Friday, June 30, 2023

Chick-fil-A Winning with Interactive Participatory Branding


Do consumers know what your company stands for, sells, or supports?  Do consumers know what images, logos, or design elements that that will make your company and its products top of mind with them?  According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® if your customers do not know, you had better.  If you don’t know it’s likely your customers will move on after a brief trial for a brand that has a recurring clear message that is relevant.

The American Marketing Association says that “A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”.

For example, you can consider a brand as the idea or image people have in mind when thinking about specific products, services, and activities of a company, both in a practical (e.g. “the shoe is light-weight”) and emotional way (e.g. “the shoe makes me feel powerful”).

It is therefore not just the physical features that create a brand but also the feelings that consumers develop towards the company or its product. This combination of physical and emotional cues is triggered when exposed to the name, the logo, the visual identity, or even the message communicated.

That said Chick-fil-A's mobile game, Code Moo, launched recently, providing weekly incentives for rewards members who play. That is a great example of a restaurant company reinforcing consumer focused interactive participatory branding according to Johnson.  

In case you did not know Chick-fil-A debuted a new digital game featuring its signature cows. Let’s let the fun begin with part of the press release:

“Code Moo, A Chick-fil-A Original Game,” as it’s technically called, is available at, and includes weekly missions released each Wednesday where loyalty members can help the chain’s signature cows sabotage the fictional Circus Burger brand. Circus Burger made its debut in a 2019 ad in which the cows took over the company’s boardroom. Each week, 2.5 million food rewards will be attainable for those playing Code Moo, including free nuggets, waffle potato fries, chicken sandwiches and more. In addition to the weekly food reward opportunities, participants who complete each challenge will be entered into a sweepstakes for the chance to win free Chick-fil-A for a year, a trip for two to the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game and more.

Along with these incentives, the chain’s foray into mobile gaming is also likely to draw more Chick-fil-A One memberships. Newzoo reports that the global gaming market generated over $184 billion in revenue, with half of that coming from mobile gaming alone in 2022. A new study from and IDC shows that mobile gaming is outgrowing the gaming industry overall. Notably, mobile games aren’t new in the restaurant space as brands try to tap into this growing consumer trend, but more brands may be focused on creating such an opportunity now as they diversify their ad spend.

Chick-fil-A’s mobile app is the fifth most downloaded in the QSR segment, according to data from Apptopia, behind McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway and Taco Bell. In May, 827,000 consumers downloaded the brand’s app.

At the intersection or branding and marketing messaging, Chick-fil-A is celebrating its popular herd with the launch of The Cow Collection, the chain’s third merchandise line since its first collection debuted in November. The latest line includes beach towels, visors, a paddleball game and more, and will be available starting June 26 at, while supplies last. The chain will keep the spotlight on its cows all summer, including with an animated short film to be released in July and the brand’s first board game, called “Cow Party.”

Joe Saracino, Chick-fil-A’s senior vice president of brand, advertising and media, stated,  “The Chick-fil-A cows have been a beloved part of the brand for nearly three decades and carry a contagious spirit everywhere they go, reminding our guests to laugh and appreciate the little things around them,” . “We’re excited to have the cows back — so much so that we’re letting them take charge this summer. It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the fun they’re cooking up for all our guests.”

Consistency matters, Chick-fil-A’s cows made their debut on a billboard in 1995, alongside the chain’s “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign, created by The Richards Group. In 1997, the cows first appeared on TV. The campaign has been recognized throughout the years with awards from Effie, Cannes and OBIE, and in 2007, the cows were inducted into Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame.

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, June 29, 2023

Inflation Is Driving Change in Consumers Path to Purchase


At the intersection of price increases at the grocery store, restaurants, convenience stores, even most dollar store items are now higher than a dollar; that consumers are looking for meal convenience. According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® are searching for convenient meal solutions at a price and are willing to shift meal periods by daypart while exploring new channels of fresh food distribution.

Today, morning coffee is more likely to be prepared and consumed at home, so retailers should even more closely monitor the amounts that are brewed to prevent excessive waste and how often the offerings are refreshed during the early hours. For stores with bakeries, that is also likely to affect the sales of breakfast pastries such as doughnuts, muffins and Danishes. Bundling these bakery items with lunch offerings may provide a way to boost sales in this category.

Consumers are not eating less, they are eating at different times of the day and getting meals and meal components from outlets that they had not tried before or wanted to try.  However, rising inflation resulting in higher prices for ingredients and the need to pass those higher prices on to consumers, grocery stores, restaurants and c-store retailers are all concerned about how these factors will affect their foodservice sales. In fact, research shows that inflation is the No. 1 concern for many retailers. Why because it is the No. 1 concern for consumers.

Every time the gas prices goes up, foodservice sales decline in one sector or another as customers have less discretionary money to spend on food. Inversely, when gas prices go down foodservice sales rise. Today consumers are experimenting with their nontraditional channels of distribution looking for a meal solution that does not include cooking from scratch every meal every day according to Johnson.

To maintain customer interest, retailers must constantly provide new and interesting menu items and promotions. Despite the relaxation of restrictions, many people are still working from home and, it seems, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. For some legacy food retailers, fewer morning commuters has pushed the traditional breakfast rush to later in the day, more toward lunch time.

That said, limited time offers and promotions are most likely to be successful if they focus on lunch fare. Bundling can also work here as well to help build sales of items such as sandwiches and salads, sides such as chips, and hot and cold dispensed or ready-to-drink beverages.

Many consumers are most concerned about value rather than just price. They are willing to pay a little more for high quality and will accept smaller portions such as grab-and-go sliders and individual decadent desserts if the value incentive is there.

Don’t discount that fact that inflation can also make loyalty programs even more attractive to customers, making this an excellent time to promote them. Cents off and buy one, get one offers for loyalty members appeal to their thrifty side. Also popular with customers are promotions to buy a set number of an item to earn one free — for example, buy six cups of coffee and get the seventh one free.

The reduction of evening commuters has also had a negative impact on the dinner demand. As in the morning, consumers are more likely to prepare their evening meal at home. Many are also turning to services such as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub to deliver their food to them.

Consumers can be out and about at any hour of the day or evening, making any time a potential snack time. Retailers with roller grills should keep them stocked with fresh items to accommodate their appetites. Other grab-and-go items such as chicken tenders, pizza slices and sliders can also go beyond lunch to satisfy day or evening snack cravings. Where, when, and how are your customers getting their meal solutions?

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, June 28, 2023

Dom’s Kitchen and Market Summer Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Restaurant Style Menu


Diane Adam  recently wrote: “Grocery stores are like people—they come in all different shapes and sizes. And here at The Local Checkout, I’ll be taking a closer look through a wide lens of independent grocery stores. Because just like people—they all matter”

The team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® home of the Grocerant Guru® understands exactly what she was saying and agrees.  Think about restaurants that offer a summer menu, they drive increased customer visits and a break from home meal cooking. 

The simple fact is grocery stores large and small have been garnering restaurant customers for years by offering local, full flavored Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  We what to share with you some of the rest of what Diane Adam wrote.  Her insights are right on, so where we go:

“If you live in Chicago and are reading this, then you might want to plan a trip to Dom’s Kitchen & Market starting on Wednesday. I had the pleasure of tasting the grocer’s upcoming new summer menu offerings and let’s just say everything on the menu was outstanding.

For those of you who are not familiar, high-end Dom’s Kitchen & Market is redefining the local food shopping experience—and it is bringing restaurants along for the ride.

The independent grocer located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park and Old Town neighborhoods is forging alliances with local restaurants to further its to-go repertoire of prepared foods.

Restaurants include Avli, a modern Greek restaurant with locations in and around Chicago, and barbeque hotspot Lillie's Q.

Dom’s Kitchen & Market regards itself as a hybrid of a kitchen and a market that prides itself on its Chicago collaborations.

In fact, working with local brands is part of the Dom’s mission, as it strives to create a neighborhood vibe shoppers crave, Megan Jennett, director of marketing at Dom’s, told The Local Checkout. "We’re really pushing to be just one team,” Jennett said, noting she sees local brands and restaurants as allies. 

And with the official start to summer next week, the Dom’s summer menu has something for everyone—except a needed a reservation.

“We’re bringing the quality of a restaurant to a supermarket,” Dom’s chef James Klewin said.

The Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) reported this week that independent grocers in rural communities “may be eligible for the REAP grant, which supports retailers in their pursuit of energy efficiency and sustainability.” Independent grocers can click on this linkto get the details on whether their store qualifies. The grant is for independent stores in communities of less than 50,000 people.

The National Grocers Association (NGA) held an inaugural meeting this month to discuss solutions for providing access to healthy benefit cards in high-need communities being served by independent grocers.

NGA spearheaded this meeting to discuss the issue, explore possible solutions and urge cooperation among the groups to reach a resolution by the end of the third quarter of this year.

“Healthy Benefit Card programs underscore the integral role that food plays in overall health," said Stephanie Johnson, NGA vice president of government relations. “By combining affordability, accessibility and nutritional support, independent grocers can empower individuals to make informed choices about their health and well-being. We appreciate the opportunity to convene these important stakeholders and look forward to building consensus around ways in which we can achieve broad access for independent grocers and their customers."

Diane Adam is part of the team at Winsight media if you would like to tell her you’re your story you can reach her at

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Domino’s Delivery Where You Want It and When You Want It


Back in the day Domino’s was known for delivery first and fast then for tis pizza.  After the most aggressive brand flavor profile update of and national restaurant brand Domino’s become known for pizza than delivery.  Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® wants to congratulate Domino’s for integrating good customizable food with customizable delivery.

Domino’s recently announced Pinpoint Delivery for hyper-specific pizza delivery locations without an address like parks and beaches.  OK, how cool is that?

Now, Domino’s is adding yet another innovation to its suite of delivery features: pizza delivery virtually anywhere. The Pinpoint Delivery feature allows customers to order a pizza to places without a traditional address like a park, beach, or sports field, just by adding a pin to a map and meeting a Domino’s delivery person nearby.  

Christopher Thomas-Moore, Domino’s senior vice president and chief digital officer, stated, “Domino’s is proud to be the first quick-service restaurant brand in the U.S. to deliver food to customers with the drop of a pin,”. “We’re always striving to make customers’ experiences even better and more convenient, and Domino’s Pinpoint Delivery does exactly that.”

Yes, we have talked about this on this blog before. SoiIf this sounds familiar, it’s because Domino’s has tried this type of technology once before. In 2017, Domino’s Anywhere launched through the Domino’s master franchisee in Australia, offering customers the similar ability to order a pizza to a pin-dropped location on a map. This new Pinpoint Delivery feature would be the first time the type of technology is available to U.S. markets.

Now when customers use the new feature, all they have to do is drop their location on a map, and then they can track their driver’s location via GPS as he or she approaches the meetup point, and receive text alerts about their delivery. Domino’s will alert customers when their driver arrives to the designated drop-off spot, and customers can then choose to turn on a visual signal on their phone to alert the delivery driver to their exact location.

Thomas-Moore continued, “Delivery innovation is at the core of who we are, so we’re thrilled to give customers a new delivery option by allowing them to receive their order nearly anywhere, with the drop of a pin,” … “With Domino’s Pinpoint Delivery, customers can get their favorite menu items just about wherever their adventure takes them – whether they’re soaking up the sun at a beach or having a picnic with friends in the park.”

Over the past couple of years, Domino’s has been increasing its technology investment to stand out from the competition, including testing and rolling out electric and robotic delivery vehicles, and perfecting car-ordering capabilities, including the rollout of Apple CarPlay in-vehicle ordering in April.

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

Monday, June 26, 2023

Table Service or Grab N Go Customers Want Service


It is at the intersection of fresh food fast and customer service that full flavored food meets technology and once in a while there is simply to much technology for customers to make a connection with you brand according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 

Recently Brian Duncan, President of me&u USA talked about an evolving trend in customers preferring more human interactions in restaurants, causing a decline in the use of QR codes. He found:

1.    81% of consumers feel that human interaction is the most important factor in restaurants and bars.

2.    QR code scans in restaurants have decreased by 27% in a year.

3.    88% of diners prefer paper menus to digital QR codes.

4.    49% of consumers are more likely to visit restaurants that use technology to give them a personalized menu that’s unique and tailored to their preferences.

5.    66% of consumers prefer to use a food service app that allows them to split the bill easily amongst themselves.

Duncan continued “The need to customize experiences for each individual visitor has become increasingly important for restaurants,” , who have introduced their latest feature – me&u Flex – a scan, order, pay technology that delivers convenience without sacrificing human interaction.

That said, the Gorcerant Guru® believes that grocery stores could give restaurants a run for their money through the continued growth of retail foodservice. That was a key theme of the keynote presentation at the recent 2023 International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) conference in Anaheim, California.

IDDBA Vice President of Marketing Whitney Atkins and Heather Prach, the association's VP of education, which highlighted trends and areas of opportunity in the industry. 

Prach noted in the presentation that home delivery and e-commerce have been “difficult for our categories to execute in retail” but they’re well worth the investment. A survey of consumers showed that 62% occasionally order restaurant delivery, compared to 33% for grocery prepared foods delivery. The results were similar for restaurant takeout at 78% versus grocery deli-prepared takeout at 41%. 

“There’s a bit of margin lost with the delivery services, but 46% of shoppers are wanting that option, so maximizing the e-commerce platform to give recipes, meal solutions and meal planning within the platform can be ways to increase sales,” Prach said. 

She noted that sandwich sales, particularly peanut butter and jelly components, are up but could go much further with indulgent upgrades. Prach advised showing the full sandwich and meal pricing within the departments, as a way to illustrate the value and savings available to shoppers compared to their quick-serve restaurant counterparts. 

“There’s also room here to upgrade sandwiches to fresh-baked bread in the deli or a small indulgence upgrade to brioche bread or to a bagel or a croissant, etc.,” she added.

Prach noted that the “on-the-go lifestyle” has returned with many workers returning to the office, adding that “Feeding the family has become a balancing act between money, health, taste and time.” 

There’s not a single shopper that always saves money, always shops for health-forward foods or always shops for new over nostalgia. Convenience at the right time for the customer is key. A great example of this is pizza, she said. Pizza can be sold ready to eat, it can be sold ready to bake, frozen or as its individual, from-scratch components. It's a customizable product that can serve a variety of consumer need states. 

“Home cooking burnout fuels this trend,” she said. “It is exhausting to keep a rotating menu at home and to cook every meal every day.” 

Prach noted that most households maintain a “hybrid system” of cooking, which involves weekly meal planning, subscription plans for home cooking and buying premade meals and sides to support parts of the meal. Forty-one percent of shoppers are cooking mostly from scratch, while 50% mix homemade meals with semi- and fully prepared items, she added. “These items can be from the deli along with produce and meat,” Prach said, noting that currently, only about 9% are mostly shopping for fully prepared items. 

“Shoppers want convenience as an option, and this is led by our grab-and-go. Fifty-five percent of shoppers want easier shopping in the grab-and-go, so make sure these items are stocked throughout the day and night,” she said. “Shoppers may be thinking of future meals while they’re in the store.” 

Grocers can capture more spend from morning grab-and-go shoppers who may already be thinking of lunch and dinner for later while in the store. Similarly, later shoppers “want to know that their local retailer will have a reliable selection of grab-and-go along with easier preparation items that they can quickly heat and serve no matter what time.” 

Prach added that quick breakfast items, especially in the bakery, have seen huge growth since 2020. “Donuts, croissants, pastries, muffins have all grown,” she said. “Some shifts from being home have built habits and taught people how to save. Having a quick piece of bakery and brewing coffee at home can save time and still feel indulgent.” 

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.