Legacy food brands, retailers, and marketers have sent a lifetime defending and edifying brands. During the golden era of chain restaurants from 1975 to 2005 practicing brand protectionism was the golden rule. All we heard was don’t change a thing, this is what we do, it worked and customers and Wall Street were all happy, happy, happy. Not any longer. Internet information overload has converged with consumerism.The status quo is no more, restaurant, and grocery store C-level executives appear to be trapped in location footprint malaise. The largest and most influential generation ever Millennials are now taking control and looking for “new non-traditional” food outlets and meal options. Thus when Jeff Fromm spoke at the Retail Customer Experience Executive Summit he left five very import clues they were:
1. "The definition of brand value we've known has died. It's not enough to have functional and emotional products, we've now entered an era of participation economy," Fromm said. Participation means the consumer helps co-create products and services, through social media or other marketing channels.
2. Participation is important because consumers now want brands that have a purpose that aligns to their personal values. "It's about me now, not the brand," Fromm said. "Useful is the new cool." An example of this is Yelp Monical, an app that allows users to point their smartphone in a certain direction and then list restaurants in that direction.
3. Krispy Kreme's Hot Light mobile app is an example of "useful," according to Fromm. The app, originally introduced in 2011, alerts users whenever their local Krispy Kreme rolls out hot, fresh doughnuts. The brand's Hot Light has long been an iconic part of its history, which "lives to thrive" through this app, Fromm said. The app generated 42 million searches in the first year alone, before many brands even had such a mobile component.
4. Millennials don't necessarily embrace things that used to work for a brand. "They embrace disruption in the industry," he said.
5. Finally, Fromm calls Millennials the savviest group of consumers ever. This is mostly because they're digital native," rather than "digital learned."