Harkin back during the late Home Meal Replacement frenzy when grocery stores, C-stores, and restaurants all studied with excitement the successful developments fabulous sales at Phil Romano's Eatzi's. Growing once again Eatzi's is where Phil turned the page from restaurateur too foodservice retailer, food merchant extraordinaire. Phil's experiment was a smashing success. It was and remains consumer interactive, participatory with visceral authenticity recording sales of 17 Million a year at the original store. Now in NYC Eatlaly is Eatzi's on steroids doing close to 60 Million a year in sales.
The legacy Home Meal Replacement focus quickly faded away in the Restaurant side of business. However in the Grocery, C-store, and Drug Store sector it continued to be studied, tested, and implemented. Today the grocerant niche is the strategic path of choice for non-traditional food retailers, targeted at restaurant customers, it is profitable, and expanding at an ever increasing pace.
Grocerant Meal Components Drive Retail Customer Adoption
Wawa was once considered a convenience store. Today Wawa positions it's brand as Fresh First, Built-ToOrder and Ready-To-Go with focus of serving Fast Casual Food- - To Go. At Wawa customers are now finding What's for Breakfast, What's for Lunch and now what's for Dinner. Wawa excels at offering consumer meal components that can be bundled into the perfect family mix and match family meal according to our own Grocerant Guru®.
Sheetz once a convenience store as well now calls themselves a restaurant that sells gas. Sheetz Made To Order food is a hit with customers. Sheetz is successful contemporizing legacy C-store products with differentiation, customization, and personalization. Consumer like Sheetz variety including a 24 hour menu serving all day parts - all day long with a wide range of consumer meal and snacking needs. Sounds and acts like a restaurant doing all the right things.
Rutter's Farm Stores is another convenience store in transition. Rutter's understands the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure, and the consumer's drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new messaging and Rutter's is meeting that need set.
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. Rutter's is an example of brand identity extending beyond consumer expectations within the traditional conveniences store sector. Too the consumer Rutter's is a direct valued competitor within the QSR space.
Grocerants Today Drive Incremental Experimentation
Foodservice Solutions® identified, quantified, qualified, and coined the term Grocerant back in 1996 and was the first to have the term published in NRN and Foodservice Director in 1996. The grocerant niche is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores all selling fresh prepared, portable convenient meal solutions. Targeted at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food components that are "better for you", portable and portioned for one or two. All of these operators want a larger share of the retail food market. They want to take share from the restaurants.
Whole Foods is no longer Whole Paycheck. Whole Foods 365 can be fresh food fast but they lost a bit of their focus in development yet it is still deemed "better for you" by consumers. They are driving customer frequency while building loyalty with Fresh prepared ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat better for you food. Whole Foods focus is on convenient meal participation, better for you differentiation, and individualization.
Safeway's has integrated Mix and Match Meal Bundling marketing into daily and weekly iPhone app's and legacy print flyers. With a focus on Fresh Prepared Food, Safeway is leveraging Foodservice Solutions® FIVE P's of Food Marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price establishing contemporized consumer relevance. In what was once restaurant food space alone grocery stores, C-stores and Drug stores are now garnering consumer attention.
Duane Reade, Bartell Drugs, and Rite Aid Disruptive Food Force
Is Walgreens Duane Reade the next Big Competitor in the retail fresh food space? Walgreens Fresh with Duane Reade has over 8,175 retail outlets. Who is selling what in your back yard? With Walgreens entering the fresh food area again with meats, wraps, soups "and other on-the-go grab-N—go meal component options, as well as convenient alternatives for tonight's family meal, it is clear that the future of fresh food retail leadership may be up in the air.
Bartell Drugs and Rite Aid are both offering more and more fresh prepared food options for consumers. From coast to coast increasing the drug store sector is adding fresh food options in the form of meal component options faster than any other sector except many the Dollar Store sector.
Food Retailers Stepping Up
Food Retailing never takes a step backward according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson. Consumers are dynamic not static always looking to save both time and money. The grocerant niche is propelling new quality points of fresh food distribution and competitors that are well financed. Remember, when it is 4pm, do you know what your customers want to make for dinner ?
Steven Johnson is the Grocerant Guru® at 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 Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® visit The Grocerant on LinkedIn or @Grocerant on Twitter