Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Channel Blurring: evolving retail Food channels not consumer discontinuity drive new food product sales.



New food products, valued distribution channels and consumers willing to experiment too find real world solutions. Whole Foods, Wegmans, HEB, Central Market, Safeway, Kroger, Walgreens, 7 Eleven, Wawa, Bob Evans, Shari’s and Boston Market are all now selling ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food.

Restaurant chains, Drug Store chains, Convenience Stores and legacy grocery stores are all utilizing Foodservice Solutions 5 P’s of grocerant fresh prepared food marketing; Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price; attracting new retail food customers.

7 Eleven is now testing whole roasted Chicken in some stores, pushing into traditional grocery stores territory. Wawa Wawa’s is selling frozen Cappuccino, both Mocha and Carmel flavored along with Strawberry-Banana, Mango Smoothies pushing in to restaurant and coffee niche territory. Walgreens is now selling fresh fruit, eggs and testing 10 new fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food items this fall. I could go on and on, you get the picture.

Consumers are dynamic not static, during these uncertain economic times the consumer is not giving up on flavor, texture, food product sampling. What they are doing is discovering opportunity within traditional avenues of distribution with new food packaging, new food product placement, new food portioning and competitive pricing all allowing the consumer to choose while simplifying their lives.

No sector of the retail food industry can rest on what they have done. Legacy brand protectionism tactics simply are outdated and will not work this time around. It not about reinventing your brand. It is simply evolving your brand with the consumer. Success does leave clues and following the consumer is clue number one.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in consulting within the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Monday, August 30, 2010

Private Equity firms more flop than flip in the chain restaurant sector.


A Danish Philosopher once said: “Life can be understood by looking backward, but must be lived by looking forward.”

It’s clear that number crunching accounts who once would buy / invest in a chain restaurant for two or three years, fund additional new stores then sell would reap large returns. From the late 70’s 80’s and well into the 1990’s it seemed a text book formula for success.

Companies the with the ilk of: Apollo Management, Bain Capital, Farallon Capital Management LLC. Newport Fidelity Holdings, Centre Partners Management LLC and Sun Capital I could go on and on. Had success, some a few I might add still do.

Loaded with MBA’s from tier one schools, investors were lining up to either join or start their own restaurant hedge fund. Crunching the numbers and focused on operational efficiency it looked as if that formula would work forever. One problem the customer moved.

When the economy turned restaurant companies focused on numbers only and operational efficiency stopped growing, shed units, lost per-store sales. The value of the original investment in fact in many cases began to shrink. Rather than flipping the chain for a profit, many hedge funds found it was required to inject additional cash! What was worst they could not sell some of the chains. That was not part of the plan!

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Dominos Pizza and Five Guy’s Burgers, each with a focus on the customer and with bold leadership bucked the trend. They opened new units, grew both the top and bottom line. If success leaves clues marketing, positioning with a focus on the consumer while evolving your brand just might be key to future success.

Full service, casual and quick casual restaurants can incorporate success attributes of the 5 P’s of food marketing. Hedge Funds might want to utilize Foodservice Solutions and its 5 P’s of grocerant fresh prepared food marketing; Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price with a consumer focus with your next steps.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in consulting within the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Foodservice Solutions most requested articles written by Steven Johnson.


Below please find links to the most requested articles written by Steven Johnson grocerant guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions a retail foodservice consultancy.

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=4112&title=Restaurant Consumer Discontinuity

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=11328&title=Legacy retail foodservice operators, why are many stuck in the middle without direction?

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=7513&title=Convenience store sector: the stage is set for consolidation in 2010.

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=5512&title=Roll, Roll, Roll, Away Roller Grill!

http://www.foodservice.com/blogs/show.cfm?contentid=5248&title=Foodservice visceral attractiveness equals contemporary consumer relevance.

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=5640&title=Private label prepared Ready-to-eat and Ready-to-heat meals may have a new global leader.

http://www.foodservice.com/blogs/show.cfm?contentid=14231&title=The frozen “Food Court” is the new restaurant real estate play!

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in consulting within the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2 Million reasons meal occasion’s migration is evolving: the consumer!


Dynamic new avenues of distribution are evolving for Retail Foodservice including Restaurants, C-stores Durg Stores, mobile trucks, and grocery fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food.

Planned but not expected Baron Concors, chief information officer for Dallas based Pizza Hut reveled that its year old iPhone app has “generated up to 7 million in sales”. Concors continued “I talk to senior-level retail people, and I’m shocked when I hear them say they think it’s a fad that’s going to pass,” Concors said of smartphone applications. “It’s no longer going to be a cool thing to have a mobile app. It’s going to be a customer expectation.” There have been about 2 million downloads of Pizza Hut’s iPhone app.

On August 6th 2010 our blog: Can you count the Starbucks on Route 66 discussed new avenues of distribution. I have fielded calls since from C-level restaurant and convenience stores professionals asking if their customer has moved. Wow, I did not need to answer. The questions is where has there brand moved in the past three years. Many simply are blaming revenue loss on our economic times. Hogwash!

Plenty of brands are growing; share of stomach. Yes, share of stomach is being redistributed. The winners include chain restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and drug stores with emphasis on the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat grocerant niche. If your brand is not growing it is dying. Mobile app’s are just one tactic of a successful strategy in food retailing today.

Costco has its way, the mob scene taking place at its cavernous stores will soon be on the move -- to the oversized mall spaces known as "anchor" positions, which have long been the turf of big-box retailers and department stores is seeking locations within MALLS. Where are your customers?

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions food industry consultants of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fresh prepared grocerant food drives success within the Convenience Store sector.


Regional successful can be found in fresh prepared food selling at convenience stores. Wawa has announced that they are entering the Florida Market early in 2011. While Sheetz continues on it’s expansion drive south and east. Both of these chains continue to thrive and drive sale utilizing customer focused meal occasion fresh prepared and portable food.

Casey’s General Stores, Inc stock continues to rise on takeover speculation, but the stock price is higher than the offer by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. The reason stated first for the take over offer was the outstanding job that Casey’s was doing driving top line sales with fresh prepared food ala the grocerant niche. The team at Casey’s is doing a very good job! Casey’s is building top line sales and bottom line profits while increasing customer loyalty with ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food.

7 Eleven the largest convenience store chain is even more impressive. They were “among the prominent brands featured on Inc. magazine's fourth annual Inc. 5000, an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies”. They are the largest convenience store company and listed as one of the fastest growing; that is extremely difficult to accomplish! What are the drivers for 7 Eleven? Grocerant Fresh prepared food and solid consistent leadership.

Restaurants, grocery stores and drug stores all must revisit brand positioning relevance with this new intense drive and focus on share of stomach from the convenience store sector. Utilizing the 5 P’s of grocerant fresh prepared food marketing; Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price with a consumer focus, consumers and companies can both win.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NPD’s Bonnie Riggs just can’t quite say it! The Grocerant niche is booming!


Trapped in a cycle of client obligations and legacy metric’s NPD’s Bonnie Riggs author of “A Look into the Future of Foodservice” reveals that “visits to U.S. restaurants are forecasted to grow less than one percent a year over the next decade.

That is slower than the 1.1 percent of growth projected in the U.S. population. Compound that with an aging population visiting restaurants less frequently creates an unsettling view for the growth and profitability of many a restaurant chains according to Riggs and NPD.

However: the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared grocerant food niche is evolving into the power sector of retail foodservice. The grocerant niche focused on meal occasions that complement multiple demographic sectors. That has this year alone attracted companies the likes of Walgreens, 7 Eleven, and is reenergizing Boston Market. The grocerant niche is comprised of mostly restaurants, then grocery stores, C-stores, now drug stores.

Consumers are dynamic not static, new metrics of consumer food patterns understand and properly evaluate opportunity today and tomorrow. The grocerant niche is filled with restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores each utilizing new metric’s to develop consumer focused opportunity for tomorrow, each building customer frequency, loyalty and top line sales. Don’t let your brand get trapped in the past! Don’t get trapped into practicing brand protectionism while your consumer is moving.

Today each generation is focused on food that is fast, bold flavored, fun, and portable to reflect their lifestyle of immediate satisfaction albeit, for home or while on the go. Meal occasions today simply are different than they were 10 years ago. Understanding the mind set of the meal occasion will assist in setting the future course for restaurants, convenience stores, mobile trucks, drug store and supermarkets foodservice success.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Portable, Fresh Prepared Food, Mix and Match Meal components drive top line sales.


America continues to be a global food melting pot. Our heritage as a country of immigrants sharing a harvest meal we now call Thanksgiving, (note we now have designated holiday of the same name). Mixing and matching food components is simply second nature in America.

As long as multi- generational family’s gather for meals together, the demand for more divergent flavors will continue to permeate. Grocerant style food offerings allow for increased family integration, understanding and acceptance.

Understanding the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure and the consumer’s drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new food consumables places me in a select industry grouping. The food value proposition equilibrium for the consumer today balances; better for you, flavor, and traditional products all blended into something with a twist.

In industry speak, differentiated does not mean different to the consumer it means familiar. That is where the Grocerant niche falls, it is consumer inspired, component driven and flavor familiar.

Understanding, creating or identifying distinctive differentiated food consumable’s as an entity with identity by day part in an area we at Foodservice Solutions excel. Outside eyes can bring new light and assist in your pace of concept growth, redevelopment and deployment of new products. Grocerant specialist can work with you to identify, create or place distinctive differentiated food consumables.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Forth meal is becoming increasing important to food retailers.


Forth meal insights from four companies; CultureWaves, Mintel International and the International Food Futurists and The Food Channel compiled the following “snack trends”.

Chip and dip 2.0. New varieties and flavors are giving consumers something different. It's likely to find hummus and falafel chips or pretzel crisps at the next party instead of the traditional chip-and-dip duo. The dips are healthier, spicier and often served hot.

Small and sensational. Consumers are eating more substantial snacks packed with protein as meal replacements, and eating them more often. For pick-me-ups, people may grab a slider at Steak 'n Shake, or a Big Mac Wrap at McDonald's. Come dinnertime, they may graze some more, but by today's definition, snacks may be all they need.

The drink shift. This trend is all about the "halo of health" around drinks made with fruit or antioxidants. There is a shift in snack beverages away from colas and energy drinks and more toward teas, lemonades, fruity organic waters and carbonated fruit drinks with interesting flavor combinations. Plus, there's the trend away from high-fructose corn syrup and back to sugar that some soft-drink makers are spinning as a "throwback" move.

Goin' nuts. Snacking habits are adjusting to the talk about how good nuts are for health, with nuts and granola, nuts and fruits and smoked nuts growing more popular. Unique flavor combinations give consumers the feeling they are eating healthy: for example, cashews with pomegranate and vanilla, or dark chocolate with caramelized black walnuts.

Fruits: the low-hanging snack. The trend here is the mainstreaming of new types of fruit, and the redefinition of locally grown to mean locally sourced. Fresh fruit is now the No. 1 snack among kids aged two to 17.

Cruising the bars. While it's become mainstream that a granola bar is an acceptable emergency meal, bars are now offered in dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, soy-free, cholesterol-free, trans-fat-free and casein-free varieties. There are even versions specifically formulated for women and children.

Sweet and salty. Until recent years, the only way sweet and salty snacks mixed was when people ate something sweet and then craved something salty, or vice-versa. That barrier is now removed, with consumers dipping pretzels in Nutella and eating fruit with a side of popcorn. These tastes are filling up the new-style vending machines too, where the choices are increasing and more nutritional information is available.

Yogurt, redefined. The new gold standard for yogurt is the increased health value found with probiotics. Acknowledging the trend toward global flavors, there is Greek yogurt, among the healthiest snacks one can eat. Icelandic yogurt is starting to emerge as yet another world player and new self-serve frozen yogurt shops are popping up everywhere too. Although not new, yogurt continues to redefine itself and is definitely trending up.

Bodaciously bold. Bold flavors are almost becoming regular, satisfying an urge for something unordinary. One example is Doritos First-, Second- and Third-Degree Burn.

Nostalgia's new again. Any decent tribute to snacking has to mention the traditional Snack Cake, which includes the Hostess Twinkie, the Ding Dong, the TastyKake and the Little Debbie. Anything that's lasted this long deserves a mention in the snacking hall of fame.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Monday, August 23, 2010

Convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization all hallmarks of fresh prepared food.


Alice May Brock said: “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian, wine and tarragon make it French, sour cream makes it Russian, lemon and cinnamon make it Greek, soy sauce makes it Chinese, garlic makes it good.”

I say: grocerant meal components bundled and portable make a family meal, a happy meal!

Grocerants fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food reflects the menu melting pot that American food has become. Enabling customers to select from Italian, French, Russian or Greek and utilize the components both regionally and nationally at home any way they like is contributing too the growing expansion of this niche. The new American meal can be a composite of any prepared food components that the individual may want and they can mix and pair them any way as well. Our society is a composed for people from all over the world, with different cultures, traditions and flavor preferences. The new American meal is a melting pot of flavor and choice.

Prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat foods are now available for all comers and can be found at Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Drug Stores, Dollar Stores and Mobile trucks all just waiting for the taking.

Consumers have been exposed to a plethora of flavors and have not the time to master the skill of cooking each. This growing trend is empowering the consumer to establish new customs and traditions in eating better, more flavorful food. The Grocerant niche is about convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Friday, August 20, 2010

Food manufactures rejoice with new unbounded opportunity in the Grocerant niche.



Ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food manufactures from Portland, Maine to San Diego, California, Seattle Washington to Miami, Florida are hiring and training sales teams. New unbounded opportunity awaits in the grocerant niche for food manufactures.

Starbucks yesterday announced that they were entering the CPG food niche joining Walgreen’s and 7 Eleven each with fresh prepared food test underway or about to rollout this fall. Convenience stores ampm, Circle K are entering the niche with both feet; if they realize the same success of Sheetz or Wawa, food retailing will never be the same.

Preferred Meal Systems Inc. located near Chicago announced that they have been selected to provide frozen, prepackaged meals as an outside vendor for Licking County's North Fork school district of Ohio.

School district’s, convenience stores, coffee shops, drug stores are all searching for “better for you” fresh prepared ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat food. This is just the beginning stage in the evolution of the grocerant niche.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fresh prepared food ala the grocerant niche can learn lessons from college students.


Grocery stores, Convenience stores and Restaurant menu engineers will all be studying this list and you should too. College students remain a bright light in our society. Filled with hope, anticipation and idealism.

We look to them for a renewed sense of contemporized relevance and food is no exception. We all can rest assured that change comes slowly and the new normal is a blend of our past and present. Sodexo one of the largest contract university feeders released the top 10 college foods for 2009. Here is the list:

1. Apricot glazed turkey

2. Meatloaf with frizzle-fried onions

3. Vietnamese pho

4. Vegetarian lentil shepherd’s pie

5. Chicken adobo

6. Stuffed port chops

7. Vegetarian jambalaya

8. Lemon herbed baked tilapia

9. Rotisserie chicken

10. Home-style pot roast

We continue to see that America is a cultural melting pot, and pot roast will be around for some time. What is exciting to see from this list is that bold flavors and “better for you” foods continue to make there way up the priority list of the young. This list is a glimpse of future menu’s trends / development we will begin to see during the next decade. The assortment of flavors will continue to escalate and the value proposition of vegetarian entrée’s will put added pressure on the menu mix overall.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grocery stores need new sales metric’s and LTO’s.


Consumer demand for ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food that is fresh prepared, portable and profitable ala the grocerant niche, continues to grow. Why do many grocery stores continue utilizing procedures and operating paradigms of the 70’s,80’s & early 90’s that has contributed to a continued decline in market share too the restaurant and convenience store sector.

Grocers that rely exclusively on category and brand managers focusing on paid shelf space and outwitting consumers with category management or continuous category management tools will see continued erosion of top line sales and bottom line profits. Have you looked at A&P lately?

While successful food retailers are focusing on the consumer, making adjustments addressing concerns of the consumer; they are gaining market share. The average size of the American family is smaller today than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago, however category and brand mangers continue to focus on “basket size” rather than customer, customer frequency or new measurable brand value attributes.

Deli / fresh prepared food must stop focusing on increasing check size and bundling meat in packages of 30 pork chops, a chicken and a half in a package, or mix and match- buy any 10 for $1.00 each. What’s with that? Do they think the industry is going backward? What family are they selling too? Do brand mangers in the grocery industry have degrees in marketing? Or do they have degree’s in that’s what we do?

Consumers want small portions or portions sized for today’s family particularly ready-to-eat meals. Buying 10 ingredients for one entrée or side dish is the not goal of 90% of consumer Monday – Friday. With family size much smaller than it was in the 70’s and people living longer and many living alone, the demand for quality food prepared continues to grow.

The winners, Safeway’s life style stores – smaller check average and higher frequency the same holds for Harris Teeter. A word of caution here grocery stores must look at utilizing LTO’s to prop sales and garner interest going forward much like restaurant chains. Product freshness, visceral attractiveness and consumer focused flavor and texture attributes will continue to dive frequency, loyalty and top and bottom line profits.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The evolution of innovation in foodservice 2010 continues.


Differentiation does not mean different in retail foodservice it means familiar. In order for innovation to be successful in 2010 it requires interactive consumer participation. That can come in any number of forms. Let me know which will work the best, here are three examples.

Subway formed a marketing alliance with PlayStation. The Promo is called” Fiery Footlong Frenzy Fueled by PlayStation, will feature Subway's spiciest sandwiches to date -- dubbed Fiery Footlong subs--– including the spicy New Turkey Jalapeno Melt and the back-by-popular-demand Buffalo Chicken. When they purchase a 32-ounce drink, diners will have the chance to win a wide variety of PlayStation prizes, including the highly anticipated PlayStation Move motion controller, before they become available for purchase in stores in September”

Carl’s Jr. is introducing a “Philly Cheesesteak Burger, a meat-on-meat offering of thinly sliced steak on top of a charbroiled burger patty, finished off with peppers, onions, Swiss and American cheeses, and mayonnaise on a seeded bun.”

Burger King is teaming with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). “WWE Superstars Triple H, John Cena and Undertaker will be featured on more than 5 million exclusive Superstar plush toys inside BK Kids Meals. A new Superstar plush toy will be available each week during the three-week promotion, and will play the stars' individual catch phrases or entrance music. The Superstars will also appear on BK Kids Meal packaging along with merchandise displays at participating restaurants.”

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Monday, August 16, 2010

Retail Foodservice success comes from informed, focused, planning and execution.


Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Central Market, Wawa, KFC, Sheetz and Wegmans each understands that building customer frequency, loyalty and consumer buzz requires looking past legacy retail metrics. Focusing on Millennials or Baby Boomers alone isolates the brand and limits the growth of the brand.

Baby Boomers and millennials are witnessing a confluence competition for retail foodservice dollars coming from restaurants, convenience stores and grocery retailers. The simple facts are that the size of the “family unit” has shrunk (in 1915 the size was 4.5 people per household, 1960 3.1 and 2004 2.6). Companies selling ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food portioned properly are winning at the retail foodservice game.

In addition with increased immigration, international travel and the food channel American consumers have been exposed to new vibrant food flavor profiles; and they like them. Even more important they want too continue eating those flavorful foods. However they don’t in most cases have the desire to learn how to cook them. They want restaurant quality in a contemporized portion and package fresh.

Each of the above companies has strayed away from legacy “basket size” metrics for smaller packs of a variety of food. Each is attracting both Baby Boomers and Millennials.

Positioning for success in food retail day requires, that you understand, branding, merchandising and proper new product rotation. Sales drivers must be complemented with the human touch.

It's brand positioning that makes it: "My McDonalds", "My Wawa" properly trained employees always make it better. TGI Friday's did not hire the best bartenders they trained them! Positioning for success in retail food service is not an accident it is informed, focused planned execution.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Friday, August 13, 2010

Charles Walgreen understood community, neighborhoods and food.


Bankers, Judges, Lawyers and neighbors used to flock into the lunch counter at the drug store counter on Main Street in Hillsboro, Oregon, where my grandmother worked. Customers crowded the counter each wanting her homemade soup or special of the day. In the early 1950’s this small town drug store was the center of the community and my grandmother after retiring from farming in Minnesota was the towns informal social secretary, and chief cook.

Like thousands of other drug stores this one was modeled the one Charles Walgreen build in Chicago in the 1920’s. To quote from his story “ Walgreen once again demonstrated his knack for helping his company while better serving the public. From then on, through the 1980s, food service was an integral part of the Walgreens story. Every Walgreens was outfitted with comfortable, versatile soda fountain facilities serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just as Walgreen had reasoned, customers coming to the stores for food usually stayed to purchase other necessary items. And with its friendly waitresses, wholesome food and fair prices, loyalty to Walgreens increased exponentially.”

Walgreen’s will be successful with retail foodservice. It is their heritage, part of a culture that we see in retail foodservice today: local, sustainability and fresh. Albeit repackaged foodservice with contemporized consumer relevance, Walgreens understands today’s consumer and the grocerant fresh prepared food niche.

Young MBA’s from top tier schools and legacy consultants focused on only the here and now don’t understand the retail foodservice culture. In turn creating local culture in a large company is a near impossible task for many a company but not for Walgreen’s. The Hartman Group understands culture, for those of you need assistance you might want to call them!

To quote a good friend of mine “What goes around comes around. Foodservice in the drug stores used to be standard practice and a key place for people to meet 40 years ago. They prepared meals, coffee, ice cream. etc. Everyone in small towns used to hang out at the local drug store. Today's marketing whiz kids don't understand history because they never study it or respect it.”

The legacy of Charles Walgreen will contribute too the success and efforts of reintroducing fresh food into the community, neighborhoods around the US; building top line sales and bottom line profits. Success does leave clues and the team at Walgreen’s has picked them up! Understanding retail foodservice success is an art.

Grocerant program assessments available visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us . Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven  Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Get in line with the consumer to win!


Grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food is simple to prepare, save time and filled with bold flavours. With an increase in consumers reading the package label or branded product label Mintel recent analysts reports that “ The concept of simplicity in the food industry has become a mainstream consumer demand.”

Food simplicity is taking hold, packaging, product and specifically the number of ingredients. Speaking at the IFT expo in Chicago, David Jago and Lynn Dornblaser stated that this is a trend that is developing and that is more about the change in the consumer desires.

They noted “We have noted for example that the average number of ingredients used in a product in the US has actually dropped,”. Mintel figures show that there has been a decline in the average number of ingredients in 56 percent of the food and beverage categories covered by the organization..”

Grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food a solution to enable quality home cooking. Lynn Dornblaser stated: “Simplicity as a message and a product is here to stay… “There has been a shift from ‘junk free’ to one hundred percent natural, all natural, 70 percent organic,” Dornblaser said. “It is all about positives rather than negatives.”

Fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food provides a platform for successful meal Mix & Match food component bundling. The grocerant niche empowers consumer choice.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mixing Meals & Medicine, legacy retail foodservice consultants / pundits scoffed at the future.


In a well written article Mixing Meals & Medicine published in Supermarket News. Legacy retail foodservice consultants-researchers turned pundits scoffed at grocerant fresh prepared food offerings entering the marketplace within the retail drug store channel. Utilizing metaphors and metrics of the 70’s & 80’s they have yet to properly estimate the power of today’s consumer. That consumer is dynamic not static.

Here is a direct link to the article:http://supermarketnews.com/retail_financial/mixing-meals-medicine-0809/

In most cases these are the same consultants that have advised, worked with and created the shrinking retail grocery store sector we find today. In fact we have 15,000 fewer grocery stores today than we had 20 years ago; and we have a growing population.

New formats including Trader Joe’s, Fresh & Easy and Wawa are out drawing many a grocery store in retail customer frequency, while building a loyal brand following developing top line sales and bottom line profits. Those legacy pundits continue to reposition legacy grocery stores near the bottom of the retail foodservice sector.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

What do you do when your grocery store is too big?


Grocery stores customers have been complaining about the length of time it takes to go grocery shopping for years. The problem is the legacy grocery managers want to address the problem from within the “box”. They have added cashiers, express lines, customer service centers and yet still never addressed the wants and needs of the consumer.

Trader Joe’s reduced the size of the footprint! Ah think about it. Trader Joe’s customers do not complain about the length of time it takes to shop. Legacy grocery retailers seem constricted to legacy metrics. Particularly BASKET SIZE. If your goal is to fill a basket and get consumer to walk up and down every isle you can’t get them out fast!

Publix reportedly started “Publix Curbside, a test of online grocery ordering and at-store pickup, debuted in one Atlanta store yesterday and will launch at a single Tampa, Fla., location in the near future, according to the Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets”. If you don’t want to go into the store, why buy form Publix at all?

A Danish Philosopher once said: “Life can be understood by looking backward, but must be lived by looking forward.”

Innovation trumps complacency in retail foodservice! Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price are the 5 P’s of successful grocerant fresh prepared food retailing. Combine the 5 P’s with technology a consumer focus and success follows. I wish Publix well, but it might be time to remember success leaves clues and the 5 P’s of retail foodservice might be a good place to start.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Monday, August 9, 2010

Can you count the Starbucks on Route 66?


This weekend I was fondly recalling stories from my dad of crossing the country on US HWY 66 commonly called Route 66. He stayed at new Ho-Jo’s (Howard Johnson’s) or Holiday Inn’s. Went swimming in the pool and ate ice cream any flavor he wanted. Mid-day they would stop at a Burger Chef and get a hamburger and fries. He thought that was living large!

The Interstate HWY system came along and changed how and where people crossed the country. The time it took to make the trip from sea to sea in the car was reduced. Consumers flocked to the Interstate HWY system. Burger Chef’s and Ho-Jo’s began to fade in relative consumer importance.

Airlines reduced prices and suddenly even the cross country value for all but commercial vehicles began to slip away from the Interstate HWY system. Retail foodservice customers are dynamic not static.

Successful food retailers have repositioned themselves in the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared grocerant food niche. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Central Market, Wawa, Sheetz and Walgreens have all stared utilizing the 5 P’s of contemporary retail foodservice; Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price. Understanding the consumer of today requires updated metric’s.

Restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores are all trying to reposition for today’s consumer. Many brand manages however are “managing” the brand into non-viability. Brand protectionism of the 80’s & 90’s wont’ create a platform for success in 2020. New avenues of food distribution are reshaping the industry faster than many legacy companies want to accept. This opens up opportunity for regional players to expand and new joint ventures to strike up. Food manufactures, distributors and brokers are reevaluating there viability and relationships in a changing retail foodservice world.

Does your broker network have relationships with Route 66, is your manufacture pricing structure the same as it was in the 90’s, is your restaurant on Route 66 or have you relocated to the a new location? The grocerant niche is not a new consumer location. It is however where the consumer today feels most comfortable. If your brand is not evolving with the consumer then it is dying.

Grocerant program assessments available; since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Friday, August 6, 2010

Visceral attractiveness for all food retailers is as important as cleanliness.


Restaurants specifically Quick Service Restaurants (QSR’s) understand consumer contemporary relevance. The QSR’s most frequent consumer are more visceral engaged on a daily basis than someone born fifty years ago. They are in fact visceral tuned on, plugged in, online or utilizing mobile texting at the fastest rate ever. Visceral attractiveness in décor for food retailers is as important as cleanliness don’t get left out in the cold. Interactive Graphic filled menu boards or wall mounted “TV” units that are both informational and engaging should be considered.

McDonalds is testing its own proprietary entertainment network billed as “McDonalds Channel at 19 units currently. With wifi in must units around the US currently this program will ““will entice the customer to sit down and enjoy their meal — and perhaps to stay a little longer.” Competitor Burger King had introduced flat screen tabletops and reportedly interested in rolling the program nation wide.

Convenience stores and grocery stores will need to install at minimum digital signage in the “deli” or ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat sections of there stores. Walmart is leading currently with “TV monitor” units located at end-caps sponsored by national brand manufactures. Visceral attractiveness and consumer relevance are moving forward hand in hand.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food growing fast in Russia.


 
Fresh Food Russia takes place at the Hilton Leningradskaya, Moscow on the 11-12 November 2010.Fresh Food Russia Forum is an annual forum for the chief executives of production companies, agrarian enterprises that develop commoditised production of fresh produce, and the heads of the fresh produce divisions of the leading retail networks of Russia and the CIS.

Its agenda includes the analysis of Fresh Food market trends and the discussion of solutions to improve business performance by implementing new systems, financial control, and IT technologies. The joint development of the fresh food sector by the retail and agro industries in Russia. Fresh produce in the retail networks today. The current dynamics of demand by category. Overcoming the logistical issues of fresh food supply. A look at fresh technologies and the standards necessary to work with the retail networks.

Audience: The chief executives of production companies, agrarian enterprises that develop commoditised production of fresh produce, and the heads of the fresh produce divisions of the leading retail networks of Russian and the CIS.

Format: panel discussions, supplier practicums, as well as exhibits of technology and service providers for the industry, and gala dinner. See our website www.freshfoodrussia.com for the updated speaker list and agenda. Please contact Dominic Manley, +44207 193 7863 or manley@b2bcg.ru, for more details.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Private label Brand Manager now focusing in on Fresh Prepared Food


The unheralded stellar performance produced by national private label fresh food product brand managers established metrics for future success. Creating unbounded opportunity for food marketing brand managers within the Grocerant fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat niche.

Grocerant food that is ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat is now finding it’s way in large chain store formats including Safeway’s Lifestyle stores,, Target, Walgreens, 7 Eleven, HEB’s Central Market, Harris Teeter and Buehler’s. Blending traditional category management with menu rationalization techniques these companies are seeing success. However those that have incorporated brand marketing into their food offerings including product or line positioning strategy have seen increased customer frequency and niche margins rise.

Successful fresh food grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat programs include interactive participatory consumer interaction. Restaurant brand managers have utilized this strategy for some time. Other chains are beginning to utilize new metrics to leverage consumer success.

The same is occurring in the Convenience store side with companies like AMPM bundling meal deals and new products, The Pantry improving coffee and QuickChek growing with solid consistent product offerings. Branding the food product offerings or food lines resonates with the consumer. Watch for Brand Managers being hired in all of these channels. Interested in a grocerant program assessment; if so contact Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taco Bell beyond the Bun; from standup food, too sit down restaurant territory.


Understanding and utilizing the 5 P’s of grocerant fresh prepared food marketing; Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price with a consumer focus Taco Bell is rolling out a new line of Mexican Restaurant style tacos with carnitas.

Taco Bell’s Chief marketing Officer David Ovens stated: “Our Cantina Tacos are based upon authentic-style Mexican street tacos, which are designed using simple, fresh ingredients that customers regard as high quality,"… Not only are they a great-tasting addition to our menu, and one that was mainly found in Mexican-style restaurants, but they're also a great value that we know our customers love from Taco Bell."

Channel blurring is not in the minds eye of the consumer. It is only in the minds eye of the legacy marketing managers in legacy companies. I am convinced that consumer will respond to the offer in a positive way!

It’s time for many in the industry to reconsider individual brand positions. Who are you and where do you want to be. QSR’s are moving into fresh prepared better for you food. Grocery stores are selling bundled meal components that are fresh prepared. Grocerant fresh prepared food is going main stream.

Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price are the 5 P’s of successful grocerant fresh prepared food retailing. Combine the 5 P’s with technology, a consumer focus and success follows.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerant

Monday, August 2, 2010

A retail foodservice trend that lasted and continues to boom while evolving!


A Danish Philosopher once said: “Life can be understood by looking backward, but must be lived by looking forward.”

Homemeal replacement niche is the future of Foodservice. By: Steven A. Johnson (Published in Nations Restaurant News August 19, 1996.) Harkin back with this success clue by me (Steven Johnson) you will soon understand why this niche continues to boom exceeding even my expectations.

Combine an intelligent, sophisticated grocery store food operations manager with a contemporary, insightful restaurateur and what you get is a grocerant called Eatzi’s.

Most of you have read or hear of the $260,000 per week that Tony Tedesco of Brinker International Inc. and Phil Romano have generated with their concept Eatzi’s. It took three years and an untold sum to create and is not the end of the evolution of the home-meal-replacement niche. It is the most successful step so far. Together they understand that the eating habits of the American public have changed and continue to do so. A recent government study of 15,128 individuals more than 20 years old showed that 27.2 percent of women and 25.5 percent of men have four eating occasions per day, and another 15.4 percent of both men and women have five eating occasions. Even more surprising, 7.5 percent of the population have six occasions.

Than finding creates a huge increase in customer opportunities for all concepts branded or otherwise. Romano and Tedesco combined the variety, freshness, quality and an interactive feel that restaurants need in today’s market with the speed, efficiency and value people expect from grocery stores. Mindful of portion sizes and the additional eating frequency of today’s consumer, they have packaged and provided items to fill the “gaps’. They have combined the best of restaurants, food courts and home meal replacement concepts with the quality food and beverage items from the grocery segment. That flexible blend is extremely consumer acceptable and has a formidable natural frequency rate as its core customer base. Eatzi’s customers frequency rate alone is a strong indicator that home meal replacement is a trend rather than a fad.

The single most import argument that it is a trend may be its attractiveness to the sophisticated consumer who is more that 50 years old. Estimates are that one third of the U.S. population will be more that 50 by 2010, up from one quarter in 1991. All business in the sectors from computers, home business and retail operators need to take note of this group’s growth rate, disposal income and eating habits. The Senor Network, a Stamford, Conn. Based marketing and research company geared to older consumers. Recently stated that “simply based on population growth trends, if a product is marketed to the 50 plus audience and maintains its market share, it should increase in sales be 35 to 40 to 50 percent in the next 20 years. A brand targeted at the zero-to-50 age group will be flat in sales.

Understanding that the frequency of eating for people in their 50s,60s, 70s, is on the increase while their dining out experience many be tapering off, we should all be convinced that Grocerants will flourish well into the future with national branded chains and independents vying for a piece of the pie.

The evolution of the home meal replacement niche is far from complete; it will be growing rapidly in the future. Don’t fear, it will increase consumer satisfaction, complementing both the grocery and restaurant segments. It will not be replacing the restaurants or grocery stores of today. However, it will change the types of food and the way they are sold at each. Great credit should be given to Romano and Tedesco for understanding and identifying new and powerful niche. They understand that profit does not just happen, it is created, and it should be deliberate.

Grocery store operators and restaurant operators need to remember this rule. Say no to change and don’t grow; say yes and try your very best. Reputations are success come when you are searching for things that haven’t been done and doing them. Dual or multi-branded concept engineering is here, successful and growing rapidly. Combine with a forward thinking home meal replacement; it is a sure formula for continued growth and outstanding success for Grocerants.

Wow it’s been quite a ride; I thank all of you for your business and participation in this niche. For more on the continued growth of this niche Bing or Google: Steven Johnson Grocerants

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Evolving Retail Foodservice not consumer discontinuity will drive sales.


I phone, I touch, I pad Apple computer is evolving with technology, and consumer increased desire to simply daily task with technology solutions. The new “I” line of devise has propelled Apple to the top of the fortune 500 list! Apple understood that consumers would accept, buy and utilize products that provide solutions while simplifying daily life. I know some may argue that they are not that easy to use, get over it! They are and consumers know it!

Recently legacy retail food industry insiders have been writing about “meal solutions” coming of age. Articles appearing in Progressive Grocer, Supermarket News, Convenience Store News and Nation’s Restaurant News decrying a battle between Grocery vs. Restaurants, Convenience Stores vs. QSR’s etc.

That fact is retail foodservice success is about simplifying the daily life of the consumer. There is no discontinuity, the consumer is evolving and wants more options, in flavor, portion size and points of distribution. If your company is not evolving with the consumer it’s dying. The grocerant niche of fresh prepared read-to-eat and ready-to-heat food is growing both the top and bottom line for food retailers today.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson or BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants