Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wawa Reigns Supreme


Regular readers know that leaders lead and when it come to the c-store channel Wawa’s leadership shines through breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night. While there are no Wawa stores on the West Coast Tacoma, WA based Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson of Foodservice Solutions® knows that Wawa’s food quality, service and pricing are the three key driving of their success. 

In the report released at the 2017 NACS Show in Chicago, Nielsen named the top ranked c-stores by brand equity. Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa had the highest equity among convenience stores in 2017, followed by Westborough, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms, with Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. and La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc. also ranking in the top five in the United States.

Fresh food matters, according to Nielsen, one third of convenience shoppers expect to purchase fresh food in the convenience channel in the future. And when it comes to foodservice, convenience retailers should focus on differentiating the destination by offering fresh ready-to-eat/healthy foods, as quality is the biggest claimed barrier for purchasing fresh food in c-stores.

In addition Nielsen found that shopping experience/satisfaction can increase with focus on store operations around good customer service, store cleanliness, quick in-and-out, and product availability.
"Now more than ever, consumers value convenience.
As a result, retailers are placing big bets across a variety of hot button topics to differentiate themselves and drive growth," said Nikhil Sharma, vice president consumer and shopper analytics, Nielsen. Wow you have to love the fact that our Grocerant Guru® has been telling you that in our blog since 2009. 

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Does Recycling Retail Foodservice Executives Work Anymore?


Recycling executives from brand to brand and without a change in strategy may not be the successful solution in 2017. What was once a successful strategy during the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000 recycling executive simply is not working in 2017.

If you are over 30 you can harken back to your childhood and remember getting your picture taken on your birthday by someone holding Camera.  If you were to look around today you noticed that Kodak is nearly out of business (gone as we knew it) . 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, Ruby Tuesday.  Ok they are not all dead but they have been far from the brands they once were.

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.  Are your customer counts growing?  If not 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 an objective that is clear and measurable to insure a proper marketing ROI. Is stacking food on the plate a tactic that will drive sales or is it a positioning ploy of the 2005?  Is digital marketing the same as digital ordering? Don’t know?

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. Do our have a strategy for dealing with Munchery, AmazonGo, Wegmans or HEB fresh food delivery? 
Foodservice Solutions® does.

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.
Five years ago 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.  Today there is so much more.


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. In two years will you have more retail outlets open or fewer?

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, 90’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 by 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. That one we understand is underway.

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.  Do you have a second act? We think so if actions reflect consumer relevance of today not yesterday.

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


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Consumers more Satisfied with C-Stores than Quick Service Restaurants


The Grocerant niche is all about time  as regular readers of this blog know and according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Fresh food fast is the mantra of those tasked with preparing dinner across the US according to Johnson.

Recently Sheetz Convenience stores turned to SMG's customized market intelligence tool BrandGeek to understand the thoughts and motivations of fuel- and food-focused convenience store customers compared to quick-service restaurant (QSR) customers. Behavioral data was captured from 12.7 million c-store visits and 15.8 million QSR visits in a 12-month period.

The overall review of the data showed that customers are far more satisfied at c-stores than at QSRs, and they rate their experiences even higher when they purchase both food and fuel. Additionally, food-focused c-store customers are "far more motivated" by speed of checkout and a past good experience, while fuel-focused customers are motivated by speed of checkout, a past good experience, and the selection of merchandise.

Restaurants need to retool and be aware that in-store sales are the largest growth area for the convenience store industry, and foodservice is the second-largest inside sales category behind tobacco, with double the growth margin, according the data.
The BrandGeek data highlighted that many of the c-store brands that over-index on speed of service are also known for their foodservice, including QuikTrip, Wawa and RaceTrac. The data also showed that even fresh, made-to-order food can cause consumer ratings to fall during the lunchtime hours due to slower speed, reflecting that it's worth the time and effort to focus on speed of service.

It is important to note that food-focused customers who have negative experiences are more likely to talk about inattentive store associates, overlong wait time, preparation errors or a lack of urgency.
When customers perceive a good attitude and helpfulness from associates and also experience speedy service, that's when they're most likely to return.
There is a battle for share of stomach brewing between fast food restaurants and convenience stores and the Price, Value, Service Equilibrium is continually redefined by consumers according to the Grocerant Guru®.  

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Grocerant Platform Propels Profitability

Retail foodservice success can be found at the intersection of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food aka the Grocerant Niche elevating retail foodservice customer relevance while garnering customer adoption according to Tacoma, WA based Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson of Foodservice Solutions®.

The undercurrents of competition within the fresh food space have not reached such a tipping point since the invention of refrigeration according to Johnson.  Today consumers are in search of complexity free meals with full flavor. Success does leave clues one clue is consumers move forward not backward, they are dynamic not static according to Johnson.

Most of you know the William Gibson quote: The future has already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed.”  In retail foodservice today there are those that are growing top line sales, bottom line profits, customer counts, and those who are slowly dying.  Where is your company? There is no middle ground.

Let’s look at some numbers C-Stores sold $73 billion of prepared food and beverages last year up 72% from 2010 according to the WSJ. Consumer migration too grocerant niche non-traditional outlets continues to grow in fact the NPD group reports that Grocerants generated 2.4 Billion visits and $10 Billion in Sales in 2016. TheStreet.com found "By our estimate, alternative formats and e-commerce market share in consumables will increase from 30.4% in 2016 to 44.9% in 2022,"  
The battle of for food dollars is a battle for ‘Share of Stomach’ according to the Grocerant Guru®.
Chain restaurants are now battling for sales with Grocery stores, C-stores, Liquor stores, and Drug stores. Legacy food retailers risk being marginalized by new concepts with smaller footprints, lower cost of goods and faster service.  Food retailers must understand the new dynamics in the industry and react properly in order to accelerate growth.  Foodservice ‘braggability’ is more often found within the grocerant sector.

Today, eating-out while eating-at-home, takeout food, mix & match meal components are leading ways in which people are looking to differentiate themselves, simplify their lives, same time with meal customization, personalization and Mix & Match bundling all are hallmarks of the booming Grocerant niche according to the Grocerant Guru®


Many legacy restaurant operators seemingly have a “inside the four walls” mindset coupled with brand protectionism polices more reminiscent of the 1980’s than 2017. Steven Johnson the Grocerant Guru® says that kind of thinking traps a brand in a quagmire or a footprint malaise that is unresponsive and simply not consumer relevant today.
So what is Grocerant food in 2017?  Foodservice Solutions® Steven Johnson, the Grocerant Guru® says a "Grocerant item means any retail food item that is Ready2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat with the option of portability Traditionally these items can be 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."

Its 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner and 80.6% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner at noon and 61.3% are unsure what’s for dinner at 4 PM. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals or a meal component.  So what is working in the Grocerant Space in 2017?  Carrie Williams, senior manager of shopper insights for Coca-Cola, shared some of the insights from grocery store research, which was fielded to help retailers participate in Family Meals Month in September. Here is some of what she found:

1.       Nearly three-fourths of grocery shoppers purchase prepared foods, and half of all grocery shoppers purchased a Fresh-to-Go meal in the past month.
2.       One in 10 grocery shoppers buy Fresh-to-Go meals frequently (defined as 5+ per month).
3.       Most shoppers of Fresh-to-Go meals have children. They buy these meals because they are busy and it’s convenient.
4.       Most Fresh-to-Go meals are eaten at home, especially for dinner.
5.       Nearly two-thirds of store visits are driven by a specific meal need, and 78 percent of purchases from the deli area are not impulse buys.
If you are running a retail food outlet those numbers indicate grocerant platform adoption continues to grow and you should be thinking about adding grocerant items.  Is your company evolving with consumers? Are you ready for some fresh ideations?

Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday than tomorrow?  Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information or contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Foodservice Menu’s, Messaging, Media, Matters

Time after time, day after day the phone rings at Foodservice Solutions® and it is a perspective client, an old client inevitably they ask the same questions. Recently that question has been Why is it my brand does not rank higher with consumers on social media? Our Grocerant Guru’s Steven Johnson’s answer is always the same.  MESSAGING.
Sure I know that sound simple. However consider this research from social analytics company called NetBase, which released its annual Restaurant Brands Report recently. By cataloging around 187 billion mentions on social media, NetBase found that people are the most obsessed with Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Domino's Pizza, Olive Garden, Wendy's, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald's, Panera, and Subway in descending order.
Maybe that’s why they called in the first place.  If not here are a couple of things to consider first consumers are dynamic not static. Secondly each of the restaurant brands above does a very good job of integrating marketing messaging with new product, new promotions, and news releases according to our Grocerant Guru®.
Additionally each brand understands that differentiation does not mean different it means familiar but with a twist.  Consider this which fast food chain integrated fried egg taco shells into its menu, released a fashion line with Forever 21, and announced it’d soon be adding booze to its offerings? Ok now where did they rank?  In case you did not know the answer is Taco Bell.
Taco Bell  has been able to capture the attention of Twitter and Instagram and the rest of social media with a series of stunts, ranging from ridiculous to intriguing (a recently added burrito contains spicy popping crystals), and now it’s being rewarded with a new, and maybe in 2017, prestigious title: the Top Performing Restaurant Brand on Social Media. 
Can you have differentiation with an integrated message?  Can you leverage LTO’s to garner attention?  Can you test, trial, and tantalize the imagination of your customers? 

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how www.FoodserviceSolutions.us can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

By-Pass the Grocer AmazonFresh Meal-Kit-Building gets Personal


Today grocerant niche retail success is about serving every customer, one at a time empowering customization, personalization, and individualization as regular readers of this blog know.  Steven Johnson our Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has been pounding that into our heads since this blog began back in 2009.  Combine that with saving consumers time and AmazonFresh is once again doing all of the right things according to Johnson.

When we heard that Meal kit service eMeals has added AmazonFresh to its list of grocery delivery and pickup service partners we knew that was important as the ability for AmazonFresh to edify its relationship with the consumers is a top priority.

The eMeals service previously was available only via delivery through Instacart or pickup through Kroger ClickList and Walmart Grocery.  Now eMeals allows shoppers to send a shopping list, which is automatically generated for all meals selected each week, to AmazonFresh with a single click. They may then schedule home delivery or curbside pickup.

Here is why it’s right up AmazonFresh ally eMeals can enjoy up to 50 percent savings in per-serving food costs compared to conventional meal kit providers due to ingredients being provided in standard grocery packaging rather than each in its own portioned package. Moreover, the only other cost involved is a $5 monthly subscription fee for new weekly menus.

eMeals CEO Forrest Collier  stated "Meal kits and online grocery programs are reshaping the grocery market, and we are the first company to combine those two trends,"…. "Adding AmazonFresh to our fulfillment lineup expands our reach to most of the top players in online grocery and advances our mission of giving customers more choice, flexibility and affordability than any other meal kit service."
Subscribers may choose from 15 eating styles ranging from Quick & Healthy to Paleo, Clean Eating, Low Calorie, Classic Meals and even Diabetic, Gluten Free and Vegetarian, and can personalize each week's menus by selecting meals from any of the food styles or substituting favorites from previous weeks. More than 100 weekly recipes are available in the 15 styles.

Once a week’s meals are chosen, eMeals automatically populates a shopping list and allows subscribers to add or subtract items, eliminating separate shopping trips for items such as cereal and toilet paper. Shoppers may either do their own shopping or relay on grocery partners to fulfill orders.

The new option extends eMeals’ strategy of leveraging the existing grocery supply chain to fill meal kit orders rather than building an expensive new infrastructure to portion, package and deliver the week’s recipe ingredients, providing more variety, flexibility and affordability while lowering operational costs.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how www.FoodserviceSolutions.us can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit:  www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fresh Food Fast Shell Select Excels


Global grocerant niche growth is one of the undercurrents driving legacy fresh food retailers to rethink just how they do what they do according to Tacoma, WA based Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson of Foodservice Solutions®.  Nowhere is it more apparent than with Netherlands based Shell Select.

Just in case you did not know Shell as a brand and its iconic logo is found in more locations than Starbucks or McDonald’s around the world.  No after testing Shell Select Deli by Shell is setting the bar high for itself as it pursues increasing the profit contribution of its non-fuel business to 50 percent.

István Kapitány Executive Vice President Shell Global Fuel Retail reported that he has until 2025 to reach the 50-percent mark from an undisclosed current figure. He acknowledges the profit goal is aspirational.
“We are always adapting our retailing capabilities to the changing world and believe it is a great opportunity for us because of the scale and size of the business,”

Kapitány continued. “Some markets are close to the 50-percent goal and some are far away, but one of the benefits of Shell’s global scale is that we can learn from each other. Whatever works in one country, we can transfer that knowledge to another country.”

For one example, the company operates a service-oriented concept called Shell Select in The Netherlands that is comparable to Wawa convenience stores in the United States. Shell’s operating model in the U.S. is different than The Netherlands, but the company is looking to make changes that would facilitate expansion of the Shell Select concept in the U.S.

“I would say that Shell Select in The Netherlands is kind of like the top-end food and coffee convenience place to go in the market, similar to a Wawa. We’re looking at how we bring that Shell Select concept to the United States,”
Is your company Looking A Customer Ahead?  How do you plan to expand your business?  Are you going to continue to do what you have always done and do it the same way?  How is that working for you today?

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us  the 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. Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us for more information