Monday, September 26, 2022

At 7-Eleven if the Shoe Fits Order it


The race is on to order you 7-Eleven X Crocs.  That’s right shoes / clogs branded for 7-Eleven enthusiast. Yes, it is where style meets the snack aisle with the all-new 7-Eleven X Crocs collaboration. The exclusive collection introduces three limited-edition styles, including Crocs' newest icon: the height-forward Mega Crush Clog. How is your brand edifying it relationship with consumers?

One thing is true you will not miss the 7-Eleven X Crocs collab reimagines Crocs’ as they are the most recognizable clog and sandal silhouettes, new style statements that celebrate the world’s largest convenience retailer, including:

·         7-Eleven X Crocs Mega Crush Clog ($110): This creative pair showcases 7-Eleven’s vibrant colors, an elevated heel and unique Jibbitz charms. (LAUNCHING TODAY) 

·         7-Eleven X Crocs Classic Clog ($70): Featuring a collection of crave-worthy 7-Eleven Jibbitz charms, customers will always feel stylish in these boldly striped icons.(LAUCHING 11/7)

·         7-Eleven X Crocs Classic Sandal ($50): A unique take on the Classic Sandal, this pair splashes the clean and timeless colors of 7-Eleven across the stylish two-strap sandal and is adorned with customized 7-Eleven Jibbitz charms. (LAUNCHING 11/7)


Customized Jibbitz charms include the iconic 7-Eleven brand logo, the fan-favorite Slurpee drink, coffee, pizza, Big Bite Hot Dog and more.

Fans can get a first taste of this crave-worthy collection starting today at 12pm ET through September 22 at 12pm ET, by visiting to enter the drawing for a chance to purchase a pair of the limited-edition 7-Eleven X Crocs Mega Crush Clogs. Fans will be notified if they've been selected, and quantities are limited to one pair per customer. 

The 7-Eleven X Crocs Classic Clog and Sandal styles will launch globally on November 7, inviting fans around the world to celebrate 11/7 (…get it?!) with 7-Eleven and Crocs.

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideas 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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Kwik Trip’s Corn Maze is Great Food Marketing


It seems to the team at Foodservice Solutions® that convenience stores are out marketing restaurants of late. Consider this, Kwik Trip Inc. is a-"mazing" consumers this fall with a Kwik Trip-themed corn maze.

The maze opened Sept. 10, at Stevens Point, Wis.-based Feltz's Dairy Store.  This year Feltz’s is welcoming customers to its annual corn maze, which features iconic Kwik Trip-themed paraphernalia carved into nearly 13 acres of corn, as reported Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.

Take a close look at the picture above from Feltz’s Dairy Store and you will see intertwined in the design are a Nature's Touch milk bottle, a Karuba coffee cup, a fuel pump and the classic Kwik Trip farewell line "See you next time!"

In case you did not know, each year, Feltz's Dairy Store partners with companies to feature Wisconsin brands in its corn maze, and this year it tapped La Crosse-based Kwik Trip because of the convenience store retailer's strong identity throughout the state and the excitement the company garners, according to the report.

In a Battle for Share of Stomach

Marketing Messaging Matters

Feltz's Dairy Store and Kwik Trip began working together on a rough draft of the corn maze design last fall.

Alta Bradford, Kwik Trip's brand and product design manager, stated, “designers, we naturally love to solve design challenges, and the bigger the better,"… who noted that the design team often gets requests to design in unusual media. The team has designed wraps for vehicles, Zambonis and a life-sized fiberglass cow, as well as designed a barn silo to look like a Karuba coffee cup.

Bradford continued, the design team brainstormed many different ideas and researched other corn mazes to see what was possible. Then it worked to refine the design, and designed additional materials like posters, T-shirts and more promotional items for the maze.

The team coordinated with Feltz's and tweaked the design to fit the field. Initial design work started in January and the corn was planted in May.

"We were pleasantly surprised at the amount of detail that is possible with corn and how much of our original design came through," Bradford said.

The maze runs through Oct. 29. Guests can wander through the maze from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The last tickets of the day will be sold about an hour before the maze closes each day.

According to the Feltz's Dairy Store website, the maze takes about 35 to 60 minutes to complete, but there are options to exit after about 20 minutes. In addition, there are seven scavenger hunt locations throughout the maze.

Yes, and there is more! From 6:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Oct. 21–29, the maze will transform into Feltz's Fear Farm, a haunted corn maze.

"The team is looking forward to making a field trip to the farm and experiencing the maze for ourselves," Bradford said. "Getting to see it and also see others enjoying it will be awesome."

Feltz Family Farms, a fifth-generation dairy farm, has been owned and operated by Ken and Jackie Feltz since it was purchased from Ken's parents in 1995. Their children Taryn, Jared and Jake, along with Jared's wife Jenna and Jake's wife Amanda, will carry the farm and dairy store into the sixth generation. In June 2017, the family opened Feltz's Dairy Store, which offers dairy products, agricultural items and local specialty goods.

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

Saturday, September 24, 2022

A Hit or A Miss Zaxby's Sauce-Flavored Popsicle


Yes, you read that right, Zaxby's, the premium quick-service restaurant, beloved for its Chicken Fingerz, wings and legendary Zax Sauce, has partnered with Alabama-based gourmet popsicle brand Frios to introduce sauce-flavored popsicles. Zaxby's 'Saucesicles' that went online for free Sept. 19, 2022 through, first come first served, while supplies last. The frozen treat will feature two of the brand's boldest sauces: Zax Sauce and Tongue Torch.

Patrick Schwing, chief marketing and strategy officer at Zaxby's, stated, "Saucesicles were created for our most loyal fans that can't get enough of our signature sauces. The collaboration with Frios is built on flavor, bringing together two iconic Southern brands,".

So, the Saucesicles come in two flavors: Zax Sauce and Tongue Torch. The Zax Sauce-flavored Saucesicle features all the sweet and tangy and creamy flavors created by the secret blend of spices, black pepper and Worcestershire Sauce. The Tongue Torch Saucesicle is a mild heat tomato pop with notes of garlic, paprika, turmeric and a hint of lime.

Zaxby's has renamed the month of September 'Saucetember' to highlight the brand's proprietary portfolio of 12 dipping and tossing sauces. Zaxby's is celebrating 'Saucetember' by treating its loyal fan base to this saucy goodness on a stick.

Saucesicles come in packs of eight and are limited to one order per person. States excluded from shipping include Alaska, California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Washington. 

For fans who might miss out on the spicy-saucy treat, Zaxby's will also offer a Buy-One-Get-One-Half-Off (BOGOHO) Boneless Wings Meal Deal with wings tossed in one of Zaxby's eight sauces, when ordering through the app on September 27.

"Partnering with Zaxby's on this one-of-a-kind project has been a fantastic opportunity, bringing to life Zaxby's unique idea for a new offering of their sauces," Cliff Kennedy, CEO and founder of Frios adds.

The team at Foodservice Solutions® love this marketing ideation.  Our only question is why September 19? Why not in July?

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a 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

Friday, September 23, 2022

Restaurants Prices and Grocery Prices are Up but Consumer Like Eating Out


Regular readers of this blog know that consumers paid higher prices for everything from cereal to eggs last month, sending retail food price inflation up 0.7% in August and 13.5% year over year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last months, 13.5% increase was the highest rate for that number since March 1979, the latest in a string of four-decade highs for retail food price inflation. Prices are up for basically everything. Over the past year, the price for breakfast cereal rose 23% and eggs increased nearly 40%.

Meat prices seem relatively tame by comparison. Meats, poultry and fish prices are up 8.8% over the past year. But poultry prices rose 15.9% as chicken and turkey producers continue working their way through a springtime rash of Bird Flu.

More troubling is the fact that driving much of the increase in grocery prices has been retailers’ own rising costs for labor and food. Wage rates have soared amid historic shortages of labor, while those same labor concerns have helped drive up the cost of many food products. The war in Ukraine and other issues, such as a shortage of truck drivers, have also contributed to the problem.

Overall, food costs for consumers rose 11.4% over the past 12 months in August, the highest rate since 1979.

In a Battle for Share of Stomach

You Can Win

Now, prices at restaurants and foodservice operators increased 0.9% in August. Prices are up 8% over the past year as operators increased charges to consumers to offset their own cost increases for wages and food.

Much of that acceleration is due to sharply higher prices at school lunch programs, where many states ended free meals to students. Prices at schools and employee sites are up 23.7% over the past year.

But both full-service and limited-service restaurants continue to raise prices. Full-service restaurants increased prices 0.8% last month, higher than the 0.6% increase the month before. Limited-service restaurants increased prices 0.7%, down from the 0.8% they increased prices in July.

For the full year, full-service restaurants have increased menu prices 9%. Limited-service restaurants increased charges 7.2%. Overall, inflation rose 0.1% in August. But on an annual basis, the consumer price index slowed to 8.3% from 8.5% the previous month. Lower gas prices drove much of that slowdown.

According to a new report titled TouchBistro 2022 Diner Trends Report  fund:

1.       Of the 2,600 diners surveyed for the report, 68% rank food quality as the most important factor when deciding where to dine. Location, customer service and price follow close behind, at 66%, 64% and 62% respectively.

2.       Eating at local and independent restaurants is also a priority; 63% of respondents prefer them over chains and franchises.

Restaurant decision-making is also influenced by cravings—no matter what the diner’s demographics. The research found that three-quarters of Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers choose a restaurant based on the type of food they want to eat.

3.       But Gen Z is more likely to be swayed by social media and Instagram influencers; 39% of respondents in this group say they’ve tried a new restaurant based solely on the recommendation of an influencer. While Instagram still reigns supreme, TikTok is on the rise—21% of Gen Zers check out this platform before dining out.

4.       Posting a tempting menu online is definitely a plus for all generations, as 84% of diners browse the menu ahead of time and 79% look at a restaurant’s website before they visit.

5.       While inflation has jacked up menu prices, higher prices are not necessarily a turnoff. Forty-five percent of Americans say that menu price increases would only somewhat affect their decision to visit a restaurant, suggesting that diners are willing to absorb some price increases to enjoy the food they love.

6.       A bad reputation is much more likely to drive a diner away from a restaurant. And 73% of survey respondents would be deterred by a negative health inspection rating.

7.       Chains are more likely than independent restaurants to offer loyalty programs, but indies might benefit from this incentive, according to the report. More than three-quarters (86%) of diners showed interest in joining a loyalty program if it provided them with access to discounts and coupons for free items.

In case you did not know, TouchBistro is a restaurant management system that integrates POS, customer engagement solutions and other operational features on one platform. The company partnered with Maru Matchbox to conduct the survey of 2,600 diners across the U.S and Canada.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Food Retailers Halloween Season Can’t Start Soon Enough


Restaurants, Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores let the fun begin!  Did you know that 60% of Americans agree that it is socially acceptable to start celebrating the holiday before October. That said, we turned to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 

Johnson, stated, “linking your brand to ‘fun’ edifies it with a positive brand message.  The more fun you can spin into your Halloween messaging and offerings the longer your brands positive halo will be top of mind with consumers”.

So, check this out, according to new findings from The Hershey Co. conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Hershey Co. in early August found that 60 percent of Americans agree that it is socially acceptable to start celebrating Halloween before October.

Here let’s see what else they found:

1.       70 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 say it is socially acceptable to start celebrating Halloween before October.

2.       Additionally, 75 percent of respondents agree that they start decorating the outside of their homes for Halloween as early as they want to.

Alyssa Smith, senior manager, Halloween at The Hershey Co, stated, "We know spotting that first bag of Halloween candy, whether it's Hershey's, Reese's or Kit Kat, is a seasonal thrill for our fellow Halloween superfans," …  "Finding out that a majority of people want to begin their Halloween celebrations before October was not surprising for us, but it ignited a spark for us to get the party started early."

Hershey is delivering on the Halloween excitement early by giving select fans the opportunity to receive a Halloween starter kit, complete with supplies, to celebrate the season. The starter kit will go to the first participants who enter the giveaway and contain some of the fan-favorite Halloween candy from Hershey, as well as d├ęcor, crafts and more.

Here is what an interactive participatory food marketing program from Hershey looks like:  For a chance to win, starting on Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. EST, fans can visit @Hersheys on Instagram and Twitter and respond to the dedicated giveaway posts using the hashtags #HersheyHalloweenKit and #Giveaway.

Hershey invites fans to share how they're kicking off their early celebrations for some inspiration in the comments section.

In addition to the seasonal giveaway, The Hershey Co. introduces Hershey's Halloween Props Milk Chocolate Bars, which feature six different images imprinted on the bar, including mustaches, cat eyes, sunglasses, mouths, fangs and eye patches.

The consumer sentiment survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Hershey Co. between Aug. 4–8. Approximately 2,065 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, of which 1,698 celebrate Halloween, where surveyed.

Based in Pennsylvania, The Hershey Co. has more than 100 brand names in approximately 80 countries worldwide that drive more than $8.9 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey's, Reese's, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers, and fast-growing salty snacks, including SkinnyPop, Pirate's Booty and Dot's Pretzels.

Do you have an interactive participatory Halloween marketing messaging program for this year or next?

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a 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, September 21, 2022

A Quick Look Back to Gain Insights too Look A Customer Ahead


Here are some of out Grocerant Guru's Clues from National Restaurant Show 2022 .  The retail foodservice customer is not fickle, they are evolving, dynamic, and moving forward searching for ways to make dinner complexity free according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson.  I hope you are not the Neanderthal brand marketer waiting for yesterday and a return to the way things were back in 2005, 2011, or 2019.  

The consumer is dynamic not static and all food retailers and start-up fresh food retailers must strive to create or maintain consumer relevance while evolving their own brand.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson believes that the following ten clues to build contemporized food brand relevance that will edify your brand while building top-line sales, bottom-line profits and year over year customer counts.  

How to Build a Larger Share of Stomach

Here are his 10 Clues:

1.       Purpose:   Customer relevance with evolving focus.  The most successful brands are inclusive, include values greater than themselves.  That means they focus on a Lifestyle, a philosophy, an emotion, a point in time.  Today that must include a halo of better for you the consumer as better for the consumer is better for the retailer. 

2.       A story: Most major brands have a story. Examples: If you like Wawa you know the family history, If you line McDonald’s you have heard the story or seen the movie If you like Ford vehicles, you might be familiar with the story of Henry Ford or if you love your Nikes, you probably know how the Nike swoosh logo was created. You get the picture.  What’s your story and where is your story being told?

3.       Consumer interaction:  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® firmly believes that within foodservice retail they brand, products, and footprint must be consumer interactive and participatory. When your business is first starting out, don't fool yourself into believing that your marketing efforts are 'brand building' efforts. They're not because to build a real brand, you have to have an extensive track record with consumers. Consumer will build the brand and the story for with you.

4.       Trust:   Establish operating standards that are measurable for every department within your company and each standard must edify a customer facing tactic, communication, service, or product.  When you've consistently delivered for your customers long enough, you'll gain the type of trust that many brands have.  Would you buy a Edsel today? Maybe so, but you are buying to today as a relic not as a product of today.

5.       Consistency:  Consumers today choose a product or service because of brand association.  The consumer is buying an expectation, a promise. Perhaps it's the expectation that the branded product is of higher quality or that the service will be provided in a more efficient manner. The expectation must be met time after time.

6.       Differentiation: Customer migration from a legacy  to an new brand is often borne of differentiation. Many brands offer products and services that are commodities but they're successful in developing some differentiation in the product or the avenue of distribution for their products and services that consumers are sold on.

7.       Imitators: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and you're probably not a 'brand' until you have competitors trying to copy you. Enough said. (However, we have imitators trying to play catch up and we thank you for edifying our brand and sharing this blog.)

8.       Market leadership: Success does leave clues, collect your clues and own them. Top brands are usually looked at as leaders in the markets they compete in. Own the space, and understand why you do.

9.       Evolve:  The consumer is dynamic not static your brand must be as well.  The best brands are flexible and capable of reshaping and reinventing themselves and their messages over time. Brands are either growing or dying.

10.   A strong marketing presence: The information super highway has evolved into a mobile marketing platform in the palm of your customers hand; your message must follow with the traffic.  Don’t get stuck on the road less traveled.

Success does leave clues feel free to reach out for a private corporate presentation, confidential engagement, educational forum, or keynote. Contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® at: 253-759-7869 or Johnson