Sunday, September 23, 2012

Empowering Consumer Choice Drives Food Sales Success.

Two Restaurant chain market share gainers that empower the consumer are Starbucks Coffee and Chipotle Mexican Grill.   These two companies understand that the consumer is dynamic not static, that their brand must grow with the expectations of the consumer.

At Starbucks, the experience is more than just coffee in the store, it is the “Third Place”, with food, retail, music, movies and  to come.  The experience is more than the four walls; Starbucks cultivates the brand and the consumer as opposed to controlling the brand within the four walls. 

Chipotle has done much the same exploiting the paradox of consumer choice, empowering the consumer to select “better for you ingredients”.  This enables the Chipotle brand to go beyond its four walls and within the consumer.  Chipotle continually updates and upgrades its message, and ingredients meeting the dynamic consumer’s expectations’.

 Nielsen’s industry leading market research annual study on channel blurring has over the past six years consistency stated that channel blurring occurs only in the mind of the marketer not in the mind of the consumer. I believe that to be the case. Brand marketers do not aggressively test and new non-traditional products, avenues of distribution or brand experiences extensions, afraid that their companies will lose market share. Consumers today have a plethora of choice within each niche; do you know why they choose you? Is it just location and price? No.

Utilizing the multi-disciplined marketing approach Chipotle Mexican Grill vertically integrated the 5 P’s of food marketing in to all that they do and extended both the brand and value of the brand beyond the store hours into the better for you, better for the environment mind set of the consumer.

This creates an interactive consumer buy in that is both participatory and a pro-active experience. Industry leadership is currently up for grabs in almost every niche.  Winning companies must innovate for and interact with the dynamitic consumer in order to build the brand, satisfy the consumer and obtain or maintain niche leadership.

Steven Johnson is President of Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, with extensive experience as a multi-unit operator, consultant and brand/product positioning. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® visit or 

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