Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Menu Madness, Mediocrity, or Braggability


Restaurant customer migration has been most difficult for chain restaurants lacking differentiation.  While Millennials are seeking food discovery, others are simply tired of the same old same old.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson says “Differentiation does not mean different rather it means familiar with a twist and today that twist must be clearly defined and noticeable.” I ask do you have “Braggability’?

In Henry Ford’s 1922 autobiography “My Life and Work” he famously remarked, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” In this statement, Ford the pioneer of the assembly line was stating that mass producing the same product in large numbers was the secret to keeping prices low.

There is one problem all things being equal, people like to have things that are made just for them. Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ continually reminds us that the consumer is dynamic not static. That helps explain the evolving retail demand for a food platform that includes convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization.

Today, eating-out while eating-at-home, take-out food, and meal component bundling are leading ways in which people are looking to differentiate themselves, simplify their lives, and same time.

Prior to 2005 no one would have thought that the future of food was not a chain restaurant.  Streets were lined with Look-a-Like Menu-a-Like steakhouses, fern bars and grills, Quick Service Restaurants and food courts in every mall and city in the United States.

Not any longer today the Grocerant Niche fresh prepared food has caught on fire. Once considered uniquely American the grocerant niche is booming in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa of late.  Universal commonalities of time saving, lack of cooking skill-set, meal component bundling have taken root.  

It has become about discovery, simplicity, and transparency fresh food fast without the labels of ingredients that no one wants to pronounce let alone understand. New unique venues and menus are two of the biggest drives companies the ilk of Pinkies Liquor stores, Wawa is much more than a C-store, Hello-Fresh is a global Meal Kit success story driving new trends. Each has ‘Braggability, they are different, notable driving non-traditional meals outlets and occasions to social consumption acceptance.

Is your restaurant experiencing positive customer counts?  Are you catering to diners who are looking for differentiation? Do you have a look alike / copycat menu?

Non-traditional food retailers that serve great food in unusual surroundings offer a side of ‘Braggability’ while creating a social buzz that is becoming a roar.  More and more that ‘Braggability’ is in the form of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. The restaurant business is famously Look-a-Like Menu-a-Like outlets.  What do you give your customers to talk about? Boast about?

So think about it. Does your restaurant have ‘Braggability’? How do you package your food? How do you package a meal?  Is the meal you offer today the same as it was ten years ago? If so them maybe your restaurant is running more like yesterday that today.  Create ‘Braggability’ it’s simple it will make you noticed by new customers and notable by your current customers.


Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Whole Foods Dynamic not Static with Fresh Food


While Whole Foods continues to garner customer frequency with ‘better for you’ Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  That Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ calls some of the most impressive and expansive fresh food offerings within the industry.  Don’t for a minute think that is all they are working on.  Here is a look at six additional initiatives that are exploring to maintain customer relevance. They are:
1. Apple Pay
Whole Foods is going to adopt Apple Pay, which is supposed to make mobile payments more convenient and secure. People with newer-model iPhones and the iWatch will be able to use the mobile payment system. As an early adopter of the technology, Whole Foods could convert Apple-friendly customers.
2. Instacart Delivery Service
Whole Foods recently announced a partnership with Instacart in 15 cities, allowing the company to deliver groceries in just an hour. Customers can also buy a yearlong membership for free delivery on orders over $US35. Whole Foods will be adding the delivery service in 13 additional U.S. cities this year. Grom believes this will help the company attract younger customers.
3. WFM Wine Club
Whole Foods is partnering with Wine.com for the club. “The subscription program will begin on October 1, enabling club members to receive four shipments of six bottles each year, priced at $US125 per shipment, including shipping costs,” Grom writes. “The six wines, sent on a quarterly basis, will be curated by global wine buyer Doug Bell and Master Sommelier Devon Broglie.”
4. New Mobile App
Whole Foods’ current app, which mainly features recipes, is largely ineffective, according to Grom. The company plans to release an improved app that is expected to incorporate loyalty rewards, order-ahead, and Apple Pay.
5. Marketing Campaign
In October, Whole Foods will unveil a national marketing campaign for the first time in the company’s history, according to Grom. The campaign will include television, internet, mobile, and social ads.
The campaign will “educate consumers on product quality and their options in the marketplace, while also helping to differentiate Whole Foods from some of its competitors,” Grom said.
6. Loyalty Program
Whole Foods is currently testing a loyalty rewards program in New Jersey, with plans to roll out nationally by 2015. The loyalty program is necessary because it could give shoppers an incentive to go to Whole Foods over competitors.
Success does leave clues.  Whole Foods is dynamic not static and will find the all of the six helpful.  However its grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food that will continue to be the main driver of top line sales and bottom line profits.


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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Millennials Feast on Differentiated Food


Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ stated that “differentiated food does not mean food that is different; it means food and food products that are familiar but with a twist”.  Recent research conducted by the Specialty Food Association, found “Millennials are seeking specialty foods for snacks and on-the-go meals, … with younger adults reporting spending more on specialty food than Baby Boomers and older consumers.”
The Specialty Food Association (SFA) findings mirrored research conducted for and reported in Nation’s Restaurant News that found Millennials ‘shy away from ‘restaurants’ described as chains, but are attracted to ‘restaurants’ that design each unit almost as one-offs to fit a neighborhood.”  Here are some of the SFA results:
1.        Specialty shoppers are spending one in four dollars on specialty foods up from one in five dollars in 2013
2.        Core specialty food consumers are ages 18-44 and affluent
3.        Women are more likely than men to purchase specialty foods
4.        18 to 24 year olds were the most likely consumers of ready-to-eat food and beverages
5.         59% of U.S. adults purchased specialty food products in the last six months.

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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Battling for Share of Stomach


When Jonathan Maze of the Restaurant Finance Monitor wrote, “Quick-service restaurants account for 80 percent of all restaurant traffic, while fine dining represents just 1 percent of industry traffic. So where the quick-serve sector goes, so goes the entire restaurant business. Restaurant traffic was flat over the year.”

Is it any wonder that Foodservice Solutions® continues to talk about Hand Held Food and Hand Held Ordering? When the quick-service restaurant sector accounts for 80 percent of all restaurant traffic the shift in mind-set on how to sell, position or market fresh prepared food becomes increasingly important.

The question facing more and more food retailers is “When are consumers eating? Where are they eating? How much can they afford to pay?” According to the Pew Research Center, Americans in the upper fifth of the income bracket make 16.7 times those in the bottom fifth. Is it any wonder then at 80% visit QSR?
Grocery stores still garner the majority of consumer allocated food spending. However as the Grocerant Guru™ constantly points out, “the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food aka Grocerant Niche food is the fastest growing sector of all retail foodservice” as regular readers of this blog know.
Even Arlin Wasserman chair of the Sustainable Business Leadership Council for Menus of Change, a joint initiative of the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard School of Public Health points out that there is rapid growth of “fresh and ready-to-eat restaurant-style meals as well as kabobs, fish roulades and other foods with inventive flavors in grocery stores.  It also includes fresh and frozen ready-to-cook, center-of-the-plate choices, including marinated and portioned meats and fish.” Now as Martha Stewart says “that’s a good thing’.

Evolving consumers drive change and consumers looking to save time, reduce food waste, delegate meal planning, and simplicity  are willing to pay someone else to make these important choices for us about food.  The solution can be found in a reformulation of the Price + Value + Service formulation.

While the recession has seemingly accelerated an inequality in discretionary spending, and a shift in How, Where, and Types of fresh food sold.  Customer migration is underway.  

Here is what we at understand Foodservice Solutions® the U.S. populations continues to grow, consumers are not eating less, they are eating somewhere else.  We have helped many of those companies garner new customers utilizing the 5 P’s of food marketing.  Is your company growing customer counts? Growing Top line sale and bottom line profits?  Where are your customers eating today?


Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

2014 Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Food Marketing Success Pillars


Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson of Tacoma, Washington has been gathering retail food success clues since 1991.  Within the clues he discovered some universal food marketing commonalities.  Then from those commonalities Johnson developed, “The 5 Pillars of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Food Marketing”.   The 5 Pillars are:


If you are interested in learning how integrating the 5 Pillars of Grocerant Niche Food Marketing can edify your retail food products, brand, or restaurants while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization contact us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us  

For Corporate presentations, Key Note’s, Trade Show Topical Event Panels or Company Consultative Services contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us


Foodservice Solutions® specializes in global outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities, or a compressive grocerant niche brand integration strategy.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  or http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Unconventional Innovative Meal Delivery Draws Consumers



Restaurants, Pizza Chains, Grocery stores understand that competition has undefined boundaries and you can lose your market share to someone you would never thought.  The Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat grocerant niche is evolving fast and competition is coming from new unconventional food companies all the time. Are you prepared for competition?

Burger King and Betty Crocker Kitchen both are two of the brands expanding boundaries by delivering meals directly to homes and offices.  Generations of Americans have grown up with meals that Mom created from a Betty Crocker Cookbook and have been taken to Burger King as kids.  Today, meal delivery is not just about pizza, or restaurants brands direct to consumer are edifying customer relationships one on one.
General Mills Home Delivery
General Mills the parent company of Betty Crocker Kitchens continues testing an on-line delivery service in Minneapolis, Minnesota focused on some of consumer favorite meals.  Today General Mills direct to consumer is offering “25 frozen meal options ranging from pot roast, meat loaf, chicken dishes, pastas and breakfast omelets to pancakes. Most of the meals involve a protein, starch and a vegetable, and they have less than 700 mg of sodium.”
Betty Crocker Kitchen meals arrive frozen and have ease of preparation as a focus. General Mills understands that 50% of U.S. adults are single so each of the frozen meals are in single-serving trays with easy-to-open packaging and simple heating instructions. Branded meals edify expand and edify customer relationships.
Burger King Expanding the Brand
Burger King is currently delivering via “BK Delivers” service in Washington D.C., Houston and New York City and in growing number cities across the United Stated. The Burger King Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food is offered for lunch or dinner both at home and or office options. It’s as easy as Point, Click and Eat.
Burger King International has been delivering food in many different markets for years but this is the first for the United States. Burger King said that “Overall guest satisfaction scores have been extremely positive with our new delivery service”.  Burger King continues to evolve its offerings, packaging, and messaging around Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared meals that can be bundled for delivery.


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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Five Food Success Clues


Success does leave clues and from time to time there are industry icons that have garnered many that we link to share.  Bill Bishop, chief architect, Brick Meets Click, during at recent presentation listed five clues we would like to share today.  They are:
1-Put the Focus on Customer Solutions: That might involve "solution selling" in a way that increases transaction size, or creating subscription systems for products that lend themselves to this approach, he said. A good strategy is "building more dialogue and conversation with the community online."
2-Tell More Stories: The online space is a good platform for communicating stories about products, and consumers are very open to this information, Bishop said. "Tell stories to make emotional connections. Social media is a good way to do this."
3-Put Mobile Into Everything You Do: Marketers need to understand the fast rates of mobile usage growth and the steady movement toward mobile payment systems. Bishop said mobile needs to be considered in a wide range of strategies, including for search, email, websites and online ordering.
4-Test and Learn: There's no substitute to learning from successes and mistakes in the digital realm, Bishop said. "Digital brings information on what works. You need to read and respond."
5-Plan for E-Commerce Growth: Bishop said this type of purchasing will continue to advance and marketers need to build their strategies now to take advantage of it. "Just expect more online selling," he emphasized.

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marginalizing Legacy Food Retailers Underway


Legacy food retailers risk being marginalized by new concepts with smaller footprints, fresh prepared food and faster service.  Food retailers must understand the new dynamics in the industry and react properly in order to accelerate growth.  The focus is on the Grocerant niche.

Here is what we understand consumer discontinuity in food retailing began in 2005 and continues. New points of distribution are growing, becoming smaller in size. 

“The future has already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed.” A quote made famous by William Gibson sure comes to mind don’t you think.  Fresh prepared “better for you” food and food options are driving the grocerant niche and growing rapidly.

Successful convenience store operators the likes of Sheetz and Wawa once two notable regional players are now seeing 50,000+ unit 7 Eleven entering the fresh food meal niche and Casey’s General Stores continues to drive sales and frequency with fresh prepared food. 

Many restaurant companies the ilk of Darden and Brinker will undergo additional scrutiny in order to find a repositioned niche that will sustain them over time.  Legacy grocery stores that are seemingly stuck in the middle will simply fade away.  Wal-Mart’s supply chain advantage and industry research advantages will simply prove too much.  The added points of fresh prepared food distribution in the retail channel offered by Walgreens and Rite Aid will renew the local neighborhoods and rekindle community to that sector.

William Gibson quote: The future has already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed.” How many of you are prepared for 2010.  If you have been waiting to see what’s next?  If so you might have just missed the bus. Do you know where you’re company can best succeed five years from now?


Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  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? via Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hand Held Food Marketing Driving Change


Time starved, on the go.  Those are two drivers of change in our Omni-channel retail food world today. They are not driving change as fast as Hand Held Marketing or the new Hand Held Marketplace.
Without doubt smartphones are driving change in how food retailers market, position, and sell food today. Hand Held marketing places the consumer in control with a heightened sense of urgency / satisfaction. Mobile, and web based food ordering are no longer options for restaurants they are must have. 
When we began working with Cyberslice, CyberMeals, and Food.Com in 1999 the sales mix for restaurant takeout sales was edging up to 5% of total sales.  Today, it is closer to 10%.  Momentum driven by technology, the changing consumer, and economic bifurcation all has to a renewed focus on takeout.  Foodservice Solutions® study found restaurant sales leakage driven by the 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome
So, what can be done?  How do legacy restaurants embrace Hand Held Marketing, Hand Held Food, and an Evolving Marketplace competition? What should they be thinking about?  Footprint Malaise?  New Non-Traditional fresh food retailers? Millennials? Well, all of those and many more.
In the next five years we are estimating that 30% of sales within the restaurant sector will come from Take-Out, Take-Away.  With another 7% garnered from catering.  That is going to fundamentally change the focus, of your product mix, marketing mix, while extending your customer reach. 
Fresh food disruption is on the way.  The undercurrents of change are in the palm of your customers hand and every food retailer will soon be there as well.  How will you standout?
Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Driving Fresh Food Sales Beyond Your 4 Walls


All of the 118 restaurants at London’s Heathrow International Airport are now selling ‘hampers’ “on-board-picnic” too travelers.  Flying out of or headed home travelers can take hampers prepared by Heathrow restaurants on flights, including pizzas and meals by Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay.

The service is available at all Heathrow's 118 restaurants across its five terminals. “The 49 brands involved range from chain cafés, such as Pret a Manger and EAT, to restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionist Café and Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food, as well as Caviar House and The Gorgeous Kitchen.”

The hampers as they call them vary in price and size according to venue.  The cost range is from £5 and £50.  They must be around 40 x 20 x 10cm in size,  all are collapsible and designed to be easily stowed away under the seat or in the overhead locker. Some hampers are insulated bags designed to “ensure the food retains maximum taste and freshness at 35,000 feet”, keeping hot food warm and cold food cool, such as the ones from Caviar House which features an ice compartment.

Passengers who return their insulated bags to Caviar House are offered a 15 per cent discount on their next on-board picnic purchase. Wow what a marketing tool or tailgate product as well. “Customization is key to this program as hampers can be tailor-made to meet any dietary requirements upon request at each of the restaurants and can be ready-to-go or prepared in about 15 minutes, depending on the type of meal selected.”

British Airways (BA) said it welcomes the new picnic service, and doesn't envisage it affecting cabin space usage or creating too much extra rubbish to be cleared from passengers who bring a hamper on board.
"If customers wish to bring their own food on board, they are very welcome to,"  Where are you selling food?


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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Faster Than Fast Food


What is faster than fast food?  Airline food of course, should restaurants be worried?  Hard charging business travelers are accustom to full-flavored meals delivered to them while they work aboard a flight coming and going to and from sales call or clients offices.
There is one online German grocery store called Allyouneed.com is launching an Airline Meal Delivery service — called Air Food One— to deliver either a "classic" or "vegetarian" Airline prepared meals to your home once a week.
The grocery store is teaming up with LSG Sky Chefs, the food provider for Lufthansa airlines in Europe cater to many U.S. Airlines. They are not planning to sell the meals served in the back of the plane (steerage). They are focusing on first class meal service and business class meals.
Here is how it works; each week,” the delivered meal will match the business class menu currently available on planes. Meals are delivered on Wednesdays, and can be frozen until the want-to-be traveler is ready to throw them in the oven.” This option is consider it an alternative to restaurant takeout. This service is only available currently in Germany, but it won’t be long before hits the U.S.
LSG Sky Chefs is not stopping there with direct home meal delivery either.  They now provide a wide array of professional catering services to meet client’s increasingly diversified needs. “These range from the management consultancy of staff restaurants and clubs to providing tailor-made school meals on an individual basis; from organizing open-air parties to sumptuous VIP banquets.”
Sky Chefs is a traditional fresh food retailer commonly known as a B2B retailer. These progressive Non-traditional avenues of distribution open up the competitive landscape that is retail foodservice today. Do you know who your next competitor will be?

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Convenient Convenience Drives Customer Convergence


The convenience store sector continues to outperform other retail sectors, in large part driven by ever-increasing sales of fresh prepared food. In fact, fresh prepared food sales are the root cause of the undercurrents of disruption changing the price, value and service equilibrium within the retail food sector today.

Companies the ilk of Wawa Inc., Sheetz Inc., Rutter’s Farm Stores, Casey’s General Stores Inc. and 7-Eleven Inc. are all expanding year-over-year sales while building new units. Differentiation with quality ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat fresh prepared food is one way to created marketing buzz and customer trial. However, that model is changing and changing fast, driven by evolving demographics, technology and virtual convenient concepts.
Five years ago, many leading convenience store operators were worried about other c-stores stealing their ideas. Then, they began to think they should only worry about the day when they stop stealing ideas. Well, that day may have arrived. The current convenience store business model is under attack.
Even after seven successful years of seeing convenience stores’ retail fresh food sales leading the food industry in growth, c-store operators cannot rest on their laurels. I’ve seen how “footprint malaise” can be a leading contributor to consumer discontent and migration to other channels. Although fresh food continues to be the driver of customer frequency, retailers have seen gasoline volume tapering off with improved gas efficiencies taking a toll.
Youth-Targeted C-stores
A recent study found that Americans aged 16 to 24 who have driver’s licenses fell to 67 percent in 2011, the lowest level in roughly a half-century. This same segment of consumers would rather have a smartphone than a driver’s license.
The consumer is dynamic, not static; business models must be as well. Are you building or remodeling stores for yesterday’s customers or tomorrow’s?
While smartphones and technology are driving disruption in seemingly every sector of the economy, new technology and startups led by 20-something CEOs are now taking aim at the convenience store sector and all fresh-food retailers. Burger King’s purchase/merger with Tim Horton’s is just one example of a legacy food retailer trying to mitigate customer migration with daypart expansion, but that may not be enough.
Who’s Competing In Convenient Convenience? E?
In an omnichannel/cross-channel retail world, simply doing what you have always done and doing it the same way does not work.
Back in 2011, when Scott Stanford and Shervin Pishevar led separate investments in Uber’s $37-million Series B round, fellow investors and friends scoffed. “Why are you guys investing in a limo company?” the naysayers asked. Today, Uber is operating in 128 cities and valued at $18 billion.
Today, Uber also is offering a free delivery service called Uber Corner Store as a means to garner more customers. Yes, the company is serving young customers that don’t drive, aging customers who are too old to drive and lower-income customers who can’t afford a car full-time to drive. Since Uber’s store is a virtual location, the return on investment is much less than a brick-and-mortar store.
Stanford and Pishevar did not stop there, though. They formed a venture capital firm called Sherpa Ventures. One of their first big bets was a $28-million Series B investment in a San Francisco-based food delivery startup called Munchery, which makes meals and delivers them within one hour.
Munchery and Uber are putting the “convenient” in convenience. Now, you may be thinking that technology-based food companies will not affect your business. Tell that to Waldon Books, Barnes & Noble, Crown Books and maybe your favorite local bookstore.
Are you building a convenient brand beyond your four walls?
Technology: Once A Friend, Now a Foe
Sherpa Ventures co-founder Stanford said, “When you introduce something like Uber or Munchery, you change the paradigm with not only how that service or product is consumed, but how it is provided … If you can change the underlying economics of that delivery platform or that value chain, it puts you in a really interesting position from a financial perspective.”
When Red Lobster opens a new restaurant these days, it does it very much the same way it did 46 years ago. Sure, it will have an updated menu, décor and messaging, but the business model has not been changed. Red Lobster and maybe your company’s business model might just look more like yesterday’s business model than tomorrow’s business model.
There is a growing trend of companies that, thanks to smartphone technology, are providing efficient and innovative on-demand services. They can make your business look outdated. Consumer expectation has changed as a result of greater connectivity. From brick-and-mortar locations, consumers are fast looking to “point, click and eat” solutions for immediate consumption — no gas required.
The Migration of Legacy Grocery Stores
Legacy grocery stores are migrating into the "convenient convenience" space as well.
Sharon Price, grab-and-go food guru for the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain (formerly owned by Tesco plc), recently said: “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.”
These grab-and-go breakfast items are priced to compete with c-stores and quick-service restaurants. They will complement the lunch and dinner fresh-prepared, ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat offerings.
Whole Foods, meanwhile, not only offers fresh prepared food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it also has entered the catering and holiday meal business, as well creating a whole concept around family food and fun that continues to drive sales and bottom-line profits.
From Handheld Food to Hand Held Food Ordering
Every retail food sector has noticed a discontinuity in consumer food shopping behavior, and all are fighting for share of stomachContributing to this displacement is technology and demographics. Where once the family dinner was the bastion of American household, today 32 percent of dinner occasions are eaten alone.
Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way? How long before virtual location startups garner 5 percent, 10 percent or even 20 percent of your market share?


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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Darden’s Conundrum: Yesterday’s Strategy or Demise by Starboard Value LP


While well documented, the declining sales and customer counts at Darden’s flagship Olive Garden don’t seem to be being address by either the current leadership or proposed leadership.  Sure, Darden's sales were only down one percent when last reported.  The simple fact is the un-robust economy is inching forward and Olive Garden continues to lag the economy, the industry, and ilk niche brands.

The Olive Garden current promotion “Buy One Take One & A Movie is a short term tactic that will edify the brand with consumers. We would like to give Olive Gardens team some credit for it, but since they simply copied Maggiano’s Little Italy’ success with their Today and Tomorrow special, we can’t do that.    Copycat marketing and positioning can buy a brand time, not authenticity. Current Olive Garden leadership seemingly has lost the pulse of the consumer, the brand, and food retailing consumer relevance.

New Undercurrents Evolving

The undercurrents of evolving consumer shopping behavior, availability of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food, time-starved consumers, and lack of appropriate cooking skill-set, combined with the fact no one wants to do dishes or empty the dishwasher create what Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru calls “the emerging Grocerant Tsunami”.

It is at that intersection that legacy food retailers will either adapt or get left behind at an accelerated rate.  Olive Garden appears to be near the point they may become a Grocerant Tsunami victim.  That is very close to when Olive Gardens business model will look more like Kodak’s and Red Lobster than Chipotle’s. 

Educational Mix-Up

The 294 side PowerPoint by Starboard Value LP is more akin to a tier one graduate school exercise filled with facts based on legacy metrics.  Metric’s that while relevant in 1980’s, 1990’s, 2000’s collectively are simply not as important today.  The 294 slide PowerPoint is not road map to retail foodservice customer relevance today.

While it’s 294 slides are a great read if you’re a college student and a laudable template for novices food service consultants.  Its lack of focus on the consumer, consumer retail food consumer migration, or Olive Gardens brand promise reflecting an industry naiveté’ that simply-put creates more doubt than answers. Reinforcing the notion, not all graduate school exercises are a harbinger of success.

Without doubt the legacy tactics outlined in the PowerPoint could and can product a substantial positive cash flow and increased EBITDA.  The assumption that combining legacy tactics, using a legacy tier one business school playbook to address today’s retail food environment is more akin to asking the Minnesota Twins to play the Seattle Seahawks in a game a football. It’s not going to happen.

Evolving Consumer

The consumer is dynamic not static.  Olive Garden continues capitulating market share in large part because they are utilizing yesterday’s game plan, yesterday’s tactics.  No matter how many slides or how high Darden’s current leadership stacks yesterday’s tactics the result will be continued brand discontinuity.  While the Starboard Value PowerPoint was filled with intellectual quotient (IQ) it was completely lacking any emotional quotient (EQ).

Starboard Value LP address every legacy operating attribute ever discussed from labor, liquor, to liability with one glaring problem.  They address all with the same metric’s measures of the past that existing management has addressed.  They simply think they can do it better. Yesterday’s tactics will garner for Starboard ilk results.

Today’s Action Not Yesterday’s Playbook

The retail food playing field is not the same as it was 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago.  The industry and consumer have evolved, consumers continue to evolve.  Yesterday’s tactics don’t stack up to today’s customer relevance. 

Neither current nor proposed leadership has even begun to address how Olive Garden is stifled by footprint malaise, a leaking brand promise, employee discontent, or contemporized customer relevance. Doing more of the same will simply garner the same results.

 It’s our hope that Olive Garden’s competing proposed leadership teams focus on the customers not the each other. The PowerPoint tactics outlined in the short term would unlock some valued. Overriding the short term value it would continue to erode brand value.  Without brand value, the pace of customer migration would only increase.  If leadership is not in for the long term then customers will not either.


Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Success Drives Growth and Casey's General Stores are Booming


When Casey’s General Stores began selling Pizza and additional prepared foods 7 years ago no one not even Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson believed it will become the mammoth driver of success it has.  Johnson described it then as ‘natural fit’ with strong potential.  Wow was he right.

Bill Walljasper, Casey's General Stores CFO recently stated that sales volumes at new stores in three new states are significantly outpacing our other core states. Johnson calls that ‘Momentum’.

Casey's 2015 fiscal first quarter, ended July 31, the numbers were exceptional. Continuing driving success was Prepared food and fountain was the biggest winner of the quarter. Same-store sales rose 11.1 percent year over year, with an impressive 59.9-percent average margin according to Walljasper.

Companywide, Casey's reported total revenues of $2.3 billion, an 8.3-percent increase vs. one year ago clearly prepared food was the chain driver. In addition, Casey's continues to add pizza delivery to more locations. In its 2015 first quarter, Casey's added pizza delivery to 12 more stores, and now offers this option at approximately 365 locations. Walljasper also reported that Casey's will begin testing online ordering for pizza delivery in October.
Casey's operates 1,837 convenience stores as of July 31, 2014 the last official count. With 1,837 locations, $2.3 billion in sales for the Quarter, and fresh prepared food as a driver Casey’s is a company everyone should be keeping an eye on.  Success does leave clues.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Restaurants Apple Pay and Customers ‘Aging-In’ Customers ‘Aging-Out’


Is your restaurant ‘Looking A Customer Ahead’ or are you looking at customers today? Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will soon change the retail food landscape once again.  Is your restaurant ready to accept Apple Pay?  Many are including Subway, Panera Bread and McDonald's.
Nielsen reports that more and more of us seemingly live our lives online, connected day and night through our smart phones, tables, computers.  Nielsen found that we ”research our purchases online (63 percent), look up reviews (63 percent) and find online shopping convenient (78 percent), but we are still hesitant to make some types of purchases online.”  That research may be outdated with the launch of iPhone 6.
Restaurant sales increased once were driven by new spring and fall menu changes creating buzz around customer relevance.  Today Limited Time Offers (LTO’s) arrive at minimum every 6 weeks at major chains and monthly at most independent restaurants. More often than not today customer relevance is dictated by technology specifically ease of use, hand held information, hand held offers, and real time tweets or invitations. 
Nielsen found that “Americans’ willingness to make airline and hotel/tour reservations, and to buy electronic equipment, ebooks and music (non-download) have all more than doubled in the last three years. With Apple Pay those reluctant to pay online which according to Nielsen is about 37% might quickly change their mind. With Apple Pay your credit card number does not get exchanged during the transaction.
If your are ‘Looking A Customer Ahead’ look no further than Millennials a recent survey found that Millennials make up more than half of all ecommerce channels sales and are about four time the representation of Baby Boomers. If you’re ‘Looking A Customer Ahead’ you need to focus on Millennials for they are “aging-in” just as Boomers are “aging-out”.
Foodservice Solutions® team quantified, qualified, restaurant industry customer count declines due to the 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome and that same team believes Apple Pay will become a disruptive force moving forward. The growth of Apple Pay is more likely to be exponential than linear, just because that has been true sine Moore propounded his famous law.
You may have Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food but my point is simple no mater your menu, service style or location your customer relevance may well decline if you don’t adopt Apple Pay. The consumer is dynamic not static your restaurant must be as well.  Is your restaurant “aging-in or “aging-out?

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Perk Up Free Coffee Tomorrow at McDonald’s McCafé


McDonald's USA is celebrating its second national Free Coffee Event from Sept. 16 through Sept. 29, during which customers can get a free small McCafé coffee during breakfast hours at participating McDonald's restaurants across the country.
Breakfast beckons first Free Coffee Event was held in March, when McDonald's gave away millions of cups of McCafé coffee during a two-week period scoffing at Taco Bells entrance into the breakfast daypart.
Greg Watson, senior vice president, McDonald's U.S. Menu Innovation stated, "We know our guests are busy, especially during the morning, and a free cup of coffee goes a long way in helping get their days started. That's why we want to treat customers once again so they can taste for themselves just how great their mornings can be with a cup of McCafé coffee and freshly made breakfast."
Extending the value of the promotion while making it interactive and participatory during this event, McDonald's wants customers to "sip and tell" their embarrassing pre-coffee stories on social media with @McCafe using the hashtag #SipandTell. Select social media fans who share tales of morning mishaps, like missing the last train to work on Monday or leaving the house with mismatched shoes, will be surprised with custom gifts and experiences from @McCafe to help them start their morning off right, the company said.
www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Bottled to Sell


Mix and Match meal component bundling continues to drive success in the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food space.  Today young multicultural and GenX shoppers are interested in staying fit the most frequent drinkers of bottled water. Are you selling more than soda fountain beverages?

In a recently report from research firm Packaged Facts found that, “the younger generation, particularly the 35 to 44 year-old age group, shows the highest likelihood of consuming bottled water.…Additionally, adults who drink large quantities of bottled water are more likely to be part of a multicultural population segment -- 31 percent more likely than average to be Hispanic and 36 percent more likely to be African-American.”

The multicultural makeup of those who drink bottled water also implies a larger household with children under the age of 18, according to Packaged Facts. In terms of lifestyle, those who drink bottled water are more interested in staying physically fit and more likely to drink thirst quencher/activity drinks as well.

Because bottled water consumers fall within a younger age range and thus have above-average receptivity to advertising messages, the Packaged Facts report  suggest manufacturers and retailers to leverage social media and cell phones as avenues to promote such products.

The study, Bottled Water in the U.S., was conducted among 60 million adults who consumed an average of one glass of bottled water per day within the past seven days. 


Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  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? via Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.