Sunday, December 31, 2023

Do you Want New Consumers? Authenticity in Messaging Matters


Is your brands messaging an invitation or a locked door? If you are looking for ways to build your brand, expand your customer base Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® thinks you should read a recent article by Angela Hanson who provides insights on how you might over look one group. 

The fact of the matter is if you are over looking one group there is most likely another group you are doing the same thing too.  Now ask your self is our brand messaging an invitation or locked door? Did you know that more than half of LGBTQ+ Americans consider brands' efforts to market to the cohort to be insincere?

Take a minute to read Angela’s article:


“Most LGBTQ+ consumers support advertising that represents them, but they doubt the sincerity of brands' efforts to market to them.

A recent report by the Collage Group found that 71% of LGBTQ+ consumers feel positive when they see members of their demographic represented in advertising or retail displays. However, that doesn't mean they consider the brands making them to be authentic, reported Convenience Store News' sister publication, Path to Purchase Institute.

In June 2023, Target scaled back its Pride Month promotions and relocated some displays to less-visible areas of the store in response to online backlash and boycott threats from conservative influencers who objected to Pride merchandise. This shift "created the perception that Target was opportunistic, insincere and lacking in conviction," wrote the Collage Group.

It also marked a significant turnaround from one year prior, when Target was deemed a top brand for the LGBTQ+ community based on the support and visibility it had given to LGBTQ+ merchants, creators and community organizations over time.

To avoid similar turnarounds, it is important for retailers to understand how LGBTQ+ people feel about current marketing efforts and ads, and how they want to be represented genuinely, the news outlet reported.

Further research from the Collage Group found that in terms of marketing and LGBTQ+ representation, most Americans are either in support of such advertisements or are impartial. It also found that when LGBTQ+ individuals or groups appear in ads, 71% of the LGBTQ+ segment has positive feelings, as does 31% of non-LGBTQ individuals. Of that 31%, 37% are younger Americans (ages 18-43) and 27% are older (ages 44-77).

At the same time, while LGBTQ+ consumers react positively toward commercials that attempt to appeal to them, more than half of these consumers are still skeptical of the brands' intentions. 

Other key findings from the College Group include:

·         66% of LGBTQ+ Americans follow influencers or celebrities on social media, compared to 48% of non-LGBTQ+;

·         For those who identify as LGBTQ+, 55% say that brands' efforts to woo the community come across as insincere; 65% of Gen Zers that identify as LGBTQ+ say that these campaigns are insincere;

·         23% (nearly 59 million people) of Americans have boycotted a brand because of its stance on a social or political issue;

·         Awareness of backlash toward companies that support the LGBTQ+ community is low among general consumers. Baby Boomers tend to be the most cognizant of such backlash, followed by Gen Xers; and

·         Consumer response to advertising and marketing that addresses transgender and non-binary issues is more muted than LGB issues. However, there is room for growth, as 50% of Americans think brands should speak up about transgender and non-binary issues.”

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.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Mini Meals or Snacks PepisCo has Consumers Answers


At the intersection of What’s for Dinner, and I’m hungry now, are what were once referred to as snacks. Today according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® “Gen Z and Millennials disregard the idea of three meal periods and instead opt for ‘convenient meals. 

Johnson insists that one company is driving the adoption of ‘convenient meals’ better than any other and that company is PepisCo. There are new insights to be found within the fifth annual U.S. Snack Index from Frito-Lay and Quaker.  Let’s take a Look:

Denise Lefebvre, senior vice president of R&D for PepsiCo Foods, stated, "While Frito-Lay and Quaker's latest Snack Index confirms that time is scarce, the data also reinforces the fierce passion that consumers have for their food preferences," …. "As we look to 2024, we have a tremendous opportunity to continue meeting the evolving needs of our consumers. It has never been more important for us to infuse that inspiration with innovation, delivering on our promise of more smiles with every bite."

With 2024 around the corner, Frito-Lay and Quaker are unveiling the three food and snacking trends poised to shape the year ahead:

1. The Time Crunch Dilemma

Despite there being 24 hours in a day, 80% of Americans feel like their days actually have fewer hours. This burden is most acutely felt by younger generations (85%) with no sign of letting up, as 60% of consumers expect demands to increase in the new year.

In 2024, Americans will say goodbye to hours spent marinating, chopping, roasting or baking. A proliferation of the "no-prep dinner," defined as a simple meal that requires little effort to make, will continue to grow in popularity, alongside dinners rooted in Americans' favorite snack products, the survey revealed.

A Dash to Dine

According to the Index, the average American has only 52 total minutes per day to prepare, eat and enjoy their meals. One-third of consumers note having even less time, scraping together less than 30 minutes a day to prep and enjoy meals.

Snacks Move to Center Plate

More consumers are integrating their favorite snack products into meals, up 35% over previous years. Once a week, more than half of consumers use snacks as a key ingredient in no-prep dinners, while more than one-third seize this opportunity multiple times a week.

Top Truths

When asked why snacks are an important part of their no-prep repertoire, Americans report yearning for a specific snack (51%) and being too busy to cook (44%) as the top rationale.

Do You Want a Larger

Share of Stomach?


Mini - Meals Snacks 

#GirlDinner Debunked

The internet might have dubbed snack-focused meals as "#GirlDinner," but in 2024, the trend is for everyone. Men (92%) report being just as likely to use snack foods in meals as women (93%), with 36% pushing snack and meal boundaries more than in previous years.  

2. Introducing the Snack Savant

The rise of the self-proclaimed "Snack Savant" will undoubtedly make waves in 2024, PepsiCo and Quaker found. Savants embrace all things food, adventure and community.

Defining the Snack Savant

Millennials (83%) and Gen Z (82%) are most likely to embrace this title, with the majority of these Snack Savants also being city dwellers (77%). They are resourceful — 55% report their favorite snack combinations are inspired by what is already in the pantry — and lean on social media for additional ideas (32%).

Snacking is an Art

Eighty percent agree that combining multiple food products to create the perfect bite is an art form and 65% admit to having eccentric snack combos.

3. Snacking for Tasty Satisfaction

In 2024, snacking will be centered on the importance of purpose, protein and packing a punch.

Protein Power

When eyeing snacks at the grocery store, Americans cite protein as the most important nutritional attribute (55%). Compared to previous years, 79% of consumers admit it's more critical than ever for protein to take center stage — especially true for those most crunched on time (80%).

Energy Boost

At least once a week, 60% of consumers look to their favorite snack products to provide energy. Millennials (72%) are by far the generation most in need of a pick-me-up vs. Gen Z (62%), Gen X (61%) and baby boomers (46%). Additionally, 72% of parents say they leverage snacks for energy.

Taste Triumphs

Across generations, nearly three-quarters of consumers (74%) refuse to sacrifice taste when selecting their snacks. Baby boomers are the most unwilling to compromise on taste (84%), followed by Gen Xers (75%).

The fifth annual U.S. Snack Index surveyed a sample of 2,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18 years old and over online between Dec. 6-12.

Based in Plano, Frito-Lay North America is the $23 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo Inc., which is headquartered in Purchase, N.Y. Frito-Lay snacks include Lay's and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips and branded dips, Cheetos snacks, Stacy's pita chips, PopCorners popped-corn snacks, SunChips multigrain snacks and Fritos corn chips. The company operates 30-plus manufacturing facilities across the United States and Canada, more than 200 distribution centers and services 315,000 retail customers per week through its direct-store-delivery model.

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, December 29, 2023

Increased Tech Adoption Once Again Insights on What’s Next


The team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has not talked to an operator in any sector of retail foodservice that wants to spend more money on technology. That said, you will and accoding to our own Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson,  Paul Damaren, Chief Revenue Officer at RizePoint is one of the ones you should at least listen too.

Here is wat Paul had to say about 2024 recenlty, “many within the restaurant industry wish we could see into the future and anticipate what’s on the horizon for 2024. While we, unfortunately, don’t have a crystal ball that can predict the future, we do have some indications about what’s in store for our sector in the new year. The anticipated 2024 theme is increased adoption of advanced technologies, including AI, IoT, blockchain, and machine learning. These innovations will help us optimize and improve all aspects of our businesses.

In the new year, expect restaurants to leverage tech solutions to:

§  Optimize operations – Many restaurants harnessed tech solutions to enhance inventory management, streamline supply chains, improve food safety, and more. These tech solutions also provided brand managers with critical data, allowing them to make more informed business decisions on everything from purchasing to scheduling.

§  Boost automation – Labor typically accounts for one of restaurants’ largest operating expenses, so many brands are hoping to cut costs by automating certain tasks, especially as the labor shortage continues. For instance, Sweetgreen has added automation to their kitchen in certain locations, improving accuracy, quality, consistency, productivity, and profit margins. This tech-driven automation dispenses ingredients into 500 bowls per hour, saving labor costs, improving efficiency, and boosting quality control. Interestingly, Sweetgreen is experiencing 50% higher visits at locations with automation vs. their stores without it, and the chain plans to add automation to all its restaurants within the next few years. In 2024, expect more restaurants to follow suit. Chipotle, for example, is testing automation for their salads and bowls. By 2026, the automated food market is expected to be worth an astounding $28 billion globally.

§  Elevate convenience. Technology is making the guest experience far more convenient. In the coming year, more restaurants will feature a one-button checkout experience using stored payment details. Anticipate more tech-enabled, contactless solutions, including mobile ordering and payment, QR code menus, and self-serve kiosks, which will likely enhance convenience and safety. Restaurant tech will also suggest customized offers, add-ons, and new items based each guest’s purchasing history, personal preferences, and dietary needs.

§  Gain data-driven insights – In the new year, expect an increased focus on leveraging data analytics to gain insights into customer behavior. Restaurants will use this valuable data to anticipate customer preferences, track dining habits, and predict peak hours. This will help managers make smarter decisions about every facet of their business, from purchasing strategies to optimizing staff schedules.

§  Improve customer engagement – Restaurants are wisely using tech tools to intensify customer engagement, such as using data analytics to drive personalization and loyalty programs. Accessing a deeper level of insights into customers’ evolving needs allows restaurant brands to meet (and exceed) guests’ expectations. When brands focus on customer service innovation – and personalizing customer experiences, offerings, and recommendations – it boosts customer relationships, loyalty, and retention.

§  Enhance personalization – Did you know that 79% of consumers want personalized menu items based on their purchasing history? Therefore, an important trend for 2024 will be personalized menus, recommendations, and service that meets guests’ individualized needs and dietary requirements. Savvy restaurants will use tech tools to customize all aspects of the dining experience. Expect to see more tailored marketing messages, as well as customized recommendations based on guests’ past purchases. In short, technology will help restaurants connect with customers on a deeper level.

§  Offer omnichannel experiences – Restaurants will continue to invest in their online presence and mobile apps technology, providing elevated, consistent omnichannel experiences. This means that whether a customer dines in, orders takeout, or gets delivery, they’ll receive the same high level of personalization, convenience, quality, and engagement. Additionally, anticipate more loyalty rewards and targeted promotions tailored to individual preferences.

§  Amplify food safety – Food safety and quality remains a focus for restaurants, who are increasingly relying on advanced technologies, including AI and IoT, to maintain the highest food safety standards. Innovative equipment – from smart refrigerators to Bluetooth sensors – indicate any anomalies that could potentially cause a food safety breach. For instance, smart refrigerators generate alarms when temperatures deviate out of the safe range so employees can immediately rectify the situation and prevent food spoilage.

§  Boost sustainability – In 2023, sustainability was a priority within the food industry, as consumers demanded more eco-friendly practices. Restaurants met – and will continue to meet – this call, using technology to monitor (and improve) their eco-friendly practices, reduce waste, enhance ethical sourcing, boost supply chain sustainability, pivot away from single-use plastics, etc.

§  Improve supply chain transparency and resilience – Supply chain disruptions persist, so it’s essential to use tech tools to ensure the steady flow (and safety!) of products. In 2024, restaurants will leverage data analytics and real-time tracking to anticipate and mitigate supply chain disruptions. Blockchain technology, in particular, will play a pivotal role in enhancing supply chain transparency and resilience.

§  Improve traceability – As the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) approaches its deadline, restaurants will focus on meeting the document’s guidelines. This includes preventing foodborne illnesses and ensuring traceability across the food supply chain. The FSMA adoption will be driven by heightened consumer demand for enhanced food traceability, as well as tech advancements for monitoring and compliance. The industry will work collaboratively to create and maintain a safer, more secure food supply.

§  Meet regulatory compliance – Although it can be challenging to stay current on ever-changing food safety regulations, restaurants rose to the challenge last year. Many brands took proactive efforts to monitor regulatory changes and implement protocols to ensure compliance and mitigate risks, a trend that’s predicted to continue next year.

The future of restaurants is tech-driven, and the most successful establishments will embrace tech solutions. Innovations like AI, IoT, blockchain, and machine technology will help restaurants improve safety, quality, efficiency, transparency, personalization, and more. Restaurant leadership would be wise to adopt tech advancements, using these solutions to meet (and exceed!) customers’ expectations. The key to success in 2024 is to leverage technology to stay relevant – and boost customer loyalty – amidst increasing competition.

Paul Damaren is Chief Revenue Officer at RizePoint, a technology leader in the food safety, quality management, compliance, and social responsibility space. RizePoint’s quality management software solutions help companies, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Hard Rock International, and more, keep brand promises through their quality, safety, and compliance efforts. Customers gather better data, see necessary actions earlier, and act faster to correct issues before they become costly liabilities. Check out RizePoint’s website and/or contact the team to learn how these solutions can help your company”

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, December 28, 2023

Gina Acosta ‘s 12 Grocery Sector Trends for 2024


Every year it important to take stock of what other leaders in the industry think is important or what they think will be important.  Gina Acosta is a proven leader within the grocery sector Steven Johnson Grocearnt Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® wants us to share some of her insights.  Here we go:

“'Tis the season to be jolly. As we wrap up 2023, it’s time to reflect on a year that was a transformative time for the grocery industry — and not just because generative AI and retail media unlocked the potential for food retailers to squeeze more profit out of their businesses.

After several years of extreme volatility, uncertainty and growth, the past 12 months have been a level set. The good news is that we have returned to a more normal time. The bad news is that normal is never normal, and grocery retailers will be under more pressure than ever before to make the right bets on where to invest as they embrace new ways to create value and sustained growth. Even amid the pressure, retailers that aggressively focus on the following 12 trends may be best positioned to thrive in 2024’s never normal, whatever the new year may bring:

1.       Loyalty: What have you done for me lately? That’s what your shoppers are thinking about outdated circulars, apps and promotions that don’t really solve their problems. As Giant Food’s loyalty guru, Ryan Draude, suggested during a recent Progressive Grocer webinar, perhaps it’s time to design loyalty programs like those of airlines and hotels. Give shoppers a reason to come to the store more often to rack up those points! 

2.       Retail media: The next year will bring more growth for this channel, but it will also bring a reckoning. Simplification, standardization, in-store executions and ROI will be top of mind as suppliers demand more from retailer media networks. 

3.       AI: The integration of artificial intelligence across the business will continue to accelerate, and the first grocery retailer to launch a “killer AI” app will likely be Walmart. 

4.       Inflation: Inflation may be subsiding, but we’re starting to see the effects of the end of SNAP dollars and the start of student loan repayments on retailer bottom lines. Consumers choosing value (and private brands) above all else isn’t going away anytime soon. 

5.       M&A: The proposed merger between The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos. is slated to close on Jan. 13, and all indications are that it’s going to happen. Consolidation will continue in the new year.

6.       Sustainability: Putting aside robust retailer environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and increasing consumer preferences for sustainable practices, the regulatory (and operating) environment for grocers is poised to become a lot more complex in the next year, due to new rules regarding food waste, refrigerants and more. 

7.       Profitability: Grocers will continue to face downward margin pressure in 2024 and will be forced to make some very tough choices when it comes to spending.

8.       Theft: Shoppers are unhappy about product being locked up in cases, and retailers are unhappy about product being stolen. The answer might be to invest in more employees in the aisles as a deterrent to theft.

9.       Social commerce: Tik Tok-viral recipes will keep triggering out-of-stocks, so now’s the time to invest in some better forecasting solutions to predict demand based on social media and other trends.

10.   Storytelling: Grocers that want to retain their shoppers and acquire new ones need to do a better job of telling their stories, whether in-store or online. The store is the heart and soul of the community. Shout it from the rooftops! 

11.   Self-checkout: The expansion of self-checkout has solved some problems for retailers but introduced many new ones, including increased shrink, labor issues, and customer frustration over the technology. AI may help solve some of these problems in the new year.

12.   Small brands: Now that supply chains are mostly back to “normal,” smaller brands have an opportunity to win space on the shelf again — as long as they’re value-priced, of course. “

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.