Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Smoothie King Pours the Holiday Cheer

It’s that time of year when the Holiday’s take center stage and eating-out becomes as important as what you eat.  This year Smoothie King is celebrating the holiday season with the launch of their new seasonal meal replacement blends at all store locations beginning November 14 through December 26 to help you stay fit and maintain the holiday spirit.
The new menu items fit that bill according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® the new items include; Slim-N-Trim Cranberry, The Activator Gingerbread, and Vegan Apple Cinnamon are all limited edition smoothies tailored to fit guests’ purposes: Slim, Fitness and Wellness, respectively, as part of a sensible diet and regular exercise routine. 
Mitchell Grittman, Food Scientist for Smoothie King  stated “With the holiday meal replacement blends containing up to 27 grams of protein and all being less than 400 calories per 20 oz. cup, guests can enjoy the holiday flavors we all crave without the guilt,”.  “Each of these holiday meal replacement blends deliver on Smoothie King’s Cleaner Blending initiative by containing no gluten, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, and no ingredients prohibited by any regulatory lists monitored by NSF.”
In case you did not know Smoothie King blends all smoothies with a specific purpose in mind.  Whether your goal is to slim down, firm up, stay well, replace a meal, or just take a break, they have a smoothie that can help fulfill everyone’s purpose as part of a sensible diet and regular exercise routine. 
Smoothie King also offers a number of nutritious Ready-2-Eat or Ready-2-Drink retail products, including sports beverages, energy bars, vitamins, supplements and more.  Mix and Match meal bundling drives retail growth in every category of retail foodservice today.

Success does leave clues www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  is the global leader in grocerant niche business development.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  Has your company had a Grocerant ScoreCard completed a Grocerant Program Assessment, or new Grocerant niche product Ideation?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us

Monday, October 30, 2017

Traditional Grocery Stores: Some are Winning Some Not Yet

There is no doubt that the Price-Value-Service Equilibrium that exist today within the traditional grocery sector is evolving faster than many traditional grocery stores are willing to admit according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Given the increase in calls and followers specifically from Wall Street analyst, investors, and media; Johnson believes that the undercurrents of change are taking root from food retailers that stock pantry’s to food retailers restocking better for you ‘fresh foods’ with customer relevance. Which reflects the fact that consumers are dynamic not static. In food retail the vast majority of consumers do not take steps backwards they only move forward according to Johnson. We ask is the pantry of yesterday the future of food retail?

Foodservice Solutions® team consist of a mix of food industry research legends, sector experts, ethnographic leaders, marketing professionals, and one Grocerant Guru® all of which agree that the clarity and direction of traditional grocery stores is clear. 

So what does that mean?  Simply put there will be those doing what they have always done, and those that don’t.  So when the Wall Street types call what do they think?  Who knows?  But the one thing we all agree upon is that they ask some very good questions.

For example are traditional grocery stores simply to large?  Is Aldi the fastest growing grocer?  Will Lidl garner market share, if so from whom? What they are not asking is do consumers still stock a pantry?  What type of foods can be found inside a Gen Z household pantry, and Gen X household pantry, and a Baby Boomer household pantry? The team at Foodservice Solutions® uncovers the answers to those and many other relevant questions while conducting and reviewing our Grocerant ScoreCards. This leads us and our clients to a greater understanding of who is winning and who is losing the battle for an increase in Share of Stomach within retail foodservice. 

Recently one of our team was asked to comment on Kroger’s plan to ‘redefine the way America eats’ and the Whole Foods acquisition ramifications. So we asked one of our industry legends speaking about Kroger’s redefining stated that he could have written that during 1980 or 1990 for Kroger or any other grocery retailer back in the day.  Our own Grocerant Guru® said that it is familiar, comfortable, and a reliable statement for a food retailer that wants to maintain the status quo.

On the other hand when asked about the Whole Foods acquisition our legend had no comments only questions, all of which were proactively positive and each highlighting incremental opportunity.  While our Grocerant Guru® was a bit straight forward saying it is a ‘customer relevant move filled will consumer interactive and participatory challenges but a glimpse in to tomorrow’s food retail not yesterdays.”

The battle for Share of Stomach is not about retail sectors or how many retail avenues of fresh food distribution you sell food in.  It is all about the consumer and when, where, why they eat what they eat and how they eat it.
The team at Foodservice Solutions® does not know which company will be the next A&P.  They do all however agree that unlike A&P that began its decline 50 years ago and continued to capitulate market shave over the next 50 years the next retailer to fail will fail and fail faster.  Will that retailer be you?  Are you doing what you did 6 months ago, two years ago, or five years ago?  Does your growth come only via acquisition or are you driving incremental same store sales?

Does your path forward look more like yesterday than tomorrow? 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? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Family Meals Made Easy Dinnerly

Success does leave clues and meal kits are one new retail food product that has struck a chord with consumers according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson. One person that seemingly always finds success is Martha Stewart with meal kits she stared with Martha & Marley Spoon.  Now Martha & Marley Spoon have developed Dinnerly with meals that cost less than the average Meal Kit.

Dinnerly offers meal kits that are packed with flavor and value and that are easy to prepare for around $ 5 dollars per serving. In short Dinnerly is a discounted meal kit option with plans on expanding meal kit option to more homes. Each kit contains only one or two ingredients that need to be chopped, with a total of only six ingredients per packages.

Each meal kit recipe is designed to require 30 minutes or less of prep work and cooking time and they are advertised as ‘picky-eater approved” each is available in either two or four servings sizes. Stewart’s team first tested the Dinnerly kits on the west coast and is now offering them nationwide.

Most meal kit companies the ilk of Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Plated focus on the high-end cooking experiences, elevated menu selections rather than cost.  Dinnerly is addressing the cost factor right up front.
CEO Fabian Siegel focused on keeping the overhead low in order to offer a more affordable product several steps were taken to ‘simplify’ the kits; including ‘physical recipe cards are not shipped with the meals but are only available digitally and can be printed.  Delivery is not free either, unless you buy from Amazon and are a Prime member. 

Siegel stated “that he would rather cut down on those amenities than compromise the quality of the food. Take all of the luxuries out that people don’t want to pay for and don’t need but keep the core value.  The quality of food is the same it’s just a bit simpler’.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant/ or twitter.com/grocerant

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Globally Grocerant Meals Garnering Growth

Regular readers of this blog know we have visited, worked-in, and discussed grocerant growth from France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines without doubt Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared grocerant niche food is driving success globally according to our own Grocerant Guru®.
Koreans are cooking less at home and focusing on healthy living as production of health food products and home meal replacements rose significantly in 2016, according to the Korean Food and Drug Safety Ministry, products in the home meal replacement category rose in production across the board.

They reported that production of ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat products rose from 1.04 trillion won ($920.5 million) to 1.55 trillion won, while boxed meals like those sold at convenience stores rose from 765 billion won to 972.6 billion won. Those are big numbers my friends.
Interestingly the Korean Food Safety Ministry attributed these increases to the “rising numbers of one-person households and double-income households,” which have been accompanied by fewer people choosing to cook at home.

Rising demand for delivery food such as pizza, chicken and steamed pigs’ feet, or jokbal, contributed to a rise in sauce and seasoning production, which rose from 1.8 trillion won to 2.7 trillion won. Combine that with a continued drop in birth rate in Korea, which means lower demand for baby formula, caused production of processed dairy products to fall, from 335.8 billion won in 2015 to 265.3 billion won last year.

Production rose most sharply on-year in the health food category, which rose by 29.9 percent on-year to reach 1.47 trillion won in 2016. This kind of growth drove food sales from every sector of retail including
Shinsegae Department Store's main branch in Seoul and 7-Eleven’s and everywhere in-between.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us  the 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. Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fast Food Restaurants Battling Convenience Stores for Gen Z Dollars

Hungry, in a hurry, with a  cell phone in hand, Gen Z wants a meal, a snack, a drink and they want it in a full of flavor.  Technology is second nature to members too Gen Z; members of this emerging generation are at the high end only 20 years old.

The Gen Z members were born between 1995 and 2014 most still enjoy McDonald’s but now days don’t get the Happy Meal.  However they are happy with the offerings, pricing, and speed of service at McDonalds according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Gen Z unquestionably has and continues to enjoy 7-Eleven’s Slurpees and recent Grocerant ScoreCards findings reveal that Gen Z has a 96% brand recognition of both 7-Eleven and McDonalds. In addition both brands have a ‘strong’ favorable rating according to Johnson.  

Here is the point the convenience store sector had $34.5 billion in foodservice sales in 2016, growing at near to 11.3%.  Prepared food accounts for the lion's share of the pie at $23.4 billion. Hot dispensed beverages comes in second at $7.3 billion, according to Mintel research shared during the 2017
It might be that you are not yet paying enough attention to Gen Z but regular readers of this blog know that Gen Z eat more times a day that previous generations they tend to eat smaller meals, snacks, are happiest when they can mix and match flavors, meal components, personalizing a meal or drink. 

Taking a deeper dive into the demographics, Mintel found that the convenience store sector has a” growing number of "true loyalists" — those who are true fans of c-stores — are foodservice buyers.” Here is why the fast food sector should be concerned about a growing rate of customer migration from fast to c-stores.

1.       More than 90 percent of true loyalists say convenience store ready-to-eat food saves them time vs. roughly 75 percent of general c-store consumers.
2.       One in five consumers wants kiosk ordering in a c-store,
3.       Mintel's research found "Quality is the differentiator,"
4.       The store is clean.
5.       Food and drinks are made fresh.
6.       Food and drinks look appealing.
7.       Items are made with fresh ingredients.
8.       Items come in high-quality packaging.

The battle for share of stomach continues within the foodservice sector and Gen Z may be the generations to redefine who and where to find the foodservice leaders. Is your brand evolving fast enough?

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? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Grocerant Meal Component Bundling Works

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.”

Convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization; are each hallmarks of Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®

Meal components allow customers to select from Italian, American, French, Russian, Greek or any combination of flavor profiles 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. 

Johnson continued “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 all consumers and 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?

Today, consumers have been exposed to a plethora of flavors and have not the time to master the skill-set to even think about 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.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities. The Grocerant niche is about convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization  visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us or Email: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TGI Fridays Date Night At Home

Success does lave clues and at TGI Fridays one of the success clues includes online ordering, the casual-dining chain has seen take-out sales grow 45 percent.  Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has pontificated portability since 2001 while assisting CyberMeals and Food.com roll out the first national Online ordering for chain restaurants.
Caroline Masullo TGI Fridays vice president of digital and e-commerce stated “Online ordering is a proven sales driver for Fridays, so we are going all in on making it easier than ever for our guests to recreate the Fridays experience at home,” “We are investing heavily in digital technology because, as an iconic brand, Fridays must evolve along with the lifestyle of our guests,”
Back in the day date night was at a TGI Fridays no you can still have a TGI Friday’s date night with the same great food only in the comfort of your home. When TGI Fridays deployed a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that answers customer questions, such as finding the nearest restaurant. It also offers reservation capabilities at some restaurants. The chatbot, created with Conversable, has been expanded to Twitter and delivery.
Masullo continued “Everyone today, regardless of age, is looking for convenience and efficiency…And our guests in particular want that convenience and efficiency paired with the fun, social, carefree experience they get every time they walk into a Fridays restaurant.” Here are some facts from TGI Fridays:
1.       The average online order ticket is 7.2 percent higher than an in-restaurant ticket.
2.       Guests younger than 40 years old account for more than 60 percent of all delivery orders.
3.       Guests who order online visit 51 percent more frequently than those who only visit in the restaurant, among non-cash, credit and debit card users.
4.       More than 70 percent of online orders in the last year have come from new TGI Fridays customers.
5.       Forty-eight percent of new Rewards program members in 2017 are Millennials between the ages of 21 and 32.
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wawa Reigns Supreme

Regular readers know that leaders lead and when it come to the c-store channel Wawa’s leadership shines through breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night. While there are no Wawa stores on the West Coast Tacoma, WA based Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson of Foodservice Solutions® knows that Wawa’s food quality, service and pricing are the three key driving of their success. 

In the report released at the 2017 NACS Show in Chicago, Nielsen named the top ranked c-stores by brand equity. Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa had the highest equity among convenience stores in 2017, followed by Westborough, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms, with Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. and La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc. also ranking in the top five in the United States.

Fresh food matters, according to Nielsen, one third of convenience shoppers expect to purchase fresh food in the convenience channel in the future. And when it comes to foodservice, convenience retailers should focus on differentiating the destination by offering fresh ready-to-eat/healthy foods, as quality is the biggest claimed barrier for purchasing fresh food in c-stores.

In addition Nielsen found that shopping experience/satisfaction can increase with focus on store operations around good customer service, store cleanliness, quick in-and-out, and product availability.
"Now more than ever, consumers value convenience.
As a result, retailers are placing big bets across a variety of hot button topics to differentiate themselves and drive growth," said Nikhil Sharma, vice president consumer and shopper analytics, Nielsen. Wow you have to love the fact that our Grocerant Guru® has been telling you that in our blog since 2009. 

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? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Does Recycling Retail Foodservice Executives Work Anymore?

Recycling executives from brand to brand and without a change in strategy may not be the successful solution in 2017. What was once a successful strategy during the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000 recycling executive simply is not working in 2017.

If you are over 30 you can harken back to your childhood and remember getting your picture taken on your birthday by someone holding Camera.  If you were to look around today you noticed that Kodak is nearly out of business (gone as we knew it) . Growing up in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, every family had a Kodak Camera and I still have one of mine. Those yellow boxes were everywhere and getting your very own Kodachrome camera was seemingly a rite of passage, heck, Paul Simon even wrote a song about it.

As digital cameras gained popularity, Kodak stuck to what they believed. They sneered at digital’s quality, righteous in their knowledge that Americans would NEVER give up shiny pictures for their photo albums.

Today, cell phone cameras take most of the pictures and they are rarely printed. Kodak will shut the doors, correct in their assertion that professionally developed pictures look better than low-resolution versions uploaded to Facebook.

Being dead and correct is not a great strategy.  Today chain restaurants are either growing or dying much the same as Kodak. Simply look at restaurants that filed bankruptcy of late: Claim Jumper, Mr. Pita,
Friendly’s, Chevys, Sbarro, Perkins, Ruby Tuesday.  Ok they are not all dead but they have been far from the brands they once were.

These are statements frequently heard from legacy restaurant operators. Like Kodak, crystal clear that what has always worked will continue to work.

• Our executives have 30 years of experience and know how to run the business.
• We never use coupons, nor do we deliver.
• We don’t allow our brand to wander, we protect our brand.
• We don’t use online ordering, I-pad ordering or voice screen ordering.
• We don’t advertise on Google, Twitter or Facebook.
• We don’t open for breakfast.
• We like the umbrella approach each store different personality but under one umbrella.
• Video menus and video signage is visceral gimmickry.
• We don’t measure ingredients, we create daily specials and simply show employees how to make it
• We can’t raise our menu prices.

How did a dominant brand and sector leader like Kodak, in a rock-solid consumer staple lose everything? Simple, they determined the market, the direction of that market and took the steps to conquer it.  If that sounds like your restaurant, retail food sector or niche leader, you better keep reading.

There is little about today’s market, the consumer or food marketing / promotions that was predictable 3 years ago. In the next three years the rate of change will continue to increase. So let’s look at the above list:

Reliability and a comfortable working relationship is correctly a key to success.  However, if you find your team is blaming the economy, minimum wages increases, cost of health care and rising food cost for disappointing results. Do not forget that many restaurants companies are growing both the top and bottom line, number of units and garnering market share.  Are your customer counts growing?  If not it might be time for Outside Eyes. 

We always/never use coupons – coupons and promotions are very complicated today. Add the online aggregators the ilk of Livingsocial and Groupon and how can you know what works. Here is the point, what you measure you manage. All advertising must have an objective that is clear and measurable to insure a proper marketing ROI. Is stacking food on the plate a tactic that will drive sales or is it a positioning ploy of the 2005?  Is digital marketing the same as digital ordering? Don’t know?

We don’t deliver – face it, convenience is a driving reason why foodservice is popular. If you do not want to deliver, consider outsourcing.  Delivery is not about you. That’s right it is about the consumer. Do our have a strategy for dealing with Munchery, AmazonGo, Wegmans or HEB fresh food delivery? 
Foodservice Solutions® does.

We protect the value of our brand and its integrity for the consumer, our shareholders and stakeholders.  We know the consumer is dynamic not static, but our customer’s comeback because we have a brand promise and they trust in us to keep that promise. Sounds a lot like Kodak, don’t you think?

We don’t use online ordering our food does not “carry” well.  Think about this if you don’t have a way to connect your menu to computers and mobile devices, your competition will woo your customers. Consumers are time starved, and hooked on technology, make it easy.
Five years ago Google or Facebook – as above, set up a Facebook page, it costs nothing. Have someone help if you need it and then monitor your page 5 minutes a day.  Today there is so much more.

We don’t open for breakfast – you pay rent 24/7, find ways to increase the utilization of your “factory”. Considering catering or school lunch program, contract out your kitchen.  Don’t become the next Kodak of chain restaurants. In two years will you have more retail outlets open or fewer?

Different store brands / personalities under one large corporation and all expected to operate utilizing a uniform set of metrics.  Worked well in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s but you have the answer.  Let me know just how well that works out.

Visceral gimmickry does not replace high quality food and great service ever.  Who defines quality service you by your brand promise or the consumer?

We don’t measure ingredients; my employees know how much to use – why have menu prices, let customer pay whatever they want. If you don’t care what your product costs, you CAN’T make money.
We can’t raise our menu prices – tell that to the gas station owner on the corner, or the farmer growing your food. Costs are up, you must raise your menu prices or you will not exist. That one we understand is underway.

Kodak management, smart and hard working as they were, did not see the world changing, fortunately you do. Realize that change is good and necessary. Act now to challenge your assumption, create new revenue streams and increase profits.  Success does leave clues, Disney movies leave you with a smile, being dead and correct is not a great strategy.  Do you have a second act? We think so if actions reflect consumer relevance of today not yesterday.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  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? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.