Friday, February 28, 2014

QSR’s from Leading the Pack too Following Customers Don’t Count them Out.

Cleary for the past 50 years America’s Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) have set the preeminent example on how to grow a retail restaurant brand. Companies the ilk of McDonald’s, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Domino’s Pizza each have had enormous success within the QSR sector and the world.

Despite increased competition from imitators it has been the new non-traditional fresh food outlets selling fresh prepared branded food that has garnered the attention of customers particularly Millennials that seemly stumped, stifled, stilled customer count growth within the QSR and restaurant sector for some time.
Don’t count those legacy QSR leaders out.  Industry icon and global restaurant leader McDonald’s is expanding its burger customization testing.  The customization of burgers is an incremental step for McDonalds.  They previously found success in with customization within the beverage sector with McCafe’ they will find additional success with the burger test as well.
Convenience stores and grocery store delis are capturing a larger share of fast-casual dining occasions and many QSR dining occasions. Companies the ilk of Sheetz, Rutter’s QuickChek, Wegmans, HEB, and Whole Foods have found a way to imitate restaurants in menu options, better them in price, and provide equal food quality in the minds-eye of the consumer.  Yet, they have not been able to replace the halo of goodwill established by legacy QSR’s brands in the minds-eye of the consumer.
McDonald’s understands that the consumer is dynamic not static.  McDonald’s is dynamic as well.  The burger customization program will be a success, an incremental success.  Watch for more and more innovation in the form of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food options from McDonald’s complementing the evolving consumer. With 14,000 locations McDonalds can never be counted out.

Is your brand evolving with consumers? Foodservice Solutions® specialty is the 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.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

QuickChek Drives Customer Satisfaction while Quick Meals

QuickChek’s fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food has driven customer satisfaction numbers up year after year. The fresh prepared food offerings have been so successful that their Signature Subs and Wraps have created a platform for off premise catering success.

With a goal to continue to meet the demand of the fast evolving consumer QuickChek is introducing new snacking menu items.  The snacking menu includes a classic favorites some with a new twist including the new Cheeseburger Egg Roll to its fresh snacks menu. “The crispy egg-roll shell loaded with cheeseburger filling is designed to be a satisfying, flavorful, on-the-go option for the convenience store chain's customers.”

The other items on the retailer's fresh snacks menu include the Buffalo Style Jack n’ Blue Cheese Sticks, Apple Cinnamon Twist, Sweet Dough Pretzel Knots, Popcorn Chicken, Jalapeno Poppers, Mac & Cheese Wedges, Fresh Braided Pretzel, Pizza Stix and Buffalo Chicken Stix.

With 138 retail outlets QuickChek's now selling a full snack menu, lunch and dinner menu this non-traditional fresh food company is creating quite retail food competitive footprint.  Everything from Ready-2-Eat, Heat-N-Eat too catering QuickChek is doing things right.

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.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

McDonald's, Wawa, 7 Eleven Bundled Against Taco Bell in Breakfast Battle

Success does leave clues and East Coast regional convenience store chain Wawa has long established its self as an AM daypart food leader. Each year Wawa sells over 195 Million cups of coffee the vast majority during the AM daypart.  Wawa offers fresh prepared breakfast offerings and impulse seasonal breakfast snack offerings that consumers bundle into customized breakfast.  The menu components contribute to driving growing customer counts and incremental sales year over year at Wawa.  Yum brands Taco Bell will not diminish Wawa’s bundled meal offerings during the AM daypart for many years to come.
McDonald’s with more than 14,000 restaurants across the United States has for several years offered any size coffee for $1.00.  No other restaurant company in the world is better at offering bundled meal solutions day in and day out like McDonalds.  The ability of McDonald’s to bundled proven branded legacy offering meal components with coffee will create competitive price points that will stifle Yum Brands Taco Bell franchisee from realizing sustained incremental profits for at minimum three years.
7 Eleven’s fresh prepared food offerings have fueled both new stores sales growth and same store sales growth. Always competitively priced 7 Eleven has found success with Millennials in trial and positive discovery of breakfast and meal component offerings.  Here again 7 Eleven has twice as many locations in the United Sates as does Taco Bell.  Pricing and continued Millennial trial and discovery will benefit 7 Eleven while diminishing the long term financial stability of Taco Bell’s breakfast. 
Taco Bells franchisee will harbor the long term cost of Yum Brands, Taco Bell nationwide breakfast rollout.  Yum Brands will see incremental sales bump from the trial and garner incremental franchisee revenue. The Waffle Taco and the Crunchwrap will have a hard go against McDonald’s Wawa, and 7 Eleven.
Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche. 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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Popeye’s Catering too Family Fuels Long Term Success

When Alvin C. Copland Sr. opened “Chicken On the Run” forty years ago with poor sales, then rebranded it and named it after Popeye Doyle in the popular movie “The Fresh Connection”  Popeye’s  would anyone in the food industry think that Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen as it is known today would have all other chicken brands On the Run. 

If success leaves clues Popeye’s continued evolving year after year today it is growing faster with better margins and positive customers counts in both international markets and domestic markets.  Nations Restaurant News tracking of recent Same Store Sales reports Popeye’s both domestic and international growth at 5.1 percent.

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru credits much of Popeye’s success on that continues brand evolution. Specifically the introduction of it’s Whole Deep Fried Turkey Dinner focus for holidays back in 1999 thru 2001.  The Better for You Halo of “Holiday”, “Traditions” and Family combined to garner extended brand value.

What Popeye’s is doing seemingly better than i’s competitors is creating integrating new menu products with messaging that is Understandable, Memorable, and Emotionally connected with consumers.  The Whole Turkey Holiday promotion is just one example.

Much like that old cheerleader song 2, 4, 6, 8 who do we appreciate. Popeye’s catering 20, 40, 60, 80 family, friends, reunions, and office parties is extending the Halo of the brand once again. Combine that with successful full flavored new menu items like Rip’n Chick’n and Dip’n Chick’n  and everyone can understand the continued success.

Popeye’s chicken has carved out a great position within the grocerant niche.  Don’t cook tonight, call catering or order your next holiday meal.  No cooking, no clean-up, no problem.  Popeye’s is
Understandable, Memorable connecting Emotionally with customers.

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Shifting Gears Restaurants Out with the Young in with the Old.

If you build it they will come.  Chain restaurant after chain restaurant for the past 30 years have targeted 18 to 34 year old's who in the past were the most frequent guest and most eligible to become brand loyal.

Times they have changed.    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “unemployment has hit younger people hard: Younger adults are more than twice as likely as those 55 and older to be unemployed”. Without a steady flow of disposal income it becomes difficult to frequent restaurants.

The NPD Group found in a recent study that in U.S. ,”people older than 49 are eating out more than younger diners” makes sense much more consistent flow of disposal income. The same study confirmed with the Bureau of Labor Statistic found that “unemployment has hit younger people hard”.

The NPD study found since 2008 there has been a 12 percent dip in the number of nights that younger consumers are eating out a year. On the other hand older baby boomers and "mature traditionalists," the generation ahead of the boomers, upped their restaurant visits by about 6 percent”.
The Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food sector has been attracting all age groups seeking time saving alternative or money saving alternative. Many restaurants have begun selling Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meal component options that can be bundled and sold so customers can go home a customize a family meal. In fact today The National Restaurant Association says boomers and older diners make excellent regulars.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment and product opportunities. Do you need a marketing integration strategy session?   of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chain Restaurants is your Brand Looking More Like Yesterday than Tomorrow?

Restaurant customer migration continues to eat away at top line growth and bottom line profits for chain restaurants. Since 2009 the economic turmoil, malaise, or quagmire has been to blame if one were to listen to earnings conference calls conducted by many major chains.
The truth is consumers are not eating any less today than they did in 2009. They are in fact eating somewhere else. The restaurant industry overall has been stagnating since even before the recession, according to Harry Balzer of The NPD Group.  In 2000, the average American ate out 215 times a year. Last year, that number shrank to 192 visits a year as reported by NPD.
Many chain leaders justified, and rationalize why they are not adapting to the consumers shifting preferences quicker, blaming missteps on a slow global recovery, the weather. Of late they are the same ones claiming victory when in fact price increases provided top line growth all the while year over year customer counts were down or continue trending down.
Might it be that the customer has changed?  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru favorite saying is the “consumers are dynamic not static” simple enough, but why.   Brands must be dynamic, reposition or risk becoming non-relevant to consumers. Even worse some brands could become extinct.

Think about Sbarro. Last week Sbarro announced they were closing 155 units.  We know that mall traffic has been declined for the past five years.  This past Christmas it was reported that mall traffic was down 15%.  If you are a restaurant on a pad outside a mall how did you fare? If you’re restaurant was in the food court how did you fare? Now after thinking about Sbarro, think Burger Chef.  How are you evolving?

Is your restaurant chain still selling the same food in the same way?  Maybe you should consider product mix adjustments, brand repositioning, or new products all together. Who are your customers and where else are they eating.  Consumers are not eating any less.  They are eating somewhere else. The consumer is on the move. Is your brand?

How are consumers evolving?  Here are three key’s we think are important:

1.       The U.S Census reports that 50% of U.S. adults over the age of 18 are single
2.       The Brookings Institute has reported that Americans are moving into cities at a prodigious rate not seen in over a century.  Urbanization changes shopping habits –consumers buy fewer items, more and often.  Further, these urbanites find hyper-local, smaller footprint retailers convenient and appealing.
3.       The Pew Foundation reports that since 1970, every year has set a new record LOW for marriages. Consider how we have changed in the last 50 years.  In 1960, nearly 60% of young adults (ages 18-29) were married, compared to only 20% today.

When a chain restaurant brand is not Understandable, not Memorable or not connected Emotionally with consumers today, that’s when you know your brand is more like yesterday than tomorrow. Is your brand evolving with consumers?  Does your company, brand, or franchisor need outside eye’s to drive inside profits?

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 learn more at Johnson, or

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Private Label Food Products A Growing Success

National brands continue to advertise their value all the while paying slotting fee’ to their competitors? Is it just me or does that sound like a business model in need of repair? Today Grocery store shoppers can save up 38% buying store brands a new study found. If we all harkin back to the days when grocery stores introduced private label products we can remember the poor quality, poor packaging and pricing that drove trial.  That was it.  Ah how times have changed.

The recent economic malaise may have been one of the driving factors in trial of new private label products. The other might have been positive consumer response to Trader Joe’s unique private label products and industry leading sales per square foot $1,750+.

In a new study grocery store prices by Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) reveals “shoppers on average could save 38% off their grocery bill by filling their winter shopping cart with the retailer’s store brands instead of their national brand counterparts.”

Trader Joe’s changed my mind on private label products.  When Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru conducted recent research on Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared products they found 74% of consumer could name a specific companies proprietary fresh prepared food by entity and specific identity if the retailer had branded fresh food products as well. 

Today it appears that price, quality and branding issues are lessening for private label product both CPG and fresh prepared.  What was once considered private label aka Trader Joe’s and i’s ilk is now consider branded in the minds-eye of the consumer.  The battle it appears to be for share of stomach of fresh vs canned.  Private label branding of fresh prepared food works.  How many of you have had a 7 Eleven Slurpee?  That’s branded fresh food success since 1965!  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Friday, February 21, 2014

What’s For Dinner? More Meat Driven By Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat.

James Hodges, President and CEO of American Meat Institute (AMI) when speaking on a new study released by AMI Power of Meat that “the number of home-cooked meals containing meat or poultry increased slightly from 3.6 to 3.8 dinners per week

The same study found that the consumption of Heat-N-Eat and Ready-2-Eat items also increased. Edifying previous research conducted by Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru the AMI study found that “one-third of shoppers undecided whether they will cook or eat out as little as two hours out from dinner time,”
Is your brand positioned to capture customers in the critical “What’s for Dinner Decision Hour”? Are you selling bundled meals or meal component options that can be customized or personalized in to a perfect family meal?

Today meal component assembly trumps cooking from scratch. Enabling consumer choice in bundling meal components with valued time saving Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food drives top line growth and bottom line profits in every sector of fresh food retail today. The ability for personalized, customized and authentic flavor meal components have become an integral part of the meal time experience today.

Foodservice Solution® research found that at 1PM 81 percent of consumers did not know what’s for dinner and at 4PM 63 percent still did not know what’s for dinner.  The Power of Meat study suggest that if you want to capture share you just may want to focus on meat.

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 learn more at Johnson, or

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Food Innovation or Disruption Omni-Channel Food Changing the Playing Field

As long as multi-generational family's gather for meals together, the demand for more divergent flavors continues to permeate. Grocerant mix and match bundled meal component offerings allow for increased family integration, understanding and acceptance in less time without a required cook from scratch skill set.
In the 1940's cooking from scratch was the normal. The average home cooked meal took 150 minutes to prepare. Everyone sat down at the table and enjoyed it or not but they all ate the same thing. Today's "home cooked meal" takes on average less than 30 minutes to prepared. In most cases at least two different entrées are served.
The average time spent inside a McDonalds in the 2,000 was 11 minutes. Today 65+ percent of all McDonald's food is sold via the drive-thru. U.S. fast-food chains are increasingly remodeling restaurants in an effort to garner additional drive-thru customers inside and increase sales, simple because the drive-thru can't hold all the cars.
Walgreens is creating and bundling distinctive differentiated food consumable's as an entity with identity by day part in a mix and match meal component format in select urban setting targeted at both the office worker for lunch and meal components for them to take home for the family dinner. It is a successful program. With over 8,025 units operating in the United States, Walgreens has the potential to become the most disruptive force in food retailing in 50 years. Walgreens with its modular mid-sized foot-print is garnering customers from both restaurants and grocery stores.
Consumers Want Easy to Prepare Meals and Meal Components
The grocerant niche continues to grow with companies like Central Market, Whole Foods, Wegmans and 7 Eleven entering the fresh prepared better for you space. Meal time is now becoming a time of convenient meal participation, with differentiation and individualization for the entire family. Safeway with its lifestyle stores are heading in the right direction however the stores are so large consumers are forced to spend more time in them than they want.
More often than not the multi-generational family today is multi-ethnic. Creating a demand for more varied menu flavors and additional cooking skill set that is simply does not exist today. Grocery stores, Convenience Stores, Restaurants and Chain Drug Stores are all selling Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. Is your focus family dinning? Are you selling meals or meal components for Take-Out, delivery or Take-Away? Outside Eyes can propel inside results.  has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991. Success does leave clues. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chipotle’s Farmed and Dangerous Disruptive or Sexual

If success does leave clues, the clue of the year is Outside Eye’s can Drive Inside Profits.  Creative marketing ideas and brand messaging often run into opposition. Many a good idea has been veto by over reacting C-level executives in legacy food retailers.  You know those executives who claim to be protecting the brand that are instead isolating the brand and practicing brand protectionism of the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s. Have you ever worked for one of them?  Are you one of them?
Regular readers of Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru’s blog know that brand protectionism has no place in successful retail food marketing today.  Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous,” miniseries that can be seen on is billed as a “Chipotle original series,” is not brand protectionism series.  Rather it is an example of effective brand messaging.  A creative from of brand messaging that could well prove a disruptive new avenue of branded food marketing.
This was not Chipotle’s first volley at non-traditional brand messaging communication. Previously Chipotle released two short marketing messaging films, called Back to the Start and Scarecrow.  The goal of each was too clearly edify Chipotle’s consumer focused “better for you” brand positioning.  Collectively they tout themes that echo Chipotle’s core on-going focus; sustainable agriculture, and the humane treatment of animals used in food retail.
Targeting 18 to 44 year olds this from of messaging is not about short term product placement or sales but clearly targeting brand edification and long term food “values integration” and adoption. Sex sells and Farmed and Dangerous has a cast that is very easy on any eyes with sexual innuendo’s that will bring viewer back for more than one episode. Isn’t that the goal? What does your Brand Stand For? Who are you telling and where?  With restaurant customer migration continuing to gain momentum, might it be time to refocus your messaging and avenues of messaging distribution?
Chipotle Mexican Grill knows what it stands for and is confident it’s consumers, future consumers will too. Success does leave clues and by all legacy metric’s Chipotle Mexican Grill is preforming much better than its peers and industry over the past five years in: New Unit Growth, Same Store Sales, Customer Count Growth, and Brand Messaging. Outside Eye’s just might be able to help your brand as well.

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 learn more at Johnson, or

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Expanding Food Retail Channels Blurring Food Space Delighting Consumers.

Cooking from scratch, not today, consumers are time starved and cooking skill deprived. Thus the rise of The Grocerant niche targeting the time-starved consumers, not with ingredients rather with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food components that can be bundled into a meal.
Today, grocerant niche meals and meal components can be found in liquor stores (Pinkies), drug stores (Walgreens Duane Reade), fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, full service restaurants (Take-Out, Take-Away, Drive-Thru), furniture stores (Ikea), club stores (Costco), dollar stores, C-stores, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, and Tommy Bahama.
Think about how you shop for most meal preparation needs. You might buy a rotisserie chicken, pick up something at the salad bar and maybe an appetizer at the deli service case. Those are components vs. buying uncooked chicken, a head of lettuce and then having to clean, cut, season and then assemble and/or cook.
Traditionally meal components that are fresh prepared could be 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."
For the consumer it is about ease of meal preparation, quality and family meal customization vs. time, cooking and cooking skill set.  If you’re company does not think they are in the grocerant niche it might be time to consider it.  Consumers do not care where dinner comes from they do care that everyone in the family eats and is happy. Grocerant Niche fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat makes meal time a happy time.
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Migration Marketing Assessment, Grocerant Program

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Next Big Thing in Food Retail a Battle for QSR Customers.

Restaurant customer migration is being documented month after month in Nation’s Restaurant News with regular reports by Black Box Intelligence focusing on both Same-Store Sales and Traffic.  Black Box reported that in November traffic at US restaurants declined 0.09 percent, in December they reported a decline of 4.5 percent, and in January a decline of 2.2 percent. Uneven as these numbers are restaurant customers are not all on diets or eating less according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru they are in fact “eating fresh prepared food somewhere else; at new Non-Traditional points of fresh food distribution aka at grocerants.

Restaurant consumers are dynamic not static.  Restaurants must change with consumer or risk losing consumer relevance. In a recently released 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.”   That is a dynamic shift in consumer mindset.   Are you willing to give up your car? Soon Millennials will out spend Generation X and the Boomer Generation.  Is your company prepared for the customer of today?

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%.”  The battle for share of stomach is taking place not just in the drive-thru it is occurring everywhere fresh food is sold.

Another study conducted by Technomic found “Fifty-seven percent of consumers say they have purchased prepared foods from c-stores, while approximately one-third of consumers who visit c-stores for fresh-food items purchase them at least once a week from these stores.”  Does your company need Outside Eye’s to help you drive Inside results?  Foodservice Solutions® can do just that.  Have you been following SBUX?

Retail food merchant extraordinaire 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. So, just what does that mean to your brand, your sales?

The battle for customer’s hearts, minds, and wallets is not between QSR’s any longer.  The battle is about a battle for share of stomach. Legacy QSR’s and restaurants must revalue brand touch points edifying contemporary relevance or continue risk losing customers. Channel blurring is not in the minds-eye of the consumer.  Channel blurring is only in the minds-eye of Neanderthal brand mangers that do not understand the concept of share of stomach.  Proactive brands are producing positive same store sales and positive customer counts.  Do you need 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 twitter

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Baskin-Robbins Enters Grocery Aisle

The seemingly coldest winter anyone can imagine has a bright spot.  Baskin-Robbins world famous ice cream is coming to the frozen food court in your local grocery stores.  Yes, the frozen food court where California Pizza Kitchen sells Pizza, Boston Market sells complete meals and TGI Fridays is selling appetizers now Baskin-Robbins ice cream will provide desert. 
Baskin-Robbins is driving awareness to it successful retail stores best known for offering 31 flavors by introducing its first full line of cold treats for grocery stores. Can’t wait here is what you will find:
“Three-packs of jamoca almond fudge and mint chocolate chip ice cream bars and 14-ounce cups of ice cream in flavors such as gold medal ribbon and pralines ‘n cream are rolling out in supermarkets in California and should reach Boston’s Shaw's stores in the next few weeks.”
Baskin-Robbins was founded California in 1953 and has a strong presence on the West Coast, and currently operates 455 stores. With over 2,465 Baskin-Robbins stores in the United States and more than 4,600 in other countries entering the frozen food court will drive brand awareness and extend consumers contemporized relevance.
“Ice cream is a category used by all age groups and all demographic groups,” said John Fassak, vice president of business development of Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., the parent company of Baskin-Robbins. “Our goal is to have these products available across the country and build more of an affinity for the brand.”
Consumers are not static they are dynamic brands must be as well.  A new entity was form by Dunkin Brands called Boardwalk Frozen Treats  it was “established as a separate entity to market, distribute, and sell Baskin-Robbins products for grocery stores through an exclusive license agreement. The company is led by Tom Delaplane, a former Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream executive.” Success does leave clues and Dunkin is on the right aisle.

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 learn more at Johnson, or

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Restaurants Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat Equals Success

Restaurant industry success is a four step process according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson.  Those four steps are Build, Measure, Learn, and Repeat.

Restaurant success is determined by consumer’s choice.  Year after year one company continues to show up at the top of the list of consumers, that company is Papa Murphy’s. Papa Murphy’s focus on evolving consumer preferences for “better for you” fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat aka Grocerant niche food is but one aspect of their success.

Blending just the right mix of Ready-2-Eat Salads with Heat-N-Eat made fresh from scratch pizza and deserts items Papa Murphy’s has found menu equilibrium. Papa Murphy’s ability to build, measure, learn, and repeat industry leading fresh prepared metric of food  price + service + quality time and time again places them in a unique position of leading the industry.  

Once again this Quarter “Data from Technomic's Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM) program, which surveys consumers about their most recent restaurant visits, confirms that top-rated restaurant concepts continue to be chains that deliver strong value on high-quality food and beverage.” The winner according to customers was Papa Murphy’s. Here is what CBM said:

“Papa Murphy's Pizza earned the highest marks of all chains measured on consumers' overall satisfaction; three-fourths (76 percent) of consumers say that their last visit was "excellent." Consumers' ratings of the chain on other attributes signal that they perceive Papa Murphy's to value both their time and money, indicating that the chain offers very good portion sizes for the price paid and a highly satisfactory speed of visit. The chain also received the highest ratings from consumers on its ability to provide value through high-quality menu items.”

When your consumer move, restaurant need to move with them.  Papa Murphy’s has done that and done it well.  They do it year after year following four simple steps: Build, Measure, Learn, and Repeat.  Consumers are dynamic not static your brand must be dynamic as well.

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 us at:  or visit: Johnson,, or  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Growth Hacking The Restaurant Sector

This Valentine’s Day we witnessed the undercurrents of food customer migration reach new heights.  Non-traditional fresh prepared food retailers around the world are offering consumers a choice to Dine-In while Dining-Out. They are promoting restaurant quality chef prepared Ready-2-Eat Meals at a fraction of the price customers would pay if dining at a restaurant.  The successful growth of the grocerant niche is now ratcheting-up competitive offerings challenging the very core of the restaurant customer mindset. .
Roses are red, violets are blue staying at home can be very cozy for two. Wegmans offered a “Romantic Dinner for Two” either Pan-Seared Strip Steaks or roasted lobster tails with Shallot-Thyme Butter that can be cozy for two it’s a Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meal offering.

Wegmans offers restaurant quality meal components that can be bundled into a perfect meal for Dining-In while Dinning Out.  Wegmans has extended its competitive offering with its Next Door Bar and Grill, its own restaurant.   Next Door Bar and Grill offers All-natural, sustainable and organic ingredients from our store are specially selected for you by our chefs and prepared in a manner that's delicious and healthy. You can get it To-Go as well.

Eatzi’s hot, Ready-2-Eat Meals are handcrafted by trained chef’s,  filled with delicious fresh prepared food with no work required in planning for a special night out.  Eatzi’s has extraordinary fresh prepared food offerings. With a focus on meal components that can be bundled and customized into a personalized at home cozy meal.  Eatzi’s offers Steaks, Chicken, Salads, Seafood, vegetables and deserts simply too many to list. In Dallas Dinning-In can be Dining-Out with Eatzi’s.

Texas based Pinkie’s Liquor Stores are in the restaurant quality chef prepared Dine-In while Dinning-Out fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat mode as well.  Pinkie’s is offering a fully cooked Prime Rib Dinner with flowers and beverages as well.  We found these other offering from around the globe:
“Marks and Spencer is offering Dine-In for Two for £20 for that you get a “Starter”, main course, side dish and desert for two, plus chocolate box and a bottle of cava. Here is a sample offing if ala carte Scallops, £5.49; rump steak with peppercorn sauce, £9.99; Gastropub chunky chips, £2.19; Valentine twin hearts, £3.79; Strawberry and Champagne Souffle (£3.49 for two), Prestige Rosado Cava, £9.49 box of chocolate hearts, £1.50. That is a saving of : £12.15”
“Morrisons is offering a Meal for two: £9. You get a main course, two side dishes and a dessert from its M Bistro range.” Here is an example of what you can get: Chicken stuffed with brie and spinach; potato and thyme rosti, trio of green vegetables and a panna cotta and raspberry compote. Total saving: £3.50”
In Minnesota next year you will be able to Dine-In at Lunds and Byerly’s Grocer  which is evolving into Lunds and Byerly’s Kitchen.  There will be a 143-seat restaurant with wine and beer bar that will “offer stone oven pizzas, burgers and seasonal surf and turf entrees.” Customers will “order and pay for meals with iPads found at each table. There will also be a patio and 24-seat cafe.”  While dining customers can order grocery from the iPads and pick it up when done.  If success does leave clues the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche just may be a very competitive clue.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fresh Prepared Meal Components Drive Sales.

Alice May Brock said: “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian, wine and tarragon make it French, sour cream makes it Russian, lemon and cinnamon make it Greek, soy sauce makes it Chinese, garlic makes it good.”

Convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization; are each hallmarks of the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared grocerant niche.  That is the recipe for retail food success in 2014.

Meal components allow customers to select from Italian, American, French, Russian or Greek and utilize the components at home any way they like.  The new American meal can be a composite of any prepared food components that the individual may want and they can mix and pair them any way as well. 

The United States is a melting pot of people from all over the world, with different cultures, traditions and flavor preferences.  The new American meal is a melting pot of flavor and choice.  Meal components that can be mix and matched for home consumption are integral to retail success.

Fresh prepared and portable Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat foods are now available for all comers and can be found at Convenience stores, Drug stores, Grocery stores, Restaurants, Mobile trucks all just waiting for the taking.  When developing new menu items do you consider where the food will be consumed?

Consumers have been exposed to a plethora of flavors and have not the time to master the skill of cooking each.  The rapidly growing grocerant trend is empowering the consumer to establish new customs and traditions in eating better, more flavorful food.  The Grocerant niche is about convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lunds and Byerly’s Grocer is Evolving to Lunds and Byerly’s Kitchen

Wayzata, Minnesota are you Ready-2-Eat? Lunds and Byerly’s grocery stores a staple in the Twin City area is evolving with consumers and the food industry is entering the Grocerant Niche.  On March 6th Lund Food Holdings  will open Lunds and Byerly’s Kitchen. This new Grocerant Niche concept store will have a restaurant, prepared food stations and “tailored selections of groceries.”
There will be a 143-seat restaurant with wine and beer bar that will “offer stone oven pizzas, burgers and seasonal surf and turf entrees.” Customers will “order and pay for meals with iPads found at each table. There will also be a patio and 24-seat cafe.”
In what was once called the deli section now a Grocerant prepared food area, customers will find “made-to-order sandwiches, store-made sushi, hot entrees and soups, and a salad bar. Caribou Coffee will roast beans in store.”
Grocery shopping can be fun, easy and a time saver.  In the grocery portion will feature a prepared meat station, cheese counter, olive bar, as well as a limited assortment of fresh, frozen and shelf-stable products. “Customers can place orders from Lunds and Byerly’s full grocery offerings in the restaurant or online for pick-up at lockers in the store’s parking lot.” 
Lunds and Byerly’s has learned a lot from their successful catering program selling such items as:
Sandwiches with Kendelson's smoked ham, Homestyle turkey or Roast beef complemented with the appropriate cheese. Tuna, chicken, egg salad or veggie options.  Salad the ilk of  mostaccioli, penne pasta with sundried tomatoes, fresh cut fruit, potato salad or cole slaw.
Giving consumers what they want and how they want it is one thing that Lunds and Byerly’s is very good at.  Evolving from grocery store to grocerant will require constant learning.  I for one have no doubt that this concept will allow customers to create their own price point every time they walk in the door for both Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.
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 learn more at Johnson, or

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Food Trucks Full Flavored Fuels Hand Held Food Success

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru’s 2010 white paper on the growth of Hand Held Food for Immediate Consumption received acclaim, was on target but never predicted the growth and impact that Food trucks would have on the restaurant sector or the growth of Hand Held Food Truck Food.

Researchers at IBISWorld are predicting that Food Trucks are now a 1 Billion Dollar industry on their own and will soon represent between 3 and 4 present of total restaurant revenue. The Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food sector aka the Grocerant niche continues to create new points of fresh food distribution and at a billion dollars a year in sales.  Food Trucks are clearly one segment consumers are flocking too enjoying the sense of discovery, authenticity, and flavor.

The ability of location mobility and relocation by day-part creates a particular advantage for food trucks.  They have the ability to follow consumers from office spaces, weekend community events or late night college hangouts. 

Food trucks have in many cases leveraged technology to out-market legacy restaurants including QSR’s and Fast Casual Restaurants.  Many food trucks post locations, new menu items, and special offers on social media creating an under-ground buzz (of word of mouth) with office influencers and Millennials creating a customized, personalized invitation to dine.

Customer brand activation begins with an invitation.  Food trucks understand brand activation that is another reason they have reached 1 billion in sales. Successful brand management requires an inclusive strategy, executed with consumer focused innovative tactics. Non-traditional points of fresh food distribution continue to grow and garner share. Success does leave clues and the food truck sector has picked up many.  Have you?  Are you prepared to compete in an Omni-channel retail world?  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Monday, February 10, 2014

Can Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Food be Branded?

The consumer is dynamic not static.  Today as Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to garner customer favor they should be banded. Here are Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru’s 10 clues to brand consumer relevance into fresh prepared food:

1.       Symbolism.   Why you are there! The most successful brands are inclusive include values greater than themselves. A lifestyle, a philosophy, an emotion 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 track 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.  Expectation. 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.  Differentiation. 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. Imitation 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 presence. 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 and contemporized relevance.For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson at    His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Can Non-Traditional Fresh Food Retailers Sell Fresh Food? YES

Have you heard of the Grocerant Niche? Non-traditional fresh food retailers flying under the radar are finding stellar success in fresh food sales, pleasing customers while edifying their brand.
Ikea's  a Swedish home furniture retailer is selling  Swedish Ready-2-Eat meatballs and smoked salmon at its cafeteria, as well as hot dogs and frozen yogurt at its to-go food counter at the European flavors add a level of mystique and foodie adventurism. Ikea’s food sales top 2 billion a year is sales. How is that?

Looking for a fresh prepared frozen yogurt, try Costco.  You can get yogurt in chocolate, vanilla or a swirled combo with both chocolate and vanilla at Costco.  Fresh prepared Pizza whole or by the slice and Costco’s famed Ready-2-Eat Chicken Bake garner loyal customers with prices that drive local QSR’s to wonder how they do it? Fast!  Costco reported that it sold 112 Million Hot Dogs and 65 million rotisserie chickens in it’s last quarter.

 In addition as a standalone concept volume speaks success and Costco's director of operations for the food court and bakery, Bob Collins recently stated “ Despite the low prices, it sees a "modest profit" from food court sales.”  The last report public stated that the Costco “food court” sales are over 1.3 billion a year.

The answer is YES Non-traditional retailers are finding success selling Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh and prepared food all contributing to the success of the booming grocerant niche. Is your product or brand ready for a non-traditional outlet? 

Outside eyes can deliver top line sales and bottom line profits.  Invite Foodservice Solutions® to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant Niche. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Work and Office Dining Trends Ready-2-Eat Take-Away Take-Out

Apple, Microsoft, Boeing, and JC Penny’s corporate office have long established corporate dining rooms and cafeterias.  Even today visitors gush at the quality visceral display and meal options employees can avail themselves of. Today more and more those options include meals and meal components targeted for home consumption.
Employees working late, or simply working long hours on a project are more and more stopping on their way out of the office by either the corporate dining room or cafeteria and picking up a meal to take home and feed the family with.  Here are a few trends from 2014 Trendcorporate that they will be seeing:

Allergy sensitivities: Gluten-free offerings were hot in 2013, and will continue to be popular.  Although few people are actually allergic to gluten, many people perceive gluten-free choices as healthy.  Non-wheat options, such as rice bowls, quinoa, and buckwheat are popular, because choosing gluten-free does not necessarily mean avoiding carbs.

Vegan and Vegetarian Choices: More consumers are looking for meatless options, at least some of the time.  With the popularity of “Meatless Mondays,” flexitarians and others looking to make healthy choices will seek out these options.

Fresh and local: Locally-grown produce and local sourcing of meat continue to be important to employees.  As vegetables take center stage in a variety of meals, the variety and quality of vegetables become more important.

Healthy Eating Backlash:  Not everyone is looking to make healthy choices, so full fat options will remain popular.  To makes those indulgences worthwhile, some employees will be looking for real cheese, fresh breads, and other “real” ingredients.

New flavors: Trend experts suggest that diners will continue to be interested in ethnic and street foods, particularly in sauces and dips.   Pickled and sour foods, such as Kim chi and other pickled vegetables, are expected to become more popular in the workplace.

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

Friday, February 7, 2014

Six Clues For Fresh Food Sales Success

Fresh prepared food Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat continues driving top line growth and bottom line profits in every sector or retail food today. The convergence of non-traditional points of distribution, an evolving grocery fresh prepared sector and lingering economic conditions have created the perfect opportunity for retail food brand expansions into fresh. The key to that success is found under the Grocerant Niche umbrella, filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.

Companies need to develop a platform that allows consumer focused meal co-creation.  Those companies need to target the car, at the office or at home consumers with fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food. That’s where brands are winning the hearts and minds of today’s retail food consumer today. 

Each sector of retail foodservice has had innovators. Restaurants started with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Domino’s Pizza, MCD, BK and a whole lot more.  Grocery started with Wegmans Metropolitan Market, Whole Foods and now fast charging Safeway and the “lifestyle stores.  Convenience Stores have Sheetz, Wawa, with fast charging Casey’s General stores.

However some of those companies have lost the pulse of the consumer, the industry and customer relevance.  I bet you know who or can name several others.  Here they are Foodservice Solutions® Six 
Clues for Fresh Food Sales Success:

Visceral Presentation

Meal Component Bundling

Individualized portions

Convenient Location for Pick-Up or Take-Away

Time Saving Consumer Focused Solution

Visit: for more Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, has extensive experience working with  and as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking

Thursday, February 6, 2014

McDonald’s and Walmart Digital Visceral Relevance Sells

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru during a recent presentation stated “digital visceral attractiveness equals contemporary consumer relevance.” In 2009 Walmart began installing and testing end-caps with video food product highlights drawing attention to what is down the aisle and promoting select branded products. Today in most every Walmart store you can find digital visceral signage except in the deli? Why?
McDonald’s constantly evolving has been testing digital signage.  Looking for new ways to “increase foot traffic, communicate broader menu options and boost average customer spends, hundreds of U.K. according to The Linney Group.
Finding initial success the digital signage test  continues to grow in scope. The McDonald’s U.K. digital signage displays have as reported provided a sales lift by as much as 11 percent on some items featured, while lifting average transactions amounts according to the case study by ComQi.
McDonald's U.K. also looked at digital signage options for behind the counter, specifically “at horizontal rows of menu displays. With a larger, increasingly diverse menu, the chain saw digital menu boards as a way to increase promotions of premium, higher-margin items without adding more static signage.”
According to ComQi the data coming back from the field suggested the digital displays had a positive impact on sales figures. The testing was done against a set of control sites with similar size, footfall, customer profile and sales figures, to get a clean read on the impact of digital in the stores, the case study said. The results indicated that content on screen positively affected purchase patterns.
McDonald’s and Walmart both understand that foodservice visceral attractiveness equals contemporary consumer relevance in all retail channels. Consumers are connected at home, at work and in the car they are viscerally alert, don’t keep them in the dark.

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 learn more at Johnson, or