Thursday, June 14, 2018

Restaurant Customer Counts stifled by: The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome

Today as the line between restaurants and food retailers is growing ever thinner. The fight for America's food dollars continues to intensify as consumers find fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat food options at a wide and growing array of retail outlets across almost every retail channel including clothing retailers, convenience stores, chain drug store, chain restaurants, grocery stores, club stores, vending, food trucks and even more non-food retailers like dollar stores. It has become the new electricity driving customer frequency according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
While manufacturers, retailers and restaurants worry about choice overload, consumers have embraced their new choices and show no signs of returning to the old ways. This has resulted in consistent sales declines at legacy food manufactures and Johnson sees no end in sight as grocerant growth continues to expand around the globe. This fight is taking place in what is called the grocerant.
While Johnson and the team at Foodservice Solutions® identified The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome and presented the findings at MUFSO back in 2012. The restaurant industry is not an industry known for trying to be first as in fastest to market with an ideation, food or technology advance. In the United States the larger the chain in almost all cases the more slowly they are to adopt something than a smaller chain or independent restaurants will. Chain restaurants goal is simple feed one meal at a time in the restaurant while protecting and edifying the brand. It’s 2018 and food delivery which Johnson touted in his MUFSO presentation in 2012 is just now being taken as a serious brand extension.
Historically chain restaurant leaders have denied the credibility of start-up competitors as non-relevant. The pizza sector is a great example; evolving from family dinning independents to national chain of "Red Roof" Italian, then to delivery only outlets and now take-N-bake is garnering market share in the legacy pizza sector.
Trends in the Food Industry Point to an Increase in Non-Traditional Meal Occasions
At the intersection of the consumer, fresh prepared food and technology we fine that consumer eating behavior is evolving and is now beyond the control of traditional food marketers. Evolving culture and lifestyle, demographics along with the new uncertain economy are all putting pressure on the American food consumer:
Demands of work, economic shrinkage, demands of raising a family, commuting, social interaction, kid's after-school activities, all contribute to a food marketplace where convenience vies with price over legacy brands. Recent advances in food packaging and new points of non-traditional food distribution have empowered consumer choice, and Americans are embracing these choices even as legacy marketers cringe. Who's after restaurant food dollars… simply put… everyone.
Why should a restaurateur you care if Walgreens is selling fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared ‘better-for-you’ meal components? Why should you care if Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Wegmans are selling Ready-2-Eat and or Heat-N-Eat fresh pizza? Why should you care if Coinstar is selling Seattle Best Coffee at 1,000 locations for $1.00?
You should care because they are selling it, and you are not! The fastest growing sector of retail food service for the past four years has been the Convenience store sector. The C-store sectors growth in large part has been driven by fresh prepared food. Non-traditional avenues of distribution are growing, gobbling market share while establishing new patterns of consumption, price points and customer loyalty. The grocerant niche meals, meal components are the new electricity driving food industry growth and customer adoption.
According to Johnson, “Brand relevance is in part driven with innovation in new food products in combination with new avenues of distribution all of which are the platform for the new electricity.”
Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, urban clothing, grocerant consultants, urban farming (produce, seafood, etc.), autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, cash-less payments, digital hand held marketing.
Foodservice retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different.  That will require retail food brands and manufactures to embrace new fresh food partnerships more now than ever before according to Johnson.
The team at Tacoma WA, based Foodservice Solutions® see expanded retail disruption driven by the 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome. Don’t let you’re retail brand be stifled for another 6 years. Look out-side your four walls.  Outside eyes can provide top line growth and bottom line profits.
Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Where is your new electricity coming from?  Interested in learning how can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information.

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