Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fast Casual Summits, Conferences, Seminars another industry Folly

Restaurants customer migration is underway and began in 2005 the first year in 35 that spending on food for home increased over food away from home.  Non-traditional retailers have exploited the fresh prepared food niche leveraging the 5 P’s of Food Marketing garnering share of stomach from the restaurant sector. 
While legacy industry consulting companies and research firm simply missed this shift in consumer focus, we did not.  These same firms to save face and protect turf want you to believe there is a universal convergence within the “fast casual” sector.  Nothing could be further from the truth. If you think that you only compete with restaurants, get over it.  There is a race for share of stomach in retail specifically within fresh prepared ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat sector by well-financed competitors. They want your customers.  The fresh prepared food sector is booming.  The retail world knows it and restaurateurs you should too.
Its 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner. 81% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality ready-2-eat foods and or heat-N-eat meals. Today's time starved consumer want to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.  The one universal commonality driving customer migration is fresh prepared ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat food aka Grocerant niche food.
Examples of Grocerants       
Restaurant examples are McDonalds, Pret A Manger Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy's and Starbucks, each having a fresh ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat food menu. You may not think of Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, sandwiches, coffee and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants. In the Casual Dining sector Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a 2nd home for free in their Classic Pastas menu section.  Maggiano’s understands it is not about this rush to fast casual and now so does Olive Garden.  It is a rush for share of stomach and a migrating consumer.
Convenience Store examples are 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages.
Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Central Market, Safeway and Kroger… all sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches and most offer sushi and beverages.
Drug Store examples are Walgreen and Duane Reade both offer in both New York and ChicagoSushi, Smoothie, Wine, Coffee, and Fro-yo Bars then there are the 455+ CafeW’s severing baked goods and beverages.
The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat fresh food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great… let's call this "food for now". Non-traditional retailers are primarily selling "food for later" or take-out and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of ready-2-eat meals and snacks begin to change.  Are you prepared to change your focus, from defined label to consumer focused?
Consumer Focus
Take-Out and Take-Away food is driving fresh food sales in non-traditional retailers.  In the Hot food section of the grocery store the food in most cases does not look appealing so consumers expectations drop when we get it for Take-Away. That is simply legacy thinkng.  Consumer think Whole Food, Wegmans, Central Market and on and on are RESTAURANT QUALITY even if you do not. Convenience stores like Wawa, the ready-2-eat food looks great in the to-go containers. Why? Because Wawa puts the entire package together. They exert more control on the look and feel of "food for later".
Around the world we are now seeing sections in department's stores and kiosk in malls in Europe and Asia and airports around the world. The items can range from entrees to side items and deserts. Some examples of items range from fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to liver and onions, pizza, hot dogs, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads pie, cake and any single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.
Successful Migration Marketing will be required if you plan to maintain or grow share.
In summary, if you are spending money on outdated legacy focus information you will continue to lose share of stomach to those focused on the consumer. Fast Casual, Casual and QSR restaurant chains have all lost share to new non-traditional retailers. Don’t be fooled trying migrate into a place defined by groups that simply missed the fork in the road the consumers took.
New non-traditional points of distribution and retail food competition are opening daily and it important to be mindful of the migrating consumer. Do you know how to build sales with a grocerant focus?  We do.
Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® a Tacoma, WA based retail foodservice consultancy has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. For product or brand positioning assistance contact Steven Johnson at:grocerant@q.com or the Grocerant LinkedIn page or on Facebook at Steven Johnson, BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants or Grocerant on Twitter

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