Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ten Foodservice Solutions® Summer Success Clues.

Hot summer nights are a great time to start thinking about how to edify your brand of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat grocerant niche fresh prepared food with consumers so you are sure to drive top line sales and bottom line profits well into next year.  So, let’s get started.  Here they are:

1. Symbolism.   Why you are there!
The most successful brands are inclusive include values greater than themselves. A lifestyle, a philosophy, an emotion or a point in time.

2.  A
story. Most major brands have a story. Examples: if you like Ford vehicles, you might be familiar with the story of Henry Ford or if you love your Nikes, you probably know how the Nike swoosh logo was created.

3.  A tr
ack record. When your business is first starting out, don't fool yourself into believing that your marketing efforts are 'brand building' efforts. They're not because to build a real brand, you have to have an extensive track record with consumers.

4.  Trust.
When you've consistently delivered for your customers long enough, you'll gain the type of trust that many brands have. Case in point: a friend of mine always reminds people that he won't buy an automobile that isn't a BMW. He's had a good experience with his and trusts so much in the company that he doesn't believe there's a better-made car.

5.  Expectatio
n. When a consumer chooses a product or service because of brand association, he or she is buying an expectation. Perhaps it's the expectation that the branded product is of higher quality or that the service will be provided in a more efficient manner.

6.  Differentiati
on. Expectation is often borne of differentiation. Many brands offer products and services that are commodities but they're successful in developing some differentiation for their products and services that consumers are sold on.

7.  Imitators. Imi
tation is the sincerest of flattery and you're probably not a 'brand' until you have competitors trying to copy you.

8.  Market leadership.
Top brands are usually looked at as leaders in the markets they compete in.

9.  Adaptability. The best
brands are flexible and capable of reshaping and reinventing themselves and their messages over time. Coca-Cola is a good example of a brand that has never abandoned its core product but has evolved its message over time to keep up with changes in the marketplace and society at large.

10. A strong marketing presen
ce. Although it's nice to believe that you can market yourself for free on Facebook and Twitter, the reality is that brands aren't advertising on television and radio because they're dumb. Building and maintaining brand equity requires awareness. 

 Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  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: or visit: for more information. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Grocerant, Grocerants, Consumers are Flocking to Grocerants Globally

So, what is a Grocerant? 

Where can you find Grocerant niche portable fresh food? Foodservice Solutions®  Grocerant Guru™ says this "Grocerant means any retail food item that is Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat and prepared fresh that can be made portable. 

The word Grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores created, defined, and first published as an Op-Ed article titled: Call Them Grocerants in August 1996 in FoodService Director and again in Nation’s Restaurant News authored by our own Steven Johnson to describe the undercurrents of food industry consumer changing eating a buying patterns. 

On a side note Johnson and Foodservice Solutions received a US Trademark for the word Grocerant in 1998, subsequently  gave it up to become the ‘Grocerant Guru™’.  Today Foodservice Solutions® retail consultancy is the global leader within the grocerant niche. 

Simply put today a grocerant is anywhere a consumer can find fresh prepared food positioned, placed, and priced for the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals or meal components that can be bundled into a meal and or packaged for Take-Out, Take-Away, or To-Go.

Today, grocerant meals and meal components are found in liquor stores, drug-stores (Walgreens), fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, full-service restaurants, and restaurants inside grocery stores, in legacy “deli” departments, furniture stores (Ikea), club stores (Costco) and clothing stores from Tommy Bahama, Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s.  

 When the  Grocerant Guru™ say’s retailer, it is broadly defining supermarkets, mass drug merchants, C-Stores (convenience stores), Furniture stores, Club Stores, Clothing retailers and fast food , fast casual restaurants and full service restaurants selling fresh prepared food, and restaurant meals and meal components sold TO-GO or delivery.

What is Driving the Grocerant Trend?

Its 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner. 81% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared foods and Heat-N-Eat meal components. Today's time starved consumers have no desire to cook from scratch.  They want to purchase fresh prepared meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.

Most consumers may traditionally think these items can be or are found in grocery stores in the deli / lifestyle section, C-stores in the prepared food area and prepackaged, Ready-2-Eat items and in restaurants under the To-go, takeout or take away or delivery section of the menu or on the website. Ah the consumer and times have driven change.

The retail industry has expanded and is evolving to keep up with the demands of consumer’s desire to save time, improve quality, increase family fresh food flavor profile, while enabling personalization and family meal customization.

Examples of Grocerants

Restaurant examples range from McDonalds, Pret A Manger Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy's to Starbucks, each having a fresh Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. In the Casual Dining sector Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a 2nd home for free in their Classic Pastas menu section, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Boston Market and Denny’s.  That is to name but a few.  

Drug Store examples few today consider Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee, sandwiches, salads and sushi at selected stores, although they are technically a powerhouse growth vehicle within the grocerant niche.

Convenience Store examples are Rutter’s Farm Stores, Casey’s General Store, 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, Sheetz, and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, pizza, sandwiches, salads, and yes beverages.

Clothing Stores Tommy Bahama, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Brooks Brothers all have or are planning restaurants selling fresh prepared food in-store. Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food is garnering consumer favor in this sector.  Expect to find more and more clothing retailers entering the grocerant niche.

Furniture Stores & Liquor Store example Ikea sells over $ 2 Billion a year in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food in its stores (mostly meatballs-mash potatoes), Pinkies in San Angelo, Texas this past holiday season even offered complete fresh prepared full Turkey Dinners will all of the traditional side orders.  All of the fresh prepared food is prepared on site and sold To-Go. 

Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Trader-Joes, Metropolitan Market, Central Market, Kroger, and Wegmans sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches and most offer sushi and beverages. Many are now opening in-store restaurants including fast food, full service sit down and bars all offer fresh prepared To-Go as well.

The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great… let's call this "food for now". Many legacy retailers are primarily selling "food for later" or take-out and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of Ready-2-Eat meals and snacks begin to change.
Why is it so hard to package food to go? In the Hot food section of the grocery store the food in most cases does not look appealing so our expectations drop when we get it for Take-Away. That may be one reason that many grocery stores are continue to open restaurants or “food courts” selling made to order fresh sandwiches or Chinese take-out. 

In convenience stores like Wawa, the Ready-2-Eat food looks great in the To-Go containers. Why? Because Wawa puts the entire consumer food package together. They exert more control on the look and feel of "food for later".
Around the world we are now seeing sections in department's stores and kiosk in malls in Europe and Asia and airports around the world. The items can range from entrees to side items and deserts. Some examples of items range from fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to liver and onions, pizza, hot dogs, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads pie, cake and any single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.

Since 1991 we have assisted companies grow, expand, and excel within the grocerant niche.  Are you ready for Outside Eye’s for inside profits?  Have we completed a Grocerant ScoreCard for your company?  Are you ready for a Grocerant program assessment? Call: 253-759-7869 today.

Visit:  if you are 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 or you can learn more at Johnson, or Email: for more information. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Johnny Rockets Evolving Drive-Thru Concept

Contemporized nostalgia is a prefect description of Johnny Rockets brand evolution called Johnny Rocket’s Route 66. Growth does not come from a static brand position.  Brands must grow with consumers and consumers are dynamic not static.  

Now consumers looking for Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food can visit Johnny Rockets’ Route 66 drive-thru prototype as it will offer its same all-American menu to travelers and consumers on-the-go. James Walker, president of operations and development for Johnny Rockets stated “Texas is primed for expansion, with huge growth potential in the west Texas market,”

Walker went on to say “You can already find our restaurants as far north as Dallas and Arlington and as far south as Brownsville and McAllen. And the fact that we’re opening our new Route 66 prototype in the western part of the state speaks to the brand’s continued growth and development. We also believe that franchisees will find this new option attractive, considering the Route 66 drive-thru expression is not confined by typical real estate parameters.”

Get ready because growth is on the way as Johnny Rockets’ Route 66 drive-thru prototype “offers high quality food in an expedited experience in sites ranging from 1,800- to 3,300-square feet. With updated operational equipment and an optimized menu, the all-American brand is able to offer to diners the same fresh, never frozen, cooked-to-order hamburgers and other signature menu items in a shorter cooking time.”

This updated format required updated technology and Route 66 has added digital technologies like an interactive drive-thru, video walls, online ordering, and self-ordering kiosks, ensure that guests enjoy a modern, fun, and integrated experience. 

Where is your food being consumed?  Are you ready for a Grocerant niche program assessment? Grocerant Scorecard? Outside eyes can drive top line sales and bottom line profits.  Visit:  or reach out to our own Grocerant Guru™ Steve Johnson today for success clues at: 253-759-7869

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Are Digital Menu Boards Needed in C-stores and Grocery Deli’s?

Fresh food comes first but we have noticed that convenience stores and grocery store deli / fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat sections are beginning to look a bit dated?  While they are more and more filled with new fresh food menu components that consumers are mix and match bundling into a customized family meal, they lack visceral digital signage. 

According to Digital Signage Today customers have put a high premium digital signage “with 74 percent of customers saying they prefer an easy-to-read menu, while 70 percent have made an unplanned purchase as a result... Restaurants typically see a 3-5 percent increase in any digitally promoted item on menu boards, suggesting that the digital signage system usually pays for itself in one year or less.”

The ability to drive sales with customer relevance via seasonal Limited Time Offers, highlight new menu items, or drive participation in local community events digital signage enhances customer relevance according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.

Today digital signage is consumer interactive and participatory most systems platforms allow for  pre-selling by engaging the customer at the counter followed by order confirmation for accuracy. In fact digital signage can also be integrated into the payment process through self-ordering technology, kiosks and mobile applications in most systems today increasing throughput.

QSR’s the ilk of McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, KFC and Tim Hortons are adopting digital menu boards establishing a new industry standard for customers.  In testing some of the brands have already seen a 12 percent lift in sales after installation both indoors and at the drive-thru of the digital menu boards.

Success does leave clues and digital menu boards are a clue no food retailer should over look particularly if they are selling Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. 

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, grocerant scorecard, brand, or product placement assistance.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869