Monday, September 30, 2019

Is McDonald's Going Plastic-Free



Customer relevance is always top-of-mind at McDonald’s and customer touchpoints on hot button issues for all chain restaurants today according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®
Regular readers of this blog know that our Grocerant Guru® continues to tout that one of the hallmarks of the grocerant niche is the ‘halo’ of better-for-you.  Consumers are dynamic not static and McDonald’s understands that as a key player within the grocerant niche everything that they do to ‘get better’ add relevance for consumers.
So, McDonald’s is testing wooden spoons and edible condiment cups replace less eco-friendly options at "Better McDonald's" locations in Germany. McDonald's currently has more than 1,470 restaurants scattered throughout Germany, but for 10 days in June, customers at its location inside the Mall of Berlin had a completely different experience when they ordered a Hamburger Royal K√§se or a Schokolinsen-Saurer Apfel McFlurry. If that taste as good as it sounded that would be enough for me but not McDonald’s.
So all of the test stores service burgers in packaging made from grass and they could've eaten that McFlurry with a small wooden spoon. From June 17 through June 26, the restaurant temporarily reinvented itself as the Better McDonald's Store — and, from a sustainability perspective, that wasn't just a clever name according to press reports.

So, the ‘Better McDonald's’ Store was completely plastic-free, which allowed the company to test out some alternatives to single-use plastics and to receive customer feedback on each of those items. In addition to paper straws, wooden cutlery, and grass-paper burger cartons, condiments and dipping sauces were served in edible waffle cups, and Chicken McNuggets were handed out in paper bags instead of cardboard cartons.
Diana Wicht, the Sustainability Department Head for McDonald's Germany, said in a statement said "Normally, McDonald's goes out with perfect solutions. This time we said, 'We don't have perfect solutions yet… please help us!'"
On note, earlier this year, McDonald's replaced the plastic straws in its U.K. locations with paper straws, and they weren't exactly well-received: more than 53,000 people have signed a petition asking McDonald's to bring back the plastic. (The campaign creator's reason for his big ask? "So I can drink my milkshake proper.")
Reports from Germany as far as Berlin's Better McDonald's went, the McTesters gave high marks to the grass-paper packaging and to the fully edible sauce cups, but they weren't sold on wooden cutlery, with almost half of those surveyed describing the taste of the spoon as 'woody.'  Cleary no pun intended.
Canadian versions of the Better McDonald's Store are being tested in Ontario and British Columbia, and Food & Wine has reached out to McDonald's to see if there are any plans for a similar concept in the United States.  How are you testing disruption? What’s in your supply chain pipeline? How many customer touchpoints would you have to change to drive incremental relevance?
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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Aldi No Subscription High Quality at Lower Prices



So, do you think that food retailer’s subscription services are a platform for today’s success? Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson thinks that they were back in the day, but the undercurrents of change may be pointing in a different direction.
Bernstein downgraded Costco last week stating “These days, every company wants an annual subscription fee to boost margins, but this trend is causing a membership exhaustion.”
Aldi is the fastest growing larger food retailer in the US and will have close to 2,000 by years end according to Johnson.  Aldi has no subscription instead they reinforce low price points and discovery within their stores according to Johnson. 
As grocery industry legendary researcher Bill Bishop recently pointed out; “Aldi recently added the ‘Aldi Savers’ symbol to its weekly ad and instore as well. So, why would a discounter that already offer very low prices decide to add to it otherwise straightforward merchandising tactics?
Simple, Bishop suspected that Aldi’s analyst has looked at the numbers and saw that they could use those symbols to boost sales.  Now, these symbols at Aldi are positive brand edifying messaging that save consumers money while they are venturing to discover. Now that’s a great brand invitation according to Johnson.
On the other hand, Costco’s subscription service has turned from being an ‘in-club’ membership to an aggressive point of sales tactic within the store to drive-up revenues according to Johnson. Amazon, has similar aggressive sales tactics for its subscription service. However, Amazon offers incremental services the ilk of free movies, free delivery all the while expanding its brand invitation.  
The question is; do consumers want more services for more money? Great value for less or simply pay more for the same old thing? Is there a ‘tipping’ point? Did the team at Bernstein get it right, is membership exhaustion driving customer choice?
Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how www.FoodserviceSolutions.us 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.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sweetgreen wants to Educate and Elevate School Lunch



Back to basic, just what does that mean when it come to school lunch programs? In simple terms according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® “introducing fresh natural ‘real food’ to help students learn that ‘real food’ can taste good and be ‘better-for-you’.
So, when Sweetgreen announced its strategic partnership with FoodCorps to reimagine the school cafeteria experience, in order to guide students to experiment with real food, and empower them to make healthier choices every day. Our Grocerant Guru® said now that’s a good idea.
The program starts this school year, and will bring innovations to 15 cafeterias and 6,500 students in states across the country - Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Virginia, which all encompass a geographically and socioeconomically diverse set of students. Learnings from the pilot programs will inform the program’s expansion in the 2020-2021 school year to 50 schools, engaging over 20,000 elementary school students in the U.S.
Sweetgreen provided $1 million in funding to support FoodCorps and its pilot programs, which are built on a human-centered design study and leverages technology in 3 areas:
·         Tasty Challenges: Powered by behavioral science research, taste testing models let students try fruits + veggies in different preparations, then vote on their favorites. This model enables students to have direct input on their menu.

       Flavor Bars: Kids can explore new tastes and customize their meals with self-serve spices and sauces. This provides an opportunity for students to make choices about their meal, explore new flavors, and become more connected to the cafeteria environment.
·       School Cafeteria 2.0: Students are empowered to lead discussions and decisions around school lunch and the cafeteria. This concept uses project-based learning to give students a voice in improvements to the cafeteria.
Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of Sweetgreen  stated “There are over 100,000 school cafeterias in America — that’s seven times more than the number of McDonald’s in the United States, meaning school meals play an incredibly powerful role in how 30 million kids connect to what they eat,” … “Food served in schools offer a powerful opportunity to change the trajectory of the health of a generation.”
Sweetgreen also connected with experts in food, nutrition and policy to weigh in on why school lunch matters and to help bring attention to the current state of food in schools to the forefront. Notable leaders include Deb Eschmeyer (social impact entrepreneur and former executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” Initiative), Sam Kass (Former White House chef and senior policy advisor for Nutrition, partner at Acre Venture Partners) and Dan Giusti (Founder of Brigaid, former executive chef at 1789 in Washington, D.C., and former head chef at Noma in Copenhagen).
Curt Ellis, co-founder and CEO of FoodCorps  stated “Cafeterias offer an extraordinary opportunity to nourish students, yet too often they lack the joyful, welcoming experience that gets kids excited about eating healthy food,” …“Thanks to support from Sweetgreen, FoodCorps is piloting an initiative to reimagine school cafeterias shaped by the voices of the very people who are impacted most by school food—the students.”
 Furthering their commitment to healthy and nutritious food in schools, Sweetgreen will donate $1 from every seasonal bowl to FoodCorps, Monday, September 16 through Sunday, October 13, 2019.  Once again proving fast food fresh is not only ‘better-for-you’ it just might be better for all of us.
Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Friday, September 27, 2019

At McDonald’s A is for Alexa


If success leaves clues and it does when more than 100 million people a month use voice assistants for handsfree texting, controlling smart home appliances and playing music you can bet foodservice retailers will be jumping on voice-assistance bandwagon according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
McDonald’s continues to drive customer relevance by driving incremental customer relevance while simultaneously solving a problem plaguing the food industry finding enough workers. So, job seekers can use Alexa or Google Assistant to initiate a McDonald’s employee application as he chain launched voice-initiated ‘McDonald’s Apply Thru’ using Google Assistant, Alexa.  So, here is how it works:
David Fairhurst, global chief people officer for McDonald’s stated  “We must continue to innovate and think of creative, and in this case, ground-breaking, ways to meet potential job seekers on devices they are already using, like Alexa,”, “I am looking forward to having our application process simplified with Alexa.”
According to eMarketer, nearly 112 million people in the U.S. use a voice assistant at least once a month. By 2021, the number of U.S. voice assistant users will reach 122.7 million, representing 42.2% of internet users in the U.S. So, we ask how are you edifying your brand with consumers?
Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.



Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lidl is Getting ‘Better For You’


Foodservice Solutions® regular blog readers remember the book from ‘Good To GREAT’ by Jim Collins. One global grocery company that continues to hit all of consumers touchpoints is Lidl according to Steven Johnson, our Grocerant Guru®.
Consumers around the would like the discovery at Lidl, the price points, and the increasing halo or ‘better for you’ around all of Lidl’s offerings according to Johnson.  While some scoff at deep discounters, Lidl seems to have returned to its commitment by reintroducing a second variety of bananas. They are certified Rainforest Alliance and are sold cheaper than Fairtrade: 1.05 euro per kilo, comparing to 1.25 euro for Fairtrade bananas.
Isabelle Colbrandt, spokesperson for Lidl Belgium, Luxembourg  stated “We are following the Belgian market and we noticed a slight decline in sales. The Belgian consumer was not 100% ready and prefers to have the choice, that’s why we reintroduced another banana, a little less but on the one hand, we had to satisfy the customer and on the other, to respect our long-term commitment indicates.”
Note: Rainforest Alliance does not pursue the same goals as the Fairtrade label. The first is an international NGO “working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods for local people”. The Fairtrade label “guarantees good working conditions, financially supports the farmer and his community with a minimum price and a premium and also includes a whole series of ecological criteria”.
Millennials are driving the charge for ‘better for you’ products around the world and retailers in every sector of food service must pay attention and migrate to products that are priced right and ‘better-for-you’ according to Johnson.  Lidl is a global growth company moving from good to great. How is your brand getting better?
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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Restaurants prepare for October and Halloween


Success does leave clues and ‘looking a customer ahead’ is clue one according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Johnson insist that food marketing today must be interactive, participatory, and integrated in to your relevant brand invitation / messaging.  
Yum Brands companies have exceled at just that the skillful tutelage of Greg Creed. Looking a customer ahead KFC has created a Halloween costume that reflect the ‘Colonel’ signature look in the 1950s with his iconic white suit styled with a black string tie.
One again with great relevance Kentucky Fried Chicken has partnered with the right company at the right time to drive band awareness, that company is Spirit Halloween.  Spirit Halloween has turned KFC’s founder Colonel Harland Colonel’ iconic white suit into an official, limited-edition Spirit Halloween costume. KFC fans have been dressing up as Colonel Sanders for years, but now they have an official costume to play the part.
NO, you have not been left out! The costume is available in adult and youth sizes, includes a dapper button front jacket with attached shirt, dress pants, and accessories such as facial hair, glasses, and a handsome wig.
Get this,  Andrea Zahumensky, KFC U.S. CMO stated “This costume is so official it will have friends and family asking for your secret recipe,” Colonel Harland Sanders created his signature look in the 1950s with his iconic white suit styled with a black string tie. The original celebrity chef, he rarely appeared in public wearing anything else.
KFC is driving customer relevance with ‘fun’ around the world as the KFC founder is known worldwide by this historic look. The Colonel Sanders-inspired look costs $59.99 for the adult version and $49.99 for miniColonels, and it is available online at SpiritHalloween.com and in Spirit Halloween stores nationwide.
Are you looking a customer ahead? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.



Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Better for You Mix & Match Meal Bundling Drives C-store Sales


Success does leave clues and convenience stores ability to expand menu / meal options with salty foods that are ‘better-for-you’ is a key driver driving top-line sales and bottom-line profits according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
According to market research firm Packaged Facts, U.S. demand for salty snacks at the manufacturer level is forecast to grow 3% annually from 2017 to 2022. The simple fact is consumers like salty snacks and consider them great additions to a meal particularly when they have the ‘halo’ of ‘better-for-you’ around them.
Cara Brosius, research analyst of consumer and commercial goods, MarketResearch.com, said demand for salty snacks is growing because of the “snackification” of American diets. …“Most consumers snack multiple times each day, and a growing number are replacing entire meals with snacks or eating snacks with main meals,” 
Johnson stated that most Americans grew up visiting fast food outlets that offered bundled meals that included salty french fries.  Johnson continued consumers like salt and salty foods, that is one of the reasons that 82.3% of all restaurant meals sold in the US are sold at fast food outlets.  
Mix & match meal bundling are hallmarks driving growth within the grocerant niche within every sector of retail food sale’s according to Johnson.  
Once again Johnson reiterated as regular readers know Gen Z and millennials are especially driving growth within the grocerant niche, as they have fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles that demand portable and ready-to-eat foods and it is how they grew up eating.
In order to appeal to young consumers, it is important to edify your relationship with both Gen Z and Millennials so offering more snacks that provide health benefits, such as added protein and plant-based ingredients that are salty is a sure way to win.
Transparency is important, for example, Kettle Brand potato chips introduced a “Tater Tracker” feature on its website that allows consumers to input the product code on their bag of chips to track the farmer who sourced the potatoes used in that particular bag.
C-stores have the advantage in adding more CPG options from the ‘better-for-you’ category over chain restaurants elevating consumer choice within mix & match meal component bunding options.  Products that are sustainable, local, bold in flavor that reflect the neighborhood around you store are key to garnering incremental customers according to Johnson.
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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Technology Starbucks and Customer Relevance


When Kevin Johnson Starbucks CEO arrived from Microsoft the world was on notice that Starbucks was about to integrate technology and coffee at the intersection of the consumer in a big way.  Well, according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodsevice Solutions® they are doing just that.
In one giant step Starbucks, is fast evolving the digital experience for customers in China by launching voice ordering and delivery capabilities within Alibaba’s smart speaker, Tmall Genie.  With that giant partnership step and technology leap customers can now order their favorite Starbucks beverages and food simply by using their voice for delivery within 30 minutes. Leveraging Alibaba’s on-demand food delivery platform, Ele.me, the voice ordering capabilities for Starbucks further extend the customer experience within Starbucks digital ecosystem. Partnerships matter in 2019 according to Johnson and technology drives customer relevance everywhere.
As regular readers of this blog know, the launch of the new service marks the one-year anniversary of Starbucks and Alibaba’s strategic partnership which advances the New Retail infrastructure and digital power in China — one of the fastest-growing markets in the world for coffee consumption.
Why is this so important because it builds on several significant collaborations between the two companies that enable a seamless Starbucks Experience for Chinese customers, such as establishing back-of-house kitchens, Star Kitchens, within Alibaba’s Freshippo supermarkets in China.
Miffy Chen, general manager at Alibaba A.I. Labs  stated “We are thrilled to provide our cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence technology through Tmall Genie to serve Starbucks digitally-savvy customers in China,” says which leads the development of Tmall Genie.”… “Earlier this year, we launched food order and delivery service through Ele.me in response to our users’ needs for on-demand local services. We’re excited to introduce an even more diverse and enriched experience on our platform through Starbucks voice ordering and provide a direct benefit to Chinese consumers within their daily routine.”
Molly Liu, vice president and general manager, Digital Ventures, Starbucks China  stated “The Starbucks feature through Alibaba’s Tmall Genie ushers in a new era of digital customer engagement for Starbucks, leveraging ground-breaking digital technology to create an unprecedented experience that elevates our connection with customers to new heights,”  “We are focused on ensuring that Starbucks voice ordering is truly personal, and we look forward to offering our customers more convenient moments and new opportunities to engage with Starbucks on a single integrated platform as they move throughout the day.”
Let’s cut to the chase if you are a regular reader of this blog you should now know that brands must integrate technology to maintain and grow customer relevance.  How are you planning to do that?
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, www.Linkedin.com/in/grocerant/ or www.twitter.com/grocerant/

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Mix & Match Meal Components Are What’s for Dinner



Meal planning begins for most Americans close to 4 PM, as that’s when it’s time most of you are about to end your work day and head home.  In fact, 83.2 % of all US consumers are unsure about what's for dinner at 11:30 AM and 64.7% don’t know what’s for dinner at 4PM in the United States according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson found in recent Grocerant ScoreCards.
Today, Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meal components. Time starved consumers want to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking. Regular readers of this blog know that mix & match meal components are the hallmark of the grocerant niche.  
Times are changing and consumers traditionally thought that these items could only be found in grocery stores in the deli / lifestyle section, or in C-stores in the prepared food area and prepackaged, and as Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh food items.  Today, restaurants are all offering meals To-go, Takeout or Take-Away or delivery section of the menu or on the website, directly competing with grocery stores.
The retail industry has expanded and is evolving to keep up with the demands of consumers desire to save time, improve quality, increase family flavor profile, while enabling personalization and family meal customization.
Miz & Match Grocerant Food can be found In:
Restaurant examples are McDonalds, Pret A Manger Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy's and Starbucks, each having a fresh Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. In the Casual Dining sector Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a 2nd home for free in their Classic Pastas menu section, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Boston Market and Denny’s.  That is to name but a few.
 Drug Store examples Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee, sandwiches, salads and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants.
 Convenience Store examples are 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, Sheetz, and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages.
 Clothing Stores Tommy Bahama, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Brooks Brothers all have or are planning restaurants selling fresh prepared food in-store. Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food is garnering consumer favor in this sector.  Expect to find more and more clothing retailers entering the grocerant niche.
 Furniture Stores & Liquor Store example Ikea sells over $ 2 Billion a year in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food in its stores (mostly meatballs-mash potatoes), Pinkies in San Angelo, Texas this past holiday season even offered complete fresh prepared full Turkey Dinners will all of the traditional side orders.  All of the fresh prepared food is prepared on site and sold To-Go. 
Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Trader-Joes, Central Market, and Wegmans sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches and most offer sushi and beverages. Many are now opening in-store restaurants including fast food, full service sit down and bars all offer fresh prepared To-Go as well.
Grocerant Food is Family Food
The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great… let's call this "food for now". Many legacy retailers are primarily selling "food for later" or take-out and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of Ready-2-Eat meals and snacks begin to change.
Why is it so hard to package food to go? In the Hot food section of the grocery store the food in most cases does not look appealing so our expectations drop when we get it for Take-Away. That may be one reason that many grocery stores are continue to open restaurants or “food courts” selling made to order fresh sandwiches or Chinese take-out.
In convenience stores like Wawa, the Ready-2-Eat food looks great in the To-Go containers. Why? Because Wawa puts the entire consumer food package together. They exert more control on the look and feel of "food for later".
Around the world we are now seeing sections in department's stores and kiosk in malls in Europe and Asia and airports around the world. The items can range from entrees to side items and deserts. Some examples of items range from fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to liver and onions, pizza, hot dogs, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads pie, cake and any single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.
Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  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 Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant