Monday, June 25, 2018

What’s For Dinner Tonight “My mom made two dishes: Take it or Leave it.”

It’s 4PM and 65% of consumers do not know what’s for dinner.  So if you are wondering just what is for dinner you can understand why we see restaurant customer migration increasing? “My mom made two dishes: Take it or Leave it.”  Is a line made famous by comedian Stephen Wright?  Today restaurants need to battle the 65 inch HDTV’s demand for time and attention according to the Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson of Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®

Brands must offer food on multiple channels or consumer will simply dial out when selecting what’s for dinner according to Johnson. Take it or leave it has come and gone. Today all food consumers are empowered with choice driven by preferences in flavor profiles, portion size, packaging, and portability. Below are 5 clues to consider when considering how to ebb customer migration.

1.       U.S. consumers under the age of 25 spend an average of 40.9% of their food expenditures on food away from the home focus on Gen Z and Millennials.
2.       Americans ages 23-34 spent 45.2% of food expenditures away from home the same report found.3.
3.       Here is the kicker, those ages 75 and up spent the least at 31.8%.  Grocerant niche prepared fresh food is evolving just how and where consumers shop for dinner.
4.       Restaurants in France are increasingly offering “cafĂ© gourmand,” a desert dish featuring an espresso and multiple small desserts on a single plate.  Mix and Match bundling anyone is a key driver of retail success.
5.       The U.S. Census found that 47.6% of U.S. adults over the age of 18 are single. Start focusing on meals and meal components for one person rather than trying to sell a package of 14 pork chops.
The grocerant niche is filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh and prepared meal components.  Around the world consumers are refocusing how, where and when they chose to buy food. Are you positioned within your niche to build sales? 
Steven Johnson is the President and Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, with extensive experience as a multi-unit operator, consultant and brand/product positioning. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Email: for more.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

What’s Driving Foodservice Success in 2018

Brand relevance is driven consumer interaction and participation with innovative food products in combination with new avenues of distribution all of which are the platform for the new electricity according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Part of the new electricity according to Merchant Centric is elevating that interaction and participation on a social platform.   
Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, pricing, grocerant positioning, urban farming (produce, seafood, etc.), autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, digital hand held marketing and portability.
Foodservice retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different.  That will require brands to embrace new fresh food partnerships more now than ever before according to Johnson.
Recently Merchant Centric, reveled in a new research study in conjunction with Xenial, a leader in the restaurant technology experience, showing a 66 percent jump in online reviews of businesses. In the restaurant sector, the significant increase in online reviews suggests the growing impact, both positively and negatively, that these reviews can have on revenues. For example, according to a report by Harvard Business Online, a one-star bump in a Yelp rating can translate into a 5- to 9-percent increase in revenue.
As a result, restaurants are becoming far more proactive in engaging with guests’ online reviews. According to data from March 2017 to March 2018, there was a 29 percent increase in the rate of restaurants that have responded to online reviews. Overall, restaurants engaged with guests at a 46 percent higher rate compared to other businesses.
David Bay, CEO of Merchant Centric stated “Our research shows consumers rely heavily on online reviews and social media for restaurant recommendations,” “Reviews have become incredibly influential since people consider them as first-hand reliable accounts, as if it was a friend giving their opinion. It’s now vital for restaurants to interact with online reviews in order to increase revenue.”
Christopher Sebes, president of Xenial stated “Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth, and a single review or post can have a dramatic impact on a business when it reaches thousands or even millions of users “Actively engaging with both favorable and negative reviews can have an enormous impact on one’s business. Our data shows that customers respond more positively to a business that engages with them, and that’s why this technology is so instrumental in improving the consumer experience and driving sales.”
So just what is your New Electricity? 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 a Grocerant Program Assessment, or new Grocerant niche product Ideation?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Who Cooks Dinner from Scratch Damm Few

Imitation is the highest form of flattery and Steven Johnson the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® told his team he was quite humbled when he learned that a large group of retail foodservice research groups and associations combined to use his studies as the foundation of ‘The Power of Foodservice 2018 – Part 2.  The focus, format, findings, and vernacular edified Johnson's work dating back as far as 1996. 
Regular readers of this blog not only know that Johnson identified, quantified, qualified the Grocerant niche; that he coined the word Grocerant back in the day, and published articles in both Nation’s Restaurant News and Foodservice Director in 1996 in an article titled: Call them Grocerants.
This new report will have surprises for regular readers of this blog.  The report edifies Johnsons finding to the point of unmistaken nuance.  Let’s start by how they are framing the new report: “By 4 p.m., 65 percent of shoppers don’t know what they’re going to have for dinner, but they do know they want it to be fresh, healthy and convenient—an intersection that places retail foodservice in a prime growth position if it’s well executed.” Here are the top 10 findings from the report. A link to the full study is available below.
1. The number of home-prepared dinners is decreasing, and where retail foodservice should benefit, it is not.
The average number of home-prepared dinners dropped to 4.6 meals per week, showing declines across demographics. However, with retail foodservice visits flat and unit/eaches sales down, restaurants are the main beneficiary of these declines. Whereas young Millennials are the least likely to cook, the presence of children appears to be a turning point for Millennials to eat at home more often. Older Millennials over index for retail foodservice and present a big growth opportunity.
2. A staggering 65 percent of Americans don’t know what’s for dinner at 4 p.m., and retail foodservice is not top of mind.
Only 35 percent of Americans usually know what’s for dinner two hours before mealtime, but only 15 percent frequently consider retail foodservice when unsure. The less likely shoppers are to have set dinner plans, the lower their per capita grocery spending. Standard featured days, a weekly meal plan, chef specials and online planning/shopping tools may drive awareness and sales.
3. Seven in 10 shoppers emphasize healthy, nutritious choices when ordering from retail foodservice or restaurants.
Healthful eating strategies differ by population group, but switching to better-for-you alternatives is the most frequently employed tactic of health-focused shoppers and foodservice regulars. While 68 percent of shoppers believe sufficient information to make educated decisions is available in general, many would appreciate additional tools in the deli/prepared foods department, led by healthier ingredients (85 percent), clean label items (83 percent) and in-store health and nutrition information/education (71 percent).
4. More shoppers are taking action on calorie callouts at restaurants. They are influencing retail foodservice selections equally.
While awareness of calorie labeling in restaurants is relatively unchanged, more of the shoppers who have taken notice are changing their selections—up 8 percentage points. Awareness of menu labeling at retail is lower than restaurants, at 54 percent vs. 77 percent. However, among shoppers who notice, an equal share adapts their selections. Most shoppers prefer to receive calorie and other nutrition information by the item or spoon, at 67 percent. An ounce-based system is the least popular.
5. Shoppers want it all: the ultimate deli/prepared foods department has grab-and-go and made-to-order.
Made-to-order offerings guaranteeing freshness and customization is the only way to go, according to 32 percent of shoppers, but 64 percent believe the ideal deli department carries both grab-and-go and made-to order items. Retail foodservice has a big opportunity to position either solution type as a meal ingredient in addition to a meal replacement as 53 percent of shoppers combine scratch-cooking with semi- and fully-prepared items.
6. Shoppers’ top ways of learning about a grocery store’s retail foodservice offering are in-store, but key targets shop less often.
In-store signage and personal observation/experience are the prime ways in which shoppers learn about a store’s foodservice offering. Both require in-store presence and far exceed the reach of out-of-store vehicles such as websites, apps or social media. This is the underlying reason for prime target consumers who cook less, but also shop less, to bypass retail foodservice. These consumers need other in- and out-of-store triggers to drive purchases, with awareness and variety being two major drivers.
7. Adding to its grocery adjacency advantage, retailers should emphasize the quality, freshness and healthfulness of the food itself.
Shoppers point to saving time over cooking, planning and cleaning, and having an immediate meal on the table as the four chief advantages of retail foodservice over home cooking. The ability to combine picking up tonight’s dinner with grocery shopping is seen as the greatest advantage over restaurant/fast food, followed by speedier ordering/pick up and offering better value for the money. Foodservice regulars see many more advantages and, in particular, highlight the superiority of the food itself.
8. Technology usage in dinner planning and other food/grocery applications is ramping up across demographics.
Shoppers of all ages, income levels and regions are increasingly using mobile, online, tablet and voice searches when deciding where and what to eat. More than half use digital/mobile technology to find recipes, check sales promotions, research dinner options, create grocery lists and order restaurant meals. Foodservice regulars are above-average technology users.
9. Retail foodservice price promotions are not greatly effective in generating sales but can drive awareness and meal planning.
Only 21 percent of shoppers regularly check retail foodservice promotions and a majority prefer favorable everyday low prices. IRI finds that only 14 percent of total deli/prepared foods vs. 34 percent of the total perimeter dollars are sold on merchandising. When promoted, retail foodservice sees a mere 4 percent increase in dollars, with little incrementality.

10. Shoppers have no strong preference for an in-store versus a central kitchen, but brands can provide a premium edge.
In-store production is not an automatic plus as the largest share of shoppers (44 percent) believe there is no difference in items prepared in a central kitchen or made in-store. Remaining respondents are fairly equally divided between in-store production being better (27 percent) versus a central kitchen being better (22 percent). Opinions are split on brand preferences as well: 36 percent like having familiar brands for items such as meat, deli meat and salad dressings in retail foodservice, but 43 percent are indifferent.
Success does leave clues our clue for today is don’t settle for imitators.  For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact:  the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Visit: for more information

Friday, June 22, 2018

Making Money with Meal Kits Partnerships

Regular readers of this blog know that Steven Johnson the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® called 2018 the year of foodservice partnerships. He also believes that there is plenty of room for growth in the meal kit sector moving forward given the proper partnerships.
Recently the CEO of Marley Spoon told Reuters he expects the Berlin based meal kit company to be profitable by the end of next year. Fabian Siegel said the company hopes to raise about $53 million when its stock starts trading July 2 on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Today Australia represents approximately 37% of Marley Spoon's revenue, according to TechCrunch, with the U.S. and Europe slightly behind that level. Siegel told TechCrunch the company has broken even in Australia and expects to hit profitability there in the second half of this year.
Marley Spoon is quite optimistic about its prospects through the upcoming IPO. It's been focused on innovations, including a Thanksgiving dinner partnership with Martha Stewart.  Regular readers of this blog know the team at Foodservice Solutions® was first to call this partnerships a success  Martha & Marley Spoon and Dinnerly, is a less-expensive meal kit option with fewer ingredients a set of differentiation points that are still relevant..
Partnerships are the new electricity driving retail foodservice success today according to Johnson. According to Johnson, “Brand relevance is in part driven with innovation in new food products in combination with new avenues of distribution all of which are the platform for the new electricity.”
Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, grocerant consultants, urban farming (produce, seafood, etc.), autonomous delivery, voice and visceral mobile ordering, Geo-based hand held marketing. This program has all of that.
Foodservice retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different.  That will require brands to embrace new fresh food partnerships more now than ever before according to Johnson. Let’s look at the meal kit sector as an example.
Blue Apron and Costco, have formed a partnership and both teamed with Airbnb, pop-ups and various advertising channels  to acquire and retain customers and boost its bottom line.  HelloFresh recently acquired Green Chef, an organic meal-kit company, and placed meal kits inside then formed a partnership with 600 Ahold Delhaize stores, to drive sales.
2017 Packaged Facts report noted the meal-kit market had hit $5 billion in sales, and Food Business News reported it could achieve $35 billion by 2025, so there's a lot to gain if retention, marketing and delivery problems can be overcome.
The team at Foodservice Solutions® believes that partnerships specifically non-traditional partnerships will drive incremental growth within all sectors of retail foodservice.  What is your new electricity? Do you need Outside-Eye’s to drive inside sales?
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  or

Thursday, June 21, 2018

McDonald’s Marketing Consumer Interactive & Participatory Relevance

Success does leave clues and McDonalds has left clues for many chains to follow.  Once again McDonald’s is doing all the right things with its marketing initiatives as it created 'Frylus' to Help Guests Take Selfies according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.   
Selfies continue to drive customer buy-in, elevate social media mentions, and garner customer relevance according to Johnson.  McDonald’s say’s “The Fylus will keep your phone clean when you take a selfie.”  This is straight forward authentic messaging.
Last year we saw the Frork. Now, it’s The Frylus. In honor of National Selfie Day, as McDonald’s unveiled yet another fry-themed concoction to garner a bit of hummer and drive sales. Frylus is meant to celebrate the chain’s new 100 percent fresh beef Quarter Pounders, as well as the upcoming national event, 100,000 Frylus contraptions (plus phone stand), meant to keep your phone clean while eating, are being given away at 2,000-plus stores on June 21 with the purchase of a Quarter Pounder.  Do you want to see where you can get a Frylus well just click here.  McDonald’s collaborated with Instagram celebrity Kirby Jenner on the promotion.
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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fast Food Restaurants Need Two Tier Pricing, Products, for Possibilities

Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® stated “Fast Food restaurants are still aspirational for many consumers around the globe.  Political upheaval continues to linger with employment instability is increasing the mind-set of consumers in most developed countries.” 
Today, many fast food branded restaurants are leveraging Two Tier Pricing to first garner trial and secondly build brand loyalty.  They offer entry level branded products like McDonalds dollar menu that allow existing customers trial and existing customers trade up either with LTO’s or specials on branded menu items.
Recently the Euromonitor put it this way.  “Fast food is changing, and not just in the category's dominant US market. Amidst fierce competition, fast food brands have been forced to differentiate themselves with broader menus, better food and higher-end outlet designs. In developed markets this has led to the popularity of the fast casual segment, but in emerging markets (most of which show a strong preference for full-service dining) it has helped fast food gain traction as a modern, lower-cost alternative to more traditional foodservice formats …
Bringing in new customers, clearly the branding opportunities inherent in the fast food business model have allowed these chains to appeal to developing market consumers' taste for exciting new dining experiences. Take South Africa-based chicken fast food brand Nando's, for example, has relied on strong branding, exciting flavors and a unique dining experience to set it apart from other chicken fast food chains, a fact that helped exceptional growth.
Similarly, UK bakery products fast food brands EAT and Pret a Manger each have found success with a positioning of convenient, high-quality food, a modern grocerant atmosphere with a platform for ‘fast’ service.
I’m sure you have all noticed that McDonald’s new focus on fresh meat, especially, has helped the brands compete with more traditional fast food concepts, and this kind of above-and-beyond competitive positioning will continue to integral to the success of any new fast food concept.  ….
Consumers have left clues and the universal commonalities in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food are fueling retail success around the globe.  Success does leave clues are you implementing the right clues to drive top line sales and bottom line profits for tomorrow?
Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, brand, product placement or for positioning assistance call 253-759-7869 or for more visit  or

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Applebee’s Next Step AI App

Just how fast is fast food? How long do you in line waiting to order then getting through the drive-thru?  In our time starved world Applebee’s Grill & Bar just might become the most convenient restaurant to shop for dinner, order diner or eat dinner according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
So just imagine arriving at a restaurant for dinner and the food you ordered while driving there is waiting for you at your table and not in a bag filled with plastic containers. That is exactly what Applebee’s Grill & Bar is trying to do. 
Dine Brands owner of IHOP and Applebee’s is developing and testing an app that in theory allows diners to show up at a busy restaurant and be immediately seated in addition to having their food served upon their arrival and their final check delivered via the app.
Stephen Joyce, the new CEO of Dine Brands stated “It’s like converting casual dining to fast food,” You just might think of it as an ‘HOV lane for tech users would all but eliminate frustrating wait times associated with being seated, having an order taken and a bill delivered and paid” according to Applebee’s.
The fast is as it turns out diners spend more money when they order from one of those kiosks or from an app or table-top device, according to industry experts. In addition Erik Thoresen, principal at food service restaurant firm, Technomic believes that “Many of the casual dining brands are looking to take a page out of the fast food playbook”.” That leads us to ask just what is fast food today.
Where is your customer eating dinner tonight?  Do you have a path-to-purchase that meets the need-set of the on the go consumer asking what’s for Dinner?  Selling fresh food path is about retailing in new and non-traditional locations and new and non-traditional manner? Do you have the new electricity to garner top line sales and bottom line profits tomorrow? The consumer path-to-purchase is evolving is your brand and business model evolving?
Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Where is your new electricity coming from?  Interested in learning how 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.