Saturday, October 31, 2020

What is Authentic Foodservice During COVID-19


Consumers are dynamic not static and consumers are attracted to restaurant foods that are authentic, accessible, with an aroma that offers familiarity as comfort, creating a stress relief amid uncertain times. They want the full-flavored ethnic foods that they grew up with or have been exposed too according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 

Yes, they want all of that, and they want to eat in a restaurant, but know that’s not a good idea during COVID-19.  So, they are opting for grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food in record number from every sector of food retail.

When Brian Solis wrote recently that “You’re no longer a brand trying to put more “butts in seats” during peak hours. You’re no longer a brand trying to adapt to curbside, BOPIS, or delivery while balancing traditional “butts in seats” models. …

You’re no longer a brand trying to figure out how to compete against ghost kitchens in your elusive free time. You’re all these things and more. Aim for most valuable customers and learn how to use traditional and digital means to deliver value-added, sought after experiences. That’s what this is all about. Disruption happens to you or because of you. Choose the latter!

Brian Solis got the team at Foodservice Solutions® thinking about how our Grocerant Guru® has been helping brands evolve their business model.  In a new report Salesforce and Hathway  that argues that underperforming restaurant brands need to focus on a special subset of Generation-N—the high-value customers (Generation-Novel or Generation-N). Even though these customers make up about a quarter of the population right now, they are responsible for nearly 50 percent of the dining revenue. Through their research and consumer modeling, they were able to find that the chain restaurants that are currently thriving are the ones that are capitalizing on the preferences, motivations and behaviors of these high-value customers. Consumers are dynamic not static.  Are you evolving with consumers fast enough?

Now think about this, McKinsey estimates that 70 percent of consumers will not resume normal, out of home, activities for the near future, and they will take guidance from true experts on when it’s safe to do so. McKinsey also discovered that e-commerce adoption had radically accelerated by 10 years in a matter of a few months. Add to this, the psychological consensus that it takes an average of 66 days to form new behaviors and you have the makings of a new genre of consumerism.

In Salesforce’s Global Shopping Index research, 84 percent of customers said that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. So how do you do that within the fastest growing sector of food retail today?  Simple focus on Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food that is authentic and full flavored according to Johnson.

IRI finds sales of meat alternatives sales were up 100.5% for the 52 weeks ending Aug. 9, and up more than 273% for that period vs. three years ago. Without question, consumers have also turned to plant-based options with greater frequency during the pandemic. How has your menu evolved? Looking for high-level insights targeting the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food grocerant niche?

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Friday, October 30, 2020

Are you Ready for Chinese New Year Promotions?


Success does leave clues and as Multi-generational, Multi-ethnic families continue to increase in the United States, food retailers of every ilk must offer authentic full-flavored ethnic menu items to garner incremental consumers and increase frequency of regular customers. So, let’s look at some facts:

According to the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., a majority of young adults (18- to 29-year-olds) in the U.S. live with one or both of their parents for the first time since the Great Depression.

Technomic found that “Gen Z consumers are the most likely to order online for pickup or delivery, Nine percent of these younger diners ordered via app or website for pickup, compared to 8% of consumers who did so overall. And 7% ordered online for delivery, compared to 6% of consumers overall.

For comparison, baby boomer/mature consumers ordered online for pickup 4% of the time, and for delivery just 1%. Gen Zers also over indexed on kiosk or tablet ordering inside restaurants, with 8% ordering that way compared to 6% of consumers overall.” 

Battle for Share of Stomach

Are you ready for a new partnership to drive incremental sales?  Are you Ready for Chinese New Year?

Egg roll manufacturer Van’s Kitchen says that now is the time for retailers to gear up and start planning for Chinese New Year, a first quarter event that provides month-long promotional opportunities.

So, the company, a certified women-owned and minority-owned business, encourages retailers to create promotions and events to celebrate cultural foods and diversity. Chinese New Year offers the perfect occasion to grow revenue and celebrate cultural diversity at the same time.

Consider these facts:

·         The country’s Asian population grew by 72% between 2000 and 2015.

·         The Asian food industry rose by more than 135% between 1999 and 2015.

·         Since 2018 egg roll deliveries have increased by 455%.

Now, According to Datassentialethnic foods are the most missed by restaurant consumers, with Asian and Mexican foods topping the list. Foodservice operators can make the most of these trends and leverage the opportunity to start planning for The Year of the Ox – which officially begins Friday, Feb. 12. 2021.

You can chose from grab-and-go two-packs and packaged four-count trays to bulk roller grill egg rolls, Van’s Kitchens offers the variety that meets the demand of today’s consumers. Packaged varieties include pork, chicken, orange chicken and vegetable; and roller grill options include pork and chicken.

Operators should plan now to engage customers to celebrate this Year of the Ox and Don’t forget. Van’s Kitchen.  Success does leave clues and looking a customer ahead is the clue for today.

Success does leave clues. One clue that time and time again continues to resurface is “the consumer is dynamic not static”.  Regular readers of this blog know that is the common refrain of Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Our Grocerant Guru® can help your company 253-759-7869. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh Food Packaged Sells


Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food Portioned, Portable, Product, with the right Placement, and Price continues to garner incremental customers within the foodservice retail space as COVID-19 continues to linger according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 

Yes, those are the FIVE P’s of fresh food marketing first identified, quantified, and qualified by Foodservice Solutions®, Grocerant Guru® back in the day. What’s happening today to continue driving top line sales and bottom-line profits with the grocerant niche.  It’s simple the price of freedom has gone up. 

How so? According to the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., a majority of young adults (18- to 29-year-olds) in the U.S. live with one or both of their parents for the first time since the Great Depression. Freedom you say.  The ‘kids’ want to be away at school, at work, or play and parents thought they would be gone as well.  No one wants to cook from scratch or eat at the same time so discontent at home and at the dinner table is on the rise according to Johnson.

Here is the problem consumers want the ability to customize and order and personalize a meal. Thus, creating a quagmire for many retailers.  Tim Powell of Foodservice IP conducted some research and stated that "We are seeing more consumers opt for something prepackaged for safety reasons. "The thinking is the food handling by the staff is eliminated." Let’s see what else Powell found:

Foodservice IP has identified four customer mindsets developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with each one having different impacts on the foodservice category: 

1.       The Fearful: These consumers are terrified the virus will kill them or their loved ones, resent those who do not follow safety guidelines, and will not shop or visit a restaurant until a vaccine is found. Food handling concerns are also an issue when it comes to delivery.

2.       Cautionaries: These consumers realize the severity of the virus and will follow state and federal rules. Their use of takeout and delivery is minimal, and they'll make use of the drive-thru instead of entering the building.

3.       The Followers: They view the virus as an inconvenience but are not distraught about it, and will sometimes wear protective gear if the social context calls for it. It is common for them to order food for takeout, curbside and delivery.

4.       The Ambivalent: They throw caution to the wind, are unlikely to wear protective gear unless a retailer mandates it, and may resent others for taking the virus too seriously. Their behavior will return to normal once restaurant operations resume.

Here is the rub, according to the Grocerant Guru® every time a retailer converts a Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food item into a CPG product, consumers push back.  That said in the short- run packaging is more important than ever. It plays a significant role in how consumers rate their off-premise dining experiences. Fresh and Fast are still the number one and two attributes consumers are looking for in prepared food at 78.3% and 77.6% respectively according to recent Grocerant ScoreCards.

Now according to Anchor, noting that many people turned to social media during the COVID-19 crisis to both praise well-packaged food that looked and tasted good and to complain about poor experiences. Such voices will continue to be amplified as usage of takeout and delivery remains high.

Packaging for hot to-go food should include the following:

·         Leak-resistant, tight closures to avoid messy spills en route;

·         Special features to keep fried foods hot and crisp;

·         Reclosable bases and lids made with dishwasher-safe, reusable materials;

·         The ability to withstand temperatures up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit under a heat lamp or in the microwave; and

·         Capable of consumer reuse and being recycled after multiple use

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 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

McDonald’s Halloween is Family, Food, and Fun


It seems as at times this year nothing is normal.  Halloween will not be what it was when I was a kid, but It can still be fun.  McDonald’s is going to help you start a new family tradition on Halloween weekend, McDelivery on Uber Eats is offering $0 Delivery Fee on orders of $25 or more. So, relax and have some family fun.

What that means is Mom and Dad don’t have to cook, don’t have to do dishes and everyone in the family can get their favorite meal. So, no matter what your plans are for the holiday this year as many people make plans to swap out trick-or-treating and festive parties for a fright night at home., McDonald’s McDelivery is here to provide plenty of craveable treats right to your door.

On this Halloween weekend, McDelivery on Uber Eats is offering $0 Delivery Fee on orders of $25 or more. Fire up the Uber Eats app from Thursday, October 29 - Sunday, November 1 to have a witchin’ time at home. Whether cravings are savory or sweet, McDelivery on Uber Eats makes it easy to order something for everyone in the house, even the pickiest eater. Is your brand focused on family and fun?

Trick-or-treaters aren’t the only ones swapping out old traditions for new – while waiting on that craveable and delicious order, see how McDelivery is changing up the rules for Halloween this year:

There’s no rule against adding your own candy to a McFlurry.

If you don’t have a Halloween costume, carry a McDonald’s delivery bag and go as someone with a delicious dinner.

When you’re celebrating with a night in, people who ring your doorbell should be bringing YOU the treats.

$0 Delivery Fee offer expires 11:59pm on 11/1. At participating McDonald’s. Taxes and a Service Fee still apply. Order minimum before taxes and fees. Cannot be combined. See Uber Eats app for availability. Prices may be higher than at restaurants.

Looking for success clues of your own? Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced food marketing and business development ideations. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities, technology, or a new menu product segment.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Gamification Drives Loyalty Program at Kwik Chek


Interactive participatory food marketing garners outstanding results with both Gen Z and Millennials according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Regular readers of this blog know that Johnson was one of the first to introduce the chain restaurant sector to a customizable branded gamification loyalty technology back in the day.

Kwik Chek, recently announced a plan to rebrand all store locations to Texas Born (TXB), relaunched its rewards program in June, refining the design and in-app payment, increasing flexibility in rewards redemption and adding gamification.

Kwik Chek CEO Kevin Smartt called the relaunch process a “long, winding road,” starting with about nine months of creating the new design and figuring out the integration between different partners used within the app, including P97 for mobile payment and Koupon Media for exclusive digital coupons.

“Once you have the refined product and are ready to launch, then there’s the actual relaunch process,” Smartt said. “It was quite a big endeavor, but I think it’s been well worth it.”

So, for Kwik Chek, with close to 50 locations throughout Texas and Oklahoma, the relaunch process involved educating and training employees on how the new enhancements work and how they can explain them to customers in the most efficient, easy way possible.

Doing it the right way Kwik Chek will once employees are up to speed, then move too educate the customer. Without doubt Kwik Chek pulled out all the stops; “billboards, commercials, store signage, social media”, to make sure customers knew about the relaunch and why the app is better than ever.

Smartt continued as he cautioned other retailers to be patient in the development and launch periods.

“The more complete picture you have in the beginning, and the more complete development that you have, the better off you’ll be in the long run, even though it may cost you a little bit more up front,” Smartt said. “Because every time you have to add something, you have to go back and train your customer. It’s hard, it’s expensive, and it takes a while to get them to understand the changes you made.” Ultimately, Smartt said Kwik Chek’s new app offers customers three key, standout features, starting with its seamlessness and ease of use, including in-app payment.


So, let’s look as see just how this new program is interactive and participatory:

1.       Through the new app, customers now have the ability to become a loyalty member and sign up for their kwikcard Rewards payment card directly within the app, rather than picking up a rewards card in-store and enrolling online.

2.       Each time a customer purchases food, they will receive four points per food item. One point can be redeemed for one cent off per gallon of gas. Customers receive 100 points when they register for kwikcard Rewards, which can be redeemed for $1 off per gallon of gas (with a 20-gallon maximum) or $1 off an in-store transaction.

3.       The third key feature of the new app is its gamification, which Smartt said has been “highly successful in driving new loyalty members,” starting with Kwik Chek’s 100 Days of Giveaways promotion, which ran from June 1 through Sept. 8. The promotion enabled participants to win one free prize every day by playing the virtual scratch-and-win game within the app.

4.       Prizes included free gas for a year, free Kwik Chek coffee or fountain drinks for a year, signed footballs, Yeti coolers and golf bags, candy bars, snacks, food and more.

To date Kwik Chek has been heavily promoting the giveaway across its social media channels, highlighting the prizes and prize winners as they were announced.

“We came up with a strategy with our PR firm to talk about the loyalty app, the giveaways and try to get local in our conversation with our consumers,” Smartt said. “And I think it’s proven to be very successful.”

While the 100 Days promotion has ended, gamification will be a continual part of the app, Smartt said.

Going forward, Kwik Chek is also working to offer mobile ordering, planning for a fourth-quarter launch, along with curbside pickup, both of which will be available at three new stores opening soon in the Austin area, all built from the ground up.

“We’ll probably launch that in two specific areas where we operate and try to do a trial run, work through some of the kinks before we move to the entire chain,” Smartt said.

And while Kwik Chek currently offers delivery through third-party vendors, Smartt said the chain is exploring the possibility of offering the service in-house.

“In the past, we weren’t thinking about doing delivery,” he said. “But now we think, with the branding of it, the whole process of it — we may need to own the whole process.”

Overall, Smartt sees digital innovation like mobile ordering as a permanent addition to c-store foodservice operations.

“I think as we continue to migrate down this digital pathway where consumers are more comfortable ordering online or via mobile app, and they have a good experience, I think it’s here to stay,” he said, “and it will only get better and more refined and enhanced as we go along.”

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 us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Both Lunchbox and C3 are Looking a Customer Ahead

Technology companies provide platforms that drive customer adoption for less money to operate than current platforms or business models within the food space including for restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and food trucks according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Does your business model look more like yesterday that today or tomorrow?

Lunchbox, is one of the next-gen online ordering engine for restaurants, and C3, is the innovative culinary direct-to-consumer ecosystem that manages and operates award-winning global brands, today announce their partnership to develop the very first virtual food hall for sbe subsidiary c3’s digital kitchen brands. Say, What, that’s right digital kitchens. Now that’s looking a customer ahead, creating new electricity for your brands growth.

So, here is how it is going to work. c3 (Creating Culinary Communities) will use Lunchbox’s patent pending technology through the virtual food hall; to solidify its leadership as the fastest growing virtual kitchen company by accelerating its nationwide expansion as the restaurant industry continues to embrace a digital-first approach to serving customers. Cutting through the crap you can grow your brands geographic presents for less than ever before.  Now, just think about that.  Are you growing your brand or closing units?  Growing customers, or losing customers?  Is your brand on a digital side road or a digital highway?

So, C3 was launched by Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of sbe, and a visionary in defining the future of global lifestyle hospitality, to meet the rapidly changing needs of consumers has emerged as a revolutionary way to approach food halls, digital kitchens, and mobile delivery.

Through C3, Nazarian has built a first of its kind brand incubator where consumers can order from some of the best chefs and quick-service culinary brands in a single transaction. The C3 portfolio which includes Krispy Rice, Sam's Crispy Chicken, Plant Nation, Ella Mia, and Umami Burger, is poised to grow rapidly with a pipeline of 7 new brands that will launch in the coming months through their digital kitchens that will number over 200 by then end of 2020.

The virtual food hall, developed in partnership with Lunchbox, will unite all C3 brands under one next-gen app and web experience. Through this unique, industry-first solution, users will be able to group orders from multiple C3 restaurants into one bag and checkout. This is about growing your brands SHARE OF STOMACH:

 In a Battle for Share of Stomach

The brands the ilk of chefs like Masaharu Morimoto and Dani Garcia that offer higher-end meals that can withstand 30-minute delivery routes. The virtual food hall is designed to seamlessly serve diners with varying and eclectic tastes. 

“We are excited to be leading the much-needed wave of innovation within the restaurant industry and the virtual food hall will provide consumers a seamless solution for ordering high quality food from multiple C3 restaurants without needing to visit a physical location. Lunchbox has been a critical partner in developing and executing this solution and we’re excited to continue working together as we prepare for our next stage of growth,” says sbe Founder & CEO Sam Nazarian. 

By developing the platform for c3’s virtual food hall, Lunchbox is helping the company seize the opportunity for ghost kitchens as the restaurant industry continues to rely on delivery orders to drive revenue. With Lunchbox as its digital platform, c3 will be able to decrease their reliance on third-party apps to fulfill orders and own most of the revenue generated. The virtual food hall will be an integral part of the company’s next stage of growth as they aim to open more than 250 ghost kitchens by 2022. 

Nabeel Alamgir, CEO and Co-founder of Lunchbox stated, “It’s important now more than ever to shift the restaurant industry towards a digital-first model, and we’ve been impressed with c3’s leadership on this initiative. Our partnership will set the standard for how ghost kitchens and mobile solutions will evolve moving forward and we’re thrilled to be a key partner in realizing those opportunities,”. Is your brand looking a customer ahead?  Are you building brand relevance with digital natives, you know Gen Z, Millennials and the like or do you units look more like yesterday that today or tomorrow?

Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply chain and includes such things as fresh foods, online ordering, delivery, plant based foods, virtual restaurants, sampling, toy’s, cereal, developing brands,  grocerant positioning, fresh food messaging, autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, plates, glasses, cash-less payments, digital hand-held marketing.

All food and beverage retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food and beverages that are portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different.  Does your retail path forward look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Why?

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, local educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson 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. For more information visit, FoodserviceSolutions.US or call 1-253-759-7869