Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is 7-Eleven Evolving the Big Gulp into “Club 7-Eleven”?

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® regularly states “customers are dynamic not static and brands must be as well”.  7-Eleven is a dynamic company, filled with customer relevance and evolving as fast or faster than most food retailers in the world.  That is the key reason 7-Eleven has over 55,800 locations around the world and continues to grow.

Sarah Baird is a writer and culinary anthropologist wrote an article in an online magazine called PUNCH about 7-Eleven I was captivated.  (Illustration above from PUNCH by Sayada Ramdial)  Baird, wrote on the growth and expanding phenomenon that is “Club 7-Eleven”.   7-Eleven is doing things right.

 “Club 7-Eleven” is simply put the outcrop of customer migration.  Driven largely as a byproduct of Hong Kong’s lax liquor laws and exorbitant drink prices;   7-Eleven’s have become the hottest new hangouts in Hong Kong's nightlife epicenter” according to Baird.   

Here is some of how Baird described it;” in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s pulsating, nightlife epicenter, 7-Eleven convenience stores (yes, home of the Big Gulp) are hotbeds of Gucci-clad nighthawk activity, each franchised outpost a miniature social club for the hard-partying masses.”…

Baird continued: “My friends—and almost everyone—call them ‘Club 7s’ or ‘Club 7-Elevens,’” says Charlene Dawes, co-owner of a Hong Kong cocktail empire that includes Quinary, Origin and The Envoy. “People drink there before or after the clubs because it’s so much cheaper than getting a drink anywhere else in Lan Kwai Fong. Plus, you can just spill out into the street.… For better or worse, booze regulations in Hong Kong are so laid back they’re practically horizontal.”…

“Everything about this Club 7-Eleven culture is indicative of a curious duality that runs much deeper than 7-Eleven’s new day and night personas” Clearly Baird understands the complexity and opportunity day-parts present Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food retail operators.  It’s not just about liquor here it is about understanding your target market and adapting to an evolving market place. 

In our Omni-channel retail world focusing on new points of distribution is critical.  However operators should include focusing expanding sales / menu mix by day-part more often even if it may seem counterintuitive to your core brand day message. Remember tonight’s late night customer may be your day customer in a year or two.  Building Top Line Sales and Bottom Line Profits for Today and Tomorrow is our success clue for today.  

Are you interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is a Successful Global Merchant

Success does leave clues, building a successful brand one customer at a time is something that Starbucks CEO and founder Howard Schultz does well.  In Q2 2015 Starbucks added a record 1.3 million new My Starbucks Rewards members bringing total active membership to 10.3 million - and realized a Q2 record $1.1 billion in Starbucks Card loads.  That my friends bodes well for the future of Starbucks. 

It’s not like Starbucks is a new company it’s, 44 years young! Let’s look at some of the other Q2 numbers so you might compare your sales to a 44 year old company.  Here is what SBUX reported just in case you missed some of the numbers Q2 Fiscal 2015 Highlights:
Global comparable store sales increased 7%, with a 3% increase in traffic 

Starbucks digital innovation now processing over 8 million mobile payment transactions per week

Starbucks delivers its coffee experience to over 75 million customers a week in over 22K stores in 66 countries

Americas comp sales increased 7%, with a 2% increase in traffic

Consolidated net revenues increased 18% to $4.6 billion 

Channel Development revenues grew 16% to $428.0 million 

Consolidated operating income of $777.5 million, up 21% over Q2 of FY14 

Year over year comp store transactions increased over 10 million in the U.S., over 14 million globally
It takes a quality focused merchant to drive ongoing results that that in an Omni-channel food retail world a Schultz had the company’s focus is on the consumer first. Foodservice Solutions® clients and regular readers of this blog understand that Starbucks is a Food Merchant not just a restaurant selling coffee and coffee products.

A merchant first Schultz is a food retailer second that edifies the Starbucks brand with consumer relevance. Schultz stated “Innovation is the force that will continue to drive our business and enable us to expand and increase revenues and profits - always through the lens of humanity - long into the future,”

Outside eyes can bring new light and assist in your successful growth by creating a platform of insights for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization. Don’t wake up one day and find that you or your company slept; while consumers were on the move serving more and more coffee.

Interested in learning how the 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization contact us via Email us at  View or page on follow us on

Friday, April 24, 2015

Digital Food Photo’s Sell Fresh Food Fast

When consumers are Ready-2-Eat or when they want Heat-N-Eat grocerant niche fresh prepared food one thing is sure according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ ‘they eat with their eye’s first. 

Today, photo’ of food taken by people eating a meal out are flooding the internet. New York a Latin restaurant called Comodo decided to capitalize on the trend by creating an Instagram hashtag, #comodomenu.  The hashtag allow anyone to browse the hashtag to view images of the menu items as well as posting their own photos of what they ordered while at the restaurant. Sounds simple enough. 

The marketing campaign was a homerun, generating so many reservations that people had to call five months in advance for a seat. To place an order, diners simply show a photo of their chosen item. Other restaurants have since followed suit and the trend is likely to keep spreading. Creating a hashtag is, after all, free foodies have flooded Instagram with food photos and has become a hotbed for food research geeks. 

Digital menus, digital story telling innovations are edging out good old fashioned paper menus – and consumers appear to welcome the change. In fact IRI reports that “60% of all shopping research is done through mobile”.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Food that looks good sells. 

Pushing the limits, Pizza Hut launched "the world's first subconscious menu” at 300 locations in the U.K. The menu, based on months of retina scanning and psychological research, lets customers build their own pizzas simply by looking at images of toppings on a tablet. The longer they let their eyes rest on a particular image, the more likely the system is to automatically add that item to their pizza. And if they are not happy with the selection, all they need to do is glance at the “restart” button. If the system is a success, count on seeing it here in the United States soon. Apparently, 98 percent of customers are happy so far. What do you think? Good or bad idea? I like the fact that Pizza Hut is pushing the limits. 

Customer empowered ordering has arrived new self-ordering kiosks at the entryway to fast-food restaurants and C-stores like Wawa and could revolutionize the food industry, according to a prediction by

Chili’s has installed 45,000 tabletop tablets, becoming “the king of human-less food ordering.” Research also shows customers tend to order more when faced with a full array of colorful choices and specials at their fingertips. A picture is worth a thousand words.  Digital Menu boards and menus work. 

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ready-2-Eat Healthy Fast Food

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is driving success in every sector of food retail today according to Foodservice Solutions®, Grocerant Guru™.  What is driving this growth is consumers focus on ‘better for you’ food.  That ‘better for you’ has taken on an increased focus on vegetables in each day part.

The key consumer drivers are less protein, they want vegetables that are Fresh, they want them cheap, and they want them to taste good. Core Kitchen an Oakland, CA based fast food restaurant start-up may have found the answer.

Core Kitchen dubbing itself “the world’s most nourishing restaurant’ new fast food /quick service restaurants will offer food with no sugar, flour, salt, oil, dairy or meat.  The menu will be comprised of 100 percent produce. Yes, the Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food sector is evolving fast.

Healthy restaurant chains have come and gone remember D'Lites of America a’ better for you’ fast food chain all but gone?  While D’Lites is gone the halo of ‘better for you’ has driven Chipotle to industry icon status.  Giving Core Kitchens a better than average shot at big time success.

In New York, The Little Beet chef Franklin Becker  is now planning on opening seven more restaurants in the New York area focusing on ‘better for you’ simple ingredients to create dazzling dishes that are healthy.  
Greg Dollarhyde, CEO of Santa Monica-based 28 unit chain Veggie Grill stated,” says its biggest growth has been among the typical meat-eating consumer, and maybe the occasional flexitarian (semi-vegetarians) looking to eat more whole, unprocessed vegetables and grains.

Harry Balzer, of the Chicago-based consumer research firm NPD Group. "We're not trying to get more protein. We're trying to get different sources of protein ... Generally, they're cheaper plant-based sources,"
Regular readers of this blog know about Cava Grill who announced a $16 million cash infusion to expand its Mediterranean-style big bowl fare on the West Coast. They currently have eight locations around Washington, D.C.

Of course there is highly successful Lyfe Kitchen  with a dozen restaurants open offer meats that include "unfried" chicken, salmon and lamb meatballs, but their focus is on veggies, tofu, beans, nuts and Greek yogurt-based sauces. Everything menu item at Lyfe Kitchen, has  600 calories or less, including the stuffed "pizzadillawich" with cheese, veggies and a tomato dipping sauce.
One thing is perfectly clear, ‘better for you’ fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat is taking off and driving change in the retail food sector.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging marketing integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions o f Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche and has been since 1991 Contact: