Sunday, September 21, 2014

Driving Fresh Food Sales Beyond Your 4 Walls

All of the 118 restaurants at London’s Heathrow International Airport are now selling ‘hampers’ “on-board-picnic” too travelers.  Flying out of or headed home travelers can take hampers prepared by Heathrow restaurants on flights, including pizzas and meals by Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay.

The service is available at all Heathrow's 118 restaurants across its five terminals. “The 49 brands involved range from chain cafés, such as Pret a Manger and EAT, to restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionist Café and Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food, as well as Caviar House and The Gorgeous Kitchen.”

The hampers as they call them vary in price and size according to venue.  The cost range is from £5 and £50.  They must be around 40 x 20 x 10cm in size,  all are collapsible and designed to be easily stowed away under the seat or in the overhead locker. Some hampers are insulated bags designed to “ensure the food retains maximum taste and freshness at 35,000 feet”, keeping hot food warm and cold food cool, such as the ones from Caviar House which features an ice compartment.

Passengers who return their insulated bags to Caviar House are offered a 15 per cent discount on their next on-board picnic purchase. Wow what a marketing tool or tailgate product as well. “Customization is key to this program as hampers can be tailor-made to meet any dietary requirements upon request at each of the restaurants and can be ready-to-go or prepared in about 15 minutes, depending on the type of meal selected.”

British Airways (BA) said it welcomes the new picnic service, and doesn't envisage it affecting cabin space usage or creating too much extra rubbish to be cleared from passengers who bring a hamper on board.
"If customers wish to bring their own food on board, they are very welcome to,"  Where are you selling food?

Outside eyes can deliver top sales and bottom line profits.  Invite  to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. Have you completed a Grocerant Scorecard? Contact: 253-759-7869 or

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Faster Than Fast Food

What is faster than fast food?  Airline food of course, should restaurants be worried?  Hard charging business travelers are accustom to full-flavored meals delivered to them while they work aboard a flight coming and going to and from sales call or clients offices.
There is one online German grocery store called is launching an Airline Meal Delivery service — called Air Food One— to deliver either a "classic" or "vegetarian" Airline prepared meals to your home once a week.
The grocery store is teaming up with LSG Sky Chefs, the food provider for Lufthansa airlines in Europe cater to many U.S. Airlines. They are not planning to sell the meals served in the back of the plane (steerage). They are focusing on first class meal service and business class meals.
Here is how it works; each week,” the delivered meal will match the business class menu currently available on planes. Meals are delivered on Wednesdays, and can be frozen until the want-to-be traveler is ready to throw them in the oven.” This option is consider it an alternative to restaurant takeout. This service is only available currently in Germany, but it won’t be long before hits the U.S.
LSG Sky Chefs is not stopping there with direct home meal delivery either.  They now provide a wide array of professional catering services to meet client’s increasingly diversified needs. “These range from the management consultancy of staff restaurants and clubs to providing tailor-made school meals on an individual basis; from organizing open-air parties to sumptuous VIP banquets.”
Sky Chefs is a traditional fresh food retailer commonly known as a B2B retailer. These progressive Non-traditional avenues of distribution open up the competitive landscape that is retail foodservice today. Do you know who your next competitor will be?

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. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Convenient Convenience Drives Customer Convergence

The convenience store sector continues to outperform other retail sectors, in large part driven by ever-increasing sales of fresh prepared food. In fact, fresh prepared food sales are the root cause of the undercurrents of disruption changing the price, value and service equilibrium within the retail food sector today.

Companies the ilk of Wawa Inc., Sheetz Inc., Rutter’s Farm Stores, Casey’s General Stores Inc. and 7-Eleven Inc. are all expanding year-over-year sales while building new units. Differentiation with quality ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat fresh prepared food is one way to created marketing buzz and customer trial. However, that model is changing and changing fast, driven by evolving demographics, technology and virtual convenient concepts.
Five years ago, many leading convenience store operators were worried about other c-stores stealing their ideas. Then, they began to think they should only worry about the day when they stop stealing ideas. Well, that day may have arrived. The current convenience store business model is under attack.
Even after seven successful years of seeing convenience stores’ retail fresh food sales leading the food industry in growth, c-store operators cannot rest on their laurels. I’ve seen how “footprint malaise” can be a leading contributor to consumer discontent and migration to other channels. Although fresh food continues to be the driver of customer frequency, retailers have seen gasoline volume tapering off with improved gas efficiencies taking a toll.
Youth-Targeted C-stores
A recent study found that Americans aged 16 to 24 who have driver’s licenses fell to 67 percent in 2011, the lowest level in roughly a half-century. This same segment of consumers would rather have a smartphone than a driver’s license.
The consumer is dynamic, not static; business models must be as well. Are you building or remodeling stores for yesterday’s customers or tomorrow’s?
While smartphones and technology are driving disruption in seemingly every sector of the economy, new technology and startups led by 20-something CEOs are now taking aim at the convenience store sector and all fresh-food retailers. Burger King’s purchase/merger with Tim Horton’s is just one example of a legacy food retailer trying to mitigate customer migration with daypart expansion, but that may not be enough.
Who’s Competing In Convenient Convenience? E?
In an omnichannel/cross-channel retail world, simply doing what you have always done and doing it the same way does not work.
Back in 2011, when Scott Stanford and Shervin Pishevar led separate investments in Uber’s $37-million Series B round, fellow investors and friends scoffed. “Why are you guys investing in a limo company?” the naysayers asked. Today, Uber is operating in 128 cities and valued at $18 billion.
Today, Uber also is offering a free delivery service called Uber Corner Store as a means to garner more customers. Yes, the company is serving young customers that don’t drive, aging customers who are too old to drive and lower-income customers who can’t afford a car full-time to drive. Since Uber’s store is a virtual location, the return on investment is much less than a brick-and-mortar store.
Stanford and Pishevar did not stop there, though. They formed a venture capital firm called Sherpa Ventures. One of their first big bets was a $28-million Series B investment in a San Francisco-based food delivery startup called Munchery, which makes meals and delivers them within one hour.
Munchery and Uber are putting the “convenient” in convenience. Now, you may be thinking that technology-based food companies will not affect your business. Tell that to Waldon Books, Barnes & Noble, Crown Books and maybe your favorite local bookstore.
Are you building a convenient brand beyond your four walls?
Technology: Once A Friend, Now a Foe
Sherpa Ventures co-founder Stanford said, “When you introduce something like Uber or Munchery, you change the paradigm with not only how that service or product is consumed, but how it is provided … If you can change the underlying economics of that delivery platform or that value chain, it puts you in a really interesting position from a financial perspective.”
When Red Lobster opens a new restaurant these days, it does it very much the same way it did 46 years ago. Sure, it will have an updated menu, décor and messaging, but the business model has not been changed. Red Lobster and maybe your company’s business model might just look more like yesterday’s business model than tomorrow’s business model.
There is a growing trend of companies that, thanks to smartphone technology, are providing efficient and innovative on-demand services. They can make your business look outdated. Consumer expectation has changed as a result of greater connectivity. From brick-and-mortar locations, consumers are fast looking to “point, click and eat” solutions for immediate consumption — no gas required.
The Migration of Legacy Grocery Stores
Legacy grocery stores are migrating into the "convenient convenience" space as well.
Sharon Price, grab-and-go food guru for the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain (formerly owned by Tesco plc), recently said: “We set out to develop more breakfast options that are delicious but not overloaded with calories, perfect for the customer looking for healthier options on the go.”
These grab-and-go breakfast items are priced to compete with c-stores and quick-service restaurants. They will complement the lunch and dinner fresh-prepared, ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat offerings.
Whole Foods, meanwhile, not only offers fresh prepared food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it also has entered the catering and holiday meal business, as well creating a whole concept around family food and fun that continues to drive sales and bottom-line profits.
From Handheld Food to Hand Held Food Ordering
Every retail food sector has noticed a discontinuity in consumer food shopping behavior, and all are fighting for share of stomachContributing to this displacement is technology and demographics. Where once the family dinner was the bastion of American household, today 32 percent of dinner occasions are eaten alone.
Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way? How long before virtual location startups garner 5 percent, 10 percent or even 20 percent of your market share?

Outside eyes can deliver top sales and bottom line profits.  Invite  to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. Have you completed a Grocerant Scorecard? Contact: 253-759-7869 or

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Darden’s Conundrum: Yesterday’s Strategy or Demise by Starboard Value LP

While well documented, the declining sales and customer counts at Darden’s flagship Olive Garden don’t seem to be being address by either the current leadership or proposed leadership.  Sure, Darden's sales were only down one percent when last reported.  The simple fact is the un-robust economy is inching forward and Olive Garden continues to lag the economy, the industry, and ilk niche brands.

The Olive Garden current promotion “Buy One Take One & A Movie is a short term tactic that will edify the brand with consumers. We would like to give Olive Gardens team some credit for it, but since they simply copied Maggiano’s Little Italy’ success with their Today and Tomorrow special, we can’t do that.    Copycat marketing and positioning can buy a brand time, not authenticity. Current Olive Garden leadership seemingly has lost the pulse of the consumer, the brand, and food retailing consumer relevance.

New Undercurrents Evolving

The undercurrents of evolving consumer shopping behavior, availability of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food, time-starved consumers, and lack of appropriate cooking skill-set, combined with the fact no one wants to do dishes or empty the dishwasher create what Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru calls “the emerging Grocerant Tsunami”.

It is at that intersection that legacy food retailers will either adapt or get left behind at an accelerated rate.  Olive Garden appears to be near the point they may become a Grocerant Tsunami victim.  That is very close to when Olive Gardens business model will look more like Kodak’s and Red Lobster than Chipotle’s. 

Educational Mix-Up

The 294 side PowerPoint by Starboard Value LP is more akin to a tier one graduate school exercise filled with facts based on legacy metrics.  Metric’s that while relevant in 1980’s, 1990’s, 2000’s collectively are simply not as important today.  The 294 slide PowerPoint is not road map to retail foodservice customer relevance today.

While it’s 294 slides are a great read if you’re a college student and a laudable template for novices food service consultants.  Its lack of focus on the consumer, consumer retail food consumer migration, or Olive Gardens brand promise reflecting an industry naiveté’ that simply-put creates more doubt than answers. Reinforcing the notion, not all graduate school exercises are a harbinger of success.

Without doubt the legacy tactics outlined in the PowerPoint could and can product a substantial positive cash flow and increased EBITDA.  The assumption that combining legacy tactics, using a legacy tier one business school playbook to address today’s retail food environment is more akin to asking the Minnesota Twins to play the Seattle Seahawks in a game a football. It’s not going to happen.

Evolving Consumer

The consumer is dynamic not static.  Olive Garden continues capitulating market share in large part because they are utilizing yesterday’s game plan, yesterday’s tactics.  No matter how many slides or how high Darden’s current leadership stacks yesterday’s tactics the result will be continued brand discontinuity.  While the Starboard Value PowerPoint was filled with intellectual quotient (IQ) it was completely lacking any emotional quotient (EQ).

Starboard Value LP address every legacy operating attribute ever discussed from labor, liquor, to liability with one glaring problem.  They address all with the same metric’s measures of the past that existing management has addressed.  They simply think they can do it better. Yesterday’s tactics will garner for Starboard ilk results.

Today’s Action Not Yesterday’s Playbook

The retail food playing field is not the same as it was 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago.  The industry and consumer have evolved, consumers continue to evolve.  Yesterday’s tactics don’t stack up to today’s customer relevance. 

Neither current nor proposed leadership has even begun to address how Olive Garden is stifled by footprint malaise, a leaking brand promise, employee discontent, or contemporized customer relevance. Doing more of the same will simply garner the same results.

 It’s our hope that Olive Garden’s competing proposed leadership teams focus on the customers not the each other. The PowerPoint tactics outlined in the short term would unlock some valued. Overriding the short term value it would continue to erode brand value.  Without brand value, the pace of customer migration would only increase.  If leadership is not in for the long term then customers will not either.

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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Success Drives Growth and Casey's General Stores are Booming

When Casey’s General Stores began selling Pizza and additional prepared foods 7 years ago no one not even Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson believed it will become the mammoth driver of success it has.  Johnson described it then as ‘natural fit’ with strong potential.  Wow was he right.

Bill Walljasper, Casey's General Stores CFO recently stated that sales volumes at new stores in three new states are significantly outpacing our other core states. Johnson calls that ‘Momentum’.

Casey's 2015 fiscal first quarter, ended July 31, the numbers were exceptional. Continuing driving success was Prepared food and fountain was the biggest winner of the quarter. Same-store sales rose 11.1 percent year over year, with an impressive 59.9-percent average margin according to Walljasper.

Companywide, Casey's reported total revenues of $2.3 billion, an 8.3-percent increase vs. one year ago clearly prepared food was the chain driver. In addition, Casey's continues to add pizza delivery to more locations. In its 2015 first quarter, Casey's added pizza delivery to 12 more stores, and now offers this option at approximately 365 locations. Walljasper also reported that Casey's will begin testing online ordering for pizza delivery in October.
Casey's operates 1,837 convenience stores as of July 31, 2014 the last official count. With 1,837 locations, $2.3 billion in sales for the Quarter, and fresh prepared food as a driver Casey’s is a company everyone should be keeping an eye on.  Success does leave clues.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing 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. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Restaurants Apple Pay and Customers ‘Aging-In’ Customers ‘Aging-Out’

Is your restaurant ‘Looking A Customer Ahead’ or are you looking at customers today? Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will soon change the retail food landscape once again.  Is your restaurant ready to accept Apple Pay?  Many are including Subway, Panera Bread and McDonald's.
Nielsen reports that more and more of us seemingly live our lives online, connected day and night through our smart phones, tables, computers.  Nielsen found that we ”research our purchases online (63 percent), look up reviews (63 percent) and find online shopping convenient (78 percent), but we are still hesitant to make some types of purchases online.”  That research may be outdated with the launch of iPhone 6.
Restaurant sales increased once were driven by new spring and fall menu changes creating buzz around customer relevance.  Today Limited Time Offers (LTO’s) arrive at minimum every 6 weeks at major chains and monthly at most independent restaurants. More often than not today customer relevance is dictated by technology specifically ease of use, hand held information, hand held offers, and real time tweets or invitations. 
Nielsen found that “Americans’ willingness to make airline and hotel/tour reservations, and to buy electronic equipment, ebooks and music (non-download) have all more than doubled in the last three years. With Apple Pay those reluctant to pay online which according to Nielsen is about 37% might quickly change their mind. With Apple Pay your credit card number does not get exchanged during the transaction.
If your are ‘Looking A Customer Ahead’ look no further than Millennials a recent survey found that Millennials make up more than half of all ecommerce channels sales and are about four time the representation of Baby Boomers. If you’re ‘Looking A Customer Ahead’ you need to focus on Millennials for they are “aging-in” just as Boomers are “aging-out”.
Foodservice Solutions® team quantified, qualified, restaurant industry customer count declines due to the 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome and that same team believes Apple Pay will become a disruptive force moving forward. The growth of Apple Pay is more likely to be exponential than linear, just because that has been true sine Moore propounded his famous law.
You may have Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food but my point is simple no mater your menu, service style or location your customer relevance may well decline if you don’t adopt Apple Pay. The consumer is dynamic not static your restaurant must be as well.  Is your restaurant “aging-in or “aging-out?

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing 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. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Perk Up Free Coffee Tomorrow at McDonald’s McCafé

McDonald's USA is celebrating its second national Free Coffee Event from Sept. 16 through Sept. 29, during which customers can get a free small McCafé coffee during breakfast hours at participating McDonald's restaurants across the country.
Breakfast beckons first Free Coffee Event was held in March, when McDonald's gave away millions of cups of McCafé coffee during a two-week period scoffing at Taco Bells entrance into the breakfast daypart.
Greg Watson, senior vice president, McDonald's U.S. Menu Innovation stated, "We know our guests are busy, especially during the morning, and a free cup of coffee goes a long way in helping get their days started. That's why we want to treat customers once again so they can taste for themselves just how great their mornings can be with a cup of McCafé coffee and freshly made breakfast."
Extending the value of the promotion while making it interactive and participatory during this event, McDonald's wants customers to "sip and tell" their embarrassing pre-coffee stories on social media with @McCafe using the hashtag #SipandTell. Select social media fans who share tales of morning mishaps, like missing the last train to work on Monday or leaving the house with mismatched shoes, will be surprised with custom gifts and experiences from @McCafe to help them start their morning off right, the company said.  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche since 1991