Saturday, April 6, 2019

Kroger’s Conundrum How to Make Mariano’s Fresh Food Drive Frequency

When a grocery store keeps churning ‘restaurant’ style’ concepts or restaurants within their four walls it is a clear signal that customer relevance is fleeting according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
Grocers are so used to trying to be all things to all people, there are times that they forget that the average customers that enters their stores buys 100 different items a year and that they simply buy them over and over again.  The food business in not brain surgery, it is a science with well-defined customer focused paths to success according to Johnson.
What many within the grocery sector forget is the customer evolves every day, every week, every year and simply doing what your brand has done in the past and doing it the same way will not drive relevance. You can churn concept after concept and unless you evolve the result will be the same.  In this case with Kroger, they will get incremental trial with a new concept but each of the new concepts will have a defined ‘shelf-life’ within a grocer store. 
Why is it that grocer’s the ilk of Kroger keep doing what they have done for the past 25 years and expect a different result? While most of you have heard that Pork & Mindy’s is partnering with Mariano’s to open quick-service versions of the restaurant in 28 Chicago-area Mariano’s locations. What is clear is that Kroger continues to think someone else can drive more sales than they can in that space. Having been to their stores we agree.
While Mariano’s has turned food shopping into a community experience.  The profitable in that experience appears lacking and Kroger bought Mariano’s with the hopes of reducing the lack of profits while simultaneously garnering incremental knowledge on the ‘experience’ of Mariano’s. I guess that did not work out so well.
At the same time Jeff Mauro’s Pork & Mindy’s is replacing another concept.  Kroger has a new concept. That concept is a Nashville-style chicken and fish concept, Rouxster’s Cookhouse was developed exclusively for Mariano’s by local chef John Meyer, the founder of Southern-style restaurant BJ’s Market & Bakery in Chicago and Blueprint Foods, which crafts foodservice and menu concepts for grocery stores and specialty markets, casual-dining restaurants and hospitality venues.
We have three questions for the team at Kroger:
1.       What is the monthly visit frequency of Pork & Mindy’s top 5% of customers?
2.       What is the monthly visit frequency of consumers eating Nashville Hot Chicken?
3.       What is the number one service deli item sold at Mariano’s month after month?
Do you know why those questions are important? If not, you ready for some fresh ideations? Today, consumers want Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared grocerant niche fresh food in increasing numbers.  Integration of fresh food, fresh food messaging, and price have never been more important.  
Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? 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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