Thursday, May 25, 2017

Grocerant Fresh Food Growth Drives Disruption

Consumer migration from legacy CPG products, legacy grocery stores, filling the pantry has hit an ebb and the preference for Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is now leading according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson.
The undercurrent foodservice battle brewing is one for Share-of-Stomach as the lines between Restaurants, Convenience stores, Grocery stores, meal component channels grow ever thinner and the battle for top-of-mind intensifies.
Meal Kit’s, Meal Delivery, Restaurant Advance ordering Pick-Up stations, Food-trucks, and Kiosk at farmer’s markets are all full of customer relevance, authenticity  expanding consumers’ options for buying food away-from-home
Last year (2016) foodservice Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food generated more than half of food industry sales, exceeding grocery by 1.2%, according Acosta. The NRA’s forecast for U.S. foodservice is outpacing inflation with more than 5% expected gains as consumers face lower food and fuel costs.
The halo of ‘better-for-you’ encompassing fresh prepared meals and meal saving consumer time empowering choice in mix and match components is another leading factor driving customer adoption according to Johnson as outlined at our Grocerant Meal Mash-Up last week during the NRA show. 
A new report from Mintel shows “79% of sandwich-buying consumers are willing to pay more for premium sandwiches. And seven in 10 say they want high-quality sandwiches made with all-natural ingredients.” Clearly the ‘halo’ includes hand held food for immediate consumption.
That same ‘halo’ extends to “Hot food offerings are an integral part of convenience store foodservice with nearly nine in 10 consumers (88%), surveyed in 2016 by Technomic, stating they buy hot food items at c-stores, and purchasing is up, with 44% claiming to buy hot foods more often than last year.”
So are you wondering if Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food is still booming take a look at this VideoMining study that “demonstrated food-to-go boosts the average transaction in convenience stores by more than 14%. Sales increase by more than 19% for evening/late night baskets.”
Most legacy grocery stores lack authenticity within their offerings in the grocerant space. Many legacy grocery stores excelled at being all things for everyone back in the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s however that was a strategy that worked yesterday is not working today and will not work tomorrow. 

What’s the problem with the grocery sector they lack a cohesive grocerant strategy.  What they have done is ignore or deny the core values of the grocerant niche and simply thrown a plethora of tactics into an existing footprint and new locations as if grocerant niche products were a new CPG product.  We all know how many CPG products don’t work out.

Individually most of tactics have some merits but when bundled together they do not create an avenue for customer migration but rather they create a highway without a reason to stop.    Consumers are not blurring the line between Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food so please retailers quite trying to make grocerant offering a CPG product. That CPG mind-set has been an Achilles heel for many trying to regain customer adoption. If you do you risk continued decline in market share.


Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how www.FoodserviceSolutions.us 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, May 24, 2017

Subway Branding the Sweet Sounds of Success

Success does leave clues and Subway the world’s largest restaurant chain is expanding the value of their brand messaging this summer with music, food, fun, and consumer interactivity and Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® believes that is a very good way to expand the ‘halo of better-for-you’ beyond the four walls.
This summer Subway, will be serving free mini sandwiches, among other goodies and experiences, at five music festivals.  From May to August, Subway will take an interactive lounge known as “The Green Room, baked by Subway” on a roadshow to festivals, starting with this past weekend’s Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The Green Room baked by Subway, is a restaurant, a performance space, and a lounge, “it will bring a “backstage” experience to the front of the house for all festival goers. Featuring live acoustic and DJ sets, meet-n-greets with artists and semi-famous internet people, a live-stream of mainstage performances, virtual games, prizes, sweet amenities like cookie-flavored lip balm (no joke), and free mini sandwiches, festival-goers can chill out and recharge however they please.”
The Green Room is about much more than FREE MINI SANDWICHES (and high speed Wi-Fi, air conditioning, exclusive performances, phone charging stations, and personal refreshment stations) but don’t get me wrong the Free mini sandwiches will be big hit. It’s about th, expanding, evolving, and redefining, Subway as a brand with consumers.
Karlin Linhardt, SVP of Marketing for North America at Subway stated “The Green Room provides an experience festival-goers can’t get anywhere else. It’s also a chance for people to connect with Subway in a fresh way, and reconsider how they see our brand.” “Subway is a part of people’s lives everyday, and we want to expand into new territory to exceed the expectations of younger customers,” 
There will also be a sauce bar and fresh-baked cookies “offered sporadically,” while thirsty folks can chug new vitaminwater that will be served at select festivals. If success does leave clues this is the right step at the right time for a brand consumers enjoy. 

Do your marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kai Market Fresher Faster Foodie Favorite


Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to drive consumer adoption, customer migration, retail foodservice disruption all while expanding fresh food to millions of urban dwellers and suburban soccer mom’s according to the team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Uwajimaya’s a staple for foodies in Seattle has opened a new concept that is even more foodie friendly called Kai Market. Kia Market has about 5,500 sq. ft. is filled with options that are both Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat all can be eaten in the store or simply as grab-and-go meal and or meal components. 

Kai Market aims to answer the question What’s For Dinner with fresh food fast.  Kai has more foodservice options with an emphasis on fresh seafood, along with a limited selection of grocery items which follows the consumer trend of empowering fresh food discovery and backing away from legacy CPG products according to our won Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.

Uwajimaya’s CEO Denise Moriguchi stated that targeting urban office workers is their goal. Moriguchi noted “There are just so many office workers—it’s super-dense,.. I would say there’s not enough lunch and dinner options right now; there’s definitely a number in the area, but just for the number of workers, people want more choices and more options for primarily lunch, but a little bit for dinner as well.”

Looking a little like Whole Foods Kai Market is somewhere around 70 percent grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat foodservice and 30 percent grocery according to Moriguchi. This new store focuses heavily on grab-and-go, it also offers a range of Asian snacks popular at the more traditional Uwajimaya grocery stores, including Japanese crackers, cookies and candy, as well as beverages ranging from tea, coffee and soda to beer, wine and sake.

Moriguchi continued “The amount of grocery that we have is basically enough to complement your seafood,”. “We have a small selection of produce, enough to make a side noodle dish or something like that also.” The company anticipates a rise in residential population, so it’s possible that the product assortment could shift over time to target more than the grab-and-go lunch and dinner crowd. But Moriguchi believes that Kai Market will provide shoppers looking for more Asian grocery options with a taste of what can be found at the full Uwajimaya stores.

This small footprint store filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food with authentic Asian flavors will drive incremental top line sales while garnering customers from other avenues of fresh food distribution including legacy Grocery stores, C-stores, and Fast Casual and Fast Food Restaurants according to our Grocerant Guru®.


For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us  the 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. Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information

Monday, May 22, 2017

Domino’s Digital Strategies Dazzle for Chipotle, Panera Bread


Restaurant customer migration continues to confound many companies within the restaurant space.  The team at Tacoma, WA base Foodservice Solutions® continues to believe that the only way to prevent that migration is to listen to your customers.

Since 2008, chain restaurants have experienced -14.8 percent same-store traffic growth. Furthermore, throughout 2016, total food and drinking places saw over 2 percent higher sales than chain restaurants, according to Black Box Intelligence’s Market Share report. Essentially, chains are losing their customers to other independent restaurants and thus are suffering the decrease in traffic. We note with the exception of McDonald’s.

Domino’s digital success continues and there are two companies that that have edified their digital strategy and are bucking the trend.  Those companies are Panera Bread, and Chipotle.  Let’s look at what they are doing:
Panera Bread Co. recently reported that digital orders are now 26 percent of total sales at company-owned locations. Panera has added online ordering and kiosks at those locations, and consumers have clearly responded. And same-store sales at those units increased 5.3 percent in the company’s first quarter, and rose 11.5 percent over two years. By comparison, franchisees’ same-store sales are up 7.3 percent over two years. Panera is one of the stronger restaurant chains in the country right now. 

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. reported that digital sales increased 53.5 percent in the first quarter. The company used “smarter pickup times” technology that assigns pickup times based on transaction volumes. And the company has a second make line to help with those orders. Chipotle’s same-store sales increased 17.8 percent in the first quarter, far above the 15-percent growth analysts expected. The chain has a long way to go to recover sales it lost last year, but it was a strong report.

While one of the last major retailers to adopt technology Domino’s did it right, did it big and is garnering share of stomach in the pizza space.  Domino’s Pizza Inc., where digital strategies and innovative marketing have combined for a three-year same-store sales increase of more than 30 percent enough said.

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that is portable continues to garner customer adoption. In fact two-thirds of McDonald’s customers, use the drive-thru. And 61 percent of all restaurant orders right now are takeout, according to market research firm The NPD Group. 

Technology is making all of that possible.  Integrating technology into your operation, marketing, messaging is of paramount importance today according to the team at Foodservice Solutions®.


Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how www.FoodserviceSolutions.us 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, May 21, 2017

The Leading Aspirational Restaurant Brand in America is McDonald’s


Success does leave clues and McDonald’s does so many things right day in and day out that many don’t notice all that they do.  One key element of the undercurrents of McDonald’s ongoing success is the fact that they have never strayed too far from their roots offering consistent quality, service, and value. Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson notes that “McDonalds’s maintains the proper equilibrium with Price, Service, and Value.

Regular readers of the blog know that there are many reasons that McDonald’s has maintained it number one ranking as the most Aspirational brand in the United States as noted in Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant ScoreCards rankings. However while the food industry trade publications gloss over many important facts one key element continues to be the fact that 42,900 Million US consumers continue to receive food assistants as of May 2017.

Families with children receiving food assistance would like nothing more for their child to visit McDonald’s and has a kid’s meal with a toy and fruit.  A visit to McDonald’s may not seem like a treat or splurging too many but to nearly 43 million Americans today that continues to be the case. McDonald’s is has been and will continue to maintain leadership within the fine family food space.

Since 2008, chain restaurants have experienced -14.8 percent same-store traffic growth. Furthermore, throughout 2016, total food and drinking places saw over 2 percent higher sales than chain restaurants, according to Black Box Intelligence’s Market Share report. Essentially, chains are losing their customers to other independent restaurants and thus are suffering the decrease in traffic. We note with the exception of McDonald’s.

The undercurrents of a weak economy continue to haunt many restaurant chains in a new study from RetailMeNot Google Survey found:
1.       Four-fifths of customers say they are likely to visit a new restaurant for a discount, and nearly haf of all customers say they’d return to a restaurant even after a first poor impression if they were offered a deal.”
2.       Families are more concerned about cost saving than solo diners.
3.       Two-fifths of diners (40%) are most likely to search for deals when they are dining with the kids.
4.      Three in 10 consumers (31%) look for discounts when they are dining alone.
5.      When consumers seek out dining discounts, they tend to have certain types of foods in mind Pizza, Mexican, and Italian 39% of consumer want to see more deals available for those and 36% want more deals on burgers at restaurants.
6.      53% of consumers have at least one food and dining app on their phone.
7.      24% have restaurant review apps on their phone and use them.
8.      21% say they have a specific restaurant app on their phone
9.       20% have a third-party app on their phone.
10.   38% of consumers surveyed are willing to travel over 10 miles for a restaurant discount.

Is your brand Aspirational? Are you pricing your company, meals, or menu out of reach of most consumers?  Are your customer counts declining? Have your customers migrated to new non-traditional fresh food outlets simply for price?

Do your marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success. 


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Food First Technology Second

Remember the old adage Food First for those of us of a certain age the quality, consistency, flavor and freshness of the food will always be number one.  In fact Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® stated “our Grocerant ScoreCards indicate today the number one reason to return to a restaurant, or prepared food vendor is the ‘quality, flavor, and freshness’  of the food.
In a new study by AlixPartners, however drew some contrast as to how a food retailers must evolve while maintain quality, flavor and freshness including the fact that 44 percent of consumers cited “want to eat healthier”.   Not surprisingly, is a growing gap between millennials and baby boomers when it comes to technology. The Study found:
1.       Forty-two percent of millennials said that technology is “very” or “extremely” influential in their decision to dine out.
2.       That number plummets to 18 percent for baby boomers.
3.       In total, 42 percent of respondents say they’ve never used mobile technology for dining out and that only 40 and 35 percent, respectively for the generations, care if there is free WiFi in the eatery.
4.       Loyalty programs also appear slow to catch on. Only 19 percent of consumers said loyalty programs are “very” or “extremely” influential in their decision-making process—a number that is up 5 percent from a year ago.
5.        Forty percent polled said they haven’t joined a loyalty program. However, those who are in one are using them more frequently (36 percent compared to 31 percent from a year ago).
6.       Fifty percent of millennials in the survey expressed interest in the availability of call-in-advance delivery. Baby boomers, at a 46 percent clip, prefer traditional “in-the-moment” delivery.
7.       Nearly 75 percent said they order delivery from the same restaurant routinely, and more than half (53 percent) credit that to a lack of good options.
8.       Thirty-eight percent said they would like to see more casual-dining options, while 37 percent want more fast-casual offerings, and 34 percent hope for additional fast-food outlets.
9.        A whopping 71 percent said they prefer to order directly from the restaurant, showing that third-party services aren’t for everyone.
Kurt Schnaubelt, managing director at AlixPartners edified the team at Foodservice Solutions® findings noting that Food quality (63 percent) was number one in their study followed by  price (57 percent) led the way as motivators. Also, 56 percent said that grocery stores are better options due to price.

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, May 19, 2017

Meal Mash-Up Grocery Stores vs Restaurants and More

Starting in July 2017, the foodservice price war begins as consumers are not eating less they are eating somewhere else. Chain Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores, Drug Stores, and Dollar Stores are battling for a larger share of stomach and those winning are offering meals and meal components for less. Beginning this July PRICE will play a leading role in driving retail foodservice customer migration  in all retail foodservice channels according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson

The undercurrents of customer migration will be a larger problem than talks of union’s at Wal-Mart or Health Insurance at chain restaurants according to Johnson.  Why a PRICE war and Why now?  Simple LIDL.

According to Black Box Intelligence’s Market Share report “Since 2008, chain restaurants have experienced -14.8 percent same-store traffic growth. Furthermore, throughout 2016, total food and drinking places saw over 2 percent higher sales than chain restaurants” The simple fact is consumers are finding meals for less in other channels and migrating to retailers for lower cost meals and meal components according to our own Grocerant Guru®. 

recent study from AlixPartners revealed that consumers are planning to cut back on fast food and fast casual visits throughout 2017. “Diners who visit quick service or fast casual restaurants at least twice a week intend to cut back on their visits between 8 and 13 percent. Furthermore, 56 percent of surveyed consumers are planning to cut back on dining out in favor of prepared meals from convenience and grocery stores.”

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food from Meal Kit offerings from Hello Fresh, and Plated to IKEA’s family meals in store or Heat-N-Eat are garnering customer adoption. Everytable, Green Zebra Grocery, Amazon Go, Snap Kitchen or other new non-traditional points of fresh food are creating disruption, garnering incremental customers from legacy food retailers. Simply put consumers are not eating less they are eating somewhere else.  Why a PRICE War Why Now?

Lidl plans differentiate itself in an outdated US grocery marketplace as it opens 100 stores in the US by next summer and says its products will be 50% cheaper than competitors.  That’s differentiation.  This is nothing new for Lidl they have already taken market share away from UK supermarkets, the company said it looks to do the same in the US by fueling the price war with products that cost 50% less than competitors.


Restaurant customers facing every increasing menu pricing have been seeking alternative avenues of fresh food distribution since 2008.  There is no evidence that the trend will ebb anytime soon according to the team at Foodservice Solutions®.  Restaurants must evolve faster or slip away.

Aldi currently is the fastest growing grocery store in the US with over 1,756+ stores is planning on having 2,000 stores open by 2018.  As regular readers of this blog know Aldi is also focused on PRICE and is changing the retail foodservice landscape.  Aldi continues to garner a larger share of the traditional grocery store business.  Even grocery store consulting firm Willard Bishop found that traditional grocery’s share of market slipped to 44% in 2016, four points below five years earlier.

Lidl with a $4 Billion investment is going to do the same.  All the blabber in the industry trades is meaningless about incremental change at legacy grocery stores as most are more reliant on slotting fees than customers for survival and stock their shelves with food they get paid to carry not customer driven choice.  Thus consumers are migrating and PRICE will simply accelerate the migration. 

The only question to ask is who will be the next Marsh, the next A&P, the next Burger Chef?  Walmart is positioning for the Middle which compounds headaches for all other legacy grocery stores.  Differentiation will drive success moving forward and Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food will be the engine of that success.  Traditional grocery stores must evolve faster or slip away.

Will the Dollar store sector prove more viable than the grocery sector as the dollar store sector add Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food? Will Ikea, Costco, Amazon Go, Snap Kitchen, and Pret A Manger garner your customers?

Consumers are not eating less they are eating somewhere else.  Are you offering meals that are magical? I hope so. Are you offering Meals that look more like yesterday than tomorrow? If you are then Price will be the key drive from July 2017 until December 2018.


Success does leave clues www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  is the global leader in grocerant niche business development.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  Has your company had a Grocerant ScoreCard completed, Grocerant Program Assessment, or new Grocerant niche product Ideation?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Meal Kits in Every Channel of Foodservice


Convenience Stores, Dollar Stores, and Grocery Stores are developing meal kit programs to drive top line sales and bottom line profits with a valued add customer relevance according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson. The battle for incremental sales is now focused on meal solutions and meal kits reduce consumer’s consternation over What’s for Dinner.

While in the US the Meal Kit business sales are reported to hit $1.5I Billion in 2017. In fact Piper Jaffray published a note in June 2016 predicting that the Meal Kit market will reach $4 Billion near term and $36 Billion in annual sales by 2026. There is huge opportunity in grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals and meal kits solutions. 

In-store meal kit sales totaled $80.6 million in the year ended March 4, 2017, up 6.7% from the previous year. In 2017 25% of the US Households have tried a meal kit.  Meal kits are as our Grocerant Guru® pointed out three years ago training wheels for Millennials.

Meal kits have added customer relevance as they are perceived as healthier than other meal options available to them. In fact, 81% of consumers in a recent Nielsen survey said they believe meal kits are healthier for them than prepared foods from their local grocery store.

The undercurrents of success and adoption of meal kit by both your and old as meal kits are delivering: 92% of adults say they’re satisfied with the quality of the produce in their meal kits, 91% are satisfied with how the meat is packaged and 66% say they eat seafood more when they purchase meal kits according to the Nielsen study.

Nielsen study also found that, 44% say would be influenced to start buying them again if they helped save time on meal planning.  86% say they’d like them to include a dessert and 36% say they’d like meal kits available at their local grocery store. And as with any consumer product, price is always a key influencer, as 46% of consumers say they would buy meal kits if they were less expensive.

What we know now is that Dollar stores will offer meal kits for less money, Convenience stores will offer meal kits with ease and quick service, and grocery stores will offer meal kits in that are awkward to find in the store, CPG focused not customer focused, and spend more time tweaking their meal kit location in the store, than focusing on Why customer want them in the first place.  Restaurants on the other have will double down drive cost and consumer solution based meal kits garnering incremental Share of Stomach.


Success does leave clues www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  is the global leader in grocerant niche business development.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  Has your company had a Grocerant ScoreCard completed, Grocerant Program Assessment, or new Grocerant niche product Ideation?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us