Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cooking at Home NOT. The New Normal is Meal Assembly.



What’s for dinner?  If your cooking for an at home family meal for two, three, or four, family members, chances are very good your buying several ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat fresh prepared meal components.    Grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants are all bundling fresh prepared meal components for the home cook.  The home cook is responding buying individualized components.

Foodservice branded and private label food manufactures are all vying for your attention. Ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat foods from Swiss steak, Meatloaf, Baked Salmon, Rotisserie Chicken, Pizza and Lasagna fresh prepared, portioned and portable in portions for 1, 2, or 5 are all available at most foodservice retail location.

Most exciting is the opportunity for new start-up’s and regional manufactures to produce sustainable business built on local, fresh and unique flavor profiles.  Legacy national brand manufactures are experiencing an increase in repositioning, consolidation and acquisition activities.  Regional start-ups are thriving supplying local restaurants, C-stores and grocery store delis.

Consumer are responding buying meal components in new food channels, experiencing new flavor profiles all the while individualizing the family meal.  The foodservice industry is evolving with the consumer.  Those companies looking for opportunity for growth times have never been better. The consumer is dynamic not static are you keeping pace?

Foodservice Solutions® 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 visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Fresh Food Drives Pueblo Grocery Stores Success



Pueblo’s grocerant prepared food is perfectly positioned. Clean well stocked stores that are beaming with patrons always are solid platforms for success.  Pueblo is no exception. If your eyes on the grocerant prepared food niche, Pueblo is one company that should be on your must visit list.
Professionally presented with clean, restaurant quality food presentation skill set, Pueblo clearly understands the positive halo affect a solid grocerant prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food program can have on the entire brand.

Time starved with diverse appetites after years of exposure to multi-cultural flavors profiles today’s consumer want prepared meal components that can be individualized not just family sized.  Pueblo’s prepared food program does just that.  With detailed attention to service, cleanliness and food quality its clear Pueblo is focused on growing this booming niche within foodservice retail.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Friday, September 28, 2012

Is Walgreens What’s for Dinner at 4PM?



Walgreens continues to expand the depth and direction of the Grocerant niche.  The grocerant niche is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores all selling fresh prepared, portable convenient meal solutions.  Targeted at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food components that are “better for you”, portable and portioned for one or two. Walgreens gets it and is positioning for a much larger share of the food retailing dollar.  At 4PM you may soon be picking up dinner on your way home from work at Walgreens.

In a pilot program rolled out in the San Francisco bay area you can now find fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, sushi , sandwiches and Heat-N-Eat meat loaf. In addition Walgreens spokesman Robert Elifinger stated “ Our San Francisco area customers are already buying a lot of food in our stores, and there are requests for more product offerings," he said.
In addition to the items listed above - and Walgreens' more traditional offerings, including candy, potato chips and soda - there'll be meats, wraps, soups "and other on-the-go meal options, as well as convenient alternatives for tonight's meal,"
With this new market test underway, Walgreens is now testing fresh food in New York via Duane-Reade, Chicago and the San Francisco bay area. For all of my regular readers you have heard it hear before but this trend is sweeping the country from coast to coast. 
These expanded points of distribution may well challenge many a legacy fresh food retailer including chain restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores for market share.
Since 1991 retail food consultancy Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® Bing or Google Grocerants or visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant, twitter.com/grocerant or Facebook Steven 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Legacy Chain Restaurants Do You Know Where You Are Headed?



I have you noticed that Kodak is nearly out of business. Growing up in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, every family had a Kodak Camera and I still have one of mine. Those yellow boxes were everywhere and getting your very own Kodachrome camera was seemingly a rite of passage, heck, Paul Simon even wrote a song about it.

As digital cameras gained popularity, Kodak stuck to what they believed. They sneered at digital’s quality, righteous in their knowledge that Americans would NEVER give up shiny pictures for their photo albums.

Today, cell phone cameras take most of the pictures and they are rarely printed. Kodak will shut the doors, correct in their assertion that professionally developed pictures look better than low-resolution versions uploaded to Facebook.

Being dead and correct is not a great strategy.  Today chain restaurants are either growing or dying much the same as Kodak. Simply look at restaurants that filed bankruptcy of late: Claim Jumper, Mr. Pita, Friendly’s, Chevys, Sbarro, Perkins.  They are not all dead but they have been far from right.

These are statements frequently heard from legacy restaurant operators. Like Kodak, crystal clear that what has always worked will continue to work.

• Our executives have 30 years of experience and know how to run the business.
• We never use coupons, nor do we deliver.
• We don’t allow our brand to wander, we protect our brand.
• We don’t use online ordering, I-pad ordering or voice screen ordering.
• We don’t advertise on Google, Twitter or Facebook.
• We don’t open for breakfast.
• We like the umbrella approach each store different personality but under one umbrella.
• Video menus and video signage is visceral gimmickry.
• We don’t measure ingredients, we create daily specials and simply show employees how to make it
• We can’t raise our menu prices.

How did a dominant brand and sector leader like Kodak, in a rock-solid consumer staple lose everything? Simple, they determined the market, the direction of that market and took the steps to conquer it.  If that sounds like your restaurant, retail food sector or niche leader, you better keep reading.

There is little about today’s market, the consumer or food marketing / promotions that was predictable 3 years ago. In the next three years the rate of change will continue to increase. So let’s look at the above list:

Reliability and a comfortable working relationship is correctly a key to success.  However, if you find your team is blaming the economy, minimum wages increases, cost of health care and rising food cost for disappointing results. Do not forget that many restaurants companies are growing both the top and bottom line, number of units and garnering market share.  It might be time for Outside Eyes. 

We always/never use coupons – coupons and promotions are very complicated today. Add the online aggregators the ilk of Livingsocial and Groupon and how can you know what works. Here is the point, what you measure you manage. All advertising must have a objective that is clear and measurable to insure a proper marketing ROI.

We don’t deliver – face it, convenience is a driving reason why foodservice is popular. If you do not want to deliver, consider outsourcing.  Delivery is not about you. That’s right it is about the consumer.

We protect the value of our brand and its integrity for the consumer, our shareholders and stakeholders.  We know the consumer is dynamic not static, but our customer’s comeback because we have a brand promise and they trust in us to keep that promise. Sounds a lot like Kodak, don’t you think?

We don’t use online ordering our food does not “carry” well.  Think about this if you don’t have a way to connect your menu to computers and mobile devices, your competition will woo your customers. Consumers are time starved, and hooked on technology, make it easy.

Google or Facebook – as above, set up a Facebook page, it costs nothing. Have someone help if you need it and then monitor your page 5 minutes a day.  Don’t think about it get started today.

We don’t open for breakfast – you pay rent 24/7, find ways to increase the utilization of your “factory”. Considering catering or school lunch program, contract out your kitchen.  Don’t become the next Kodak of chain restaurants.

Different store brands / personalities under one large corporation and all expected to operate utilizing a uniform set of metrics.  Worked well in the 70’s, 80’s but you have the answer.  Let me know just how well that works out.

Visceral gimmickry does not replace high quality food and great service ever.  Who defines quality service? You via your brand promise or the consumer?

We don’t measure ingredients; my employees know how much to use – why have menu prices, let customer pay whatever they want. If you don’t care what your product costs, you CAN’T make money.
We can’t raise our menu prices – tell that to the gas station owner on the corner, or the farmer growing your food. Costs are up, you must raise your menu prices or you will not exist.

Kodak management, smart and hard working as they were, did not see the world changing, fortunately you do. Realize that change is good and necessary. Act now to challenge your assumption, create new revenue streams and increase profits.  Success does leave clues, Disney movies leave you with a smile, being dead and correct is not a great strategy.

Foodservice Solutions® 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 visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

“My mom made two dishes: Take it or Leave it.”



Are you wondering why we see restaurant customer migration? “My mom made two dishes: Take it or Leave it.”  Is a line made famous by comedian Stephen Wright?  Today restaurants need to battle the 75 inch TV’s demand for time and attention. Brands must be multi-channel or consumer will simply dial out.

Take it or leave it has come and gone. Today all food consumers are empowered with choice driven by preferences in flavor profiles, portion size, packaging and portability. Below are 5 clues to consider when considering customer migration.

U.S. consumers under the age of 25 spend an average of 40.9% of their food expenditures on food away from the home The Food Institute reported May 11, 2012.

Americans ages 23-34 spent 45.2% of food expenditures away from home the same report found.
Here is the kicker, those ages 75 and up spent the least at 31.8% all this and more can be found in The
Food Institute’s 2012 edition of its Demographics of Consumer Spending report.

Restaurants in France are increasingly offering “café gourmand,” a desert dish featuring an espresso and multiple small desserts on a single plate.  Mix and Match bundling anyone is a key driver of retail success.

The U.S. Census found in 2012 that 50% of U.S. adults over the age of 18 are single.

The grocerant niche is filled with ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh and prepared meal components.  Around the world consumers are refocusing how, where and when they chose to buy food. Are you positioned within your niche to build sales? 
Steven Johnson is President of Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, with extensive experience as a multi-unit operator, consultant and brand/product positioning. 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 twitter.com/grocerant 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Whole Foods, Trader Joes, McDonalds, and P.F. Chang’s have what in Common?



Are you interested in entering the fastest growing retail food niche?  McDonalds, Burger King excel at ready-2-eat bundled meals.  Whole Foods reported great numbers driven by both fresh ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat prepared food.  P.F. Chang’s sold 100M in heat-N-eat meal kits within the retail sector during its very first year at retail.  The retail landscape is dynamic not static.  Are your food products positioned for ongoing success?  If so you must be in the grocerant niche.

Fresh prepared meals and meal components simply make consumers life simpler.  With 50% of Americans over the age of 18 single the opportunity in this sector is great and growing.  A new report from Canadean (canadean.com) provides a clear view of market segmentation and key drivers to garner influence with each segment.  Here is a sample of the highlights:

Private labels record the highest penetration in the Meal Kit’s product category, which is also the least valuable in the Prepared Meals market currently.

Approximately 40% of the value of the US Prepared Meals market is accounted for by consumers in the Time Rich busy lives group.

Older Consumers have a 23% share of the total Prepared Meals market in US. This is a direct result of their sheer numbers, with the age group accounting for 25% of the total population. Slightly below average consumption by this age group indicates that it still had potential to grow.

Time starved consumer that are single (50% of the population over the age of 18) continue looking for options within the ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh and prepared food niche. Are you moving your brand from frozen to fresh?  Are you prepared to move your fresh product into non-traditional channels?

Outside eyes can deliver top line sales and bottom line profits.  Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, brand, product placement or positioning assistance.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Monday, September 24, 2012

Extending restaurants brand power. Have you visited The Frozen Food Court?



If success leaves clues and listening is a key to success then we all need to listen when grocery store category managers refer to the freezer aisle turning into the new restaurant "frozen food court".  Regular readers of this blog know I first wrote about the “Frozen Food Court” in 2009. Expanding restaurant brands has never been as important as it is today.

Channel blurring only exists in the blind eye of Neanderthal restaurant chain brand managers. Today restaurant brand managers must understand their brand and their customers. If they do they can integrate marketing plans that complement their consumer’s food consumptions footprint while positioning the brand in multiple channels of distribution.

Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Safeway each has incorporated a "frozen food court" in the frozen food aisle. Utilizing both national and regional restaurant branded food. Companies the ilk of Boston Market, TGI Friday's, PF Chang's, California Pizza Kitchen,  Taco Bell, Burger King are the most-thorough players with complete or nearly-complete programs at retail. But many restaurants are either looking at leveraging their brands or are jumping in feet first, including Romano's Macaroni Grill, El Pollo Loco, Captain D's, O'Charley's, while others are like Darden trying it by just dipping their toes in. The grocery store and the restaurant brand all garner additional top line revenue and bottom line profits leveraging branded products.

Repeated evidence shows that the distinction in differentiation is a value of the brand. Leveraging that value within additional retail segments is simply contemporary consumer relevance. Is your brand relevant? Restaurant consumers are dynamic not static, leveraging new channels of distribution works wonders.

Foodservice Solutions® 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 visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Empowering Consumer Choice Drives Food Sales Success.



Two Restaurant chain market share gainers that empower the consumer are Starbucks Coffee and Chipotle Mexican Grill.   These two companies understand that the consumer is dynamic not static, that their brand must grow with the expectations of the consumer.

At Starbucks, the experience is more than just coffee in the store, it is the “Third Place”, with food, retail, music, movies and  to come.  The experience is more than the four walls; Starbucks cultivates the brand and the consumer as opposed to controlling the brand within the four walls. 

Chipotle has done much the same exploiting the paradox of consumer choice, empowering the consumer to select “better for you ingredients”.  This enables the Chipotle brand to go beyond its four walls and within the consumer.  Chipotle continually updates and upgrades its message, and ingredients meeting the dynamic consumer’s expectations’.

 Nielsen’s industry leading market research annual study on channel blurring has over the past six years consistency stated that channel blurring occurs only in the mind of the marketer not in the mind of the consumer. I believe that to be the case. Brand marketers do not aggressively test and new non-traditional products, avenues of distribution or brand experiences extensions, afraid that their companies will lose market share. Consumers today have a plethora of choice within each niche; do you know why they choose you? Is it just location and price? No.

Utilizing the multi-disciplined marketing approach Chipotle Mexican Grill vertically integrated the 5 P’s of food marketing in to all that they do and extended both the brand and value of the brand beyond the store hours into the better for you, better for the environment mind set of the consumer.

This creates an interactive consumer buy in that is both participatory and a pro-active experience. Industry leadership is currently up for grabs in almost every niche.  Winning companies must innovate for and interact with the dynamitic consumer in order to build the brand, satisfy the consumer and obtain or maintain niche leadership.

Steven Johnson is President of Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, with extensive experience as a multi-unit operator, consultant and brand/product positioning. 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 twitter.com/grocerant 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Restaurant Innovation Be Dammed Lets Copy!


Today differentiation does not really mean different it means familiar.


Corporate marketers with legacy restaurant chains strive to keep up with their competitors. When they fall behind (lose market share) in days gone by they would lose their job! Not in today’s world, they simply copy what the industry niche sector leader is doing, quieting disgruntled franchises or shareholders.

When this occurs success is based on points of distribution and product price, rather than creating incremental brand value. Everyone loses; stakeholders, shareholders, franchisees most importantly consumers.

Management complacency and mediocrity seem to be today’s status quo rather than consumers focused driven brand teams.   Life is simple for chain C-level executives, don’t risk innovation, follow the leader, and maintain niche equilibrium and the stock options and paychecks keep rolling in.  The loser may not just be the consumer from lack of true innovation, brand values drop, consumer brand apathy increases, and market share capitulation is a direct result.

In reality differentiation becomes product price and points of distribution rather innovative new products, or service.   Then price and location become more important value than the brand.   When looking from the consumers perspective there is very little overall difference between TGI Fridays, Houlihan's, Bennigan’s or between McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King.  Within the Pizza sector,  a similar set of problems from the consumer perspective exist between Pizza Hut, Dominos; Papa John’s Godfathers they all having the same number one selling pizza pepperoni.
           
Legacy brands capitulate market share as an unintended consequence controlling the brand within the four walls and executive compliancy.  More and more consistent niche equilibrium can be the seductress of compliancy and mediocrity for CEO’s & COO’s of major restaurant chains today.  When C-level officers and brand marketers are more focused on the controlling brand; staying within their niche and within their four walls rather than paying attention to the consumer, a loss of market share is sure to follow.  Innovation must continue in-order to maintain consumer relevance.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Friday, September 21, 2012

Retail Food Sales Success Examples of Grocerants



Foodservice Solutions®  Grocerant Guru says this "Grocerant means any retail food item that is ready-2-eat or Heat-N-Eat and prepared fresh. The word Grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores.
In reality a grocerant is where a consumer can find fresh prepared food aimed at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals or meal components that can be bundled into a meal and or packaged for Take-Out, Take-Away, or To-Go.
Today, grocerant meals and meal components are found in liquor stores, drug-stores (Walgreens), fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, full-service restaurants, and restaurants inside grocery stores, in legacy “deli” departments, furniture stores (Ikea), club stores (Costco) and clothing stores from Tommy Bahama, Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s.  

When the  Grocerant Guru say’s retailer, it is broadly defining supermarkets, mass drug merchants, C-Stores (convenience stores), Furniture stores, Club Stores, Clothing retailers and fast food , fast casual restaurants and full service restaurants selling fresh prepared food, and restaurant meals and meal components sold TO-GO or delivery.
What is Driving the Grocerant Trend
Its 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner. 81% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality ready to eat foods and ready to heat meals. Today's time starved consumer wants to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.

Most consumers may traditionally think these items can be or are found in grocery stores in the deli / lifestyle section, C-stores in the prepared food area and prepackaged, ready to eat items and in restaurants under the To-go, takeout or take away or delivery section of the menu or on the website. The retail industry has expanded and is evolving to keep up with the demands of consumers desire to save time, improve quality, increase family flavor profile, while enabling personalization and family meal customization.
Examples of Grocerants
Restaurant examples are McDonalds, Pret A Manger Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy's and Starbucks, each having a fresh Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. In the Casual Dining sector Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a 2nd home for free in their Classic Pastas menu section, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Boston Market and Denny’s.  That is to name but a few.

Drug Store examples Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee, sandwiches, salads  and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants.

Convenience Store examples are 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, Sheetz, and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages.

Clothing Stores Tommy Bahama, Nordstrom, and Macy’s, all have or are planning restaurants selling fresh prepared food in-store. Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food is garnering consumer favor in this sector.  Expect to find more and more clothing retailers entering the grocerant niche.

Furniture Stores & Liquor Store example Ikea sells over $ 2 Billion a year in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food in its stores (mostly meatballs-mash potatoes), Pinkies in San Angelo, Texas this past holiday season even offered complete fresh prepared full Turkey Dinners will all of the traditional side orders.  All of the fresh prepared food is prepared on site and sold To-Go. 
Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Trader-Joes, Central Market, and Wegmans sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches and most offer sushi and beverages. Many are now opening in-store restaurants including fast food, full service sit down and bars all offer fresh prepared To-Go as well.
The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great… let's call this "food for now". Many legacy retailers are primarily selling "food for later" or take-out and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of Ready-2-Eat meals and snacks begin to change.
Why is it so hard to package food to go? In the Hot food section of the grocery store the food in most cases does not look appealing so our expectations drop when we get it for Take-Away. That may be one reason that many grocery stores are continue to open restaurants or “food courts” selling made to order fresh sandwiches or Chinese take-out.  In convenience stores like Wawa, the Ready-2-Eat food looks great in the To-Go containers. Why? Because Wawa puts the entire consumer food package together. They exert more control on the look and feel of "food for later".
Around the world we are now seeing sections in department's stores and kiosk in malls in Europe and Asia and airports around the world. The items can range from entrees to side items and deserts. Some examples of items range from fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to liver and onions, pizza, hot dogs, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads pie, cake and any single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.

Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  if you are 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 or you can learn more at Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wawa Fresh Food Fast and getting closer to Fast Casual To-Go



Always focusing on the customer Wawa continues its vision of “fast casual to go”.  Steve Gamble manager of marketing services for Wawa when speaking about the market test of ADFLOW digital signage program stated “The feedback from customers and store associates was extremely positive after our initial rollout”. 

The ADFLOW digital signage program edifies Wawa’s ability to position all foodservice offerings with a fresh and appetizing new look.  With over 600 units the addition of digital signage strengthens Wawa’s fresh food offerings adding additional contemporize relevance.

Wawa’s CEO Howard Stoeckel focus on food and freshly prepared to drive sales and help reposition the company for additional growth  believes  the ADFLOW system will help  stating "Our new digital signage showcases our offer in a much more upscale, appealing way and moves us closer to our vision of fast casual to go," ...

One the Wawa’s customers favorite LTO’s is currently being offered.  It’s the Hot Turkey Bowl with Mashed Potatoes and Stuffing with only 680 calories there is no wonder that consumers like Wawa’s Fresh Food Fast. I believe that Wawa is one step closer to fitting into the Fast Casual Niche.  Success does leave clues and Wawa has picked up many and is moving forward. Wawa is my success clue of the week!

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who Cooks from Scratch?



Ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food is blurring the line between restaurants and grocery stores. I call these fresh prepared products Grocerant niche food.  It is targeted at the time-starved consumers, not with ingredients to make from scratch rather with ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat meal components that can be bundled into a meal.
Just think about how you shop for most meal preparation needs. You might buy a rotisserie chicken, pick out something from a salad bar and maybe an appetizer at the deli service case. Those are components vs. buying uncooked chicken, a head of lettuce and then having to clean, cut, season and then season and spend time cooking.
Foodservice Solution® and defines the niche this way "Grocerant means any retail food item that is ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat prepared fresh. Currently these items can be found in grocery stores in the deli / lifestyle section, Convenience stores in the prepared food area and prepackaged, ready-2-eat items and in restaurants under the To-go, takeout or take away or delivery section of the menu or on the website and now at Chain Drug Stores Walgreens and Duane Reade."
What is Driving the Grocerant Trend
Its 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner. 81% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality ready to eat foods and ready to heat meals. Today's time starved consumers want to purchase meal components, that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.
 Outside eyes can deliver top line sales and bottom line profits.  Invite Foodservice Solutions® to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. 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 twitter.com/grocerant 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat Pizza Innovation will drive day-part sales.



Papa Murphy’s, Noble Romans, or No Name Take N Bake success leaves clues and consumer love Take-N-Bake pizza.  The Take-N-Bake pizza niche continues to growth in top line sales, bottom line profits and new units, garnering market share from traditional pizza chains and frozen food retailers.

In an August 2012 Packaged Facts survey found that “97% of U.S. adults eat pizza, and 93% have gotten food from a pizza restaurant in the past 12 months. On a monthly basis, 27% get pizza through restaurant delivery/pickup (which translates to about 410 million pizzas a year), 26% through restaurant dine-in, and 24% from the frozen food cases.”  Pizza is hand held food for every one and growing in every day-part.

Pizza at U.S. restaurants will have sales up 3.8% in 2012 over 2011 levels.  That is twice as high as the same store sales increased expected year over year by Technomic for the entire restaurant sector.  Total pizza sales should hit $40 Billion in the U.S. this year with 36.1 billion in restaurant and fresh ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat prepared pizza.

The study found pizza menu trends revealed new cuisine-driven innovative growth underway. The growth is focused on better for you pizza including “fusion cuisine, leaner proteins, and a larger variety of vegetables, exotic natural cheeses and flavorful new sauces experimentation.” 

Pizza success is based on its hand held attributes, customization and family personalization.  The growth in Take-N-Bake pizza sector leverages consumers changing dinning preferences with the 5 P’s of food marketing. For more on how to integrate the 5 P’s of food marking into your products or food brand contact Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® at:grocerant@q.com

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fast Food Two Tier Pricing Evolving Elevating Food Brands Globally.




Fast Food restaurants are still aspirational for many consumers around the globe.  Economic upheaval continues to linger with employment instability in most developed countries.  All the while in developing countries showing signs of growth or stability like Brazil, China, Africa a stable or growing economy has powered lower-level economic groups to the “new middle.”

Fast food branded restaurants are leveraging Two Tier Pricing to first garner trial and secondly build brand loyalty.  They offer entry level branded products like McDonalds dollar menu that allow existing customers trial and existing customers trade up either with LTO’s or specials on branded menu items.

The Euromonitor put it this way.  “Fast food is changing, and not just in the category's dominant US market. Amidst fierce competition, fast food brands have been forced to differentiate themselves with broader menus, better food and higher-end outlet designs. In developed markets this has led to the popularity of the fast casual segment, but in emerging markets (most of which show a strong preference for full-service dining) it has helped fast food gain traction as a modern, lower-cost alternative to more traditional foodservice formats …

The branding opportunities inherent in the fast food business model have also allowed these chains to appeal to developing market consumers' taste for exciting new dining experiences. South Africa-based chicken fast food brand Nando's, for example, has relied on strong branding, exciting flavours and a unique dining experience to set it apart from other chicken fast food chains, a fact that helped it achieve 19% value growth in 2011. Similarly, UK bakery products fast food brands EAT and Pret a Manger have both found success with a positioning of convenient, high-quality food, a modern atmosphere and quick service.

A focus on fresh, high-end ingredients, especially, has helped the brands compete with more traditional fast food concepts, and this kind of above-and-beyond competitive positioning will continue to integral to the success of any new fast food concept….

The universal commonalities in reay-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food are fueling retail success around the globe.  Is your company building two restaurants a day in 2012 like 7 Eleven is?  Why not?

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, brand, product placement or positioning assistance.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ready-2-Eat Non-Traditional Food Retailers customers are Happy.



Looking for a fresh prepared frozen yogurt, try Costco.  You can get yogurt in chocolate, vanilla or a swirled combo with both chocolate and vanilla at Costco.  Fresh prepared Pizza whole or by the slice and Costco’s ready-2-eat Chicken Bake garner loyal customers with prices that drive local QSR’s to wonder how they do it?

Volume speaks success and Costco's director of operations for the food court and bakery, Bob Collins recently stated “the company expects to sell more than 300 million hot dogs, pizzas, and other items at its food courts this year. Despite the low prices, it sees a "modest profit" from food court sales.” Costco’s food courts sell a billion dollars in fresh prepared food.  Do you?

Ikea's  a Swedish home furniture retailer is selling Swedish ready-2-eat meatballs and smoked salmon at its cafeteria, as well as hot dogs and frozen yogurt at its to-go food counter European flavors add a level of mystique and foodie adventurism. Ikea sells lots of ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat food.

Non-traditional retailers are finding success selling ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh and prepared food all contributing to the success of the booming grocerant niche. Is your product or brand ready for a non-traditional outlet? 

Outside eyes can deliver top line sales and bottom line profits.  Invite Foodservice Solutions® to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. 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 twitter.com/grocerant 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru to be the Moderator for a Panel at MUFSO 2012




Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson was asked to be the moderator for a panel at this year’s MUFSO event.  The panel is titled: Stealth Competition: Who’s After Your Share of the Market?  Steven Johnson, will moderate this world class panel providing the information you need to win in the rapidly evolving world of fresh prepared food in non-traditional points of distribution.

Steven Johnson has been a restaurant franchisee and concept developer, is globally recognized for his blog “The Grocerant.” An industry expert in alternative channels of food distribution, he is President of Foodservice Solutions® specializing in the “grocerant” niche with a focus on both fresh and prepared foods. The “grocerant” niche includes grocery stores offering Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat foods too convenience stores, restaurants and now even the drug store sector. The foundation of Johnson’s success in the channel has been vertically integrating the 5 P’s of food marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price.

Johnson holds a Master of Science in Food Marketing with distinction from Saint Joseph’s University, a Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of San Francisco. He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Business School Honor Society. Johnson has received numerous awards including 3 EMMEY, awarded by 3M for “Outside the box” thinking and team leadership.

The 2012 MUFSO Conference Super Show is the ultimate networking experience that attracts the top 400 restaurant chains and emerging growth restaurant companies from the QSR, casual, family, onsite and high volume independent segments. For more on MUFSO 2012 visit mufso.com  Foodservice Operator registration questions, contact 866.458.4935 or email mufso@nrn.com
For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Friday, September 14, 2012

7 Eleven Making Food, Fun, Fast with Consumer Focused Relevance.



Selling around 1 million cups of coffee a day in the United States 7 Eleven continues to leverage its branded fresh food program in creative consumer focused interactive participatory ways to build sales and customer loyalty.

Once every four years here in the United States we have elections for President.  This is that year and 7 Eleven is injecting consumer relevance into its marketing program.  This year the program is called 7 Election.  Here are the key elements of the program and you will see how they can make it fun:
“7 Election allows customers to 'vote' by choosing red Romney cups or blue Obama cups when purchasing coffee, the event runs through the Nov. 6 Election Day.”…

“Next, a special "Mobile Oval" political party bus featuring a mini-presidential Oval Office on wheels will travel the country from Sept. 28 through Election Day. It will make multiple campaign stops with the 7-Eleven grassroots team on hand to offer free coffee samples, hand out coupons and take photos of visitors in the Mobile Oval or with life-sized likenesses of their preferred candidate. On-the-road Tweets will appear using the Twitter hashtag #mobileoval, and a regularly updated map highlighting the bus route will be available on the 7-Election website”…

“7-Eleven has also partnered with satirical news outlet The Onion to get out the vote. It is sponsoring The Onion's "War for the White House" coverage, which includes four exclusive news vignettes that can be seen on Onion News and the 7-Election website”…

Food, Fun, Fast 7 Eleven understands how to blend customer relevance with objectivity creating a platform for consumer proactive participation all the while building brand value. Success does leave clues and following what 7 Eleven does is one of them.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fresh Prepared Food Fuels Growth at Casey’s General Stores.



Fresh prepared food that is ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat aka grocerant niche food has driven top line sales and bottom line profits within the convenience store sector for over 4 years now.  In fact fresh prepared food sales success have allowed the convenience store sector to grow at a faster rate over the past 4 years than any other sector of the retail foodservice industry including, restaurant, grocery, club, or drug stores.

Never however has it been so apparent as when Robert J. Myers, president and CEO of Casey's stated "We expect this acquisition to be accretive in the first year of operation and enhance future earnings as we integrate our prepared food operations."  Myers was referring to the news that Casey’s was under contract to purchase 27 convenience stores this week.

Casey’s CFO Bill Walljasper noted during a conference call that they have “opened one new store and three replacement stores. In its latest quarter, Casey's focused on remodeling 26 stores, adding pizza delivery to 50 more locations and converting 26 stores to 24-hour formats.”…Here is the very best part that Walljasper revealed of the “50 stores adding pizza delivery, pizza sales increased by more than 45 percent,” he stated.

The conference call all went on and fresh food continued providing highlights “prepared food and fountain sales rose by 10.6 percent with an average margin of 63.5 percent.”  Success does leave clues and fresh prepared food is one of the clues to retail food sales success. When you are ready-2-eat customers like Casey’s General Stores.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Restaurants garner customers even when the customers have no jobs.



Ready-2-eat restaurants continue to attract customers even when the customers have no jobs.  David Decker reported in a recent survey by Restaurant DemandTracker that in the United States “Households with two full-time job-holders visit restaurants 5.8 times and spend $74 per week, on average. Households with only one full-time job-holder visit restaurants 5.2 times and spend $54 per week on average. Households with only part-time job-holders visit restaurants 5.0 times and spend $41 per week, and households with no wage-earners at all visit restaurants 4.5 times and spend only $36 per week.”…

“Households with no wage earners are even likely to visit restaurants regularly. Those consumers in households with no wage earners were 37% less likely than dual-income households to visit Fine-Dining restaurants regularly, 34% less likely to visit Casual-Dining restaurants regularly, 30% less likely to visit Fast-Casual restaurants regularly, and 17% less likely to visit Quick-Service restaurants regularly.”

Clearly restaurant pricing plays a key role in where consumers eat.  The dollar menu will not be going away too soon.  With 47 million consumers on food stamps yet 4.5 visits a week to restaurants by households with no-wage-earners the opportunity to build brand loyalty is a guiding light for continued pricing competitiveness.

Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of food marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price are the universal commonalities found within food retail and at times each of the P’s can play a greater role. Price continues to drive usage.

Outside eyes can deliver top line sales and bottom line profits.  Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, brand, product placement or positioning assistance.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

At 4 PM Do You Know What is for Dinner?



At 4 PM your customers are just beginning to think about what’s for dinner. Eighty-one percent of American consumers are unsure about what’s for dinner; the opportunity is yours for the asking.  Consumers are looking for high quality ready-2-eat and or heat-N-eat fresh and prepared food.  What they want to do is buy meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.

Consumers today have the opportunity to purchase high quality chef prepared ready-2eat and heat-N-eat food from independent restaurants, grocery stores, chain drugstores, convenience stores, chain restaurants and non-traditional food retailers the ilk of Amazon.com and food trucks.  At the convergence of all of these new and legacy meal component points of distribution you find the Grocerant niche.

The grocerant niche refers to prepared food that is portable, ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat food that is deemed “better for you”.  The consumers are finding grocerant niche food in grocery store deli sections including Whole foods, Trader Joes, Safeway Lifestyle stores and Central Market, convenience stores including Wawa, Sheetz, Rutter’s Farm Stores, and 7 Eleven, chain restaurants and independent restaurants around the world.

Successful foodservice operators today understand that differentiation in menu items and food products doesn’t mean different, rather it means familiar with a twist; taking ordinary daily menu items, adding contemporary relevance.   Then presenting, positioning and pricing competitively; these are the universal footprints of success found within the grocerant niche.

In NPD Group’s 2011 report on Eating Patterns in America famed food industry researcher and speaker Harry Balzer found that more meals were consumed at home this year than ever before. Most interesting is that the food consumed at home is a mix and match set of traditional menu items with a twist and food products bundled as meal components then simply assembled at home creating personalized unique dining experiences.

The intense competition and expanding points of distribution in retail foodservice provides a platform of opportunity for retail food operators and chefs around the globe. Each of these new expanding points of non-traditional distribution including chain drug stores, grocery stores delis, take-away and take-out chain restaurants, convenience stores are all seeking localized chefs.

There is a universal commonality of the success in retail foodservice identified by Foodservice Solutions® they are the 5 P’s of food marketing.  These include Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability, and Price all are found within the burgeoning grocerant niche. Successful chefs will understand that food products need to be contemporary yet traditional.  According to Foodservice Solutions® within each chefs packaging tool kit, less is more. Product placement today needs to be found in multiple avenues of distribution.  Menu items cannot be limited to simply in store dinning, or frozen food shelves.  Consumers prefer to assemble meals for home consumption rather than cook from scratch.  All food products need to be portable available for take-out. The food value price relationship is driven by the success of bundling of the first 4P’s.

Henry David Thoreau reminds us, “things do not change, we do” Successful retail foodservice takes on a life of its own and is dynamic not static.   Success does not just happen it is planned, focused and based on good informed choices.

Its 4PM; are you ready for your customers?  Remember, the consumer is now shopping in the grocerant niche.  Make sure your food is prepared food that is portable, ready-2-eat and or heat-N-eat and deemed “better for you”. 

Successful food service operators today understand that differentiation in menu items and food products doesn’t mean different, but familiar with a twist.  Leveraging traditional menu items by adding a twist with contemporize relevance then positioning, placing, packaging and pricing with portability are the keys to success in retail foodservice and the grocerant niche today.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Burger King: Burger Bar or King Café? Menu boldness will define success.



Understanding that consumer relevance today requires a greater respect for consumers and consumer choice.  Burger Kings new menu additions with a focus on Chicken positions the company squarely in the mind’s eye of today’s consumer.  These new chicken Mix and Match bundled meal components complement Burger Kings core menu and expand family meal customization options for consumers.

Leveraging international flavor profiles with universal commonalities Burger King is positioned to compete within café sector aka casual fast food sector.  The ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food sector aka the grocerant niche continues to be the fasting growing retail sector in the world.  Burger King is evolving not only with consumer relevance but with the consumer.  These bold new menu additions will provide a platform for expanding the brand.

The new items include: Italian Basil Chicken Sandwich, Italian Basil Chicken Wrap, Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, Garden Fresh Salad Wrap, Popcorn Chicken, Raspberry Fruit Smoothie, Italian Breakfast Burrito.  Each is an entity with identity and each has the ability to extend the brands family meal bundled options.

Burger Kings Burger Bars are in high foot traffic centers around the globe and provide heighten brand awareness. Legacy restaurants are beginning remodeled; the next step in the evolution should be cafés.  Retail food brands today must continue to evolve Burger Kings new menu show an understanding of the retail food space and a desire to garner market share.  I think that they will.  Is your brand moving with the consumer?

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Take-Away, Take-Out and Meal components are driving retail food sales.



Are you interested in entering the fastest growing retail food niche?  McDonalds, Burger King excel at ready-2-eat bundled meals.  Whole Foods reported great numbers driven by both fresh ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat prepared food.  P.F. Chang’s sold 100M in heat-N-eat meal kits within the retail sector during its very first year at retail.  The retail landscape is dynamic not static.  Are your food products positioned for ongoing success?  If so you must be in the grocerant niche.

Fresh prepared meals and meal components simply make consumers life simpler.  With 50% of Americans over the age of 18 single the opportunity in this sector is great and growing.  In a report from Canadean (canadean.com) provides a clear view of market segmentation and key drivers to garner influence with each segment.  Here is a sample of the highlights:

Private labels record the highest penetration in the Meal Kit’s product category, which is also the least valuable in the Prepared Meals market currently.

Approximately 40% of the value of the US Prepared Meals market is accounted for by consumers in the Time Rich busy lives group. 

Older Consumers have a 23% share of the total Prepared Meals market in US. This is a direct result of their sheer numbers, with the age group accounting for 25% of the total population. Slightly below average consumption by this age group indicates that it still had potential to grow.

Time starved consumer that are single (50% of the population over the age of 18) continue looking for options within the ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh and prepared food niche. Are you moving your brand from frozen to fresh?  Are you prepared to move your fresh product into non-traditional channels?

Outside eyes can deliver top line sales and bottom line profits.  Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, brand, product placement or positioning assistance.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Friday, September 7, 2012

Share of Stomach who will be new power food retailers?



The grocerant niche is a fresh prepared food focused sector focused on consumer meal customization.  With the convenience of fast-food, the quality of full-service restaurant dining, without the hassle laboring around an entire grocery store or sitting in a restaurant and paying a tip the grocerant niche is booming.  It’s the solution that is evolving across many retail food platforms empowering the consumer, simplifying the meal process while saving time starved consumer both time and money. Chain Restaurants, Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores and Chain Drug Stores are all offering meal component options.
Consumers are responding positively, one of the most successful elements is bundling of the meal components with a “better for you” focus.  It’s a mix and match game that is very empowering for the consumer.  Consumer’s select by meal occasion what “better for you” attribute they want.  It can be fresh hamburger, low salt, cooked to order, or green packaging.
Don’t discount the value of consumer choice or limit the world of “better for you”.  Mix and match of small portion, fresh products, green packaging is making meal time a time of convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization. The meal component can come from a restaurant, drug store, grocery store or convenience store.

Today you can find retail foodservice outlets that don’t offer seated dining rather they utilize call ahead and take-away or delivery only business template blending the benefits of different segments. In fact, according to a 2011 survey done by the National Restaurant Association, nearly half (47 percent) of adults said they would be likely to use a home delivery option if it was offered by a full-service restaurant.
In the same survey, more than one-third of adults (37 percent) agreed that purchasing meals from restaurants, take-out and delivery places make them more productive in their day-to-day lives. The grocerant niche is consumer driven and garnering share of stomach from legacy retailers.                                                                
Simply look at the retail foodservice growth and sales leaders of today. Trader Joe’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, 7 Eleven are all growth leaders.  Trader Joe’s leads in sales per square foot at over $1,750 per Sq. Ft. Chipotle, Five Guys and 7 Eleven are all growing units and garnering share of stomach from everyone else.  All are members of the grocerant niche. 

Since 1991 retail food consultancy Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Foodservice Solutions® Bing or Google Grocerants or visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant, twitter.com/grocerant