Thursday, June 4, 2009

Convenience stores and supermarkets have focused on ready to eat and ready to heat foods meeting consumer demand while building unit margins. “Might it be we (restaurateurs) have missed something? Could it be that the consumer is shifting? As Nielsen’s channel blurring study has stated year after year, channel blurring is not in the mind of the consumer; it is only in the mind of the BRAND MARKETERS! Restaurant brand marketers are more focused on controlling the brand than cultivating it. The industry equilibrium is resettling and it is all about share of stomach.
Harkin back to the original Eatzies a great example of a GROCERANT days when consumers flocked to that concept. They had a solid point of differentiation. It is my belief that copy cat niche chains have no marketing differentiation. Restaurants, C-stores and grocery operators are all faced with this new unstable paradigm. Grocery stores and C-stores on the East Coast have repositioned themselves with solid research, new highly educated staffs, and a laser focus on the consumer. Here is how I think they are winning: Packaging, Price, Portion, Portability and Purpose.
Our industry is reluctant to spend on research, quick to hire recycled industry vets, and even faster to copy what worked during the past 6 months, while looking no further. We have a half-full glass, we can adapt quicker, we have more quality touch points with the consumer, we can solve the consumers time starved problems faster, and most importantly, the consumer looks to our industry for leadership. I for one know we are up to the challenge.”

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