Monday, March 31, 2014

It’s Noon and 83% of consumers don’t know What’s for Dinner?

The undercurrents of evolving consumer shopping behavior, availability of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food, time-starved consumers, and lack of appropriate cooking skill-set combined with the fact no one wants to do dishes or empty the dishwasher create what Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru calls “the emerging Grocerant Tsunami”.  Where legacy food retailers will either adapt or get left behind at an accelerated rate. 

The retail grocery sector has seen the collapses / demise of A &P, Albertson’s, and now Safeway go from industry leaders too regional players dependent on SNAP program to maintain any respectful volume numbers.

Dollar stores have simply cherry picked products from the “center store” leaving legacy grocery stores in footprint malaise.  Seemingly unwilling to invest in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food and the staffing levels that it requires creates and expanding opportunity for non-traditional fresh prepared food retailers.

So What’s for Dinner?

At 4 PM a full 62% of American consumers still don’t know according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson.  Consumer discontinuity with the food sector is driven in large part by new entrants the likes of retailer Harry & David for 80 years selling fresh fruit as a business gift, then direct to consumer fresh fruit and gifts.  Continually evolving this year Harry & David is offering an Easter Brunch Meal just Heat-N-Eat, Pinkies Liquor stores, a traditional liquor stores  updated and retrofitted with in store kitchens now offering  fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food daily for To-Go only (Pinkies has no tables inside or out), and Walgreens Up-Market stores offering fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food.
Dinner a Paradox of Choice?
When face with all the options what’s for dinner consumers are simply overwhelmed. Think about it.  Is cooking from scratch the first choice for consumers not incentivized with government SNAP benefits? Whole Foods offers extensive Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food options.  In fact 35% of Whole Food sales and 40% of profits come from Whole Foods Grocerant Niche fresh prepared food options.
Restaurants are a great second choice for consumers when asked What’s for Dinner? However as regular readers of this blog know the restaurant veto in increasing numbers and is a result of “The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome” according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru. The result can be seen in the stagnating restaurant sector year over year sales and customer count numbers.  Once leading companies the ilk of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Bennigans, Quiznos, and Sbarro all face similar fates if they do not react to undercurrents of retail food consumer discontinuity.
Is Convenience What’s for Dinner?
When Casey’s General Stores a convenience store chain with 1,700+ stores started selling fresh prepared pizza it took off as did Casey’s same store sales.  However when Casey’s added delivery they became a leading choice of What’s for Dinner in many markets.  Rutter’s Farm Stores, Wawa and Sheetz all leading C-stores all increasingly moving successfully from Coffee and Breakfast stop too successful lunch and increasingly the all are the solution for consumers looking for What’s for Dinner.
Success Does Leave Clues.
At the intersection of consumers, technology, Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food are new points of fresh food distribution.  If legacy food retailers want to maintain or garner market share they much evolve as fast or faster than the competition and consumers or risk capitulating brand equity, market share and consumer relevance. Outside eyes can provide insights driving Top Line Sales and Bottom Line Profits. Today, restaurants, C-stores, Drug Stores, Grocery Stores, and Liquor Stores are all targeting consumers that are Ready-2-Eat.  It’s 4 PM where is your customer buying dinner tonight?

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization or you can learn more at Johnson, or

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Pantry Evolving Market Positioning to Maintain and Grow Market Share

The Pantry with 1575+ stores is one of the largest independently operated convenience store chain in the southeastern U. S. Operating in 13 states under a number of banners including Kangaroo Express faced with migrating customers, a changed in consumer consumption patterns, and increased competition is not sitting idly by they are entering the Grocerant Niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.

Headquarter in North Carolina, The Pantry decade after decade, grew consistently selling fuel and cigarettes.  However customers have changed and so have the times.  Today, with the” advent of fuel-efficient vehicles and a decline in the number of smokers, the Cary-based convenience store chain is looking for new ways to drive customer traffic.”  According to The Pantry CEO Dennis Hatchell.

In order to compensate declining sales in those legacy categories, the Pantry is focusing more strongly on food service specifically Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food. Hatchell stated that  “quick-service restaurants within his system currently account for 11 percent of merchandising sales, while the national average for convenience stores is 17 percent. That leaves The Pantry with some catching up to do.”

“Our goal is to close this gap over the next several years, and by doing so, will help to offset the declines we are seeing in cigarettes,” Hatchell says. “We believe our branded QSRs help differentiate our store from other competitors.” Hatchell noted that stores with restaurants are among the best-performing.

Convenience store industry food retail leaders Rutter’s Farm Stores, Sheetz, and Wawa have gained industry and cross-channel acclaim and awards for fresh prepared branded food sales.  In fact Wawa now call itself a “Fast Casual To-Go restaurant that sells gas” while Sheetz Made-to-Order MOD fresh food items continues to drive successful top line sales growth and bottom line profits.

With 1575+ stores The Pantry is on the right track.  Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food aka grocerant niche offerings with help it grow same store sales as it fresh food sales grow from 11% today too 17% system wide.

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Convenience Stores Traffic Volume Follows Fresh Food

Sheetz, Wawa, Rutter’s, and 7 Eleven continue garnering top line growth from fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food. Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ stated; ”Convenience store industry leadership can be found transitioning from fuel, cigarettes, and Tabaco product focus to fresh prepared food focus . Without doubt consumers like the new fresh food offerings from convenience stores.”

In a recently released study by NPD Group titled, Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of approximately 50,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S. found “Visits to traditional c-store chains and major oil chains remained stable, but steady traffic at these two channels was not enough to offset the declines at small/other chains where visits were down 8.7%, and conventional chains, which saw traffic decline by 2.7%,”

Success does leave clues around the country more and more regional C-store chains and independents c-store operators are exploring fresh food options. C-store retailers that adjust their offerings increasing fresh food into their product mix will find the competitive environment tilting in their direction. 

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization or you can learn more at Johnson, or

Friday, March 28, 2014

The “Frozen Food Court” Revisited a Trip to the Grocery Aisle

In an Omni-channel retail world the one thing that is perfectly clear.  That is “within the legacy restaurant chain branded world; the status quo is broken” that according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson.  Since 2009 when he first wrote about the “frozen food court” one thing has changed.  Restaurant consumers continue to migrate to non-traditional avenue of fresh food distribution. A restaurant brand can’t be contained within 4 walls in 2014. 

Playing catch-up, many legacy restaurant chains have entered the frozen food court each edifying their brand with consumers while building top of mind brand awareness. Consumers acceptance of these products remains solid as restaurant brands maintain, elevate, or create new product standards for product both from retail too restaurant or restaurant too retail.

Channel blurring only exists in the blind eye of Neanderthal restaurant chain brand managers. Today restaurant brand managers must understand their brand and their customers. If they do they can integrate marketing plans that complement their consumer’s food consumptions footprint while positioning the brand in multiple channels of distribution.  In many cases that means new products including fresh prepared food in new non-traditional avenues of distribution.

Today restaurant companies the ilk of Boston Market, TGI Friday's, PF Chang's, California Pizza Kitchen,  Taco Bell, Burger King are the most-thorough players with integrated marketing programs at retail. However others including Red Robin, Dunkin Brands and its Baskin-Robbins joined the likes of Romano's Macaroni Grill, El Pollo Loco, Captain D's, O'Charley's and Ivar’s at retail

The legacy branded restaurant status quo is broken.  Brands and customer exist outside the 4 walls.  Is your brand trapped within 4 walls?  Are you a food merchant the ilk of Howard Shultz or Kat Cole? Does your brand merchandise your product in one channel? We live in an Omni-Channel retail world.

The frozen food court is only one channel, many masquerading as grocerant niche experts consider the frozen aisle the only channel opportunity not us.  Success does leave clues, call Foodservice Soluitons® Grocerant Guru™ at 253-759-7869 or visit for more. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Restaurant Food Innovation Is it Copy or Parrish or Copy and Parish?

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson often says “Today differentiation does not really mean different it means familiar with a twist.” The problem is copy-cat product and copy-cat marketing only works in a duopoly.  The restaurant industry is not a duopoly. Some are going to lose, soon.

Corporate marketers with legacy restaurant chains strive to keep up with their competitors. When they fall behind (lose market share) in days gone by they would lose their job! Not in today’s world, they simply copy what the industry niche sector leader is doing, quieting disgruntled franchises or shareholders.

When this occurs success is based on points of distribution and product price, rather than creating incremental brand value. Everyone loses; stakeholders, shareholders, franchisees most importantly consumers.

Management complacency and mediocrity seem to be today’s status quo rather than consumers focused driven brand teams.   Life is simple for chain C-level executives, don’t risk innovation, follow the leader, and maintain niche equilibrium and the stock options and paychecks keep rolling in.  The loser may not just be the consumer from lack of true innovation, brand values drop, consumer brand apathy increases, and market share capitulation is a direct result. Is this what happened it Darden?

In reality differentiation becomes product price points rather than innovative new products, or service.   Then price and location become more important value than the brand.   Simply put the branded chain restaurant status quo is broken. Traditional restaurant brand building practices are no longer effective; they aren't just broken, they simply no longer work. They are Kaput, Dying, Replaced, they are Yesterday.  The customer has moved.  Have you? Has your brand?
Legacy brands simply capitulate market share as an unintended consequence copy-cat marketing and executive compliancy.  Is your company more like yesterday than tomorrow? Copy-cat marketing can be the seductress of compliancy and mediocrity for CEO’s & COO’s of major restaurant chains today. Is your company in a quagmire of 1980’s, 1990’s or 2000? Success does leave clues.

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization or you can learn more at Johnson, or

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Increasingly Food Consumers Migrating to Non-Traditional Channels

The rise of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food sales success has created a platform for food customer migration. When the University of Arizona’s Center for Retailing, completed a recent survey of more than 1,200 American consumers, Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ was not surprised to learn that Non-Traditional channels continue to outperform.
The Study found that in the preceding 12 months, 77 percent of respondents bought groceries from “a non-grocer,” and 96 percent would consider doing so in the next 12 months—although it included Walmart and Target among “non-grocers.” Here is who else was on the list in the top ten of consumer choice:
1. Walgreens
2. CVS/ Caremark
3. Dollar General,
4.  Dollar Tree
5. 7 Eleven
6. Kmart
7 Costco
Millennials are a big reason for customer migration. The study found that 57 percent of Millennials are willing to do so, but only 40 percent of Gen X respondents and 36 percent of baby boomers. It also found that 47 percent of Millennials are willing to get groceries at a pharmacy, again leading Gen Xers (37 percent) and baby boomers (36 percent).

Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is common today at most convenience stores and is growing within the dollar store sector.  Millennials seemingly always in a hurry to get somewhere and do something while incorporating the act of discovery particularly in food will continue to fuel this migration into non-traditional channels. 
It is not surprising that legacy CPG canned/boxed goods are the most frequently purchased food items at non-grocery stores, by 59 percent of respondents. With the knowledge that 50% of the U.S. population over the age of 18 are single But the next most frequently purchased out-of-channel may be a little surprising: dairy (54 percent), bread (49 percent) and fresh produce (42 percent.  Most important Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food in the form of a “snack” is consumed by 77% of consumers daily. The vast majority of are purchased at C-stores, QSR’s and increasingly Drug Stores.
Since 1991  a Tacoma, WA based retail foodservice consultancy has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. For product or brand positioning assistance contact: or Call: 253-759-7869 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Burger King’s Bracket Busting Basketball Leadership

What a weekend of NCAA Basketball and game by game interactive social media coverage by Burger King.  No one could be more proud of how Burger King covered every game tweeting where all of the action was so fans would not miss a highlight than Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru. 

Burger King understood Foodservice Solutions® white paper on The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome; took it to heart and wow did they deliver! (In the event you want to reread The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome here is the link:

If you found yourself watching a game, got hungry not to worry Burger King delivers fresh hot and cold beverages too.  You did not have to leave the couch, the lazy boy, or the remote control. All you had to do was visit: It’s as simple as point, click, and eat!

Burger King’s coverage of the NCAA games this past weekend was consumer interactive, participatory, mobile and social.  Simply put, it was a hit. Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru calls it the best vertically integrated marketing campaign ever within the restaurant sector. Here is one quote from the Burger King press release that provides a perfect example.

“March Madness is an all-American tradition, just like a BURGER KING® WHOPPER® Sandwich and Fries. What fuels the players on the court is the passion of the fans and BURGER KING® gets that,” said basketball legend Chris Webber. “Being part of the BURGER KING® Watch Like a King campaign and having the opportunity to reward fans for their fandom is an amazing experience. This year when I’m watching the games, I’ll be eating my favorite Original Chicken Sandwich like a king.”

Success does leave clues and Burger Kings vertically integrated marketing campaign during the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament is one of the clues for 2014. This coming weekend tune in, follow, and turn on the tournament and see for yourself.  Restaurant customer migration continues, campaigns the ilk of Burger Kings will ebb the migration.

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization or you can learn more at Johnson, or

Monday, March 24, 2014

Do you have Time to Eat, Time for Dinner, or Time for Cooking at Home?

If you are "Ready-2-Eat" there is a very good chance you are looking for fresh prepared multi-flavor, multi-ethnic Grocerant meal components. Heat-N-Eat and Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food with portability is driving retail food success in all legacy food retail channels and many new non-traditional channels. Where are you shopping for you food today is not the same place your mother was nor is the meal prepared the same way.
As long as multi-generational family's gather for meals together, the demand for more divergent flavors continues to permeate. Grocerant mix and match bundled meal component offerings allow for increased family integration, understanding and acceptance in less time without a required cook from scratch skill set.
Looking Back to Look A Customer Ahead
In the 1940's cooking from scratch was the normal. The average home cooked meal took 150 minutes to prepare. Everyone sat down at the table and enjoyed it or not but they all ate the same thing. Today's "home cooked meal" takes on average less than 30 minutes to prepared. In most cases at least two different entrées are served.
The average time spent inside a McDonalds in the 2,000 was 11 minutes. Today 65+ percent of all McDonald's food is sold via the drive-thru. U.S. fast-food chains are increasingly remodeling restaurants in an effort to garner additional drive-thru customers inside and increase sales, simple because the drive-thru can't hold all the cars.
McDonald’s Evolving with Consumers
According to the New York Times Magazine - McDonalds Came Back Bigger Than Ever McDonald's Corp. saw a 50% increase in sales during the first quarter of 2012 after opening a remodeled restaurant in Riverside, California, that features a new décor, solar panels on the carport, and ceiling panels that contain L.E.D. lights. During the first 12 months, sales at this restaurant increased 20% overall.
Walgreens Up-Market stores Evolving with Consumers
Walgreens is creating and bundling distinctive differentiated food consumable's as an entity with identity by day part in a mix and match meal component format in select urban setting targeted at both the office worker for lunch and meal components for them to take home for the family dinner. It is a successful program. With over 7,550+ units operating in the United States Walgreens has the potential to become the most disruptive force in food retailing in 50 years. Walgreens with its modular mid-sized foot-print is garnering customers from both restaurants and grocery stores.
Consumers Want Easy to Prepare Meals
The grocerant niche continues to grow with companies like Central Market, Whole Foods, Wegmans and 7 Eleven entering the fresh prepared better for you space. Meal time is now becoming a time of convenient meal participation, with differentiation and individualization for the entire family. Safeway with its lifestyle stores are heading in the right direction however the stores are so large consumers are forced to spend more time in them than they want according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.
More often than not the multi-generational family today is multi-ethnic as well. Creating a demand for more varied flavors and additional cooking skill set that is simply not there. Grocery stores, Convenience Stores, Restaurants and Chain Drug Stores are all selling Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. Is your focus family dinning? Are you selling meals or meal components for Take-Out, delivery or Take-Away?
Lacking the skill set to prepared fresh prepared multi-ethnic meal components at home coupled with the time it takes to prepared a home cooked meal it is clear the buying habits of consumers will continue to evolve. Bundling mix and match meal components into a meal is one key driver within the grocerant niche. Given that most American family are comprised of multi-cultural background. The fight for share of stomach will only intensify.
Restaurants menu's at one time were very narrow in focus and have moved more upscale with offerings such as Oriental; Chicken Salad, Southwest Chicken Salad, along with a chef salads. Grocery stores on the other hand are expected to sell complete lines of Ready2-Eat multi-ethnic food. That places higher expectations on grocers than restaurants or a company like Walgreens. Walgreens might just be in the perfect spot to expand fresh prepared food offerings capturing customers from both restaurants and supermarkets. How is your company evolving?  Who is your next competitor? Are you prepared for success over the next five years?  Outside eye can provide inside results.

Since 1991  a Tacoma, WA based retail foodservice consultancy has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. For product or brand positioning assistance contact: or Call: 253-759-7869. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What’s Driving Foodservice Sales Growth?

Alice May Brock said: “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian, wine and tarragon make it French, sour cream makes it Russian, lemon and cinnamon make it Greek, soy sauce makes it Chinese, garlic makes it good.”

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson stated “Convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization; are each hallmarks of the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Hat fresh prepared grocerant niche.” What’s driving growth today is bundled meal components prepared fresh.”

Meal components allow customers to select from Italian, American, French, Russian or Greek and utilize the components at home any way they like.  The new American meal can be a composite of any prepared food components that the individual may want and they can mix and pair them any way as well.  The United States is a melting pot of people from all over the world, with different cultures, traditions and flavor preferences.  The new American meal is a melting pot of flavor and choice.  Meal components that can be mix and matched for home consumption are integral to retail success.

Fresh prepared and portable Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat foods are now available for seemingly everywhere.  They can be found at Convenience stores, Drug stores, Grocery stores, Restaurants, Mobile trucks all just waiting for the taking.  When developing new menu items do you consider where the food will be consumed?

Consumers have been exposed to a plethora of flavors and have not the time to master the skill of cooking each.  The rapidly growing grocerant trend is empowering the consumer to establish new customs and traditions in eating better, more flavorful food.  The Grocerant niche is about convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fast Casual Over Hyped Again? This time it’s Fast Casual Pizza, Over Hyped or Not?

The Fast Casual craze that industry publications are continually writing about is it a trend or a media fad?  Many legacy restaurant consulting firms keep selling syndicated studies informing you how many legacy industry metric benchmarks tilt in favor of “Fast Casual” including in the pizza sector. Are they correct?
One company wanted to look at consumer behavior today in hopes of forecasting success within the pizza sector tomorrow.  Most syndicated studies measure yesterday’s metrics that are simply not consumer relevant today.
In a recent syndicated study titled 2014 Pizza Consumer Trend Report found that “75% of consumers eat pizza twice a month or more often, and consumers report an average of 3.4 pizza occasions per month. What’s missing is pizza customer behavior. 
In a new study conducted by the mystery-shopper firm A Closer Look found that “despite the proliferation of entrants in the largely on-premise better-pizza market, 80 percent of consumers prefer their pizza for takeout or delivery”
While regular readers of industry trade publications keep reading how Fast Casual everything including Pizza is the answer to the world problems, restaurant industry customer counts are in decline including at once touted fast casuals. 
Newbie’s entrepreneur’s hoping to become the Chipotle of the pizza sector looking for a strong lunch business to drive success in the Fast Casual sector, may be dismayed  to learn that “89% of pizza orders today are placed for dinner” the A Closer Look  survey of 2,000 consumers found.
The long term sustainability of Fast Casual Pizza requires monumental movement in consumer behavior, in consumer attitudes and shopping patterns. What is clear is the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared pizza space is strong and pizza consumers continue to focus, and favor the 5 P’s: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price.   Legacy chains the ilk of Domino’s, Papa Murphy’s, Little Caesars, and Papa John’s are not in threat any time soon. 
What is clear is consumers in the casual / fast casual dining space may trade burger frequency for pizza when available. The opportunity for Blaze, Perfect Pie, and others is bright, but not near as bright as it is for legacy chains that cater to consumers preferred day-parts, portability, and price competitive positioning.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Friday, March 21, 2014

Restaurant Sector Clobbered by Competitive Threats Says AlixPartners

Legacy restaurant chains have been forewarned evolve or fade away.  AlizPartners released a new consumer study that found a shocking “29 percent of Americans say they intend to spend less on dining out over the next year”.  That number is the highest of all 14 categories the study covers. The battle for share of stomach and the food dollar continues to intensify.
In addition consumers surveyed expect to spend “9.1 percent less per restaurant compared to what they spent last year” this is another significant jump from AlixPartners' 2013 study.  In the 2013 study consumers “predicted they would spend 5 percent less during the year ahead.” The restaurant sector suffered year or year customer count loss in 2013 and without price increased same store sales declines for the industry as a whole. 
Molly Harnishfeger, of AlixPartners Restaurant & Foodservice Practice stated. "And the competition won't be coming just from other restaurants, but from convenience and grocery stores as well." Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru added “Drug Stores like Walgreens, Liquor Stores like Pinkies and Food Retailers like Harry & David continue to garner Millennials in search of food discovery.”
Legacy restaurant chains must adapt to the evolving fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat grocerant niche competition or risk capitulating top line sales, margins, and market share. Convenience stores have been adapting to the evolving retail marketplace faster.  Grocery stores are making headway as well. 
In fact the AlixPartners study found that:
1.       Consumers prefer to visit grocery and c-stores for breakfast 13% of the time;
2.        For lunch, 6% of the time;
3.       For Dinner 4% of the time
4.       For late-night food 24% of the time
5.       For snacks 49% of the time 
There was some good news for the Restaurant sector within the AlixPartners study; 35% of coffee drinkers prefer fast-casual restaurants that place an emphasis on coffee, however c-stores are catching up, going from 17% during the third quarter of 2013 to 21% during the first quarter of 2014. 
There is always some interesting data points in every study that resonate with hands on operators this is one of them. The latest study found that “84% of consumers listed healthy menu options as at least somewhat important to them when choosing where to dine out, but only 20% said such options are very or extremely important.”  Starbucks Howard Shultz stated we tried Gluten Fee and customers did not buy it. 
The Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche is booming and Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru reminds operators rule one “the food must taste good”.  Selling good food is paramount what is changing are the new points of distributions.  Your food retail competition today can come from anywhere.  Is your company prepared for success in the fast evolving retail food landscape?  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Foodservice 2014 The Next Big Thing: Eating Out by Eating In?

Millennials Drive Change in Retail Foods
Many legacy restaurant chain Boomer CEO’s are in a quagmire of stewardship. Unwilling to dramatically redesign; concept footprint, menu items, or points of distribution they are saddled with “canned” concepts once suited for the golden age of the restaurant industry.
Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ stated “Brand protectionism is fast fading away and giving ground to brand evolution. That evolution is required for long term brand survival. Consumers are dynamic not static and brands must be as well.”
Consumers are not thinking like many boomer CEO’s who continue to hold on to psychological mindset of yesterday’s brand position in a world of contemporized consumers.  When thinking “What’s for Dinner” recent research by Foodservice Solutions® found 86 percent of consumers at 1PM have no idea at all and 65 percent of consumers at 5PM still do not know “What’s for Dinner”.  Thus the rise of the Grocerant Niche companies selling fresh prepared food for Eating In or Eating Out in direct competition for legacy restaurants while challenging legacy grocery stores models.
Want to know what a Grocerant is?
Want to know what a Grocerant is or where to find Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food? In reality a grocerant is where a consumer can find fresh prepared food aimed at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals or meal components that can be bundled into a meal and or packaged for Take-Out, Take-Away, or To-Go.
Today, grocerant meals and meal components are found in liquor stores, drug-stores (Walgreens), fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, full-service restaurants, and restaurants inside grocery stores, in legacy “deli” departments, furniture stores (Ikea), club stores (Costco) and clothing stores from Tommy Bahama, Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s.  
Eating Out by Eating In?
Take-Out and Take-Away Options Threaten legacy business models…  menu items have been around so long that consumer simply take them for granted. Millennials are on a quest for personal discovery… looking past the once obvious choice. The result is an opportunity for a new business, that is new business models selling fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. 

With the increased presents of the 65 inch HDTV in home today Foodservice Solutions®  research find “The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome” was edified recently in the 9th edition of “The Why Behind the Buy” published by Acosta Sales and Marketing found: 

“Contrary to some reports, eating at home is not passé. Rather it has evolved to meet the needs of busier lifestyles, more sophisticated palates and consumers who have become accustomed to immediate gratification. Indications of how the boundaries of eating in and eating out have blurred can be seen in the rise of the grocerant - grocery store as restaurant - where ready-to-eat meals have been a major area of growth; the popularity of quick-serve restaurants, food delivery and take-away; and the growing array of meal solution product offerings from CPG companies. In other words, shoppers are increasing eating out by eating in.”
Millennials  Drive Change
The influence of Millennials can no longer be denied.  Millennials which represent 22% of the U.S. population today are fast approaching their “prime” spending years. Millennials grew up with fast internet access everywhere, mobile technology, and are now engaging and demanding a food focused seamlessly integrated life style.  In a recent study titled The Why? Behind The Buy found “65% of Millennials say losing this phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car.” Are you willing to give up your car? Soon Millennials will out spend Generation X and the Boomer Generation.

That same study found that young shoppers are adapting to new food trends including buying Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  That is something all food retailers need to pay particular attention too. In fact that study found that in the past 30 days:

·         Bought Home Prepared Foods  -  GenY / Mellennials 78%  Gen X only 68%, and Boomers 60%
·         Ordered Food From A Restaurant for Pick-Up / Carry-Out in the past 30 days - Gen Y / Millennials 78%, Gen X 72, and Boomers 58%
·         Ordered Food From A Restaurant for Delivery in the past 30 days - Gen Y / Millennials 67%, Gen X 57, and Boomers 36%
As you can see for each of the above, Millenial Shoppers outpace Boomers anywhere from 30% to a whopping 100%!  Is your brand positioned for Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Easter Brunch 2014 Eating In with Harry & David

Will you be having company at your house this Easter but don’t have time to cook?  Are you going home visiting aging parents this year for Easter?  If so you are just like millions of Americans facing the dilemma eating Easter Brunch Out or Eating In?  Will you be faced with packing up the kid’s already full of candy and getting them into the car, let alone tasked with keeping them seated at the restaurant once you arrive?  Will you arrive at your parent’s home knowing they don’t want to cook a big meal any longer nor do they want to go out and wait in a long line for Easter Brunch?  
This year one family focused company Harry & David wants you to enjoy your Family, Easter Brunch, and a Great Meal.  With nearly 80 years of successful fresh food retail Harry & David is still evolving with consumers.  Harry & David is an American tradition, from its inception and initial success selling fresh fruit as a business gift, then direct to consumer fresh fruit and gifts.  Continually evolving this year Harry & David is offering an Easter Brunch just Heat-N-Eat.
Easter Brunch Eating In by Ordering Out Online or via Phone
Built on a reputation for unmatched fresh food quality, consistency, and customer service regular customers will welcome this year’s new Easter Meal options.   Harry & David this Easter is giving restaurant customers another option Eat In by Ordering Out.
Entering the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food Grocerant Niche Harry & David is expanding customer relevance.  They have two Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat options great meal options for Easter Brunch. 
Two Options for Eating In by Ordering Out They are:

Option 1: “The star of this gift is the precooked spiral sliced ham. Glazed with honey, brown sugar and orange oil, it has a rich, smoky-sweet flavor and is sure to be a perennial favorite. The sides are stellar, too. With scalloped potatoes, apricot glazed carrots and a roasted vegetable and caramelized onion frittata on the table, there are a lot of tasty dishes to love. And for dessert, there's the blueberry peach crisp. Buttery oats, brown sugar and cinnamon come together with peaches and blueberry to create a mouthwatering treat that will fill the house with sweet smells.”

Option 2: “This Easter Brunch gift makes a great Easter feast for just about everyone. Whether it's for your home, for relatives who live far away, for Grandma or for the student who can't be home for the holidays, this brunch gift is filled with all sorts of tasty things. Like a precooked honey-glazed ham, roasted vegetable and caramelized onion frittata, scalloped potatoes and Meyer lemon blueberry muffins with a dash of cinnamon.”

Non-traditional fresh food retailers continue to expand creating a platform for accelerated growth within the grocerant niche. Consumer’s looking for new and different experiences are driving the wave of success in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  Harry & David is edifying its brand while building top line sales and bottom line profits selling fresh prepare food that is Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat .

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization or you can learn more at Johnson, or

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Starbucks Not Yesterday’s Brand Starbucks is More Like Tomorrow’s Brand

Unlike  Sbarro, Quiznos, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Cosi,  Starbucks a forty three year old company continues to look more like a consumer relevant brand of tomorrow than a legacy brand of yesterday. In today’s Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food Grocerant World Starbucks fits right in.
Let me as, how old is your company?  What is your growth rate? Does your brand have consumer relevance? Here let’s take a quick look at Starbucks founded in 1971 some 43 years ago Q1 2014 numbers:
1.       Consolidated net revenues increased 12% huge base to $4.2 billion
2.       Global Same Store Sales Grew 5%, Customer Count increased 4%
3.       Americas and U.S. Same Store Sales Grew 5%, Customer Counts increased 4%
4.       Operating margins improved 260 basis points
5.       Dollars loaded on Starbucks Cards reached 1.4 billion in the latest quarter
An unnamed CEO talking to me recently on this topic said yes but that’s Starbucks.  He was 100% correct not his company!  Why, is it Ok for Starbucks to continually out preform and his company not?  Simple Leadership! Vision and a proven formula of success steps:  Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat.  Simply put Starbucks learns from miss-steps and moves on. 
When after 20+ years of not offering food they began selling food.  They got it wrong.  It was not working up to the standards that they required or customer’s expectation’s so they discontinued it and began anew. Today it works well within the Starbucks store and outside the store digitally.
Yes, this little Seattle coffee shop that opened up in 1971 today not only will sell more than $16 Billion in products this year. Sales and customer relevance come from trial and innovation. Starbucks digital innovation will contribute billions of those sales. They will come from a branded Starbucks App for the iPhone. Starbucks reports that they have more than:
1.       11% of transactions a week now happening with a mobile device in our stores
2.       Nearly 10 million customers currently using our mobile app
3.       Now Digital Tipping Customers can show their appreciation to store partners by tipping through the Starbucks App for iPhone. Customers are given the option to provide a tip in the following denominations: 50 cents, $1, and $2.
4.       Shake to Pay To simplify mobile payments, customers can now bring the barcode of their Starbucks Card front and center at any time, simply by shaking their mobile device.

Is your company waiting for the economy to turn around?  Are you blaming a bifurcated marketplace as your reason to wait?  Does your company traditionally not lead but follow?    Successful brands understand that consumer is dynamic not static and they are as well.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991

Monday, March 17, 2014

Restaurant Sector’s Achilles Heel Channel Blurring

Restaurant sales continue tracking down or flat, restaurant customers are not eating any less.  Restaurant customers are simply eating somewhere else. Year over year customer counts continue to be slipping at a majority of legacy chain restaurants, particularly restaurant chains practicing brand protectionism. Many of the same companies have a business model more akin to yesterday than tomorrow. Are your year over year customer counts down?  Is your business model more akin to yesterday than too tomorrow?
Channel blurring only exist in the minds-eye of Neanderthal marketing managers.  Channel blurring does not occur in the minds-eye of the consumer.  Specifically 90 million of the most sought after customers between the ages of 18 to 30 called Millennials.  To Millennials food and eating occasion have become more about discovery, interaction, and small meals.  To the Millennials it is about share of stomach not retail sector, or retail channel. They do not care if they get a meal occasion at Food Court, Food Truck, Food Festival, sit down restaurant, stand up-restaurant. 
In a new study King Retail Solutions  commissioned  on how to better understand shoppers’ habits and attitudes when it comes to retail category blurring found: .

1.       Fifty-seven percent of Millennial shoppers purchase some of their groceries at a convenience store. 7-Eleven, Kwik Trip, Wawa and Circle K stores are among the top 20 places consumers look to buy groceries when they aren’t going to a traditional grocery store. 
2.       Twenty-eight percent of people will pick up a fresh meal at a c-store, but women are less likely than men to do so. These statistics are loaded with possibility.
3.       With 74 percent of shoppers willing to purchase a service from a non-service provider (think getting a haircut at a RaceTrac store);
4.        88 percent of shoppers willing to purchase a fresh meal from a non-restaurant (a salmon spring roll from a C-store;
5.       96 percent of shoppers willing to purchase groceries from a non-grocery store (milk and eggs from 7-Eleven), shoppers appear open-minded to expanding their horizons.
Today, Pinkies Liquor stores sell fresh prepared meals.  Pinkies have no table’s in-side or out-side.  After adding full kitchens sales in every department within the store are up double digit with incremental sales of fresh prepared food driving top line sales and bottom line profits in the 20% range.
Regional convenience store Wawa sells over 195 Million cups of coffee ever year. Yes, Wawa is a breakfast destination.  Convenience store Casey’s General Stores with over 1735 stores is winning in the dinner time slot with fresh pizza and pizza deliver.  With fresh food sales up 11.2% last year and overall sales up 7.3%.  
Do you know who will be your competitor next year? Your customers are not eating less they are simply eating somewhere else.  The grocerant niche filled with fresh prepared food is evolving faster than many legacy chain restaurants. Consumers are dynamic not static.  Restaurant brand protectionism is dead.  You could be risking everything by sticking with what you’ve always done.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact:  Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Will Austin, Texas SXSW Geek Food Focus Break the Doldrums in the Restaurant Sector?

Each of the last several years more and more chain restaurant Marketing, Technology, Communications, and Human Resource employees have been spotted in the crowds, at the parties or asking questions of presenters at SXSW. The chains are looking for The Next Big Thing to help them drive sales and beat the competition yet the restaurant sector remains notoriously slow at adopting technology.  What’s with that?
Much to the chagrin of legacy chain restaurants, and three steps ahead of them was IBM’s supercomputer teaming with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE).  With a red food serving Austrian chocolate burritos to geek hipsters at SXSW in Austin, TX and the geeks loved the food. IBM was in Austin, TX to introduce and show off it “Cognitive Cooking System”.
“The truck’s purpose is to show the world that a supercomputer can do more that sift data. IBM argues that when the proper algorithms are applied to carefully chosen data sets, Watson can come up with highly creative recipe ideas. This is menu engineering of the most coldly technical sort. Yet the food turns out to be a lot more fun than the process used to create it would lead you to believe.”
IBM is ”tackling food in collaboration with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). ICE chefs execute the recipes Watson dreams up and serve them out of the truck at high-profile events. Among those doing the cooking: 2007 James Beard Award Outstanding Pastry Chef Award winner Michael Laiskonis, Real-world feedback from food truck customers gives Watson’s handlers a read on how well recipe development is going. …
 “What appears as a list of ingredients for a novel and flavorful meal is actually the result of a system that intelligently generates millions of ideas out of the quintillions of possibilities, and then predicts which ones are the most surprising and pleasant, applying big data in new ways.”
Here are some examples of menu items developed: Austrian Chocolate Burrito; Caribbean Snapper Fish & Chips; Vietnamese Apple Kebab; Swiss-Thai Asparagus Quiche; Turkish Bruschetta; and Caymanian Plantain Dessert. Each was the result of some serious brainpower, supplied both by Watson and the ICE chefs, and has been road-tested on the truck. One or more could work well as short-term specials especially if your restaurant draws a tech-savvy crowd. 
Clearly success does leave clues. My questions is: Can a Computer Stop Doldrums in the Restaurant Sector? Will any restaurant company be bold enough to try? Will a Tech company leverage this to open a chain of their own?  Why not, they have the cash, knowledge. What might be next? Smart food.
For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact:  Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all.