Monday, August 31, 2009

To Go or Take Away foods contribute greatly to customer satisfaction levels.

Americans today are increasingly seeking food that is FRESH, high quality, nation of origin Authentic and possess the flexibility of portability. The Grocerant niche fills the bill for the consumer with ready to eat or ready to heat better for you food with portability options. If you were at Whole Foods in Bellevue, WA, Saturday between 5PM and 6PM you would have witnessed lines of people around the store all at the prepared ready to eat or heat food stations. Each was selecting different combinations of familiar items all for obvious deferent meals.
I have heard some say that the industry is “is obsessed with issues of portability and convenience to the point of absurdity” ! Which may be true; however if that’s what the consumers are demanding, standing in line for will I for one say let’s give them more! Traditional meal periods are considered Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. The US Government has been reporting on four meal periods for twenty plus years. QSR’s like Taco Bell and McDonalds have witnessed this and currently market to the “forth meal” or “snack” items/meal. CPG manufactures are catching on as well. In a world where consumer choice is equivalent to empowerment, I say Grocerants should focus on what the consumer wants.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Grocerants the niche opportunity for Restaurants, Supermarkets, Convenience Stores, Grocery & Dollar Stores.

Creating or identifying distinctive differentiated food consumable’s as an entity with identity by day part in an area Grocerants will excel at. Understanding the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure and the consumer’s drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new food consumables places me in a select industry grouping. The food value proposition equilibrium for the consumer today balances; better for you, flavor, and traditional products all blended into something with a twist. In industry speak, differentiated does not mean different to the consumer it means familiar. The Grocerant sector is not so different as to be noticed daily but it’s influence on consumers and growing niche players is creating quite a stir.
While building out of this niche is exciting business enterprise many are undertaking. Outside eyes can bring new light and assist in your pace of growth, redevelopment and deployment of your new products, dayparts and consumer favorable positioning. Grocerant players are now identifying distinctive differentiated food consumables from around the globe to fill the opportunity. Success leaves clues; transformational times require focus and experience with a qualitative edge. Utilize a balance of IQ & EQ combined with vast and broad industry historic information blended with today’s relevance and you will be successful in the Grocerant niche.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What food menu is “better for you”?

With redistribution of foodservice marketshare is underway. The price, value, service, authenticity equilibrium is being reset and like many times before it is the customer that continues to lead the way. Most interesting is evolving consumer unique utilization of “better for you”.
Leading QSR companies are now bringing multiple product offerings to market all with the understanding of “better for you”. We find continued consumer interest in the so-called “better for you” offerings which are “green”, indulgent side (calorie, fat, salt loaded), or LTO’s featuring price points all the while still interest in low calorie options. “Better for you” means more than one thing.
If stock price and same store comps are a gage of which company is the winner at this point in time; the “better for you” price point, wins. We know after three successful visits, a new customer is formed. Those companies who are garnering new customers today will continue to be rewarded at least for two or three years. Success does leave clues. Is your compnay reading the right clues?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Central Market

I enjoy every time someone Emails me and asks have you been to Central Market? My answer is Yes, I have and I enjoy it as much as they obviously have. Here is an example from Central Markets home page that shows well they get it!
“Grab & Go
When time flies, you need a meal that’s ready for you on the fly. We’ve got restaurant-quality dinners for one, two, four or the entire family — just heat and eat. “

If you look at the picture above also from their home page you will see that it tells a story. That story in a visceral format, and it looks like a restaurant quality meal. I am convinced that is just what they are trying to convey. The Grocerant niche is about quality food presented in a contempaory manner that allows one to have what ever they perceive as a home cooked meal without the hassle of detailed cooking. Most families buy multiple different components to the meal because today today’s family do not all eat the same entrée for dinner, lunch or breakfast. Flexibility and convenience are key components and meals can be found from McDonalds to Wawa, Central Market to Safeway.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Restaurant sales well slump in the fall: winners and losers will surface.

Restaurant sales that appeared to have stabilized over the past couple of months are headed for a very difficult September and October! Several over extended chains and many more franchises will get a test of their financial stability. Consumer discontinuity in food purchasing patterns is generating new interest in alternant avenues of food distribution. This interest is found in a plethora of venues including C-stores, Mobile trucks, Dollar stores, Kiosks and prepared food sections of Grocery stores. Utilizing restaurant industry style branding and product positioning, these new points of distribution are currying favor with consumers for authentic look, flavor & price points.
The speed at which media hypes the state of the economy/recession and utilizes sensationalism to do so is a force that even the best restaurant companies have yet figured out how to over come. There has been a surprising lack of leadership for new products, packaging and price-points on behalf of many a restaurant company. The malaise of mediocrity continues at the C-level of the restaurant industry.
There will be winners companies like grocer H. E. Butt, Central Market and Wegmans, Convenience stores the likes of Redner’s Markets, QuickChek and 7 Eleven. Restaurants like Subway, McDonalds and Quiznos. Many others are in for a very difficult fall. Success does leave clues and from innovative new products to newly competitive niche positioning these companies are on track. Redistribution of foodservice marketshare is underway. The price, value, service, authenticity equilibrium is being reset and like many times before it is the customer that continues to lead the way. It is happening again and outside eye’s can provide a window to new opportunity; grocerant niche assessments and or product advantage assessments are available from Foodservice Solutions in Tacoma, WA.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Food authentic equals transparency.

Grocery stores like Wegmans, Metropolitan Market and Central Market utilize dramatic visceral displays to portray the food in the prepared sections as fresh, authentic and qualitative. However much of the industry credit should go to Phil Romano who created such concepts as Fuddruckers, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Eatzi’s. His concepts are consumer interactive, participatory, with visceral production customer vantage points located for customer creditability and authentic self actualization.
Subway does and outstanding job portraying freshness within their units. The product is made in front of the customer, empowering consumer choice with aromatic bread baking as a proactive kicker for the consumer buy in. Transparent Menu’s may soon become the next standard. No more hiding behind the pictures! Consumers are now demanding transparency concerned with more childhood obesity, more fat in food, salt and calorie options run amuck. Let’s give credit to Burgerville USA, for a Great Job with printing on the receipt information with recommendation on how to reduce calorie’s on your next visit. All Grocerants consider this as an option for their ready to eat or ready to heat foods.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fall food for Tailgating can build you brand!

Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets can benefit greatly by branding their products utilizing regional tailgating preferences while building their private label ready to eat ready to heat grocerant style food. The opportunity in private label ready to eat grocerant sector has never been better.
Football season is back, people are going to the games win or lose they enjoy the tailgate party. Most companies now have category managers, brand managers or product private label brand managers. Resetting and repositioning products with regional flavors in a consumer empowering fashion with bundled food choices from the Bakery, Deli, Produce and Prepared Meal section will drive sales for at the game tailgaters and for the home tailgate party!
Restaurants and C-stores are now benefiting as well with portable food sales. Those whose who chose to position, package and present their product and brand within the ready to eat and ready to heat grocerant niche creating entrée’s with identity will create a platform for customer loyalty, top line sales and bottom line profits. Last week in Chicago at the 2009 Foodservice at Retail Expo (FARE) conference breakout on "Pouring Profits: Maximizing the Highest Profit Categories in Foodservice" session show cased how this could be done in the beverage section of Foodservice as well. I have attached the link to his blog you will find it completely interesting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

TESCO is gaining ground in the battle for US customers.

Empowering, enabling and efficient is how I would describe 7 Elevens newly remodeled units here in the Northwest. Empowering franchisee to provide higher quality, fresher food that is ready to eat or ready to heat ala the Grocerant niche. They have a long way to go in order to keep up with East Coast success the likes of Sheetz and Wawa, but they are clearly moving forward strongly.
Having just completed a Grocerant tour with three executives. I have to say that the tours participant’s comments about TESCO and it potential in the US were extremely positive! Even a skeptic like myself was please to see the efforts in package size, price points and obvious goals of customer frequency rather than focus on “basket size”. Cleary as the US consumer focus on ready to eat and ready to heat bundled portable food components, companies like TESCO will build a loyal fan base.
Supermarkets, Grocery stores and Dollar Stores continue to gain frequency when they increase the ready to eat and ready to heat food options. Success does leave clues and we are actively witnessing the sector continually do many things right and that just may be Fresh & Easy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

How people eat Food and where they buy it is changing, are you?

Winston Churchill once stated: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”.
With 20,000+ new SKU’s introduced into food retailing each year, many do not fly and fall to the wayside. If a company has a product that does not sell, and is not profitable at minimum a dramatic review is needed. Category managers look at flat categories and brainstorm on how to generate new interest in the product. Just how does foodservice position a traditional product within a new niche too catapult sales of the product while building interest and greater value. A perfect example was the age old apple? We knew sales would boom if you cut the apple first; then placed it into a different channel sliced and packaged sold as Apple Fries at Burger King and Fresh Better For You Wedges at McDonalds. If you were raised in Washington State you might have know there would be winners and they are the Apple farmer, the healthier consumer (kids) and the QSR niche via TOP LINE SALES & BOTTOM LINE PROFITS.
Grocerant products are a multi-channel products consisting of ready to eat ready to heat foods that are/can be portable; found in grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, supermarkets, mobile food units and kiosk. We are seeing each niche create its own answer for convenient ready to eat foods; and when they do the consumer rewards them with purchases and increased frequency. What is worrisome is watching niche industry leaders ignore the changing patters of the consumer or denying that the effects of the changed will bother their niche or company. In the past the result of denying change was dramatic capitulation of marketshare from niche industry leaders. We have been witness to this in Grocery, C-stores and restaurants sectors. Many of us in the Foodservice Conuslting industry might need to review our offerings as well. The Grocerant niche however is the up and comer! Success does leave clues, watch this niche grow! Niche assessments, emersion tours or packaging highlights Foodservice Solutions is Grocerant Focused.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What role will digital signage play going forward?

Wal-Mart recently added digital signage to select end caps within their stores here in the Northwest and I am sure they are doing the same thing around the country. I had a friend remark that after a recent visit to Wal-Mart she was impressed and please to see how viscerally attractive the store was. Visceral attractiveness is now a contemporary standard in retailing. BP is going to Install Digital Signage at the Pump and in the store at over 1,000 units. Digital signage is not an operational efficiency it is now a required step in the consumer’s path of contemporary progress. The consumer is not static they are dynamic all retailers must keep pace with the customer.
Supermarkets, Convenience stores and Restaurants all must avoid unwittingly practicing Brand Protectionism and saying no too items that consumer comes to expect. Visceral attractiveness is now as important as cleanliness and service. The Grocerant sector is leveraging digital informational tools to build a strong consumer base.
I was reminded as well that the NY Hilton hotel has had CNN in it’s elevator now for over 12 years. Visceral information is not new nor is it going away. Don’t let your brand unwittingly practice “Brand Protectionism” Grocerant program assessments can deliver top line moving information. Contact Foodservice Solutions in Tacoma, WA at: 253-759-7869 for more information.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Incentive to buy food no discounting.

Harvard Professor Frances Frei developed a model for “Value” in the service sector and while she spent much time on looking at restaurants I think we can include Grocerants, Supermarkets, and Convenience Stores. Most all food customers participate in all channels. Ms. Frei equation looks like this:
Value = (Price + Quality + Service + Ambiance) + INCENTIVE
If one were to place a value on Price, Quality, Service and Ambiance by sector i.e. Restaurant, Grocery, C-Store and Dollar Store we could see distribution within each sector. So a simple question. What role does Incentive play in your choice to move from sector to sector? If incentive is not a dollar value; what might it be?
1. Speed of customer service or delivery
2. Freshness of product
3. Portion size
4. Availability
5. Limited time offer-sample new product
6. Minimal packaging / or green packaging
7. Lower salt, Lower fat, lower calories
8. Consistency
What is role does Incentive play in your decision to buy food. Most importantly what role does it play in going back to the same location, time and time again? Grocerant program assessments identify, qualify and quantify non-discounting incentives. For more information contact Foodservice Solutions in Tacoma, WA.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Better for you food just might be better!

There was a new research survey issued by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) on Functional Foods. The survey found that “89% of Americans agree that certain foods can have benefits for long term health including reducing the risk of disease or other health concerns. Consumer identified the following:
1. Fruits and vegetables
2. Fish / seafood
3. Milk & Yogurt
4. Meat & poultry
5. Herbs & spices
What is most interesting to me is that the number one item on the list also appeared as the number one food preferred by college students in dorm meal plans for the past 20 years! Now think about it, our customers are looking for better for you product when they go out to eat and at home. Grocerants are now providing more Apples via McDonalds and Burger King to family’s via Kids portable bundled Kids meal options than Grocery stores sell Apples. Prudent retailers will soon understand the power of the Grocerant niche! Ready to eat, Ready to Heat quality bundled meal options that are better for you, create demand and new avenues of distribution for product. Watch for more! For a Grocerant niche program assessment cont act Foodservice Solutions, based in Tacoma, WA.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Multiplying new quality mobile food outlets near you!

Consumer demand for Grocerant niche food is prepared ready to eat or prepped ready to heat that is fresh, it must have the ability to be portable however. However it is also available in mobile outlets. Grocery stores, Convenience stores and restaurateurs all must be aware of the authentic that rolls along with mobile food trucks. With low rent and high quality food the consumer has new choice for quality. Hmm additional competitive pressure.
This month GQ magazine list the nations top time mobile food trucks. From Seattle to Florida and Maine to Los Angles they can be found everywhere with increased popularly, food quality and consumer acceptance. Clearly the Grocerant niche with portable ready to heat and ready to eat foods is building and growing niche by niche. Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA specializes in the Grocerant niche.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grocery stores stuck in the middle.

With the consumer demand for ready to eat and ready to heat food that is prepared, portable and profitable ala the Grocerant Niche growing. Why do many grocery stores continue utilizing procedures and operating paradigms of the 60’s They continue focusing on increasing check size and bundling meat in packages of 30 pork chops, a chicken and a half in a package, or mix and match- buy any 10 for $1.00 each. What’s with that do they think the industry is going backward?
When what is wanted is small portion ready to eat meals. Buying 10 ingredients for one entrée or side dish is the not goal of 80% of consumer Monday –Friday. With family size much smaller than it was in the 60’s and people living longer the demand for quality food prepared continues to grow. Look at the winners, Safeway’s life style stores – smaller check average and higher frequency the same holds for Harris Teeter. What is your favorite store selling?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Private lable links food outlets

Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets and Restaurants all have a new common link. Brand managers who utilize messaging, packaging and new products to drive sales. The Nielsen Company released new research that concluded that Consumer during the past year purchased private label products at an ever increasing rate. In Dollar sales they grew by 7.4 % and 0.07% in total sales to $ 85.9 Billion in private label sales.
“The importance of food and at-home meals in this down economy has led to strong growth for both branded and private label offerings in some basic food categories such as flour (36 percent store brand growth compared to 17 percent branded), dry vegetables and grains (31 percent to 20 percent), salad dressing and mayo (30 percent and 8 percent), pasta (27 percent to 15 percent) and baking mixes (22 percent and 10 percent).”
With the convergence of private label brand manages and internal integrated retail marketing of their products both the retailer and the consumer are reaping the benefits. Cross-channel sales of restaurant products; have been so successful that retailers have positioned their own products to compete. The halo from the restaurant quality continues to win out.
Companies like Walmart, Trader Joes, Wegmans, Quick Chek, Sheetz, California Pizza Kitchen, Taco Bell and Boston Market are all competing for the customer in multi-channels. That is the new Grocerant niche! ! Grocerant nice opportunity assessments can contemporize your company’s ability to grow both customer loyalty and frequency. For more information contact Steve Johnson at: 253-759-7869.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Why Grocerants Why now = CONSUMERS

Restaurant quality goes upscale for the growing Grocerant niche as highlighted by: Leslie Kwoh of The Star Ledger. She has given permission for me to reprint this article she wrote! After a long week at work, Taryn Sardoni usually looks forward to changing into a dress, slipping on a pair of high heels and heading out to a swanky dinner with friends.
She recently forfeited her usual outing, however, in favor of another dining destination: The living room of her fifth-floor walk-up in Hoboken.
Looking for new ways to save money, but reluctant to pass up a nice meal, the 24-year-old and her roommate decided to order in a sumptuous Italian dinner for two, paired with a store-bought bottle of wine.
The total bill came to $50 -- less than she usually spends at a restaurant after factoring in tip, the cab ride and a couple glasses of wine. Still, after devouring the chicken in white wine sauce and ravioli stuffed with lobster and spinach, the pair concluded "it was just like going to a nice restaurant," said Sardoni, who interns at a Manhattan law firm.
Ordering in is no longer just about Chinese food or pizza. As the recession drags on, more consumers like Sardoni are getting full-course, finer meals delivered to their homes as a way of saving time and money, without sacrificing the indulgence, according to industry experts and executives.
"As opposed to ordering pizza, people are ordering chicken Cordon Bleu or steak," said Melanie Gordon-Felsman, vice president of communications for, a food delivery website that features more than 10,000 restaurants in 65 cities across the country.
In the New Jersey and New York regions, the average bill for orders rose to about $21 last month, from $18 in May and June, and $8 in March, she said, indicating that customers are ordering larger, more expensive meals. A review of individual orders revealed that customers were ordering more expensive entrees, and adding appetizers and desserts, she said.
"People are ordering a dinner experience now. They're not just ordering in food," Gordon-Felsman said.
The volume of orders has also risen 20 percent in the same period, and customers are ordering more frequently on weekdays, not just weekends, she said.
Gordon-Felsman attributed the trend to customers who are working longer hours and coming home too tired to cook, and families who want to dine out but would rather save on extra costs like baby-sitting or transportation.
More fine dining restaurants are also joining online delivery databases as a way of increasing their customer base, according to SeamlessWeb, a food delivery site that includes about 5,000 restaurants in more than 20 cities nationally, including Jersey City. The website has seen the average bill for orders rise in tandem with the addition of more high-end eateries, said Jason Finger, a company spokesman.
Overall, the restaurant sector has been hit hard by the recession. Nationally, June sales for food and drinking establishments dropped 2.3 percent from a year ago, according to Chicago-based research consultancy Technomic. While Garden State restaurants are not reporting fewer customers, many are lowering menu prices. They are also noticing the "slider effect," whereby diners are substituting appetizers and less expensive dishes for entrees, said Deborah Dowdell, president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association, which represents some 23,000 eating and drinking establishments across the state.
"They're spending less, and accomplishing that in many ways -- smaller portions, sharing dishes, ordering out," she said of diners.
The trend of ordering in pricier food is one of many ways consumers are cutting costs when dining out, she said. Restaurants, responding to that demand, are offering more menu options and sturdier take-out containers for delivery, she said. The trend is also helped by websites like, which enable customers to easily place orders with participating restaurants.
"The marketplace is clearly working," she said. "Customers are asking, and the restaurants are responding."
Since launching five years ago, has grown to include more than 250 New Jersey restaurants in eight towns including Jersey City, Hoboken, Newark, Trenton, Edison and Secaucus. Residents log on to the site, where they can peruse menus and send an electronic order to the restaurant.
One of the restaurants featured on the site is Amelia's Bistro, an upscale eatery in Jersey City where entrees run $16 to $24. Owner Frank Mandaro said business has declined significantly since September, the result of a drop-off in dine-in customers and corporate deliveries.
On average, the bill for each diner dropped $4 to $6. "It was painful," he said.
An increase in home deliveries, however, helped make up for some of the loss, he said. In recent months, dinner deliveries have increased 20 percent to about 60 per night, with customers ordering more expensive menu options. The average order-in bill has also increased to between $32 and $35, from $25 to $28, he said.
"They're more into the hard-core entrees," said Mandaro, 51, of the delivery orders. Mandaro estimated that by ordering in, the average diner saves $20 to $25 for the exact same meal because of the difference in tip and alcohol costs.
Sardoni, the law intern living in Hoboken, said she's been hooked ever since the successful Italian dinner for two. Aside from saving money, it offers another benefit: "We don't have to do the dishes," she said.

Ready to eat and ready to heat food is available from coast to coast from $2.00 to $100.00+. Yes my friends the Grocerant niche is booming!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Private Label vertical integrated END CAPS!

National brand manufactures who have been paying slotting fee’s to grocery stores and supermarkets for years are begging to feel left out. The slotting fee’s continue to go for space on the shelf but the key location End Caps are now being filled with the stores own private label products. The brand managers of the private label products have are utilizing a took out of the National Brand Managers playbook to build loyalty, reinforce value and generate additional sales and profits for the store and their particular private label product.
Price Chopper is utilizing what they call “power displays”. Wal-Mart is utilizing the end caps to reinforce value of their private label products and consumer are picking them up! Wegmans gets the customers coming and going utilizing the vestibules with the likes of Wegmans private label potato chips and the next week Wegmans own canned tuna and their own mayo.
Deep in the store the private label battle continues with ready to eat and ready to heat portable food. All prepared fresh and in most cases right in front of the customer. Private Label Grocerant ready to eat and ready to heat food will trump the value and marketing positioning of many a national brand product.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Following the retail food consumers footprint!

Consumers have never paid much attention to channel blurring. In industry speak that means buying a product from a sole source i.e. lumber from a lumber yard, phone from the phone company, burger only from McDonalds. Grocery stores sell pots, plants, and potpourri, Convenience stores sell Oil for your car, Olay, Olive Oil and of course both sell food. With little fanfare Noble Roman's Pizza has now introduce new products for multi-channel retailers. Consumer will buy food and products where ever it is convenient for them.
Noble Roman’s has announced that it has developed both a “take-n-bake pizza module” and a “grab-n-go system” both are designed to be vertical integrated into existing franchise programs. Here is a Restaurant company following the consumer, developing components to the franchisee system to allow growth for the franchisee, brand value for the consumer while building profits. These additional programs are designed for Supermarkets, Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores and can and should be utilized at traditional restaurant locations. Building new points of distribution builds top line sale and bottom line profits all the while extending the brands reach and maintain a focus on core food products! Noble Roman’s is on the right path. Does anyone have other examples of bundling products in different channels?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Whole Foods Confused or off the rails?

When was the last time any successful company CEO gave a public interview to a leading industry reporters and focused on the competition rather than the customer, and was winning in the marketplace? Last week, in the Wall Street Journal (8/5/09) it was reported by both Katy McLaughlin and Timothy W. Martin that John Mackey was more afraid of COSTCO than Trader Joe’s.

 He also said that his stores sold “a bunch of junk”, referring to food that was not good for you! Reportedly, he as been on a “health” kick for some time now. However he should admit that when you build a store with 60,000 Sq. ft. of space it takes a lot of stuff to fill it up and is some cases apparently Junk! If success leaves clues, the first might be how about a smaller store with less JUNK!

 Spending research money on how to keep the customer in the store longer, build “basket size” was the metric of the 60’s and 70’s that was important. The focus on now on the customer. Consumers number one complaint is how long it takes in the grocery store. Costco is an multi-channel adventure but takes a lot of time, Trader Joe’s customer friendly and private ah might they be utilizing a different metric?

Rather than speaking to reporters he should be asking his staff is: what is it that the consumer likes the best about grocery shopping? Which direction is the consumer moving within the food industry and are we moving with them?

Price is a determining factor however time and time again we have seen during this rescission that the consumer’s preference for “better for you” products and services win out over price! At Whole Foods one can clearly see the consumer likes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared portable food offerings.

These offerings can be found in the booming Grocerant niche and carry higher margins at other companies around the country including Safeway’s Lifestyle stores and Kroger’s QFC? If it saves the consumer time, saves the consumer steps the halo of better for you is all inclusive to the consumer. If it is organic or low in fat wow and prepared TOGO an even bigger WOW; a HOME RUN! Yes, my friends the Grocerant niche is the Next Big Wave! What do you think Whole Foods should be focusing on?

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  

Monday, August 10, 2009

Drive-Thru Grocerants On the Way?

Crisscrossing America we are now starting to see the progressive evolution of the Convenience store into a dinner lane for food aficionados, particularly if you’re in a hurry. This might be something that Grocery stores like Safeway’s new lifestyle stores and Whole foods need to keep and eye on.

We can start by looking at Quickie Mart Hackensack, N.J. Dairy Barn is a chain of regional convenience stores located on Long Island, New York. Bennie’s, drive-through convenience store Arizona, The Kwik Trip convenience store chain, Wisconsin. Loveland Farms Drive-Thru Albuquerque, New Mexico. You are now seeing them in Georgia, North Carolina and many in Texas.

Quality bundled meal components available via a Drive-Thru is another perfect example of how an industry sector is building success. Ready to eat and ready to heat portable Grocerant bundled components again meeting the needs of the “soccer Mom’s” will drive sales. Restaurants utilize have taken Drive-Thru’s to an art form. The currently sell only ready to eat but when they begin to focus on the ready to heat wow. Where is your favorite Drive-Thru?

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Food bit’s & pieces!

  • Convenience store chain Lawson has installed electric-vehicle battery chargers at seven stores in Tokyo and Osaka, with plans to expand that number to 25 by next February, company officials said. With 42,000 total C-stores in Japan this chain is showing it is a leader and the C-store niche will not be left behind in fact leading the food industry is what they do best.
    This from Convenience store news “ Free coffee was an unexpected surprise when customers tried to pay for their cups Wednesday morning at the Kwik Trip here. One coffee customer handed the clerk $50 and said to use the change to pay it forward for others buying coffee.” Yes, C-stores have great customers as well! It’s not just a Starbucks thing! I love Kwik Trip!
    King Supers may well be the first Grocery store to have Health Care in all of there stores. What role will GMO foods play in the future pro-active or just positivie?

Friday, August 7, 2009


Mid August and everyone is out and about seemingly buying fresh fruit and produce at local fruit stands, farmers markets and from road side truck farmers. Fresh equates to authentic quality and value with consumers. How about your brand are you creating fresh new authentic experiences for your customers? Who will be the first to utilize the “POP UP Store” concept to showcase new food items for their grocery store, Supermarket or Restaurant?
Some Grocery stores are showcasing a fresh food out side of the store with a “farmer roasting corn”! This is close but not a full pop up. Others in the south have peppers be roasted outside the store. Both examples provide the customers an in-depth experience that is positive prior to even entering there store.
Every food retailer show utilizes “POP UP Stores” in their communities to showcase their best known and products and introduce new products to the market. The Grocerant niche is developing new products weekly at some locations but many go unnoticed. POP UP Stores provide you and opportunity to embed your brand, products while creating unique seasonal sampling opportunities. Sampling is the best way to capture new customers.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Food Sampling is Great!

Supermarkets, Grocery Stores and to a lesser degree Convenience Stores all know that sampling food products sparks sales. What we are beginning to see pick up steam in the Grocerant sector is the use of samples on private label food products. We all know the Whole Foods has Hot ready to eat food stations scattered about their stores and for quite some time they have utilized sampling as a way to build customer product trial and loyalty. If this weeks quarterly report means anything it’s working!
What is now interesting is watching Safeway’s lifestyle stores increase sampling and companies like COSTCO sampling their own private label ready to heat products in the store. This is great, it has been proven time and after time that sampling food works. In a recent study and I quote from Progressive Grocer “established brands, the sales lift the day of the event was 177 percent greater than the control group, which received no samples. It remained up 57% after the 20-week period.”
Restaurants and C-stores new or established brands, there is one thing you must continue to do is sample food products within your 4 walls. Research on restaurants show’s 33% of customers that arrive at your restaurant every day have never eaten in your unit. If you’re a national brand that does not mean they have not been exposed to the brand but your unit is new too them. Capture that experience in a positive way! Sample, Sample, Sample, independents and regional players the opportunity is even greater!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 reasons to buy food ready to eat or ready to heat!

Top 5 compelling reasons to buy ready to eat or ready to heat food Grocerant food!

1. Freshness, based on how it looks and is presented, visceral presentation.

2. Bundling, the ability to build your meal with components you want.

3. Individualized portions, power to select quality and quantity of items viewed.

4. Convenience, unit /store location on the drive home from work.

5. Price, ability to evaluate price vs. cost at restaurant with tip, and vs. time to cook from scratch.

Who has advantages C-stores, grocery stores, supermarkets or restaurants? How would you judge? Could it be number of units? Volume buying, Quality control or is it personal service?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coles: Blundell gets the Grocerant movement

Supermarkets globally are leading the way in conversion into Grocerants. Europe and Asia have lead in the development and the US market is about to take off.

Coles under the Marketing leadership of Mr. Blundell is investing time, talent and treasury into a new focus “home cooking - via the successful “Feed Your Family for Under $10″ campaign - dependent on changes in consumer behavior.” It worked by the way.

However that means bundling food components that are Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat freshprepared.

Yes, the Grocerant sector is bundling opportunity on a global path to success. “The Marketing Director of Cole's sees the refurbishment of stores across the country and the entry of new competitors to the Australian landscape as an opportunity to rid the country of a “backward” approach to supermarket retail.” Something Walmart, Albertsons, and Safeway are not doing.

I don’t want to call most grocery store operator’s “backward” here but some of them may have their ears closed when in comes to listening to the consumer. If success leaves clues around the world we are witnessing a change in the process of “home cooking”. For more on Grocerants:

 Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization and braggability?  Email us at: or visit: for more information

Monday, August 3, 2009

Maggiano’s Little Italy disappointment times 2

Last week I boasted that Maggiano’s Little Italy “Today & Tomorrow” August promotion would be a bid success and complement to the Grocerant sector. I like Maggiano’s Little Italy, the format, the food, footprint. I shared the press release about the promo with an industry colleague who lives near the Bellevue location and he too was excited. So much so he went Saturday night August 1st. He called me from the restaurant after his meal telling me I owed him a dinner because this location did not have the “Today & Tomorrow” promotion (He was disappointed as well). He explained his waiter came over discussed all the “specials” and no “Today or Tomorrow”, then he asked about it specifically and was told no he had just recited the specials. I was so disappointed I called the Unit minutes later and was informed yes you could get ½ order special? They were seemingly unaware of the “Today & Tomorrow” promo heralded by Maggiano’s Little Italy marketing department! Which sounds so much better than ½ order special. I was disappointed and hesitant to believe friends and the person on the phone.
Tonight I drove the 34 mile round trip to Maggiano’s Little Italy and can say that the food was good. The waiter knew of the promo and took the order without question or hesitation. Our meal was good, service wonderful and the restaurant was clean and busy. BIG problem the bag of “leftovers” was had the wrong food in it! We did not look in the bag; it’s kinda like going through a fast food drive-in and grabbing the bag via the window. When we got home our food was not what we had ordered. No explanation was given when we were handed the food, we were told here is YOUR FOOD! What is worst is there were no storage instructions, no reheating instructions nor thank you in the bag opportunity not reached. The theme packaging was reminiscent of something you would find during the 1960 (plastic lid on tinfoil pan) which was on message but we are now in 2009. Opportunities identified then poorly executed don’t do well. I insist this is a good promo ideation, obviously a better idea than operationally executed which is a surprise for a Brinker concept. Customers want more from restaurants not less. Looking forward is want customers want. This promo still could be a big thing for and within the Grocerant sector. There will be a restaurant chain that will a little tweaking that can turn it around and put this promo on right in front of the consumer. The Grocerant sector is here the consumer is and or continues to move.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Better for you food is top of mind!

When your planning a new menu item for 18 to 34 year olds in the ready to eat ready to heat Grocerant sector better for you products, fresh, authentic with a global food-print is the comport food of choice. Contract feeder Sodexo, serves meals to college students at least 575 US college campuses surveyed menus from the 1989 and came up with the “top 10” items for now and 2009:

Food Trends in 1989

1. Fruit and cottage cheese plate
2. Chicken nuggets
3. Turkey Tetrazini
4. Chicken Chop Suey
5. Egg, bacon and cheese English muffin
6. Half sandwich and cup of soup
7. Taco bar
8. Spanish beef and rice
9. Vegetarian bean chili
10. Algerian lamb stew

Food Trends in 2009

1. Locally-grown fruits and veggies
2. Crispy garlic-ginger chicken wings
3. Mac’n five cheeses
4. Vietnamese Pho
5. Green tea and pomegranate smoothies
6. Crab cake sliders
7. Mini samosas
8. Tilapia Veracruz
9. Goat cheese salad (with lavender lentils)
10. Chicken Mole

You might ask are college students the target, the majority or ever a representative group! The answer is trend setting disposal income. That is a life time of greater disposal income. The grocerant sector is searching for an industry niche leader. Please nominate the company you feel is leading the industry today privately via email or leave a comment here on the blog site. Companies that could be in the running H.E. Butt Grocery, A&P, Sheetz, Wawa, Central Market, Stewarts Shops? Let me know who you pick.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Top of the day to you! Grocerant niche food is prepared ready to eat or prepped ready to heat that can be fresh, sous vide /cook chill or frozen, it must have the ability to be portable however. It can be eaten on site, in the car, at the office or down the road at the park. At times it is reheated; it is focused on single serve portions or portions for two. Vote who is doing a good job currently Whole foods, Central Market, Speedway Super America, Boston Market, Ralphs, Food Lion, Tesco or Redner’s Market?
One of the most interesting new developments is bundling of the meal components it’s a mix and mach game very empowering for the consumer. Consumer’s can buy a fresh prepared sauce, and utilize it on fish, steak, chicken, a burritos or pasta. Two people in a home may use the same sauce on two different entrees! The same can be said for each course of the meal. This mix and match of small portion, fresh identity in quality products makes meal time a time of convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization. A success clue for all the players in this niche is packaging.
Internationally the Grocerant trend continues to grow and in many avenues of distribution you can find niche sector leaders. What are most exciting are the new points of distribution of quality ready to eat food. In Asia Convenience stores assemble meals on site and many get delivery of fresh food three times a day; focused on the next meal period. With this focus on freshness and quality consumers are paying respect by spending more and more money on food at C-stores. Department stores are a source in Asia and Europe of outstanding displays of quality prepared and prepped Grocerant foods. Interested in a international tour of niche leading Grocerant outlets? Contact Steve Johnson at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions or leave a comment on this blog. If you would like to quote from any of my post please provide the proper reference and out of respect let me know.