Ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food re-branding is not back to the basic’s. It’s a step into the future of food marketing, positioning and essential for legacy retail food brands continued consumer relevance. Grocery stores, Restaurants and Convenience stores are all scurrying to reposition their product / menu mix of “better for you” prepared food to garner an increase in share of stomach. Now Albertsons is forced to discount deeply which is the penalty they must pay for being unremarkable and out of step.
Competitive may not be a strong enough word for the battle between sectors and companies for the consumer. The Grocerant niche is where all the action is consisting of better for you prepared portable ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food. The Convenience store sector has led with Ready-2-Eat food innovation and over the past three years captured a larger share of stomach while sectors had flat or down sales.
McDonalds, Wegmans, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Sheetz, Boston Market and Wawa have done great things with fresh prepared ready-2-eat food. Each is capturing market share. The equilibrium between financial success and breakthrough top of mind recognition is but one key in the success. Ready-2-eat and Heat-N-eat grocerant niche fresh prepared better for you food is the main driver.
Safeway’s “lifestyle” is another example for grocerant re-branding and a turn away from the middle of the store and focus on consumer relevant fresh, prepared food. The “lifestyle” units have proven a focus on the grocerant niche prepared food sector provides a halo for even the burdened center of the store. This is about winning the heart and minds of the consumer. Safeway’s miss-step is they expanded each of the new remodeled units. They did not need to do that. They should have simply shrunk the middle of the store. All new Whole Foods stores will have a maximum of 30,000 SQFT.
The challenged for each company is the ability to see and understand the customers focus at its core, not your brands core. Success does leave clues and companies leading the charge in 2013 will be leaders within each niche for years to come.
Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, 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