  For more clues to retail success follow us on Johnson, or Email:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Food Icon KFC Extends the Brand

Building incremental brand value for a mature chain restaurant always top of mind.  However at Kentucky Fried Chicken it has invigorated the KFC marketing team and consumers when KFC launched a new online merchandise shop, KFC Ltd., along with its first collection of quality fried chicken apparel and limited-edition goods according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®.
So what can you buy from KFC well starting at just $8, the debut collection includes “KFC- and Colonel Sanders-inspired T-shirts, enamel pins, framed artwork, and more. Collection items are produced in limited-edition quantities, so when they sell out, they’re gone—the fried chicken faithful are encouraged to act fast and then keep an eye out for the next collection to be released.”
KFC Ltd. offers limited-edition apparel and goods for any occasion:
1.       Need to keep it classy for the office? Fried chicken socks will add a pop of drumstick to any ensemble. If you’re looking for a matching tie, you can’t go wrong with a classic Colonel Sanders string bow tie.
2.       KFC’s mantra is something we should all live by, and the “Finger Lickin’ Good” gold-plated necklace will let you proudly proclaim your embrace of the fried chicken lifestyle.
3.       The Colonel Sanders pillowcase will let the dreamers in your life fall asleep each night next to the man who turned his dream of building a fried chicken empire into a reality.
4.       No matter where you’re actually from, we’re all united by a shared love of tasty fried chicken. Show off your hometown pride with the softest Fried Chicken USA sweatshirt.
5.       Of all the products offered on KFC Ltd., there is one that is truly out of this world—a 400-year-old meteorite. Retailing for $20,000, this one-of-a-kind, real space rock has been molded into the shape of a Zinger chicken sandwich and serves as a commemorative memento of the Zinger’s stratospheric mission.
Steve Kelly, KFC U.S. director of media and digital stated “KFC and Colonel Sanders have been American pop culture icons for more than 70 years. Our fans were craving a way to embrace the fried chicken lifestyle, and KFC Ltd. gives them the opportunity to let their colonel flag fly,” 
Success does leave clues and Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru’s clue for today is partnerships provides outside eyes for in-side results. KFC plans to partner with other notable apparel and lifestyle brands to create one-of-a-kind collaborations available only from KFC Ltd. in the future.

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Friday, July 21, 2017

Consumers are Craving Convenience Stores Food

There was a time that everyone one thought consumer would not buy fast food unless they could go to Quick Service Restaurant and use the drive-thru to get a meal when they were hungry.  Today however consumer are driving to convenience stores Hand Held Food for Immediate Consumption, that is consumer Interactive and Participatory with consumer relevance according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.
In a new survey from Tyson Convenience shows consumer preferences when it comes to prepared foods at convenience stores. “Busy summers and convenience stores go hand-in-hand for meals and snacks on-the-go,” said Rob Ramsey, senior manager of convenience channel marketing for Tyson Foods. “Consumers use convenience stores as their summertime home to keep them refueled and not slow them down.” Survey findings include:
1.       The No. 1 reason (51%) American adults purchase food at a convenience store is to satisfy a craving.
2.        Many (48%) would like to see a breakfast station serving waffles, biscuits, breakfast meats and baked goods at a convenience store.
3.       Breakfast sandwiches are so popular that more than half of Americans (51%) would purchase one at their local convenience store if they wanted to have breakfast for dinner.
4.       On the other hand, pizza rose to the top of later-in-the-day prepared foods to cross over to breakfast, with (45%) of Americans interested in eating pizza for breakfast.
5.       Americans prefer to eat their snacks with two fingers (47%) while shying away from using any utensils.

Ramsey continued “Hearing directly from consumers on what they want and expect from a convenience store can be invaluable for retailers, especially during the busy summer season,”. “These survey insights, like having breakfast offerings served all-day in unique, creative ways, give retailers feedback from consumers on how to merchandise prepared food offerings to attract consumers in the summer.”

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tijuana Flats Joins Eating-Out While Eating-In

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to drive top line sales and bottom line profits in every sector of retail foodservice today according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson.  Chain restaurant Tijuana Flats entered the fray this week jumping on the Eating-Out while Eating-In grocerant movement with a ‘take-home taco meal kit’.

Tijuana Flats, a Tex-Mex dining experience, recently launched “Hardly Homemade” take-home taco meal kit—a feasible, easily accessible takeout selection that allows simple options for family dinner, and is a viable solution for smaller offices looking for a group lunch option.
The meal kit is priced at $31.99, the Kit is available on UberEATS  and will be available for take-out only via direct order from all Tijuana Flats stores beginning on July 24. Additionally, all orders placed now through July 31 will include a free large side of salsa. 
The inclusive meal kit includes all of the essentials, including protein (chicken and beef), toppings (jalapeños, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese), and tortillas and chips, the Kit supplies guests with all the at-home ingredients for taco night. The Kit’s tagline, “Hardly Homemade’.
Larry Ryback, CEO at Tijuana Flats  stated “We developed the ‘Hardly Homemade’ Kit as a way to offer a quick and convenient meal for families that didn’t require them to place full catering orders,”… “With the new school year just around the corner, we think now is the perfect time to launch this concept as families begin preparing for the return of after-school practices and homework sessions. “
Our own Grocerant Guru® continues to believe that “Meal kits are cooking training wheels for Millennials”.  The team at Foodservice Solutions® believes that restaurant meal kits extend the brand value, build ‘flavor cravings, while edifying brand value but Price Matters. Is this meal kit priced right?

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grocery Competition Focus is on Quality & Price

There is little doubt that regional grocery store chains have had an easy time competing with each other and repositioning when a company the ilk of Wal-Mart came along and garnered some of their customers.  Most regional grocery stores simply raised prices and touted food quality and service as a differentiator and it worked according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.

Consumers are now resetting the Price, Value, Service Equilibrium according to Johnson and the new formula is:

(Mobile Access + Digital Payment + Delivery) X (Price + Food Quality + Speed) = Value

A new report from Bain & Company grocery store discounters are increasingly picking up customers from segments that tended to be more focused on traditional US stores.  According to the respondents, good value and low prices are the most important features shoppers, cited by 60% and almost 60% of respondents respectively. Around 50% of respondents convenient location and fresh produce.

For the most part the Bain report found respondents across various traditional stores, mass stores and clubs agree that store-brands are just as good – while, when including those neutral to the proposition, the vast majority of respondents (at around 80%) agree.

The Bain report went on to day that “One area of potential concern for traditional retailers is that, once people have tried (discounter) Aldi products, they tend to find them as good as, or better than, national name-branded products. For staples for instance, around 97% at least agree with the statement, while 95% agree with the statement for other dairy products. Canned food and nonperishables too was found to be strongly agreed to by respondents, at around 95%.”  These are good numbers and cause for concern.

Respondents were the least keen on fresh meat / seafood, baby and pets and personal care, at 80%, 75% and 70% at least agreeing that the categories are as good, or better than, national name-brand products. The fact is WinCo, Aldi, and Lidl private branded products are according to consumers GOOD.

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chick-fil-A Pantry Busting with Family Style Meals

Steven Johnson is the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Johnson excels at identifying, quantifying and qualifying niche opportunity for global foodservice related activity one such activity is grocery store pantry busting and Chick-fil-A’s new family style meals are another great example of Pantry Busting.

Most legacy grocery stores are unable to evolve fast enough to maintain customer relevance, thus paving the way for continued capitulation of retail market share to the dollar store and restaurant sectors.  There is no doubt that the dollar store sector has devastated the ‘center of the store’ for traditional grocery stores and according to Johnson the restaurant sector is about to target the fresh sector of the grocery stores doing the same thing.
Chick-fil-A pantry busting ideation: Family Style Meals. Chick-fil-A is testing meal kits, including new sides, to meet a growing consumer demand it says affects nearly 40 percent of current dinner customers. The team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, found that at noon 83.7% of consumers do not know what’s for dinner and at 4PM 68.7% still don’t know what’s for dinner.
Matt Abercrombie, manager of menu development at Chick-fil-A stated that “Thirty-six percent of Chick-fil-A dinner diners take their meal to go, the chain says. …Our customers told us that they wanted an even more convenient way to share meals at home or on the go, so we worked directly with a group of parents to design every part of Family Style Meals—down to the cutlery caddy that features five unique conversation starter questions to help customers connect over mealtime,” … “Mealtime should be an enjoyable experience that brings family and friends together, not an extra stress in the day.”
 According to Johnson Chick-fil-A  is evolving from fast food to fast meals with the Family Style Meals they are testing through November 18. So, what can you get? Chick-fil-A says:
1.       They include one entrée, two sides, and eight Mini Rolls to serve four people, with the option to add additional entrees, sides, and beverages. Customer feedback will decide if the menu items stick.
2.       These include: Chick-n-Strips (12-count); Original Chick-fil-A Chicken Breasts (4-count); Chick-fil-A Nuggets (30-count), and Grilled Chicken Breasts (4-count).
3.       Side options include: Bacon Baked Beans, Fruit Cup, Mac & Cheese, Side Salad, and the Superfood Side. The Family Style Meal starts at $29.99.
4.       There is also a lighter Grilled Chicken Breasts, Side Salad, and Fruit Cup with two Mini Rolls option, which comes in at less than 300 calories per serving.
5.       Additionally, Chick-fil-A is testing Bacon Baked Beans and Mac & Cheese in the three cities.
6.       Note: “The Bacon Baked Beans are kettle-cooked with bacon and brown sugar for a sweet and savory taste,” Chick-fil-A says in the release. “The Mac & Cheese side is a classic macaroni and cheese recipe featuring a special blend of cheeses including Cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano.”
Success does leave clues and retailer must focus on customer interactive participation, transparent marketing, fresh local sustainable food products, new non-traditional points of fresh food distribution, and technology that makes retail food knowledge and availability seamless. Chick-fil-A is hitting on many of those key points and Pantry Busting while expanding their customer base.

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Foodservice Solutions Nine Insights Driving Food Sales Today

Chain Restaurants, Legacy Grocery stores, Convenience stores, and Dollar stores all have rediscovered that unless you continually evolve your sales will stagnate, customer counts will decline and most important you customers will migrate to other channels, new retailers, and new avenues of distribution according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.
So if you are wondering where your customers might have gone consider this fact / insight from the NPD Group “Grocerants generated 2.4 Billion visits and $10 Billion in Sales in 2016”.  That is a lot of fresh prepared food my friends when meal components were mix and matched made many a customized family meal.  Here are
  1. Technomic: Nearly half of consumers (48%) look for low prices from restaurants so they can go out to eat more often.
  2. NRA: 80% of U.S. millennials report using Wi-Fi in restaurants over the past year
  3. Foodservice Solutions: Professionally prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meals offer Variety  and Variety is key to driving purchase frequency 
  4. Technomic: 34% of consumers say kids-eat-free specials are very likely to influence them to visit a restaurant, up from 27% in 2015
  5. Nielsen: Millennial interest in fresh prepared as a way to incorporate it as side dishes and main meals positions the deli as an important gateway to future generations.
  6. Foodinsights: 96% of Americans want to be healthy but there is confusion on what health means and how to get it. Consumers are willing to experiment with ‘better-for-you’ foods.
  7. NPD Group: Packaging matters 73 73% of people say they would be willing to pay more for a product that offered total transparency.
  8. Foodservice Solutions: 62% of consumers are highly satisfied with the value for money spent at fast food Restaurants.
  9. Technomic: Millennials matter as they dine out at least three times a week on average, compared to 40% of all Americans that eat out once a week.
 What clues are important to drive your business forward?  Are you Looking a Customer Ahead?

Success does leave clues  is the global leader in grocerant niche business development.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  Has your company had a Grocerant ScoreCard completed, Grocerant Program Assessment, or new Grocerant niche product Ideation?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email: