Monday, February 8, 2021

Grocerant Niche Breakout is Sustainable


The line between grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants continues to grow ever thinner. The fight for America's food dollars and share of stomach continues to intensify as consumers find fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food options at a wide and growing array of outlets across almost every channel including liquor stores, chain drug stores, club stores, vending and even more non-food traditional fresh food retailers like dollar stores.

Today, 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 fight is taking place in what is called the grocerant niche. Food retail sales has evolved into a focused battle by each retailer for a larger share of stomach.

Specifically, the restaurant industry is not known for trying to be the fastest to market with an ideation, food, or tech advance.  Restaurants are slowly understanding that the consumer never takes a step backwards from technology or fresh prepared food quality, speed of service, prepared food meal component options according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  

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 to feed one meal at a time in the restaurant while protecting and edifying the brand according to Johnson.  That said 2020’s unusual retail conditions edified the long-term migration, adoption, and top of mind focus of new non-traditional grocerant niche products and points of distribution.

Battle for Share of Stomach

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 dining independents to a national chain of "Red Roof" Italian, then to delivery-only outlets and now take-N-bake is garnering market share in the pizza sector. Now Virtual Restaurants, Virtual Kitchens, and Virtual brands are elevating the importance of brand marketing while reducing the cost to extend a brand’s reach according to Johnson.

Again, it is at the intersection of the consumer, freshly prepared food, and technology we find that consumer eating behavior is evolving and is now beyond the control of traditional food marketers. We have four meal periods today rather than the traditional three, many are smaller meals, some call them snacks.  That all depends in which age group you fall Gen Z & Millennials snack, Boomers like smaller meals according to Johnson.

Our evolving culture, 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 at home schooling, and after-school activities, all contribute to a food marketplace where convenience vies with price over legacy brands.

Recent advances in fresh food packaging combined with new points of Non-traditional fresh food distribution have empowered consumer choice, driving incremental customer migration and adoption of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food according to the team at Foodservice Solutions® recent Grocerant ScoreCards. Americans are embracing these choices even as legacy marketers’ cringe. Who's after restaurant food dollars? Simply put everyone including retailers from Tommy Bahama, Macys, Del Monte Produce and Ikea. The shopper is in control spurring new retail food Formats.

Trader Joe's, Costco and Amazon -Whole Foods have created Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food items with qualitative differentiation as an entity with an identity that has helped propel them into Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food leadership.

There is no doubt that traditional views of meals and mealtime can pretty much be discarded. Legacy retailers waiting for the "next big thing" to copy simply might be out of luck this time. Legacy food retailers may not like to be first movers very much but it may prove that waiting too long will not work this time.

The retail food world is evolving at an ever-increasing pace filled with innovation in food, portion size, points of distribution, and quality fresh prepared meal solutions. The price, value, service equilibrium is resetting in retail foodservice. In order to edify the brand and reinforce consumer relevance restaurateurs must leverage Foodservice Solutions® Five P's of food marketing (Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability, and Price)

Many legacy food retailers continue to practice brand protectionism, stifle the brand while diminishing consumer relevance. The consumer is dynamic, not static. Brands must be dynamic, evolving with the consumer. Success in the restaurant world is no longer simply about what happens within your four walls.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  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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