Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Robomart On-Demand Foodservice

New avenues of fresh food distribution continue to open up.  Each one seems to have the ability to garner new customers.  Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® asks, where are you customer shopping after they leave your store, and why?

Robomart is a Santa Monica, California-based company hails itself as the first store-hailing platform. So, what does that mean?  Ok, consumers can us the proprietary Robomart app, then they can hail an automated store on wheels and have it arrive at their location in less than 10 minutes, making it the fastest delivery service currently available, according the Robomart press release.

Robomart partnered with Miami-based REEF, an operator of mobility and logistics hubs and neighborhood kitchens in North America, to manage product stocking, tagging, scanning, integrity and replenishment. The goal, fresh food fast and flavorful was clearly top of mind according to Johnson.

Ali Ahmed, co-founder of Robomart, stated, "We're incredibly excited to launch Robomart in West Hollywood and introduce consumers to the latest innovation in retail,"… "In the past decade, online delivery services have grown substantially and filled a need in the market; however, there are still many challenges that make these services undesirable for consumers.

Ahmed continues, "With Robomart, we're disrupting the industry and have received incredible feedback from consumers on how this is the most convenient way to shop — delivering the fastest and most seamless shopping experience — which other delivery services simply can't offer.”

The press release stated that, initially, the company is rolling out two Robomart types: a Pharmacy Robomart and a ready-to-eat Snacks Robomart. It is developing a Grocery Robomart. Johnson, believe that the full potential will not be reached until the focus on daypart meals with Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals and meal components.

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Rock Bottom Restaurants Rolling Out the Barrel Just for You


After mowing your yard in the summer there is nothing in the world better than a cold beer according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Rock Bottom’s food marketing team must know that as well as they have rolled out a program at some Colorado locations where members of the Beer Barrel Club get their own keg and a $300 credit for refills.

That’s right, Colorado branches of the Rock Bottom brewpub chain restaurant have starting a $300 beer subscription program aimed at boosting both off and on-premise business. So, get this, members of the Beer Barrel Club get a 128-ounce steel beer keg for use both at home or at a unit’s table; a $300 credit for 12 refills; free cleanings of their kegs; and a special membership card. Now that will quench your thirst.

Beer Barrel Club members or any customers can buy a filled beer keg without joining the club for $170, which Colorado units will clean and refill for $27.50.

Then patrons can use the full-sized keg at their table (it contains eight pintsized servings). Nonmembers who don’t want to pop for the full size can buy a filled Table-Tap Barrel for $27.50, which they can take- home at the end of the visit.

Regular readers of this blog know that Rock Bottom is the second major brewpub chain to launch a beer subscription service. BJ’s Restaurants in California offer customers the chance to join a “beer club” for $30. In exchange, they’re offered both to-go and on-premise perks, including early access to new BJ’s beers.

Do you think a subscription program could work for your brand?   If so, you’re not alone as others the ilk of Panera Bread said it has found great success with its coffee program, where customers pay an upfront fee in exchange for a daily cup of coffee at no additional charge. Then there is Dickey’s Barbecue Pit sends boxes of meat to members of its subscription service for prices ranging from $99.99 to $280 as regular readers of this blog know.

How well do you know your customers?  Are you trying to build sales the same way you did in 2010, 2015, or 2019? Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food 2015, 2019 if so; how is that working for you?

Do your marketing tactics look more like yesterday than tomorrow?  Visit GrocerantGuru.com 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. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Frozen Food Court Continues Courting Restaurant Customers


At the intersection of branded food sales and consumer demand grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food continues to resonate with consumers.  While new avenues of distribution continue to open-up driving customer trial, the frozen food court is increasingly playing a larger and larger role for many families according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

While, frozen foods proved to be a pandemic powerhouse in 2020, when concerned consumers stockpiled their freezers with longer shelf-life items during the height of lockdowns. The latest report finds 30% of Americans expanded their freezer capacity in 2020 and are still shopping to keep their freezer stocked.

According to American Frozen Food Institute’s (AFFI) 2021 "Power of Frozen" report found frozen food sales up another 9.2% this year. The report compiled information from IRI in partnership with Arlington, Va.-based FMI – the Food Industry Association the report aims to bring an understanding of consumers' perceptions, attitudes and behaviors regarding frozen food. 

Should restaurant worry about price, well according to Johnson if you look deep into the 2021 "Power of Frozen" report it shows that consumers are invested in their frozen foods. “Preparing more meals at home during the pandemic highly favored frozen foods and their longer shelf life — and even prompted consumers to invest in additional freezer space. The report found that 30% of Americans expanded their freezer capacity by adding a second fridge/freezer combination or a stand-alone freezer in 2020.”

So, consumers are not stupid, they are not letting their investment go to waste, consumers continue to highly engage with the frozen food aisle. Over the last 52 weeks ending late May 2021, frozen food sales are still up 9.2% versus the same period a year ago. This is 4% higher than the 5.8% increase in sales seen for all foods and beverages. Branded food retailers need to consider entering the frozen food court and take seriously the opportunity to place their brand in and on a avenue of distribution that their customers have not abandoned.

In a Battel for Share of Stomach

Are you Missing OUT? 

The report continued finding, in May of 2021, frozen foods were still 22.6% over and above their 2019 pre-pandemic baseline. This is still much higher than the 14.8% increase in sales for total foods and beverages. Across all 2021 months to date, frozen food gains have consistently been above 20% versus 2019, with matching unit and volume gains.

Here are some of the growth drivers from the report that prove the demand for frozen foods will remain:

·         The three levers of growth: Every brand, product or category has three ways to increase sales: having more people buy, having people buy more and having people buy more often. Frozen food sales gains are the result of hitting this growth trifecta. Virtually every frozen food category saw an increase in household penetration, trips and the average basket size — an accomplishment not all departments can boast.

·         The 360 win: Many categories play in breakfast versus dinner or indulgence versus health. But frozen foods cover it all: functionality, indulgence and variety. Lunch became a huge growth opportunity during the pandemic, as consumers emphasized time and convenience. With many more consumers continuing to work from home part or all of the time, frozen foods are expected to continue to make inroads across meal occasions.

·         Online food and beverage growth: While all retail channels gained over the past 15 months, it was food e-commerce that exploded, with a 2020 gain of 84%, according to IRI. Online now represents about 10% of all food sold in the United States. Also, online growth has not yet plateaued, with expected market penetration of about 12% by the end of 2021. Here, too, frozen foods ride a growth trend, with very high online conversion and penetration.

The grocerant niche continues to be influential as “The 2021 "Power of Frozen" report shows particular strength in frozen seafood and meals. There is no doubt that grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat prepared meals and meal components are the key drivers of our evolving food consumption patterns.

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Visit GrocerantGuru.com 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, July 24, 2021

Wendy's Breakfast More Talk than Chalk

Chalk one up for the home team is an old adage we have all heard.  Touting the success of a new limited time offer or menu item is not the same as touting the success of an entire daypart; according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Marketing messaging, total unit sales, and profitability have to go hand in hand. It is still an open question to some Franchisee’s if reentering the AM daypart for the third try will be sustainable over time. Not to worry, The Wendy’s Co., has not given up in a sign that expanding messaging is still needed, new meal deal promotion began recently with a bus-stop giveaway in Providence, R.I., that was aimed at building awareness according to the company.

The bus stop pop-up in Providence’s Kennedy Plaza is just part of the company’s $15 million effort this year to get Wendy’s consumer’s’ to think Wendy’s breakfast first. Since price matters for all dayparts, they added a new systemwide meal deal of two select breakfast sandwiches — a choice of Sausage, Egg and Swiss Croissant; Bacon, Egg and Swiss Croissant; or Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit — for $4 through early August.

Todd Penegor, Wendy’s CEO, in May’s first-quarter earnings call, said breakfast awareness was “a trial game.” This third trial of the AM daypart is costly for franchisee hard pressed to find enough workers as it is according to Johnson.

Not only do the Wendy’s franchissee have to battle Burger King, McDonalds, 7-Eleven, Wawa, they have to battle Dunkin Donuts in the Northeast for share of stomach.  The company said the July 14 pop-up giveaway was “part of a larger competitive breakfast takeover in the Providence market, dubbed #DitchTheDonut.” The promotion included bus-cling and billboard advertising and a sweepstakes at Instagram’s @DitchTheDonutSweeps through Aug. 13. The sweepstakes award of “breakfast for a year” will be in the form of $550 in Wendy's gift cards.

Battle for Share of Stomach

That battle for share of stomach will require both time and money according to Johnson. Penegor said on that call,  “What we need to do is continue to get folks to come in and try our food,”. “

Penegor, continued “We’ve got to continue to create awareness to bounce those folks back from lunch and dinner into breakfast, which then drives incrementality to our business, because it’s another visit, another frequency that gets picked up along the way,”

“Awareness leads to trial,” he said. “Trial leads to repeat trial, and the repeat leads to growth.”

At the intersection of franchisee profits and brand messaging the consumer will be both the judge and jury deciding if the third try at breakfast for Wendy’s will work or not?  What do you think?

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Dollar General Makes Legacy Grocery Stores Look Lame


Now that Dollar General operates more than 17,408 stores in 46 states you would think they would act like most legacy brand retailers but they don’t. Dollar General since its inception has sought after a product and price point differentiation that consumers have been migrating too according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

While most legacy grocery retailer’s stores look more like 1995 than 2022 food retailers, Dollar General customer know that their stores look more like a 2022 food retailer than a Dollar Store of 2010, 2015, or 2020.  So, what’s up with that?  According to Johnson, “outstanding C-level leadership, that rewards risk, values customers, delivers on brand messaging.”

There is no doubt a large swath of consumers admit they do not like change either.  What consumers do like is spending less time in a grocery store, and paying less for branded products. Customer migration continues to tilt in the direction Dollar General and away from legacy grocery stores.  

So, Dollar General's top merchandising priority in recent years has been the addition of freezer and cooler space in new and remodeled stores to facilitate the addition of more refrigerated and frozen products, according to the report. Its stores that offer fresh produce provide the top 20 items typically sold in grocery stores and approximately 80 percent of the produce categories carried by most grocers Dollar General press reports state.

Now, Dollar General Corp. plans to add produce at up to 10,000 stores over the next few years, up from approximately 1,300 locations that currently offer produce for sale. So, who needs to go to a grocery store now that Dollar General can feed you for less and help you get in and out of the store faster.

In conjunction with the news of its fresh food expansion, Dollar General announced a new partnership with Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. In conjunction with the partnership, the operator made a $1 million donation to the organization to provide access to food resources in rural and otherwise underserved communities and to proactively address food insecurity across the country.

Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos, stated, "Food insecurity impacts communities across the country, and given that Feeding America projects that 42 million people may face hunger as a result of the pandemic, we want to be part of the solution for those facing this issue," … "With our extensive store footprint, often in communities’ others have chosen not to serve, Dollar General is uniquely positioned to help combat hunger by offering convenient access to a variety of nutritious foods at affordable prices."

This move helps drive customer relevance in both messaging and deeds. Dollar General’s work with Feeding America builds on existing efforts by providing in-kind donations of perishable foods to help nourish and feed those in need. At full capacity, Dollar General will provide up to 20 million meals a year, according to Vasos. Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food is in most Dollar General stores today, that’s why they look more like a food retailer of 2022 than most legacy grocery stores.

Is your food retail brand evolving or clinging to the past? Customers evolve, points of distribution evolve, and retailers that don’t evolve with the consumers are simply built to fall.

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 us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Thursday, July 22, 2021

White Castle 100 Years of Customer Relevance


How long has your company been in business? I bet for most of you it has not been 100 years?  You don’t have to be the largest company in your niche to be successful, but you do have to stay relevant according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions. 

Too stay relevant you must first understand your customer, needs, wants, and taste if you are in the food business and there is no company in the United States that is better at understanding their customers and the difference between their customers and their competitors’ customers.  Even more important the team at White Castle understands how to drive new electricity into the brand with relevant messaging.

So, in honor of its 100th birthday this year, White Castle is ramping up its brand visibility with fun new merchandise made in partnership with other well-known and popular brands. It’s White Castle’s boldest step yet into co-branded activations that really dive into its history and culture. You can do that when you know who your primary and secondary customers are according to Johnson.

In case you did not know, White Castle, has long had an online shop, House of Crave, selling everything from socks and aprons to water bottles and beanies. And White Castle has partnered with the celebrated New York City design house TELFAR to create several expressions of its team member uniforms, including a special collection for its 100th birthday.

However, this new collaboration is  with companies like PUMAFunkoDGK and others that are helping to bring the Home of the Original Slider to life for Cravers in new and unique ways.

Lynn Blashford, chief marketing officer at White Castle, stated, “Their products really tap into the essence of White Castle,” said. “We’re such a one-a-kind American brand, and thanks to these new partnerships, our Cravers can engage with our brand in one-of-a-kind ways.”

So, global sports company icon PUMA created a collection of sneakers and clothing honoring White Castle. The PUMA x White Castle collection features two footwear styles: the classic PUMA Suede and the Future Rider. Both silhouettes boast White Castle’s familiar blue-and-white color palette with striking blue accents, bright pops of orange, co-branded detailing, including images of the famous Castle, and contrast stitching for a fresh, new look.

The White Castle collection, which also includes a hoodie, shorts, and various co-branded graphic T-shirts, will launch June 25 at PUMA.com, at PUMA’s flagship store in New York City, and in-store and online at the Foot Locker family of stores (Foot Locker, Champs, Footaction and Eastbay). An additional PUMA x White Castle collection will be released this fall.

White Castle also partnered with Funko to create the “Pop! White Castle Slider,” a vinyl figurine of a Slider in the classic White Castle box. Funko is a pop culture consumer products company that designs, sources and distributes licensed pop culture products, including vinyl figures, action toys, plush apparel, board games, housewares and accessories. The White Castle Slider figurine is part of Funko’s “Foodies” line, which features other popular food brands.

DGK, an American company producing skateboards and related apparel, is introducing a new line of products in conjunction with White Castle. It will launch late this summer.

White Castle is working with a host of other brands, as well, to develop more White Castle-inspired merchandise. The family-owned business has teamed up with Brandgenuity, its exclusive licensing agency, to make brand partnerships and collaborations a priority for its 100th birthday.

“We’re taking our brand partnerships to the next level with these and other activations,” Blashford said. “What better way to launch our second century in business than by feeding the souls of new and existing Cravers with distinctive new merchandise?” How are you creating new electricity?

According to Johnson, “Brand relevance is in part driven with innovation in new food products in combination with new avenues of distribution all of which are the platform for the new electricity.”  That said, what are you waiting for?

Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, developing brands, unique urban clothing, grocerant positioning, Fresh food messaging, autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, plates, glasses, cash-less payments, digital hand-held marketing.

All retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different.

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 us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Independent C-Stores Struggle to Compete with 7-Eleven


How can independent C-stores keep up with the grocerant niche fresh food fast undercurrent over flowing from 7-Eleven driven by customer consumption and adoption?  Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® stated, “it’s not easy, however they must first simply follow the trends in foodservice and put their own local spin on it; that creates differentiation with a twist. After all differentiation in foodservice does not mean different, rather it means familiar but with a twist.”

In the case of technology, independent C-store must google 7-Eleven, for software that is like 7-Eleven, is expanding with for its new Mobile Checkout contactless shopping solution.  Don’t worry there will be a company out their filling the void with a product you too can license.

After all right now, 7-Eleven has Mobile Checkout available in more than 3,000 participating 7-Eleven locations in 31 states and Washington, D.C., The service allows 7-Eleven mobile app users to quickly scan items and pay for purchases without waiting in a checkout line. Here's how it works:

·         Download the 7-Eleven mobile app from the App Store or Google Play, or update the app to the latest version to ensure it has the Mobile Checkout capability.  

·         Register for or log into the 7Rewards loyalty program.

·         Open the app in a participating store and tap the "Mobile Checkout" icon on the homepage.  

·         Scan the barcode on each product to add it to the basket. Discounts or promotions will be applied automatically.

·         Pay for purchases in the app using Apple Pay, Google Pay or a debit or credit card. Customers can also pay with the 7-Eleven Wallet feature of the app.

·         Confirm purchase by scanning the on-screen QR code at the confirmation station before exiting the store or show it to a sales associate to confirm payment for the purchase.  

7-Eleven Digital Senior Vice President Raghu Mahadevan, stated, "After over a year of living through the pandemic, Americans have a new perception of what convenience looks like. For many, it's a contactless shopping experience without waiting in line," … "Luckily, we were already testing Mobile Checkout and had begun expanding 7NOW home delivery to hundreds of markets before lockdowns occurred. Now, we are accelerating the expansion of Mobile Checkout to ensure customers can shop at 7-Eleven the way they want to shop: safe and convenient. It's what people expect from the world's leading convenience store — we plan to exceed those expectations and take the in-store shopping experience to the next level."

7-Eleven is offering 10 times the 7Rewards loyalty program points for every purchase made using the new feature in the app for a limited time. Now how can they afford that?  That’s not the right question.  The question you should be asking yourself is; What is the Cost of New Customer Acquisition?  Your goal should be to acquire new customers.  The keep them for life.

While, 7-Eleven was the first convenience store chain to develop proprietary technology for a full frictionless shopping experience from start to finish. Mobile Checkout works on both Android and iOS devices and is available for most 7-Eleven merchandise that has a bar code. Some items still require cashier assistance, such as financial services and age-verified products like alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets. Don’t worry, search the internet you too can find a solution.  Help you store look more like tomorrow than like yesterday.

Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit GrocerantGuru.com 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.