Sunday, April 11, 2021

Little Caesars Living Room Food Marketing


How do you plan on becoming the first choice for consumers in a crowded, competitive, compelling food marketplace? Getting the customer to think of your brand first over your competitors’ brand has been an on-going struggle for many.  However, Little Caesars might just have found the new electricity to do just that.

According to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® “Little Caesars new partnership with NHL Hockey is a close to the perfect interactive participatory food marketing ideation, I have ever seen. Talk about top-of-mind food branding.”  

Johnson continued, “in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply chain and includes such things as; corporate partnerships, fresh foods, perfume, cosmetics, online ordering, delivery, self-driving cars, plant-based foods, music, streaming, food sampling, toy’s, podcast, movies, 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.

So, when Little Caesars announced that it wants to buy the naming rights to living rooms, basements, and anywhere NHL hockey is watched. In exchange for signing a naming rights contract for your viewing space, you can get paid in Crazy Bread every single week for the remainder of the NHL season, Johnson knew it would be a hit.

Get this, as part of the contract, fans will agree to always refer to their living rooms (or wherever they watch the games) as the “Little Caesars NHL Viewing Room.”  As payment, contract signors receive a code for free Crazy Bread in their emails every Wednesday throughout the rest of the NHL season (with any pizza purchase).  A copy of the official naming rights contract can be viewed here:

Yes, the first 600 fans to sign a naming rights contract get an even sweeter deal:

·         Signage to display in their viewing area that reflects the new name

·         An official copy of their naming rights contract

·         A $50 shop gift card to show their support for their favorite NHL team

·         A free ExtraMostBestest pizza with purchase of any pizza, every single Wednesday for the remainder of the season

·         A VIP lanyard they can wear while watching hockey in their official “Little Caesars NHL Viewing Room

Jeff Klein, senior vice president of global marketing at Little Caesars, stated, “We know many NHL fans will continue to be rooting from home,” … “And, as fans watch their favorite team take the ice, they can have a delicious, buttery Crazy Bread close at hand in their official Little Caesars Viewing Room.”

To sell the rights to your living room in exchange for Crazy Bread, visit or check out the Little Caesars Facebook page. Are your food marketing programs interactive and participatory? Are you looking a customer ahead?  Don’t let your brand look more line yesterday than today or tomorrow.

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 for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Circle K Grocerant Niche Fresh Food Fast Drives Growth


Foodservice Solutions® team of experienced, executive, experts have worked with, inspired, and developed grocerant niche meals and meal components with companies from Australia, Malaysia, Switzerland, France, England, Italy, Canada, and the United States as industry insiders and regular readers of this blog know.

Global companies the ilk of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the parent company of Circle K, have taken notice. Now Circle K will elevate and expand the implementation wave of its "Fresh Food, Fast" foodservice concept as part of its evolution into a more innovative and differentiated retailer. 

The fast is grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared is the leading contributor to growth in within every sector of food retail today. Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® stated “grocerant niche meals and meal components will continue to be the leading driver of foodservice growth for the next 7 years.”

Circle K has hit its target of 1,500 locations in the United States last fall with the Fresh Food Fast grocerant niche platform, the second wave of implementation will expand the program to 3,000 more stores throughout North America during fiscal 2022.

President and CEO Brian Hannasch, stated, "Our focus on ease, safety and the quality of the offer are clearly resonating with our customers, and I am pleased that we are meeting our food-development goals despite the challenges of the pandemic,".

Yes, the Fresh Food, Fast program saw an early delay due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Couche-Tard did not consider it prudent to conduct training at the time or allow food sampling. Once the rollout began, the retailer set an initial target of 1,500 installations for the 2020 calendar year. 

So, since then, Couche-Tard has seen consistently positive results at stores with the program compared to control stores in the same markets that do not offer it.

Hannasch, continued, "We're continuing to improve and simplify the offer,". "And our focus remains on quality and the ease of the offer, both for the customer and for our store team members."

Global leaders lead, so in addition to bringing the program to 3,000 more stores throughout North America, the company plans to develop the Fresh Food, Fast concept as a platform for future growth at its stores in Europe. This will include introduction of a self-service option that adds grab-and-go elements to the freshly prepared offers available in the stores.

Customer relevance matters, another significant step taken in Couche-Tard's "innovation journey" during the third quarter was the opening of its first frictionless store: Couche-Tard Connect. The fast is the consumer is dynamic not static and companies must be as well.

In order to meet or beat customer expectations for fresh food fast all food retailers must integrate technology into their platforms according to Johnson, who stated, “technology and fresh food go hand in hand, in our digital world.

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, 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

Friday, April 9, 2021

Edible’s Mix & Match Grocerant Niche Success


Success does leave clues and Edible continues finding success expanding within the grocerant niche.  Branded food mix & matched with products, services, or other brands edifies both the relationships with the consumers and all brands when done right according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  

Flowers are a wonderful gift anytime of the year.  So, when Edible announced two new initiatives as part of the brand’s continued evolution as a leading eCommerce provider of deliverable gifts and treats: the introduction of Edible Bakeshop cupcakes and a special Mother’s Day digital experience with America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) you know incremental value was being created according to Johnson.

With the nationwide rollout of cupcakes which follows a successful first year for Edible Bakeshop and brings the product category’s total sales to $55 million since the category’s official launch in September of 2020.

Get this, within three weeks of introducing Madagascar Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes, Edible depleted its entire inventory and outperformed even its highest expectations by selling out of what was supposed to be a three-month supply.

Is there a blog reader out there that does not understand the power of mix & match meal bunding yet? As Edible continues to work with its manufacturer to meet the consumer demand and carry on with the selling of this new, exciting product. We ask just how long are you going to watch success before you give the team at Foodservice Solutions® a try?

Edible president and COO Cheikh Mboup, stated, “Given the overwhelmingly positive reception of cupcakes and the continued growth of Edible Bakeshop as a whole, we expect baked goods to quickly become one of our top product categories moving forward and anticipate it to be a leader over Mother’s Day weekend this year,”.

So, Edible’s partnership with America’s Test Kitchen adds an experiential option to the brand’s wide range of Mother’s Day gifts. From April 1 through May 23, a one-month online cooking school membership with ATK – which offers more than 320 courses from simple skills to advanced recipes – will be available for purchase as part of special Mother’s Day bundles or as add-ons to other gifts from

Regular readers of this blog know interactive and participatory branded marketing is a key drive of the success within the grocerant niche.

Jack Bishop, ATK’s Chief Creative Officer, stated, "Food is the perfect way to express appreciation for all that moms do, and America's Test Kitchen is excited to partner with Edible Arrangements to help celebrate Mother's Day,”... “Our joint offering ensures that on top of a wonderful arrangement, Moms will have the opportunity to build their cooking skills with our renowned cooking instructors.

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 edify your brand with relevance.  Call 253-759-7869 for more information. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Wendy’s Price Drives Frequency and Brand Adoption


Yes, the line between restaurants and food retailers continues to grow even ever thinner. The fight for America's food dollars and share of stomach continues to intensify.  Today, consumers can find fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food options at a wide and growing array of outlets across every channel: convenience stores, chain drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores, club stores, vending, gas stations, and dollar stores and Wendy’s wants to win.

Most food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants worry about choice overload, consumers have embraced their new meal choices. The restaurant industry is slow to innovate according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Johnson stated, typically the larger the chain, the slower they move to adopt something compared to a smaller chain or independent restaurant. The goal of chain restaurants is simple—to feed one meal at a time in the restaurant while protecting and edifying the brand.”

Consumers are dynamic not static so, historically, chain restaurant leaders have denied the credibility of start-up competitors as irrelevant. 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.

However, it is at the intersection of the consumer, freshly prepared food, and technology we find that consumer eating behavior is now beyond the control of traditional food marketers. Evolving culture, lifestyle, demographics, and uncertain economy all put pressure on the American food consumer: Demands of work, economic shrinkage, raising a family, commuting, social interaction, kid's after-school activities, all contribute to a food marketplace where convenience vies with price.


Today, restaurateurs need to be particularly mindful of developments within grocerant niche for they are driving the change within the price, value, service equilibrium in retail foodservice and how and where consumers find meals and meal components. Here is Foodservice Solutions® current formula: 


(Mobile Access +Social Media + Digital Payments + Delivery) X (Price +Food Quality + Speed) = Value 


From Incremental Value:  Constantly Changing Menu (Seasonally / Sustainability with Credibility) 


Focusing on value, Wendy's is bringing back the Bacon Double Stack as part of the $5 Biggie Bag. The bag includes the Bacon Double Stack, four-piece chicken nuggets (Spicy or Crispy), small fries, and a small drink. That is an interactive, participatory meal comprised of valued meal components.

Consumers can order online, via the Wendy's mobile app or head to their nearest Wendy's restaurant to #SecureTheBag. They can also download the Wendy's app so you don't miss out on future major bag alerts and earn free Wendy's with Wendy's Rewards.  Focusing on meals and meal component’s is a touchpoint no food retailer can forget. Value drives brand frequency, which in turn drives incremental value.  

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

Battle for Share of Stomach

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Albertsons partners with Google But Independent Grocerant Can Win with Fresh Food


Success does leave clues and when two large companies the ilk of Albertsons / Safeway partner with Google you know the amount of information exchange will lead to incremental knoweledge edifying both companies according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Given that these two companies have been collaborating for past year on range of omnichannel solutions you know the insights have been advantageous on both sides for them to enter into this sweeping partnership creating a more interactive and convenient shopping experience aka advantage for Albertsons / Safeway.  We ask but will that be enough to get them out of the rut (stuck in the middle)? 

Walmart moved to the middle three years ago displacing both Kroger and Albertsons / Safeway moving them down in the middle as Walmart moved up into the middle in the mind-set of the consumer according to Johnson.

In the new, multiyear agreement, Albertsons has been working with a variety of teams at Google on a spate of solutions to bring more efficiency to customers both in-store and online. Efforts include integrating Google Search and Maps to help shoppers locate products more easily, streamlining the checkout process with Google Pay, and leveraging Google Cloud artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as Vision AI, Recommendations AI and Business Messages into operations to build a predictive grocery engine.

Trying to elevate service innovations emerging through the partnership, include shoppable maps with dynamic hyperlocal features, AI-powered conversational commerce and predictive grocery list building. Later this year, new functionality also is coming to Google Maps that will enable Albertsons Cos. retail banners to access information about online grocery ordering, pickup and delivery directly within mobile search. 

Albertsons, Chris Rupp, executive vice president and chief customer and digital officer, stated, “Albertsons Cos. is continuing to transform into a modern retailer fit for the future, and we are leading the industry forward by providing the easiest and most exciting shopping experience for our customers “In bringing together Google’s technology expertise with our commitment to customer-centric innovation, we’re providing our customers with a superior shopping experience no matter how they choose to shop with us.” 

Technology is great and has changed all our lives, but according to the team at Foodservice Solutions® there is nothing the customer want more that fresh food fast. Consumers have been migrating from legacy grocery stores to restaurants for meals and meal components at a rate of 9.7% a year from 2016 to 2019.

While the core goal of the partnership will be to make online grocery services easier to use, Albertsons and Google noted. Today, the companies announced new pickup and delivery actions that share additional online information — such as delivery providers, pickup and delivery time windows, fees and order minimums — from Albertsons Cos. stores directly on their Business Profiles in mobile search. That capability also is launching with third-party grocery delivery provider Instacart and is slated to become available on Google Maps for both Albertsons and Instacart later this year. 

Getting grocerant niche fresh food fast is very important Paytronix Systems found that consumers spent a collective $769 billion ordering food from restaurants last year, with 63% of that — or $486 billion —consumed at home.

Of the $486 billion, 89% was ordered via desktop websites, mobile apps and aggregator apps, the report found. Additionally, 61% of digital food orders in 2020 was spent at restaurants that had only offered dine-in service before the pandemic.

The report also found that consumers spent 50% more on average when they placed orders online for takeout from restaurants. 

Independent grocery stores need not worry as consumer want fresh food fast.  Kroger, Walmart, and Albertsons / Safeway all continue to try to make grocerant niche fresh food into a CPG product.  Those big companies are equipping themselves with technology like Albertsons that will make the shopping experience for their customers much faster and user-friendly.  That in no way trumps fresh food fast, make and sell fresh food package it as a meal or in meal components and you can win. 

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, 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

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Pizza Hut Late for Dinner


It’s hard to give credit to a company that has been late to the party for forty years.  When Pizza Hut scoffed at Domino’s Pizza as a non-competition back in the day because they only delivered pizza.  How did that work out for them?  Two years ago Pizza Hut ran an advertisement that they were the first company to sell a pizza online.  That system was not integrated did not work the way consumers wanted.

Then when a working solution came along Pizza Hut refused to enter the On-line ordering game with CyberSlice, then refused cybermeals, and even while many other national chains moved forward.  Many other pizza chains moved forward.

Papa John’s drove customer relevance, store growth, top line sales and bottom-line profits with online ordering all the while Pizza Hut was still building ‘red roof restaurants.  How did that work out? Just wondering.  

Now on restaurant trade magazine said “Even Pizza Hut is getting into drive-thrus”.  The team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® says Pizza Hut has been ‘late for dinner for forty year’s’.

So, last week Pizza Hut said it is adding “The Hut Lane,” a digital order pickup window, in more than 1,500 locations across the country, and has plans to add more.  While the drive-thru is a consumer favorite giving Pizza Hut credit for adding a drive-thru at this stage is like buying Easter Dinner a week after Easter.

Nicolas Burquier, chief customer and operations officer with Pizza Hut, stated, “We are giving our customers a variety of options to optimize their pizza-eating experience as we build on our business momentum,”,  Let me ask you does your marketing look more like yesterday than tomorrow?

If your brand has been capitulating market share to others a series of incremental steps is required to regain customer relevance.  In the case of Pizza Hut, we hope that this is one of the baby steps along the way.  If your brand wants to capture top of mind relevant consumer touchpoints you just might consider looking a customer ahead. 

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how our Grocerant Guru® 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 one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Monday, April 5, 2021

Coca-Cola Restaurants will have to Fight to Get and Keep Customers


There is no doubt that closing down all restaurants for a short time and many for a long time has hurt the restaurant industry. Now Datassential revealed that 10.2 % of U.S. food outlets have closed down permanently.

Recent stimulus checks will help spur restaurant sales for a short period of time.  However, the 15% temporary increase in food stamp (SNAP) benefits that last through September will be a strong headwind for 38 Million Households still receiving assistance according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

The Coca-Cola Co. recently found that, consumers will continue to focus on health, at-home moments, comfort and indulgence, e-commerce, and value. Here let’s take a look at what Coca-Cola Refreshing Insights: The State of the Consumer, Retail & FSOP, found:

1. Focus on health

As the pandemic continued to evolve in 2020, so did consumers' opinions regarding their health and the corresponding impact on their purchasing behavior. In March 2020, 42 percent of consumers disagreed with the following statement: "Even if I end up getting COVID-19, I won't worry because I am very healthy." In October 2020, this increased to 66 percent of consumers.

Consumers began looking to hygiene to protect their health, which impacted purchasing behavior, especially when it came to food. According to The Coca-Cola Co, purchase consideration rises when retailers and restaurants enact specific safety measures to protect consumers:

·         Pre-wrapped items — 40 percent

·         Clean and well-maintained food and beverage areas — 38 percent

·         Disinfecting wipes made available — 37 percent

·         Minimize touching handles and other surfaces — 33 percent

·         Products behind a transparent barrier — 29 percent

·         Items served by an employee — 21 percent

2. At-home moments

Home became the centralized hub to live, work and play during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer trends that Coca-Cola predicts to stay in the long-term include:

·         Work from home: 17 percent of consumers expect they will never resume working in an office

·         Meals at home: 55 percent of adults want to prepare meals at home instead of eating at restaurants even after COVID-19 is not a factor

·         Exercising at home: 213 percent increase in sales of exercise and fitness equipment

·         Home improvement: 42 percent of consumers are currently doing or planning to do a home improvement project

·         Focus on community: 49 percent of consumers stated they are buying from local businesses more than normal as a result of the coronavirus and 32 percent said they are more likely to choose a local/independent restaurant

3. Comfort & indulgence

Indulgence has not only become a social norm but also a perceived necessity as a way to cope and/or escape. Sixty percent of consumers are currently buying/interested in buying self-care items, while 56 percent of consumers are currently buying/interested in buying special treats for themselves or family members.

Consumers have also looked to food as a means to indulge and seek comfort through the pandemic. Many categories have experienced increased sales because of this sentiment, like snack foods (39 percent), ready-to-eat meals (30 percent), soft drinks (27 percent) and alcohol (20 percent).

4. E-commerce

Although the pre-pandemic world was largely defined by e-commerce, the coronavirus accelerated the digital platform from a convenience to a norm in 2020. According to Coca-Cola's research, 68 percent of consumers have ordered groceries online for home delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, while 39 percent used online grocery for the first time. Eighteen percent reported buying at least half of their groceries online — up from 8 percent in 2019.

The pandemic fast-tracked the digital buying transformation that was underway well before 2020 by offering consumers a way to purchase the products and meals they need while avoiding increased exposure to the virus, according to Coca-Cola. Survey data shows that this trend will continue into a post-pandemic life: 90 percent of consumers will continue to buy food online once the pandemic is over and 77 percent of Americans enjoy the experience of shopping online.

5. Value re-defined

The COVID-19 pandemic and the events of 2020 have brought on an increase of mindful spending, supporting impacted works and social justice issues. Research showed that 43 percent of Americans say they will tip servers more than before to help restaurants and workers recover from the coronavirus.

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, 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