Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Foodservice Customers Converging With or Without You

The line between drug stores, dollar stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants is growing ever thinner. The fight for America's food dollars continues to intensify as consumers find fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food options at a wide and growing array of outlets across almost every channel: convenience stores, chain drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores, club stores, vending and even more non-food retailers the likes of furniture retailer Ikea.
Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson stated “as manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants worry about choice overload, consumers have embraced these new avenues of distribution, the new choices, mix and match meal bundling, and show no signs of returning to the old ways. A food fight is taking place in what is called the grocerant niche for a larger share of the customer’s stomach are you positioned to win new migrating customers?”
Regular readers of this blog know that the restaurant industry is not an industry known for trying to be first as in fastest to market with an ideation, food, or technology advance. In the United States the larger the chain in almost all cases the more slowly they are to adopt something than a smaller chain or independent restaurants will. Chain restaurants goal is simple feed one meal at a time in the restaurant while protecting and edifying the brand. With continued year over year customer count declines we ask; How is that Working?
Historically chain restaurant leaders have denied the credibility of start-up competitors as non-relevant. The pizza sector is a great example; evolving from family dinning independents to national chain of "Red Roof" Italian, then to delivery only outlets and now take-N-bake is garnering market share in the pizza sector. ( Note: Home Made Pizza Company and Papa Murphy's are further examples of take and bake pizza operators.)
Increase in Drug Store and Dollar store Meal Occasions
Our Grocerant Guru® stated “it is at the intersection of the consumer, fresh prepared food, and technology we fine that consumer path to purchase behavior evolving.”  Consumer adoption and migration within the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat space and is now beyond the control of traditional legacy chain food marketers.”
Simply put consumers are evolving the culture and lifestyle of meals and purchasing of meal componeants faster that most legacy retailers ever could have imagined.  There is a set of new consumer demographics along with the new uncertain economy are all putting pressure on the legacy food retail brands. 
Time starved consumers are suffering from the demands of work, economic shrinkage, demands of raising a family, commuting, social interaction, kid's after-school activities, all contribute to a food marketplace where convenience vies with price over legacy brands. Recent advances in food packaging and new points of non-traditional food distribution have empowered consumer choice, and Americans are embracing these choices even as legacy marketers cringe.
Should you care if Walgreens is selling fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Made-2-Order sandwiches? Why should you care if Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Wegmans are selling Ready-2-Eat and or Heat-N-Eat fresh pizza? Why should you care if Coinstar is selling Seattle Best Coffee at 1,000 locations for $1.00?
Simple, you should care because they are selling it, and you are not! The fastest growing sector of retail food service for the past four years has been the Convenience store sector. The C-store sectors growth in large part has been driven by fresh prepared food. Non-traditional avenues of distribution are growing, gobbling market share while establishing new patterns of consumption, price points and customer loyalty.
Consumers Like Today’s New Retail Food Formats
Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have created grocerant niche fresh foods with distinctive offerings. More important each is leading with innovative products and package size that create value and have positioned each chain as a food shopping destination for meal components customized and personalized for immediate consumption or mix and matched for a meal time at home. In short they are stealing your customers.

Consumer’s believe that Walgreens fresh prepared food is restaurant quality.  They know it is priced less than Panera Bread, or Corner Bakery cafe. Both Panera Bread and Corner Bakery Cafe thrive in urban locations. Walgreens is now growing price, quality, and speed of service advantages over legacy retailers. Legacy restaurant chains must reconsider the speed at which they evolve and adapt or non-traditional outlets will capture profits margins as well.

Traditional views of meals and mealtime can pretty much be discarded. Legacy retailers waiting for the "next big thing" to copy simply might be out of luck this time. Legacy food retailers may not like to be first movers very much but it may prove that waiting too long will not work this time.
FIVE P’s of Grocerant Marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price
The retail food world is evolving at an ever increasing pace filled with innovation in food, portion size, points of distribution, and quality fresh prepared meal solutions. The price, value, service equilibrium is resetting in retail foodservice. In order to edify the brand and reinforce consumer relevance restaurateurs must leverage Foodservice Solutions® 5P's of food marketing.

Many legacy food retailers continue to practice brand protectionism, stifle the brand while diminishing consumer relevance. The consumer is dynamic not static. Brands must be dynamic, evolving with the consumer. Four years of watching other retail sectors thrive should be long enough. Success in the restaurant world is no longer simply about what happens within your 4 walls.
Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based www.FoodserviceSolution.us , with extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson ,Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant  Contact:


Monday, April 24, 2017

Thorntons Takes Foodservice Offering on the Road

One after another Convenience stores are taking a page out of the restaurant marketer’s tool kit.  This time it is Thorntons who is thinking outside the four walls of the store to build the brand and bringing its food menu to its customers.

In our Omni-channel retail world where strategic relationships edify the brand building process allowing brick and mortar retailers to evolve faster Thorntons  has teamed up with Johnson Sausage LLC to hit the road with its Bourbon Kitchen food truck during the Kentucky Derby horseracing season, according to the Louisville Business Journal

The branded mobile marketing truck will serve “Thorntons' Bourbon Ball Donuts and Thorntons' Bourbon Vanilla Latte — menu items the retailer brought back on a limited-time basis earlier this month. The truck will also offer Johnsonville's Bourbon BBQ Sausage.”

Tagged “The Bourbon Kitchen on wheels” will travel “around Louisville over the next few weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs. Customers can find the truck at the Kentucky Derby Festival's Great Balloon Glow on April 28 at the Kentucky Expo Center and the Pig & Swig barbecue event at Fourth Street Live on April 29.”

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant/ or twitter.com/grocerant

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Movie Theaters Feature Fresh Food Fast

I know movies make magic every day but did know that today many theaters main attractions is Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food and that many theaters today are destination dinning.  Recently AMC Theaters expanded their menu to improve profitability and edify the magic in watching a movie.
AMC Theaters has undertaken the largest menu revamp in its history, with chicken-and-waffle sandwiches, cheeseburger sliders, pizza and charcuterie plates rolling out to more than 400 locations across the country.
You will like this they call it, AMC Feature Fare, the new products will be rolled out and introduced over the course of the summer, and is expected to be completed in early fall. AMC senior vice president of food and beverage George Patterson stated “AMC Feature Fare represents AMC’s first true restaurant-style menu launch in a non-dine-in-theater setting, with a menu selection sure to delight the taste buds,”
Patterson continued “By incorporating these new menu items together with new marketing, branding and packaging, AMC Feature Fare will feed our guests’ ever increasing hunger for unique and satisfying menu choices to enjoy at AMC.” The new Feature Fare items are: 
·         Soft Pretzel Bites: Available salted, with cinnamon sugar, with Parmesan garlic topping or with honey Dijon. The bites are served with a cup of cheese or with icing, for the cinnamon-sugar version.
·         Gourmet Popcorn: 46 ounces of salted caramel or cheese corn. Eighty-five-ounce Variety Buckets also are available with both varieties, or with one of those options and regular popcorn.
·         Spicy Sriracha Dog: A hot dog topped with fried jalapeƱos and Sriracha mayonnaise. 
·         Chicken & Waffle sandwich: Fried chicken breast sandwiched between sweet vanilla waffles.
·         Flatbread pizzas: Available in four cheese, pepperoni, barbecue chicken and buffalo chicken varieties. 
How is your brand evolving? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Technology is the Foodservice Industries Achilles Heel

Playing catch-up is a dangerous game according to Tacoma, WA based global retail foodservice consultancy Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.   When technology giant Amazon announced it plans for Amazon Go (a checkout free, ultra-convenient shopping experience powered through a free-to-use mobile app and Amazon Prime membership) grocery stores, C-stores, and Dollar stores were taken aback. 

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson stated in earlier this year that Mobile Augmented-Reality Save Full Service Restaurants for those willing to move forward with consumers. Regular readers of this blog called or Emailed asking why are they doing that already?  There are other retail innovations could help retailers to stay one step ahead of the game, according to Neil Gowing, EMEA managing director at Trax.  Let’s look at what He thinks:

Whilst still in its infancy, such a disruptive concept is set to change the game for convenience store retailers as Amazon Prime members (of which there are estimated to be up to 80 million globally) and other shoppers will undoubtedly flock to these stores for a speedier and more convenient shopping trip, if not just for the sheer novelty.

However, new technologies are proving equally disruptive and are giving traditional convenience stores the tools with which to compete against new players. According to the 2017 World Economic Forum Report ‘Shaping the Future of Retail for Consumer Industries’, eight new technologies are expected to change the face of the retail landscape. Of these eight, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics are expected to reach “full readiness” within 2-5 years.

Image recognition has already been adopted by big brands and the convenience sector is starting to follow suit. This kind of technology works by capturing images of in-store shelves and uses Artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse them. This can provide a convenience store with a wealth of highly useful data, which can drive category growth in stores through promotion and planogram compliance and reduction in out of shelf/stock. This technology is being used by sales and merchandising staff to provide highly accurate shelf insights, and as an alternative to manual store audits that can be costly, time consuming and prone to human error.

Internet of things (IoT) technologies are also beginning to provide important real-time data for in-store execution. An example of their use can be seen in fridges where IoT cameras, discretely placed behind fridge handles to face the contents, take an image every time a customer opens or closes the door. The images are then automatically uploaded and analyzed to provide real-time data on product spacing and availability, and can alert staff when certain products are out of stock. These technologies can also alert staff when a particular brand is being stocked too often and doesn’t comply with the agreed planogram.

Similarly, robotics will play a crucial role in capturing data across stores. They can be used either once a day for a full sweep of the store between 3-6am, or in between peak times to ensure maximum availability and compliance during the busiest hours of the store. Cameras, fixed on top of mobile robotics platforms taking a full sweep of a store at intervals, can provide constant data about shelf space, product placing and pricing data. This frees up sales staff to make corrections to pricing or spacing and improve product placement, which in turn will improve the customer experience.

So now let me ask you are you waiting and watching to see who will be the next industry leader? What are you testing?  Are you moving with your consumers or monitoring your consumers and customer count decline?
Do your marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.