Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Hello Once Again Non-Traditional Dining Formats Driving Growth


Just in case you have not been reading our blog.  Yes, we know that blogging is old fashion but so is elevating a foundation of knowledge.  Grocerant niche mix & match meal component bunding continues to drive top line sales and bottom-line profits in all sectors of retail foodservice according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Here is an just one example of how an award- winning Mediterranean fast-casual dining franchise, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill, is taking advantage of the undercurrent of change driving customer migration within the restaurant sector.  The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill launched three new non- traditional dining formats developed to support the brand’s aggressive accelerated expansion plan. Including a to-go-only restaurant, a digital kitchen, and special venue buildouts designed for airports, universities, stadiums, and more, these new formats signify the brand’s commitment to innovation and guest satisfaction as well as its dedication to franchise owners.

Bob Andersen, President of The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill, stated, “The development of our three new non-traditional formats began almost two years ago as we sought to identify changes in the habits and behaviors of our customers. Guest satisfaction has always been paramount to us, so we wanted to implement innovations that enhanced their overall experience while driving sales and profitability for our franchise owners,”

Anderson continued, “The new formats combine the best of both worlds for our brand; they offer the convenience of on-the-go dining for our customers while also giving existing and prospective franchise owners the opportunity to more cost effectively seize opportunities in prime areas while capturing more market share and increasing brand exposure.”

So, in addition to the convenience of off-premises dining, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill’s new non- traditional formats will expand the brand’s delivery and catering capabilities. They include:

§  The Great Greek To Go: Guests can quickly pick up a meal with this takeout-only format in busy retail and shopping areas. Compared to The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill’s standard 30-45- seat, 1,700-2,000-square-foot dine-in model, The Great Greek To Go features a footprint between 500 and 900 square feet with a service counter and minimal to no indoor The first Great Greek To Go opened last month at 8900 Baltimore Ave. in College Park, Maryland, minutes away from the University of Maryland.

§  The Great Greek Digital Kitchen: Diners can order online through the restaurant website or a third-party delivery platform and either have their food delivered or pick it up themselves from the Digital Kitchen Spaces are between 190 and 220 square feet. The first Great Greek Digital Kitchen is set to launch this month in Miami. Additional locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and San Diego are slated to launch before the end of 2023.

§  Special Venues: The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill has developed buildout options for a variety of non-traditional venues, including airports and travel centers, colleges and universities, shopping malls, entertainment venues, stadiums, and more. Restaurants can range from 500 to 1,000 square feet and offer a service counter with optional communal seating, depending on the space. Rollout is slated for 2024.

Looking a customer ahead, these new formats arrive during the brand’s most successful year in company history. Year-to-date, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill has signed 27 franchise agreements and opened 15 new restaurants with 10 more projected to open before the end of the year, including five non-traditional locations. “2023 has been a milestone year for our brand in terms of growth and we plan to leverage the momentum we’ve achieved this year into 2024 as we offer these new formats to both new and existing franchisees. The best is yet to come,” added Andersen.

Demonstrating its strength in the highly competitive fast-casual dining industry, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill has been recognized with several prestigious industry accolades this year. The brand was ranked among the top 75 brands in Fast Casual’s 2023 Top 100 Movers & Shakers report; recognized as a QSR 50 Contender and named among 15 Franchisors to Watch by QSR magazine; included on Franchise Times‘ Top 400 ranking of the largest U.S.-based franchises; and dubbed a Future 50 chain on Restaurant Business and Technomic’s list of the fastest-growing emerging concepts.

Additionally, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill was selected as a Fast 50 honoree by the South Florida Business Journal as part of its list of the region’s 50 fastest-growing private companies and recently made the inaugural Private 100 list, spotlighting the top private companies in South Florida by 2022 revenue.

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill® is a part of the Big Flavor Brands™ foodservice division of Starpoint Brands™. Members of Starpoint Brands represent the very best in their industries and are the mark of quality for customers, providing the ultimate in service, reliability, and value.

Is your brand looking a customer ahead? The foodservice status quo is not static.

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 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.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Grocerant Niche Meals and Meal Components


Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to drive top-line sales and bottom-line profits.  The fact is cooking and cleaning the kitchen are not high on most peoples to do list according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Here are some 2023 numbers from our team:

    1. Recent Grocerant ScoreCards found 82.3% of consumers don’t know what’s for dinner at Noon, and 61.8 % don’t know what’ s for dinner at 4PM.
    2. 68.2 % of consumers would order alcohol with a meal or meal components from a restaurant if available when ordering.
    3. Roughly 63.7% of consumers purchase prepared food items from a retail location at least three times a month.
    4. 79.6% all dinners have at least 1 grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meal component and 66.6% have two meal components per day.
    5. When asked if they wanted to cook dinner from scratch or assemble dinner from fresh meal components 91.3 % of Gen Z chose assemble from Fresh Prepared Meal Components and Millennials 83.4% chose meal components.
    6. Seventy-three percent of retail prepared food purchases are taken to go
    7. 88.2 % of consumers prefer hand held food over sit down meals with a knife and fork


That said, lets look once again our friends at Technomic and how their findings once again edify our scorecards and insights.  Regular readers if this blog will enjoy this. Here we go:

“One in four shoppers replaced restaurant meals with foodservice options from grocery stores, an increase of 17% from last year, according to FMI — The Food Industry Association’s “Power of Foodservice at Retail” report. 

Shoppers are also cooking at home more often and creating “hybrid meals” that combine premade foodservice items with those made from scratch, according to the report released earlier this month.

"For years, we’ve found that shoppers simply did not think of the grocery foodservice department when planning their meals. But, as shoppers continue to prepare more meals at home, that trend is changing," said Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods at FMI, in a statement. “Shoppers are creating hybrid meals, which include some scratch cooking with some pre-prepared items. This hybrid meal approach means shoppers want convenience and experience and they are finding it in the foodservice, deli and bakery departments.”   

The research showing increased purchases of total deli foodservice is backed by NIQ (NielsenIQ) data that shows spending at deli counters grew 4.2% to $49.9 billion year over year for the week ended Oct. 7. Meanwhile, deli unit sales declined 1.7% during the same period.

The report added that household penetration of the deli foodservice segment was over 70%, with shoppers making an average of 9.8 purchases per year. That trend is expected to continue, as more than two-thirds of shoppers (68%) plan to continue retail foodservice purchases, while one in five intend to increase such purchases.  

Sales of foodservice and prepared items also increased to $18.5 billion for the year, up 4.7%. Foodservice/prepared unit sales fell 1.8% over the same period.  

Nearly half (47%) of shoppers told FMI that cost was the top factor driving their foodservice purchases. That was followed by taste at 43%; cravings for a particular dish, cuisine or taste at 42; value at 37%; time and effort involved at 35%; availability of options (such as the proximity to a restaurant) at 33%; how soon the meal can be eaten at 26%; and healthy eating considerations at 25%. 

The report also noted that there is room for growth in the healthy options offered at foodservice counters. Only a third of consumers were satisfied with healthy options available, while 65% expressed interest in healthy and nutritional options. Similarly, two-thirds said that they also consider at least one nutritional claim while shopping in the specialty bakery department.  

"Retailers need to adopt a restaurant-like mentality for foodservice and deli. Present features that shoppers appreciate, including online ordering, easy pick-up and delivery, to boost the convenience factor,” Stein said. “For the bakery, freshness is still a top priority for shoppers as is the ability to round out their meals with items like bread rolls or dessert options. Adding technology features that offer convenience is also part of delivering in-store bakery shoppers value." 

Retailers should highlight the comparative value of foodservice relative to restaurants, because shoppers already see it as a good deal, Stein wrote Friday in a blog post co-authored with Steve Markenson, vice president of Research & Insights at FMI. Retail foodservice providers should follow the lead of restaurants by offering restaurant-like amenities. “Topping the list are having a menu available online, enabling advance ordering through apps and offering drive-throughs for pickup,” Stein and Markenson wrote. 

The bog post added that 40% of shoppers expressed the need for help with meal planning, opening opportunities for retailers to offer “meal bundles, in-store displays that bring together the ingredients for a meal, providing ideas through retailer apps and more heat-and-eat choices.” “

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

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Meal and Menu Pricing Matters


How much are you going to charge your customer next year?  Charge to much and you get your customer go somewhere else. Technology may help you determine who much to charge for any one item but at the end of the it is the total bill with tip that will stick in the mind of the consumers? 

Are you asking your customers to tip at a drive-thru for a cup of coffee?  How is that working for you?  According it Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® the price, value, service equilibrium at the end of the will be determined at the front door by you customer. Ultimately, discounting and the level or frequency is a brand decision. Below is an article on pricing we wanted to share it is by, Mike Lukianoff and he is the CEO of Extropy.

Restaurants have used differential pricing for decades—dynamic implementation is new.

Funny thing about the English language, there’s a word for just about everything. And when there isn’t we make one up to capture the essence of what we’re trying to communicate. Every profession has jargon and sometimes they turn into buzzwords. 

These words originate as a well-intentioned way to communicate technical stuff to a non-technical audience, but sometimes they catch a hype-cycle and can quickly lose meaning or morph into whatever the hype reshapes them into. Emerging technologies need to expand their lexicon when a field is advancing rapidly.


When the new vernacular changes to make things more relatable to those who will benefit from it then it’s a positive change. But when the use of buzzwords obscures existing meaning without adding clarity, or when the primary benefit of the jargon-sprawl is for companies to hitch their products to the hype-train, it only adds confusion and accelerates potential disillusionment of what might otherwise be a high-potential technology. 

The Dynamic Price Hype-Train

When dynamic pricing solutions first rolled out in delivery channels it was enough to make any data-nerd giddy. The possibilities seemed boundless. Solving the technical hurdles of making real-time changes to prices in multi-channel restaurant commerce and display systems should open the door to dynamic tech that could enhance the whole customer experience. The opportunity is much bigger than Dynamic Price alone.

However, if the technology companies themselves believe the ultimate achievement of their core innovation is setting different prices at different times or managing discounts rather than the technological achievement of the speed and efficiency with which it can be executed—well, there was already a name for that, and it’s “Differential Pricing”—and it has been going on for a long time in the industry, albeit with varying degrees of scientific discipline, strategic design and automation.   

Dynamic Pricing

When something is “Dynamic” it means that it is characterized by constant change: I didn’t decide that—the English language did. It makes a lot of sense that Dynamic Pricing in Restaurants found its home in third-party online systems where the experience is commoditized and less personal than the on-premises experience.

Differential Pricing 


Whether pricing the same product differently across locations (i.e. pricing tiers), or in the same location at different times (happy hour)- tactics for leaning into higher demand times & locations has been happening since at least the 1890’s when the “Blue Plate Special” was introduced by Harvey’s Restaurants. Since then, Happy Hour, off peak “Bounce Back” coupons, Express Menus and Prix Fixe menus have all emerged as commonly used differential pricing tactics. Restaurants have long found low-tech ways to implement ‘differential pricing,’ however the technological advancement is the ability to automate, personalize, target and simultaneously change them rapidly. If those things are not actually changing with some meaningful frequency, then it isn’t “Dynamic”. That’s not a statement of judgement—it’s a statement of fact. Offers that are differentiated by customer group, geography or other cohort are frequently used as another way of creating differential promotional price opportunities.

This has been part of loyalty programs, e-clubs and digital campaigns for at least two decades. Some are executed with “static” prices or offers and others could be genuinely considered dynamic. Some restaurant companies apply sophisticated scientific methods to differential pricing decisions and other products, promotion, and marketing decisions with the same sophistication as the best retailers, travel companies and CPG’s. That level of analysis that can ‘super-size’ the profit opportunity and has historically only been available to the largest chains. But even without sophisticated means of execution or integration with a dynamic display system, differential pricing strategy can be a significant opportunity for restaurants to drive traffic while managing their brand value perception.  

What About Dynamic Coupons?

As for automatic coupons—for the better part of the past decade that’s been called marketing automation, and while most marketing automation systems could benefit from a more sophisticated price optimization approach, most ‘Dynamic Pricing’ solutions on the market are weighting the recommended Price on high-demand periods rather than considering Price as one attribute of the total campaign (creative + impressions + target audience + TRP support + Price Point etc.).  It’s important to consider that when you isolate couponing from the rest of the marketing mix as the only lever, you’re activating a Price discount alone to drive a purchase without visibility into the comprehensive coinciding media mix. For brands that want to emphasize that they are more than a number, it is a step backward from the marketing automation systems that attempt to incorporate the ability to drive traffic based on brand differentiation rather than joining the race to the bottom on price discounting.

Ultimately, discounting and the level or frequency of it is a brand decision. Fortunately, it can now be done in a more targeted and discrete way than before. If discounting is part of your brand—then doing it efficiently and dynamically makes sense—but marketing automation systems designed to find non-price attributes that drive traffic are also more likely to acquire customers who come for what differentiates the brand. Brands would be encouraged to discern what consumers respond to and many do not respond to discounts at all—in these instances you are just giving away revenue.


More than Semantics

My point in writing this is not to ‘police’ the language—but to reduce confusion and manage expectations. There are incredible solutions making real impacts on restauranteurs and customers. However, it’s important that restaurants choose a solution that is appropriate for their brand and customer experience. Great tech fails when the use case doesn’t fit. One restaurant may be ideal for a solution that changes prices (or product features) with great frequency, another for strategically differentiated prices that don’t change with much frequency—and another that just needs the right everyday price strategy. When it’s all muddled into the buzzword of the moment it’s harder for operators to make the right decision for their brand. Semantics matter.

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 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.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Can Restaurants Gain Ground as Grocery Prices Hit Three Month Highs


Restaurants have been stubbing their toes as they raise prices to the point that consumers stopped buying the items they liked and started exploring new points of fresh food distribution according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Did you know that grocery store prices were up slightly in the month of October, matching a six-month high at 0.3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At-home food prices also went up 0.3% in July. Over the last 12 months, food at-home prices were up 2.1%.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers went unchanged in October after increasing 0.4% in September.

So, four of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in October. Pork and beef rose 1.3% and 1.2%, respectively, while meats, poultry, fish, and eggs were up 0.7%. After falling 0.4% in September, cereals and bakery prices were up 0.2% in October. Other food at home and dairy and related products spiked 0.3%.

I’m sure you noticed that during the last year, cereals and bakery lead all grocery categories with a 4.2% price increase. Other food at home is up 3.6% and the price for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs has risen 0.4%. The price for dairy and related products dropped 0.4% over the last 12 months.

By comparison, food price inflation was down in September but flattened for groceries.

The food index rose 0.2% in September, as it did in the previous two months. The index for food at home increased 0.1% over the month, after rising 0.2% in August. 

Three of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased over the month. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 0.5% in September as the index for pork increased 1.6%. The index for other food at home increased 0.3% over the month and the index for dairy and related products rose 0.1%. 

The index for cereals and bakery products decreased 0.4% in September, the first decline in that index since June 2021. The fruits and vegetables index was unchanged over the month, as was the nonalcoholic beverages index. The door is open for both convenience stores and restaurants to attract new customers if they play their cards right.

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, November 24, 2023

Arby’s Partnership with Paramount+ Adds New Electricity


How are you going to garner new customers while edifying the old and most loyal customers?  According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® a customer focused partnership just might be the answer to drive incremental brand relevance.

Have you heard that Arby’s is partnering with Paramount+ to celebrate the release of GOOD BURGER 2 by introducing a one-of-a-kind meal that enthusiasts of the long-awaited sequel are sure to recognize. The GOOD BURGER 2 Meal, available exclusively at Arby’s started on November 13, features Arby’s Deluxe Wagyu Steakhouse Burger – a blend of 51 percent Wagyu and 49 percent ground beef – a Strawberry Shake and Fries.

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.” 

Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, smaller footprint, developing brands, fresh flowers, 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 according to Johnson. 

GOOD BURGER 2 is the new original movie sequel to the iconic ‘90s feature film based on the sketch from the Nickelodeon comedy series All That. Nearly three decades following the original GOOD BURGER movie release, GOOD BURGER 2 follows Dexter Reed (Kenan Thompson) and original cashier Ed (Kel Mitchell) as they reunite in the present day at fast-food restaurant Good Burger with a hilarious new group of employees.

The new movie will premiere on Wednesday, November 22, exclusively on Paramount+, and Arby’s fans can further enjoy the movie with a nostalgia-filled meal. Arby’s Deluxe Wagyu Steakhouse Burger features an American Wagyu blended burger topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion and a special burger sauce on a toasted buttery brioche bun.

“Many of our guests have such fond memories of watching GOOD BURGER when they were younger, and in many ways, Arby’s evokes a similar sense of nostalgia as a place they grew up going to with family and friends,” says Ellen Rose, Arby’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Partnering with Paramount+ to offer the GOOD BURGER 2 Meal lets us connect with our audience in a relevant yet unexpected way – and also showcase our Deluxe Wagyu Steakhouse Burger, which is a really good burger, to new fans.”

Fans can also share their GOOD BURGER love with exclusive Arby’s x GOOD BURGER 2 merch. Available only on ArbysShop.com starting on November 13 at 10 a.m. ET, the collection includes a grey crewneck sweatshirt and a black t-shirt, each with unique designs that capture the spirit of the collaboration.

“Paramount Brand Studio is thrilled to collaborate with Arby’s to bring “Home of the Good Burger” to life through a multifaceted campaign that will immerse fans in the iconic world of GOOD BURGER 2,” says Michelle Zoni, SVP of Activation, Paramount Brand Studio. “Through co-branded creative, in-store activations, consumer products and more, we are creating shared experiences for fans that will not only build excitement for the movie’s release on Paramount+, but also for the GOOD BURGER 2 meal which is the perfect kickoff to this partnership.”

For fans in the Atlanta area, Arby’s will host a pop-up event on November 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at a Johns Creek Arby’s location to celebrate the movie and the GOOD BURGER 2 Meal, allowing fans to fully immerse themselves into the world of GOOD BURGER for the day. The Arby’s location at 5815 State Bridge Rd. will be transformed into a Good Burger with recognizable d├ęcor throughout, and the event will feature interactive activities including a Burgermobile replica that is perfect for photo ops and chances for attendees to win prizes such as GOOD BURGER 2 merch and Arby’s gift cards.

Enjoy the GOOD BURGER 2 Meal for a limited time at Arby’s participating locations nationwide.

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideas look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how our Grocerant Guru® 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: us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter