Today, the line between restaurants and food retailers is growing ever thinner. The fight for America's food dollars continues to intensify as consumers find fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food options at a wide and growing array of outlets across almost every retail channel: convenience stores, chain drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores, club stores, vending, clothing stores and even more non-fresh retailers like dollar stores.
Manufacturers, retailers and restaurants worry about choice overload, consumers have embraced their new choices and show no signs of returning to the old ways. This fight is taking place in what is called the grocerant niche. It’s a fight for share of stomach with no end in sight.
Regular readers of this blog know that the restaurant industry is not an industry known for trying to be first as in fastest to market with an ideation, food or technology advance. In the United States the larger the chain in almost all cases the more slowly they are to adopt something than a smaller chain or independent restaurants will. Today, the focus and goal of most chain restaurants is simple feed one meal at a time in the restaurant while protecting and edifying the brand.
Historically chain restaurant leaders have denied the credibility of start-up competitors as non-relevant. The pizza sector is a great example; evolving from family dinning independents to national chain of "Red Roof" Italian, then to delivery only outlets and now take-N-bake is garnering market share in the pizza sector. (Note: Home Made Pizza Company and Papa Murphy's are further examples of take and bake pizza operators.)
Non-Traditional Points of Fresh Food Distribution Matter
At the intersection of the consumer, fresh prepared food and technology we fine that consumer eating behavior is evolving and is now beyond the control of traditional food marketers. Evolving culture and lifestyle, demographics along with the new uncertain economy are all putting pressure on the American food consumer:
Demands of work, economic shrinkage, demands of raising a family, commuting, social interaction, kid's after-school activities, all contribute to a food marketplace where convenience vies with price over legacy brands. Recent advances in food packaging combined with new points of non-traditional food distribution have empowered consumer choice. Americans are embracing these choices expanding shopping trip boundaries even as legacy marketers cringe.
Are you a legacy food retailer? Why should you care if Walgreens is selling fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and made-2-order sandwiches? Why should you care if Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Wegmans are selling Ready-2-Eat and or Heat-N-Eat fresh pizza? Why should you care if Coinstar is selling Seattle Best Coffee at 1,000 locations for $1.00?
Sometimes business is simple. You should care because they are selling it, and you are not! The fastest growing sector of retail food service for the past four years has been the Convenience store sector. The C-store sectors growth in large part has been driven by fresh prepared food. Non-traditional avenues of distribution are growing, gobbling market share while establishing new patterns of consumption, price points and customer loyalty.
International corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes available contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Grocerant Guru™ at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions. His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. www.FoodserviceSolutions.us