Sunday, August 31, 2014

Food Retail Beyond Traditional Locations

Today consumers are now Omni-Channel consumers. The success of ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food has been documented, talked about and written about for one reason of late. It is driving top line sales and bottom line profits within existing points of distribution and more importantly at non-traditional points of fresh food distribution garnering share from legacy food retailers.
Is your food company prepared to succeed in 2013, 2014 … 2020? Here are some of the advantages to entering or expanding your business within the grocerant niche:
Brand Exposure
Many large food retailers, big companies, have a narrow focus. That has worked for 50 years. They have honed their brand and supply chain. They have set and defined boundaries, and it is difficult to get outside of them. Time and technology have redefined the consumer playing field. Your brand must become dynamic again or risk losing consumer relevance. There is a huge opportunity for share of market if you elect to evolve you brand with migrating fresh food consumers in take-out and take-way options.
People Reward Potential
Large food retailers typically pay more at the C-level, and are seen as stable employment currencies (not-taking risk). However the grocerant niche when vertically integrated into an existing brand creates a new level of excitement within the entire company. When sales grow, the opportunity for advancement expands, building team momentum, excitement explodes like a wildfire. Customers can feel the proactive positive buzz from employees. Doing nothing Boring Doing Something Soaring.
Proactive Change is Exposure to Success
Change is incredibly dynamic, consumer focused changed is contagious. Change evolves and will go through a bell curve, and you see the whole thing step by step when you vertically integrate change into brand and consumer values. If not integrated you do not really get to escape the velocity of the event, but change is exciting nonetheless and customers will still follow.
 Consumer Relevance
Are you going to tangibly impact your company or maintain the status quo? Today like never before companies have the ability to evolving a brand at a speed not seen since your company was a start-up. What impact are you going to have on your company? There is a difference between the work you do and the impact you have. Fresh Food retailing is evolving at break neck speed, evidenced by the Dollar Store formats selling more foods and Walgreens selling fresh foods and doing it well as you can see from this video of a Walgreens in San Francisco. Is your brand evolving fast?
Spin Out, Spin Off or Springboard to more Profitability
If you do nothing but wait, watch or blame the economy you are very likely to simply spin out of control. Redefining your brand with consumer relevance will position you too either create a positive spin off or springboard to the next level. Legacy organizations need to be mindful that springboards do great things for your organization, your team and your shareholders.
Success Does Leave Clues and Foodservice Solutions® is clue # 1
LTO's (Limited Time Offers) can drive top line sales and bottom line profits while taking you in a new direction. Are your LTO's leading your brand, testing your brand or simply copy-cat marketing tactics absent strategy?

Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food in non-traditional outlets poses an ever increasing threat to restaurant growth. Want to know how to best address these new competitive threats?  Contact  or visit:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One Restaurant CEO does Stand Out

The undercurrents of restaurant industry continue to evolve .All food retailers are beginning to see a “Seismic Shift” in food shopping behavior from in-store ordering to mobile and on Online Shopping.  Starbucks CEO once considered the best restaurant sector CEO has evolved and is standing out from his peers and is now considered a “retail food merchants extraordinaire” according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.
Howard Schultz, president and CEO of Starbucks stated he sees a “seismic shift” to online shopping.  So concerned was Schultz he has reorganized Starbucks leadership team.  His concern was based on retail research indicators (and I think SBUX sales numbers) pointing to the fact that legacy brick and mortar retail stores locations are at an “inflection point” in losing traffic to e-commerce shopping. 
Starbucks is one of the best food merchants. Starbucks has created a customer focused platform of product customization, convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.  When Starbucks detects a “seismic shift” an “inflection point” the team at Foodservice Solutions® agrees and understands.  That shift is occurring and in larger part driven by activates within the Grocerant Niche including new non-traditional points of fresh food distribution.
And it is not just upscale Starbucks seeing this shift. Traditional supermarkets are grappling with  the “seismic shift” to online shopping.
According to an article in Supermarket News Thom Blischok of Booz & Co “Experts think it’s inevitable that sales of many non-perishable grocery categories will eventually take place online. Retailers need to meet that demand, but also the creative challenge of what to do with the space that it will open up in stores. He shared his ideas about “Tomorrow’s Trends Delivered Today: Store Design Trends — The Path to 2025” at a recent Food Marketing Institute conference and you can read his article Future Online Sales to Open Space for Design Innovation in Supermarkets - SN.
Millennials on-going quest for food discovery
Millennials on-going quest for food discovery is driving the growth in points of distributions, new flavors, and technology introductions in the fresh food space aka the grocerant niche.  That discovery is a result of an increase in multi-generational households, multi-ethnic households and technology advances.
What is evolving fast is how and why consumers eat and pre-prepare meals for the home.  Channel blurring is not in the minds-eye of the consumer. Channel blurring is only in the minds-eye of Neanderthal brand manger’s and some Boomer CEO’s that do not understand the concept of share of stomach vs share of market.

Proper understanding of share of stomach is more important for long term product, brand, and company survival than ever before.  Today, Eating Out, may mean Eating In. Starbucks is a great food merchant because they are focused on the evolving consumer. Where is your food sold and where is your food eaten? Here is one success clue: follow Millennials.
Replace a boomer CEO with a Millennial
It is time to challenge conventional fresh food retail including restaurants and grocery stores business models.  Embrace the consumer not brand protectionism. Don’t think of innovation as change but rather as a platform simultaneously embracing the consumer and the brand. If success does leave clues it just might be time to replace a boomer CEO with a Millennial.
Leaders vs. Laggards
These are companies in a quagmire, Red Lobster, Chili’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Olive Garden. Companies with leaders driving change are Kat Cole of CinnabonSteve Ellis of Chipotle and of course Howard Schultz of Starbucks. Let me know your thoughts.  Who do you think is the best Omni channel retail food leader today within the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food space?

Invite  to complete a Migration Marketing Assessment, Grocerant Program Assessment, or brand, product placement, menu positioning assistance simply call 253-759-7869.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant Niche Visit:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Eating Out by Eating In Food Customer Migration Underway

Today Millennials Are Driving Change in Retail Foods Sales
Many legacy restaurant chain Boomer CEO’s are in a quagmire of stewardship. Unwilling to dramatically redesign; concept footprint, menu items, or points of distribution they are saddled with “canned” concepts once suited for the golden age of the restaurant industry.
Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ stated “Brand protectionism is fast fading away and giving ground to brand evolution. That evolution is required for long term brand survival. Consumers are dynamic not static and brands must be as well.”
Consumers are not thinking like many boomer CEO’s who continue to hold on to psychological mindset of yesterday’s brand position in a world of contemporized consumers.  When thinking “What’s for Dinner” recent research by Foodservice Solutions® found 86 percent of consumers at 1PM have no idea at all and 65 percent of consumers at 5PM still do not know “What’s for Dinner”.  Thus the rise of the Grocerant Niche companies selling fresh prepared food for Eating In or Eating Out in direct competition for legacy restaurants while challenging legacy grocery stores models.
So do you want to know what a Grocerant is?
Want to know what a Grocerant is or where to find Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food? In reality a grocerant is where a consumer can find fresh prepared food aimed at 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.  
Eating Out by Eating In?
Take-Out and Take-Away Options Threaten legacy business models…  menu items have been around so long that consumer simply take them for granted. Millennials are on a quest for personal discovery… looking past the once obvious choice. The result is an opportunity for a new business, that is new business models selling fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. 

With the increased presents of the 65 inch HDTV in home today Foodservice Solutions®  research find “The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome” was edified recently in the 9th edition of “The Why Behind the Buy” published by Acosta Sales and Marketing found: 

“Contrary to some reports, eating at home is not passé. Rather it has evolved to meet the needs of busier lifestyles, more sophisticated palates and consumers who have become accustomed to immediate gratification. Indications of how the boundaries of eating in and eating out have blurred can be seen in the rise of the grocerant - grocery store as restaurant - where ready-to-eat meals have been a major area of growth; the popularity of quick-serve restaurants, food delivery and take-away; and the growing array of meal solution product offerings from CPG companies. In other words, shoppers are increasing eating out by eating in.”
Millennials  Drive Change
The influence of Millennials can no longer be denied.  Millennials which represent 22% of the U.S. population today are fast approaching their “prime” spending years. Millennials grew up with fast internet access everywhere, mobile technology, and are now engaging and demanding a food focused seamlessly integrated life style.  In a recent study titled The Why? Behind The Buy found “65% of Millennials say losing this phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car.”  Are you willing to give up your car? Soon Millennials will out spend Generation X and the Boomer Generation.

That same study found that young shoppers are adapting to new food trends including buying Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  That is something all food retailers need to pay particular attention too. In fact that study found that in the past 30 days:

·         Bought Home Prepared Foods  -  GenY / Mellennials 78%  Gen X only 68%, and Boomers 60%
·         Ordered Food From A Restaurant for Pick-Up / Carry-Out in the past 30 days - Gen Y / Millennials 78%, Gen X 72, and Boomers 58%
·         Ordered Food From A Restaurant for Delivery in the past 30 days - Gen Y / Millennials 67%, Gen X 57, and Boomers 36%
As you can see for each of the above, Millennial Shoppers outpace Boomers anywhere from 30% to a whopping 100%!  Now if you are looking for successful strategy’s and tactic’s to reclaim your market position, elevate your brand it might be time for proven successful outside eyes. 

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Restaurant Relevance Computers and Food Trucks?

Everyone knows The Culinary Institute of America has been turning out world class chefs since 1946. Those chefs are scattered around the world running some of the most acclaimed restaurants today. However when it comes to turning out world class menu’s there is a team of “Geeks” at IBM that are doing a great jobs as well.  The restaurant industry is changing fast.  Is your chain evolving as fast as consumers?

Did you know highly trained, well-educated computer scientist at IBM have created a Food Truck That Is Actually Serving IBM's Insane Computer-Generated  Menu Items" . , If you would like to see some really interesting photos of IBM Cognitive Cooking Food Truck click that link or the picture about.

Is you R & D team keeping up? The Culinary Institute of America while they have great chefs may not over time be able to keep up with super-computer generated menus that someday just might have the ability to be customized for the customer when they walk in the door. 
IBM says that chefs can work with 3 or 4 ingredients at a time... but beyond that, are brains are not wired for that level of complexity.  Does your Chef need some Outside Eyes?
So the IBM Cognitive Computer takes a starter ingredient from a chef, with some additional parameters and then crunches hundreds of ingredient combos in seconds. But "mixing things up" so to speak so quickly, the chefs come up with really interesting recipes.
According to "chefs have already made include Creole shrimp-lamb dumpling, Baltic apple pie, and Turkish bruschetta. The cognitive computer is different from a regular search engine in that it eschews existing recipes, instead instructing the chefs to combine wildly different ingredients and flavors into the same, never-made-before dishes. "

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Breakfast Is Getting Healthier

We have all been told at one time or the other that breakfast a key ingredient to starting the day off right. While more and more consumers are stopping by the local fast food outlet for fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat breakfast and coffee other are stopping in convenience stores on the way to work in the morning and something good to eat. 
One supermarket chain Fresh & Easy is jumping into the breakfast mix attempting to lure additional customers. Fresh & Easy is now offering what it says are healthier alternatives to the increasing number of morning fast-food options.
Sharon Price, Fresh & Easy’s Grab & Go Guru stated “We set out to develop more breakfast options that are delicious but not overloaded with calories, perfect for the customer looking for healthier options on the go.”
Price continued “Gone are the days of diet-busting drive-thru breakfast, eating on the go with Fresh & Easy is just as fast and isn’t full of artificial nasties,”  The new hand-held meals make fresh breakfast on the go convenient and satisfying and join a variety of innovative selections such as grab & go omelettinis, breakfast sandwiches and meal bowls.”
The new breakfast items include:
Breakfast at Fresh and Easy
Breakfast parfait wrap: Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and granola wrapped in a cinnamon wrap
Open-faced salmon bagel: Sandwich topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber and dill
Protein breakfast sandwich: Sliced turkey, egg whites and fresh spinach on whole-wheat bagel thin
Vegetarian soyrizo and egg wrap: Scrambled eggs and veggie soyrizo in whole-wheat wrap
Apple cinnamon oatmeal
Almond and fig oatmeal
Visit:  for sales building ideations, international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson 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. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Five Reasons Kat Cole Should Be Darden's Restaurants Next C.E.O.

With the kettle of fish that was Red Lobster gone Darden’s leadership quagmire continues as it searches for a new CEO.  Clearly what Darden needs is someone who can muster a strategy that matches the challenges. They need someone who has a successful track record with a billion dollar indulgent brand. 

There are few industry leaders that fit that bill.  Even fewer that have done it successfully while having their hand on the pulse of the consumer as well as Cinnabon’s C.E.O. Kat Cole. Here are our five reasons Kat Cole should be the next C.E.O. of Darden Restaurants:

1.       Kat Cole is a Food Merchant not just restaurateur.
2.       Kat Cole has experienced with a global indulgence brand.
3.       Kat Cole would provide OUTSIDE EYE’S
4.       Kat Cole adds contemporized relevance a C.E.O. leadership style of 2015 not 1990’s.
5.       Women make 53.2% of dinning choice decisions. Clearly she would have a better vantage point.

A smooth transition is important for a ship in the middle of rough seas.  It is true Darden created the situation they find themselves in and it is time for some outside eyes.  Kat Cole is respected, competent, capable, and qualified. 

It’s time to stifle financial engineering for a bit and garner the expertise of a brand savvy food merchant.  The restaurant sector is in the middle of our Omni-channel food retail world.  Running a restaurant chain the way it was run in 1975, 1985, or 1995 may have worked then.  Clearly it’s not working today. 

Darden appears to have been trapped doing what they have always done and doing the same way.  Ignoring the convergence of food focused branding, technology, marketing and an elevated top-of-mind position with consumers Darden is simply put out-of-step with customers and investors.   Outside Eyes for Inside Results Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy. Visit: , or

Monday, August 25, 2014

Legacy CPG Retailers Converting Floor Space

Convert floor space from legacy CPG to fresh food or capitulate customers. Is the mantra many legacy CPG retailers are hearing today from consultants the ilk of Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.  More and more space is being allocated to fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food, that’s Grocerant niche success space.

Today large full service restaurants are increasing meal component offering in Buy one Get one To-Go and QSR’s are focusing on price, speed and new menu offerings of bundled meal components to garner additional meals from CPG retailers.
A RetailNet Group recent study found that retailers should be “adding ‘grocer-ants, expanding  to go foods, merchandising more fresh prepared food and less center store while appealing to an ever expanding global palate.” Those are just a few of growth platforms identified by RetailNet Group for legacy big box retailers to maintain profitability and customers.

Meal Component Bundling

Grocerant Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is causing significant product mix shifts from legacy CPG products to fresh prepared food due increasing customer demand according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™. Today legacy CPG retailers are faced with the need to reallocate the space, often replacing it with new services and fresh food experiences that will bring in new traffic to the store. For many legacy big box retailers, adding grocerant fresh prepared food is a good solution to provide a differentiated experience, drive traffic and compete with QSR’s, limited service, and full service restaurants.

Deferral Cooking

Consumers do not want to cook from scratch.  Today, a home cooked meal is comprised of bundled meal components.  One key driver is a lack of a multi-ethnic cooking skill-set, combined with time-starved consumers need for convenience, are causing retailers to add or expand prepared To-Go foods departments, add inside seating options, and offering additional Heat-N-Eat options. The undercurrents of disruption is found in customer migration.  Driven by migration from scratch cooking too fresh prepared meal components, and too To-Go foods options that all fall under the umbrella of the grocerant niche.

Proximity Shoppers Drives Convenience Store Fresh Food

Since 1991 the number one reoccurring complaint about grocery shopping has been how much time it took. Convenience stores with a small foot print figured that out.  Then they discovered coffee, fresh coffee and fresh food. The Retail Net Group found “factors such as urbanization, an aging population and an increased preference for proximity are driving a fundamentally new convenience store. There will be new multi-destination convenience superstores that will aim to roll up independents and compete directly with QSR. As such, the convenience competitive set is broadening.”

Sheetz, Wawa, Rutter’s and 7 Eleven are all expanding driven by fresh prepared food, meal components, a proximity to customers that elevates a personal relationship through high frequency coffee trips, differentiated fresh food, and price, too compete with QSR’s.

The retail food space is not brain surgery it is evolving more rapidly today than it has in the past 20 years.  Fundamentally the retail food space remains very much the same, consumers are in control. Have you hear of Uber?  Uber is delivering fresh food is a much smaller space than you occupy.  Is your company suffering from footprint malaise? Are you doing what you have always done?  Doing it the same way?  Why?

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Migration Marketing assessment, grocerant program assessment. For brand, product placement, menu positioning assistance simply call 253-759-7869 or visit

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Non-Traditional Restaurants Booming

Shopping at IKEA it’s not all about the furniture or the FREE organic baby food with any purchase that drives success.  It just may be about the restaurant sales it’s the quality fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food. Surpassing $ 2 Billion in annual sales of fresh prepared food IKEA is a Restaurant / Grocerant success story.

IKEA and other non-Traditional fresh food retailers have been exploring, entering, or exploiting the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food space aka the Grocerant Niche, at an increasing pace, and with outstanding success.  Walgreens and Pinkies Liquor stores are both selling fresh prepared food, Brooks Brothers is entering and both Costco and Ikea sell over $ 2 Billion dollars a year in Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food alone.  Is your chain selling $ 2 Billion a year?

Ikea a Swedish company best known for its inexpensive furniture and household products has very large Blue and Yellow stores around the world. What many of you may not know is that they also sell fresh prepared food. In an article in the Wall Street Journal Ikea’s Johannes Ledel explains how the fresh food unit brings in nearly $2 billion in annual revenue.  

Two Billion in annual sales places Ikea in the top tier of food retailer’s period. Non-traditional food retailers in this case a furniture store sells much more food than most of the chains reported on in restaurant industry magazines.  These retailers are often not considered competitors.  Selling food and winning is about garnering share of stomach.  Ikea garners $2 billion year and has become a destination for food.  

Regular readers of this blog know Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson regularly writes about and includes Ikea slides at industry conferences and client presentations.  IKEA’s Food division rivals Panera Bread and Arby's, with nearly $2 billion in annual revenue. Ikea “estimates about 700 million people this year will eat in one of the cafeterias that are located in 300+ IKEA stores world-wide. What are your sales per store? Ikea is a food destination.   Outside Eyes for Inside Results Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy. Visit: , or

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Driving Private Label Fresh Food Sales

Manufacturing private label fresh food for non-traditional retailers is taking off.  Ready-2-eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food aka grocerant niche retail food offerings are driving top line growth in every sector of retail food service.

Increasing top line revenue, customer continuity, bottom line profits in the food industry should be an ongoing focus of all retailers. Customer continuity requires maintaining a level of excitement in your menu or food product offerings.  You must drive contemporized relevance for your customer in order to maintain or increase frequency levels and Ready-2-Eat Grocerant niche food does just that. Today non-traditional fresh food retailers are looking for fresh food manufacturing partners according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.

Private Label brand managers are creating and identifying distinctive differentiated food consumable’s as an entity with identity by day part to edify each client’s brand. Today they understand the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure and the consumer’s drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new food consumables. They can help you drive sales.

The food value proposition equilibrium for the consumer today balances; better for you, flavor, and traditional products all blended into something new with a twist.  In industry speak, differentiated does not mean different to the consumer it means familiar. 

Private label brand managers have been contributing by expanding quality offerings while displacing national brands.  Are you edifying your menu or product offerings?  Is your company positioned for yesterday’s customers or tomorrows? Foodservice Solutions® team can help your brand.

Outside eyes can bring new light and assist in your pace of growth, redevelopment and deployment of your new menu’s with appropriate COG’s. Foodservice Solutions® is very good at assisting companies reach their goals. Contact: 253-759-7869 or visit:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Amazon Fresh and Google Out Grocery Delivered by Uber

Technology makes for strange bedfellows.  Technology evolves so fast in real time even some technology companies can’t keep up.  So we ask which technology widget is best for grocery delivery?
When Uber announced that they were testing same day grocery delivery don’t you think that Amazon and Google were a bit stunned?
Amazon Fresh has spent billions building robotic warehouses that reduce cost and streamline fresh food delivery looking for the last mile solution delivering all things Amazon.  All the while Google grocery delivery is reportedly investing $ 500 additional in expanding its grocery delivery business.
Now we learn that Uber has technology that they are testing in the Washington D.C. area for same-day grocery delivery with no minimum charge or fee!  That makes it less than either Google or Amazon for grocery delivery. The new grocery service is called Corner Store. Here is how it supposed to work:
“The Corner Store service is within Uber's main app and will allow users to order over 100 items priced to compete with DC convenience stores.
Corner Store asks the customer to pick where they would like their groceries delivered and texts what's available for delivery. An Uber driver then calls to confirm the order before delivery. Customers pay for their shopping via their existing Uber account.”
Sounds great, and it is positioned to cost less than either Amazon or Google grocery delivery service. Uber is intending to use this as a marketing tool to attract business through the enticing offer of no delivery fees for the service. Goods will be available between 9am and 9pm.
One thing is clear, customers do not want to spend all day shopping in the grocery store. If Uber focus is on Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food in addition I think they will have a hit.  Legacy food retailers may have found another competitor targeting traditional grocery and c-store customers.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson 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. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Football Season, Fresh Food, 65 Inch HDTV’s

Football, Food and HDTV driving change in food retail. Retail foodservice continues evolving with a strong focus on the consumer.  At the intersection of the consumer, technology and retail food sales we find the grocerant niche creating and expanding points of quality food distribution.  It’s at that intersection that Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru identified one universal commonality driving consumers buying pattern changes.  Johnson calls it ‘The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome’.

The grocerant niche is the result of the blurring line between restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores all selling fresh prepared, portable, convenient meal solutions.  Targeted at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food components that are perceived “better for you”, and portioned for one or two. Consumers like the Convenient Meal Participation, Differentiation, Individualization / Family Customization that these retailers offer.

Restaurateurs need to be particularly mindful of developments within grocerant niche for they are driving the change within the price, value, service equilibrium in retail foodservice.

It is at the intersection of the consumer, technology and The 5 P’s of Food Marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability, and Price that retail food sales competition is expanding. Driving ever greater Mix and Match bundled meal options and new points of distribution for consumers.  Consumers love the on-the-go options in fact Zaget’s 2013 NYC Restaurant Survey found that in New York at-home meals surpassed dining out for the first time in 30 years.

GrubHub the nation’s number one online and mobile food ordering service data reveled that pre-game orders spiked more than 35 % for the first four weeks of the 2012 professional football season when compared to the same timeframe during the 2011 season.  With San Francisco, Phoenix, Oakland and Atlanta all leading the way.   “When it comes to watching football, the best seat in the house really is at home,” stated Susanne Dawursk, GrubHub’s brand marketing director.

More than just sports The 65 inch HDTV Syndrome is driving customers away from frozen foods as well. In a study from Packaged Facts, reports that sales in the $44 billion U.S. retail market for frozen foods have been flat to declining, with nearly all dollar sales gains attributable to inflation or new products -- not to increased consumer demand. The study found that Preference for 57 % of consumer say fresh foods the top reason why US consumers have not purchased frozen foods in the last three months, followed by preference for home-cooked meals.

Fresh prepared ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat food in non-traditional outlets poses an ever increasing threat to restaurant growth. Want to know how to best address The 67 inch HDTV Syndrome?  Contact Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at:

Visit:  for sales building ideations, international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson 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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Food Marketing Success

At the intersection of successful fresh food sales today you find the consumers, and the 5 P’s of Food Marketing. While customer migration continues to disrupt legacy chain grocery stores and legacy chain restaurants eroding customer counts and profit margins.  There are plenty of success clues to help turn things around.
Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, Washington based Foodservice Solutions® has been gathering retail food success clues since 1991.  Within the clues he discovered some universal commonalities from those commonalities he developed The 5’P’s of Food Marketing they are:

Non-traditional fresh food retailers including chain drug stores, chain liquor stores, and a plethora of On-line only retailers have been highlighted on this blog of late.  All have integrated the 5 P’s of Food Marketing and those universal commonalities to garner new customers looking for ‘better for you’ fresh prepared food.

If you are interested in learning how the 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization contact us via this blog or Email us

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Consumers are looking for Fine Food Fast but Not at Restaurants

Fine Food Fast is quality Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food found in Grocery stores Deli’s, C-stores, Liquor stores and retail drug stores all offering mix and match meal component offerings. Restaurant quality food or better can be found at Eatzi’s, Wegmans, Whole Foods, Walgreens.

Yes, I know each of the companies we just listed are ‘Up-scale’ niche players.  However Kroger, Safeway each offer Mix and Match Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food meal bundling.  At Safeway consumers can get a Whole Rotisserie Chicken and two one pound side orders for less than $10.00.  That is cooked Ready-2-Eat and no clean up.  Restaurants chains the ilk of Boston Market are taking notice.

The undercurrents of the farm-to-table movement have gone main stream and freshness is seen as ‘better for you’ and customers perceive produce and prepared food from grocery stores restaurant quality or better according to Foodservice Solution® Grocerant Guru™.

Two companies sold a million meals last quarter that are threating both the restaurant sector and grocery sector are Hello Fresh, and Plated each is selling fine food fast.  At one time the healthy food movement was dominated by restaurants selling fresh and health food stores.  Today, retailers the ilk of Hello Fresh and Plated are being discovered by a new generation of consumers Millennials and they are driving change.

Is your company selling food the same way it did 30 years ago? Is your brand looking more like yesterday than tomorrow? Fresh prepared food no longer is a point of differentiation is required even demanded by consumers.  Is your brand evolving with consumers or practicing brand protectionism of the 1980’s and 1990’s?

Outside eyes can deliver top sales and bottom line profits.  Invite  to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. Have you completed a Grocerant Scorecard? Contact: 253-759-7869 or

Monday, August 18, 2014

Olive Garden Draws on the Grocerant Niche for Customers.

When the customer moves, retailers must move with them.  Darden’s Olive Garden sales have been down or trending down for several years. Full service / sit down restaurants demand so much time that time starved consumers have simply found other options.

The option most common according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ is “restaurant quality Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food”. Most important non-traditional fresh food retailers are offering meal component options that can be bundled into Mix and Match customized personal or family meals.  Those non-traditional retailers are doing or less than restaurants can or do.

Jonathan Maze of the Restaurant Finance Monitor recently pointed out that “Over the last year, the number of full-service restaurants has declined by a full 1 percent, or 2,156 locations, to 297,827 units. By contrast, the number of quick-service restaurants, including fast-casual concepts, grew by 2 percent to 337,667 establishments. Overall, 53 percent of restaurants now don't employ wait staff.”
Olive Garden’s Buy One, Take One promotion directly centered in the middle of the grocerant niche works this way.  Olive Garden’s customers buy an entree at the restaurant and get a second entree to enjoy at home.  This time Olive Garden ratcheted up the promotion by adding a Redbox movie rental with the Buy One, Take One.
Clearly Olive Garden has been paying attention to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru’s theory The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome.   At the conclusion of proprietary research Foodservice Solution’s found consumer love their new 65 inch HDTV’s and want to watch sports, movies, the evening news, and eat in front of them as well.
Jay Spenchian, Olive Garden's executive vice president of marketing said “Olive Garden’s One, Take One promotion is “all about creating special moments for our guests, and this 'Dinner and a Movie' offer gives our guests the opportunity to enjoy a second Olive Garden experience together -- at home with a Redbox movie."
This promotion adds valuable consumer relevance edifying the Olive Garden brand and Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru believes will help Olive Garden slow, stop or mitigate customer migration.

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how the 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization contact us via Email:  or call: 1-253-759-7869 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food Sales Drive Growth

NPD Group reported that this week that U.S. restaurant industry should see another year of stalling customer growth this year after seeing flat traffic in the year ended in June. Visits to full-service casual dining restaurants fell 3 percent, while trips to midscale restaurants fell 4 percent, while chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King, were flat in the year ended in June.
Success does leave clues and 7 years of down or flat customer counts within the restaurant sector might be a clue that doing what you have always done, and doing it the same way simply is not a formula for success in 2014 or going forward according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.
Endless store remodels contributing 2.65% top line growth on average leveraged off the backs of franchisee or investors is simply a formula of prolonged mediocrity. If chain restaurants wants to thrive in the coming years they need to adapt to new demands of consumers while paying particular attention to Millennials.
Millennials are attracted to food perceived to be of higher quality, they want transparency in food labeling, while increasingly demanding fresh Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meal components that can be bundled into a single or family meal.
According to NPD Group, the number of restaurants in the country grew by just 0.8 percent in the year ended in March leading Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ to speculate in an article for LinkedIn just where the “smart money” is being invested in the food space and he suggest it’s not restaurants, but food technology.
Today retail foodservice is less about coupons, steep discounts, décor upgrades and more about food authenticity.  Legacy brands with copy-cat menus, messaging, and missteps will fail to invigorate consumers, and will be left with a deteriorating brand.  Are your customer’s counts flat or in decline?  Is your brand experiencing customer migration?  It might be time for Out Side Eyes for top line growth and bottom line profits.

Outside eyes can deliver top sales and bottom line profits.  Invite  to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. Have you completed a Grocerant Scorecard? Contact: 253-759-7869 or

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Aldi, WinCo Position Walmart in the Middle

This marks the fourth year in a row that Aldi has been named the ‘low-price grocery leader’ in the U.S. by Market Force Information Inc. according to its latest survey. With 1,300 stores open and a three year plan to open 650 more Aldi is a serious threat to Walmart, Publix, and Safeway
WinCo Foods with 95 stores is a fast growing low priced competitor who’s products are priced below Walmart in the Western U.S. with a quality integrated Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food strategy and is completely unfazed by Walmart.
Consumers shopping habits are shifting and legacy retailers not focused on quality fresh food, fresh prepared, and price are losing market share.  Walmart’s Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food offerings are more akin to offerings of industry leaders in the 1990’s than today. 
Jason Hart, Aldi President said “However, these latest survey findings prove that a growing number of consumers are choosing to shop at Aldi for more than just low prices." 
Aldi is a global retailer and is garnering market share in Great Britain as well.  Aldi in fact is so successful in Britain that KPKG LLP reported that   “U.K. food sales by value dropped the most in at least 5 1/2 years in the three months through July because of price cuts by supermarkets”.  Will that happen in the U.S.?
Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ says “Yes, food prices will be coming down for families in large part because of Aldi and WinCo.  However the efficiency provided from Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food had reduced waste while reducing cost per meal for many families.”
While companies the ilk of Whole Foods and Wegmans continue to lead the industry in fresh prepared food quality and options.  WinCo is able to outperform Walmart in large part because of the value and freshness of its fresh prepared food.

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