Saturday, October 19, 2019

New Technology Brings Fresh Food to You



Food trucks have delivered fresh food to work sites, workers, and offices for 100 years or so.  However, like everything else technology has evolved and one company is now using advacned robotics to drive incremental success according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
Ono Food Company, is launching later this month the first of a fleet of mobile food trucks powered by advanced robotics that’s right advance robotics in a food truck. 
Ono Blends, is billing its smoothie shop on wheels, as the first mobile restaurant in the world that uses cutting edge technology and advanced robotics to power everything from ordering to food production. The company plans to launch Ono Blends in late October at a popular Venice, Calif. food truck lot, where it will share space with Roy Choi’s pioneering food truck, Kogi BBQ.
Regular readers of this blog know that “differentiation does not mean different it means familiar but with a twist” well  Ono Blends Co-founder and CEO Stephen Klein stated  “There’s no one else doing this,”
Klein, worked at grocery delivery company Instacart and robotic coffee bar Café X in San Francisco, clearly garnering the insights, for his innovative, incremental food platform, Ono Foods that launched in July 2018 with his business partner Danny Fukuba. Fukuba previously led robotic assembly for SpaceX and worked at Zume Pizza, which uses robot pizza cooks. Johnson says this guys know food, technology and portability all hallmarks of the grocerant niche.
Ono Foods, focus is on state-of-the art food trucks that move around and feed people in so-called food deserts. “We believe the future of robotics is modular. It can be placed in different locations,” Klein said.
Garnering $2 million in capital raised from investors, the team spent the past several months developing a menu of healthy but affordable custom blended smoothies. Signature and customizable shakes are made by an assembly line of machines outfitted in a 56-square-foot space inside a 23-foot long Mercedes Sprinter.
 Interactive and participatory the team built a viewing window is built at eye-level so customers can watch their smoothie being prepared. Klein stated “Ono’s robotics system resembles the automation at fast-casual bowl concept Spyce in Boston, which made national headlines when it opened in May. Famed chef Daniel Boulud is an investor.”
Let’s talk making fast food fast and fresh, Ono robots can crank out a 20-ounce avocado & matcha smoothie in about 60 seconds. The cost: $5.95. Klein said the price is a bargain when compared to brick and mortar shops in the Los Angeles area.
Consider that Moon Juice, which has three shops in boujee Los Angeles enclaves, sells its wellness-centric shakes for $12 to $14. Klein continued “Fast-food options usually fall into two buckets: fast, healthy, and unaffordable, or fast, unhealthy, and affordable and nothing in between,”. “Combining our backgrounds in tech, automation, and culinary fine dining, we knew we could fill this void to give more people access to healthy, high-quality food.”
While technology is crucial to the business model, Klein said food quality is paramount. “The quality of the food is still the most important thing. Automation is the means to the end,” he said. Every drink is “designed to keep people energized and rejuvenated throughout the day,” the company said.
Technology is important for all food retailers according to Johnson.  Ono Blends said advanced robotics improves order accuracy, minimizes food waste, reduces water usage, and improves speed of service.  Food safety is also enhanced with self-cleaning technology.
Is you brand getting faster, fresher, or closer to you customers? Are you focusing on relevant customer touchpoints that are both interactive and participatory?
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869




Friday, October 18, 2019

Ten Pillars for Branded Fresh Food Sales



Success does leave clues and Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has picked up enough to share.  Today, grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to drive top line growth and bottom line profits within the Restaurant Sector, Grocery Sector, Convenience Store Sector and at new non-traditional points of fresh food distribution.
So, let’s look at what Johnson found for selling grocerant niche fresh food:   
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
Imitators. Imitation is the sincerest of flattery and you're probably not a 'brand' until you have competitors trying to copy you. 
 
Market leadership. Top brands are usually looked at as leaders in the markets they compete in. 
 
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. 
 
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 main
For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, local educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit www.GrocerantGuru.com , www.FoodserviceSolutions.us or call 1-253-759-7869


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Aldi Give the Customers What They Want



Back in the day circa 1989 Willard Bishop Consulting founder and food industry icon Bill Bishop inform all that the number one challenge grocery retailers has to solve was get customer in and out faster.  It was a clear message, simple to understand, but counter to what legacy retail grocery stores companies wanted.
What they wanted to do and were hell-bent on was to keep consumers in the stores longer to drive a ‘larger basket size’.  How did that work for them?  Not so good.  Today, there are 62.9% fewer legacy grocery stores than there were in 1989.  Now consider this one company hear him and did something about it.
That company Foodservice Solutions® and they put their Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson to work to do something about it.  He told anyone that was will to listen.  One company got the message somewhere that company is Aldi.

Aldi now with close to 2,000 US stores is touting its stores as easier to shop, and new Kantar research commissioned by the hard-discount grocer finds that consumers agree. Finding “Of 700 customers ages 18 to 64 who participated in the study, 77% agreed that Aldi is "simpler to shop" compared with other grocery stores. Aldi said the findings also show that its stores are “at least 20% faster to shop” versus Kroger supermarkets and Walmart Supercenters.”
So, it does not stop there, “Nine out of 10 respondents who shopped at Aldi also agreed that the retailer is "more cost-effective" than other grocery stores, according to the study. Aldi added that a 2019 Dunnhumby report ranked it as the No. 1 grocery retailer for price and Market Force Information has recognized Aldi as the value leader for eight consecutive years.”
Scott Patton (above), vice president of corporate buying for Aldi U.S. stated "Today's shoppers are pressed for time and money. We pioneered a model that gives people more of both,”, … “If you ask me, this is a winning combination for grocery shopping."
Is your brand developing a sales platform as dynamic as today’s consumers? Or, is do your stores and sales platform look more like yesterday than today or tomorrow?
For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, local educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit www.GrocerantGuru.com , www.FoodserviceSolutions.us or call 1-253-759-7869


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Millennials Drive Meal Delivery Today but Who’s Next



Fresh prepared foods that are Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat continue to drive every sector of retail foodservice today according to the most recent Grocerant ScoreCards conducted by Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
Success does leave clues and today Millennials are passing on to their younger siblings how they like to eat, what they like to eat and most importantly how they mix and match meal components from multiple sources combining grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat with Ready-2-Heat fresh prepared foods into a ‘perfect family meal’ according to Johnson.
In new research from The NPD Group they point out that “Gen Z is the only major demographic projected to increase its use of restaurants in the next five years, as Millennials, Gen X and baby boomers are all expected to eat more meals at home”.
Our evolving demographics reveal that the grocerant niche filled with fresh prepared meals and meal components that are portable are in favor with today’s consumers according to Johnson growing in the c-store sector at 9.3% a year.  Consider this the massive size of the Millennial and boomer generations, in particular, means millions of customers will be moving away from restaurants in the coming years driven in large part because they were the first generations to embrace and drive ‘The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome’.
So who is Generation Z, or those born between 1995 after 2015 will enter into a peak restaurant life stage by 2024, and an estimated 3.6% increase in population the next five years. There is one problem with that number it was generated based largely by immigration, and we all know immigration has come to slow crawl and the projected number may be one the high side.
Those of us of a certin age know that while Gen Z in on the go, Millennials, Gen X and baby boomers will enter life stages that move them away from eating at restaurants and toward eating more meals at home.  There is no indication they want to cook from scratch or do dishes but they want to eat at home more according to Johnson.
The NPD report found that in-home food preparation trends show that 14 percent of meals eaten in the home included an item that required no time to prepare, up from just 11 percent in 2013.
Helping to cut into restaurant sales as regular readers of this blog know is Sam Polk, co-founder and CEO of Everytable who stated “Today, more than ever, people want meals that fit within their busy lives,” …“At Everytable our mission is to make it as simple and affordable as possible for our guests to enjoy healthy meals by stopping into one of our storefronts, through our subscription service or via our Smartfridges in offices or on a campus.” All that plus customer facing technology, delivery, and office catering.
As regular readers know Everytable meal components can include salads, grain bowls and hot plates, are made from scratch in a central kitchen, individually packaged, and then sent to one of seven grab-and-go storefronts.
Once again get this Everytable’s menu items are billed as being similar in quality to fast-causal or casual-dining eateries and are priced according to individual neighborhood to ensure affordability for all. Everytable meals in underserved communities start at $5 while meals in more upscale communities start at $7 to $8.
Polk continued “85% to 90% of the meals offered are eaten off premise. The concept’s heaviest users are meal preppers / working professionals, who make lunches for the week ahead of time, or families that need to fill in lunch and dinner gaps throughout the week.
Everytable’s concept has been so well-received that Polk said plans now call for 20 to 25 new locations throughout Los Angeles within the next year, with later expansion into new markets. Restaurant customers are not eating less, they are eating somewhere else for less according to Johnson.
Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, www.Linkedin.com/in/grocerant/ or www.twitter.com/grocerant/

Battle for Share of Stomach



Tuesday, October 15, 2019

McDonald’s Chain Restaurants Must Evolve


Global chain restaurant powerhouse McDonald’s back in the day became a major investor in Boston Market, Chipotle, and Food.com all concepts focused on grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that was portable they understood consumers were evolving and wanted ‘better-4-you’ meals and meal components both fresh and fast.  
Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® for Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® was on the team and drafted the ‘position’ paper for the undercurrents of change driving these major investments.  There was one problem; McDonald’s wanted to run them like a fast food restaurant. It worked for them so why not these new consumer driven concepts.  Well the answer is simple the attributes of customer relevant meal components changed, evolved with the consumer and new concepts and those customers have moved forward.   
Now McDonald’s U.S. division is changing the company it uses to license and distribute its McCafé coffee in retail outlets, announcing a long-term agreement with Keurig Dr. Pepper on Thursday. The licensing and distribution agreement will end the Chicago-based fast-food giant’s deal with Kraft Heinz, an agreement that launched McCafé products in U.S. retail shops beginning in 2014. So, here is our question.  Why?

Battle for Share of Stomach



NRN’s Johnathan Maze says “Kraft Heinz is backed by 3G Capital, which financed the creation of Restaurant Brands International, owner of rival Burger King—though a McDonald’s representative said that was not the reason behind the change.”
Maze continued “Under its new agreement, Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP) will continue to be the exclusive manufacturer of McCafé K-Cup pods in the U.S. But it will also take on responsibility for coffee sourcing, distribution and marketing of the McCafé brand in K-Cup pods and bagged and canned coffee formats in retail and e-commerce channels beginning in the second half of next year.”
“Linda Van Gosen, McDonald’s vice president of menu innovation stated, “We are prioritizing McCafé as a go-to coffee brand for our customers, and we are confident this move with strengthen the impact of the McCafé brand in retail,”.  Ok, that sound good but lacking consumer facing innovation once again this looks more like operational efficiencies a tactic and retreat rather than a strategic path forward.
Consumers are dynamic not static brands focusing more on operational efficiencies a tactic than innovation will not fare well moving forward.  Its simple consumers are dynamic not static food retailers must evolve their business model for consumer relevance or risk capitulation a large base of existing customers.
Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? 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.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Food Retailers Struggling for Employees the Solutions is Simple



Regular readers of this blog keep telling me ‘the food industry is not brain surgery’.  They also ask why is it so difficult for so many?  So, we asked Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Are you ready for his answer?
Our blog readers are right the food industry is not brain surgery.  When in doubt Johnson says look at companies growing same store sales, store count, and profits as they leave success clues for those who or unsure of simply uninformed.
Having problems getting employees do what Sheetz is doing Pay MORE, while evolving your business model.  Sheetz was one a C-store now its customers consider it a fast-casual fresh food restaurant that sells gas. If your menu, product offerings look more like yesterday than today’s successful retailers its time your business model evolves.
Battle for Share of Stomach

Sheetz is investing $16.8 million to boost its store-level wages, edifying its relationship with employess driving relevance and word of mouth recruiting. Sheetz's goal is to offer competitive wages, which helps attract and retail top talent.
Travis Sheetz, president of Sheetz stated "As a family-owned and -operated business, we know our employees are our most valuable asset," … "We are deeply committed to investing in our employees and creating a great working environment where they feel valued and have the resources they need to succeed."
"Our goal is to provide competitive wages and full-time hours to as many employees as possible, as well as providing quarterly bonuses as a way for employees to share in our success," Travis Sheetz continued.
Now, this latest investment comes on the heels of a $15 million investment in employee wages in 2016. That investment coincided with a significant effort to shift more store employees from part-time to full-time work. Don’t use justification or rationalization as an excuse not to keep you company relevant for consumers or your employees.
Looking for success clues of your own? Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced food marketing and business development ideations. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities, technology, or a new menu product segment.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, www.Linkedin.com/in/grocerant/  or www.twitter.com/grocerant

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Grocery Delivery Growth is Troublesome for Restaurants


While growing one sector of your grocery business is a good thing it may not be the best thing overall for your business but in this case it’s even worse for the restaurant sector according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma WA based Foodservice Solutions®
Edison Trends recently reported that during September, Publix accounted for a 37% estimated market share of Instacart orders, followed by Costco at 24%, Kroger at 16%, Wegmans at 12% and H-E-B at 11%. A year earlier, Whole Foods Market (20%) was second behind Publix (34%) and ahead of Costco (18%), H-E-B (15%) and Kroger (13%).  So, what this tells us is that consumers across the country are eager to embrace both technology, delivery, and grocerant niche fresh food fast according to Johnson.
Edison made note that Wegmans has moved into the top five following Instacart’s wind-down of its service with Whole Foods Market stores earlier this year. In December 2018, Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said the company was phasing out its partnership with Whole Foods, which under the ownership of e-tail giant Amazon has been ramping up online grocery delivery via the Prime Now service. Ok, no news their Amazon has been great for Whole Foods and Amazon will do the delivery of Whole Foods fresh food and more, just watch.
Grocery delivery is still just a minnow in the ocean of grocery food options today according to Johnson, yet its delivery that is helping upend legacy restaurant year over year customer counts. Sept. 30, 2019, the top five grocery retailers by Instacart orders were Publix, Whole Foods, Kroger, H-E-B and Costco, according to Edison’s analysis, which was based on more than 50,000 transactions. Data was scaled so that the highest monthly number of orders was set to 100.
The fact is the restaurant sector owned MEAL CONVENIENCE from the 1950’s through the 2,000’s.  The restaurant sector was innovative beginning with fast food restaurants, the drive-thru, and delivery only restaurants where once pizza was the king.  The restaurant sector has capitulated innovation for copycat menus, marketing, and meal bundles according to Johnson.
Today, the only thing innovative within the restaurant sector is their justification for price increase. If success leaves clues and it does competitive pricing, meal bundling differentiation, and new avenues of distribution will resonate with consumer over price hikes.
Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant/ or twitter.com/grocerant

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Applebee’s Late to the Game but now is on the Field


Regular readers of this blog remember the confluence of the great recession and restaurant sector customer defections, and high-end restaurant closing or being sold for pennies on the dollar.  When Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® was first to note that there was one stand out; that was Morton’s Steakhouse
Back in the day 2009, the recession was kicking into high gear, Subway was selling a $5 Footlong and one brave high-end steakhouse introduced “Power Hour”.  ‘Power Hour was a happy hour that runs from 5-6:30 pm, Monday through Friday at the restaurant’s bar and lounge that included include select $4 beers (Sam Adams Seasonal, Budweiser and Bud Light), select $5 glasses of house wines, both red and white.
Pricing matters Morton’s surrived the recession better off than most white table cloth restaurants and other chains the ilk of Ruby Tuesday and Applebee’s and their franchisees did not do so well in the minds-eye of Johnson.
It took 8 years from then for Applebee's to sell sold its first $1 cocktail but now 10 years later Applebee’s Dollarita, a $1 margarita, has since become a hallmark holding the chain together. So, why did it take 10 years? Is you chain simply doing what they always did and doing it the same way?  How’s that working?
Well, the Dollarita came on the heels of a period of considerable changes for the brand. It had a new president, John Cywinski, who came on board in in March. There was new leadership at the parent company, too, when CEO Steve Joyce came on five months later. He replaced Julia Stewart, who was pushed out earlier in 2017 after having spent the prior few years trying to elevate the Applebee's brand with moves like those fancy steaks. What is you chain not doing they could?  Grocerant niche Foods? The Price, Value, Service equilibrium’s focus need to be on the consumer.
Applebee’s announced its first national third-party delivery partnership, with DoorDash, and a few weeks later announced another partnership with Grubhub. Again, late to the game. Why? Will it work.  Hell yes! Consumer want delivery regular readers of this blog have know that since 2009.  Where have you been?
Consumers are dynamic not static.  All food retailers must be dynamic as well. Don’t wait 10 years to edify your relationship with your consumer. Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Kroger Stumbles Forward: Looking more like Yesterday than Today or Tomorrow



Back in the day there were 1,225 thriving malls in the US and everyone of them had a food court that kept shoppers from getting hungry while they shopped according to Foodservice Solutions® Tacoma, WA based Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson.  Today, less then 700ish, are doing well and many others are are doing all they can to stop stores from closing and leaving the mall.
The food court could not save the mall and it will not save legacy grocery stores the ilk of Kroger according to Johnson.  So, when Kroger opened new store in downtown Cincinnati, complete with a ‘food hall’ aka food court it was a sure sign that looking backward for Kroger was easier than looking a customer ahead in the minds-eye of the team at Foodservice Solutions®.
Kroger can call it what they want but to food professionals it’s a food court and it will be consumed with problems the ilk of, operator - turnover, marketing, and access problems others retailer have gotten away from. Kroger’s food court features a full-service bar and five local Cincinnati restaurants: 
·         Kitchen 1883 Café and Bar
·         DOPE! Asian Street Far
·         Django Western Taco
·         Eli's BBQ
·         Queen City Whip
One miss-step can be over looked.  However, our Grocerant Guru® recently visited a Kroger remodeled Fred Meyer store (Pictured above).  It looks like a grocery store from 1990 who’s focus was fresh food?  We ask why?  Sure, Kroger invested $ 12 Million in Main & Vine three years ago only to close it 19 months later.  How could it be that they do not leverage any lessons learned? We ask, why would you remodel a store and have it reflect yesterday customer expectations, not today’s or tomorrows?
Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food 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 have the clue you need to propel your continued success.