Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jack in the Box On Trend, On Technology, On Time

Success does leave clues and time and time again industry leading companies share success clues with us.  In the case of Jack in the Box evolving with the customer is something they have done very well and according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Jack in the Box’s ability to integrated technology with consumer relevance is one clue to their success. 
In a recent study conducted by Morgan Stanley found “The portion of restaurants’ sales coming from delivery could top 40% by 2020, roughly a sevenfold increase from current levels”.  Jack in the Box understands the consumer as well as any retailer in the food space thus they announced this week that they would expand food delivery with DoorDash using  Marble, the maker of autonomous ground-delivery robots”.

Yes, Robot delivery , it will be an on-demand delivery platform operating in more than 500 cities nationwide for DoorDash that will begin testing deliveries under a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area. Under the pilot program, DoorDash will be using Marble’s robots to deliver customer orders in select neighborhoods.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with DoorDash as we continue to build towards the city of the future, a city in which on-demand delivery is accessible to everyone,” says Marble CEO Matt Delaney. “DoorDash has a strong reputation for top-tier restaurant partnerships and innovative logistics technology. We’re excited to have our robots work with them to expand options for delivery and reduce urban congestion across communities to create a more enjoyable neighborhood experience.”
To celebrate the Marble-DoorDash partnership and initial pilot program, the companies partnered with restaurant chain Jack in the Box in early August to test out a delivery in the North Beach neighborhood and showcase the partnership. This delivery demo expands upon the ongoing relationship between Jack in the Box and DoorDash, which recently increased Jack in the Box’s delivery options to more than 830 restaurants across 229 US cities. 
The Morgan Stanley report found “demand for off-premise transactions is surging most sharply for coffee and burger chains.  Almost half the respondent base (45%) had ordered delivery in the prior six months, and 85% had visited restaurants. In addition 43% of delivery patrons opted for at-home or at-office service instead of going to a restaurant, up from 38% in 2016.

Jack in the Box understands that the customer is dynamic not static and to maintain customer relevance they need to evolve with the consumer.  Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Firehouse Subs Evolving with Consumers

The consumers is dynamic not static and Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson as regular readers of this blog know chain restaurants muse be dynamic as well.  In the case of Firehouse Subs it is clear the chains leadership has the pulse of the consumer right.
When Firehouse Subs noticed a shift in customer traffic patterns they took a close look they found that the “Dine-in incidents declined as take-out business steadily rose”.  Don Fox, Firehouse’s CEO knew that was a problem.  In Firehouse’s DNA is its steamed meats and cheeses and just try wrapping those sandwiches in paper or foil, however, and the differentiator suddenly cuts the other way: The bread is soggy. Moisture builds up the food quality goes down.
Don Fox, Firehouse’s CEO stated “It’s just that it wasn’t as good as what we were serving in the dining room. In the dining room we don’t package the food at all,” … “We serve the food plated in a basket. Great visual appearance. Every sandwich made and heated to order. That’s the ideal serving condition.”
Once the problem was defined the team at Firehouse Subs focused on how to  bridge the to-go food quality gap. It took a lot of work to identify, quantify and qualify the problem and create a new system wide packaging lineup.
The new packaging It consists of three bagasse containers, which are “100 percent compostable eco-friendly material made from the fiber mass of sugarcane. There’s one for Firehouse’s new smaller subs, one for medium sandwiches, and a container ideal for large orders. The containers are also microwaveable and heat tolerant up to 212 degrees, designed to handle hot food, grease, and be cut resistant.”
Fox stated “From a green perspective, it’s an environmentalist’s dream. But the key benefit is it’s just excellent for the presentation of our product,” … “Far, far superior to anything we’ve done in recent years. We really feel we’re in the best position we’ve ever been to deliver an experience for our take-out customers that’s now on par with our dine-in experience.”
It must be noted that to execute and implement the change it too a year. Fox says Firehouse had to find a manufacturer who could produce the vast quantity his growing chain needed. It required tooling at the plants and ramp-up time.
“The manufacturing capacity out in the packaging universe was fairly limited,” Fox says. “… The logistical challenges were a little different because the cube size for shipping was a lot different than the wraps. It does add cost to the PNL but we feel it’s well worth the investment on the PNL to improve the guest experience on the off-premise consumption.”
Success does leave clues and identifying, quantifying, and qualifying a problem is step two.  Step one is our success clue of the day the customer is dynamic not static paying attention to the consumer first. 

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Should Legacy Grocery Stores be Selling Meal Kits?

What business are legacy grocery stores in?  Are they in the ‘fill the pantry’ business?  Are they in the produce business? Are they in the fresh meat and seafood business? Are they bakeries? Are they in the grocerant niche fresh prepared food business?  We were asked last week if legacy grocery stores should be in the Meal Kit business.  So here is the team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® thinking.

The simple and universal answer from the team at Foodservice Solutions® was yes they should be in the meal kit business.  After all the meal kit business today represents only $1.5 billion in food sales while the legacy grocery store business is close to $800 billion in sales today.  Our good friend Bill Bishop Chief Architect at Brick Meets Click says $1.5 billion in the grocery world is like a minnow in the ocean. 

Kroger’s Main and Vine brand began experimenting with meal kits when it opened and continues to experiment, with pricing, packaging, and portion size.  At as we write this it is our belief that that particular teat brand store continues to do so.  From what they have learned they are now testing meal kits in four Cincinnati legacy Kroger units.
When we went a took a look we may have had more questions than answers.  Like does copycat positioning work better than differentiation with a twist?  We think Kroger believes that copycat positioning is best as their meal kits in the Cincinnati test are just like Home Chef,  Plated, HelloFresh, and other filled with premeasured ingredients, cooking instructions.

Our team at Foodservice Solutions® thinks Kroger could have done much better than copycat positioning.  Having conducted over 8,111 Grocerant ScoreCards our team understands with value attributes resonate with consumers in meal kits, and most all fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-n-Eat food. 

While grocery stores can sell meal kits for less, cheaper is not always the best option according to our own Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson just because they do not have to pay for packaging and delivering products.  The problem is our Grocerant ScoreCards point out Price is not the issue.  
Food industry research icon and our friend Bonnie Riggs notes that a meal made from a kit costs $10 per person, while a meal from a grocery store cost of an average $ 4.  Thinking about grocery stores what business are they in? Meal Solutions, Menu Solutions, Cooking instructions, or are they in the copycat food business?
Retail food customers today can obtain fresh prepared meals, meal components, cook from scratch ingredients all of which can be mixed and match then bundled into a perfect customized family meal without going to a grocery store.  Consumers can by the fresh prepared components from Pinkies Liquor stores, furniture stores IKEA, clothing stores Ralph Lauren, club stores like Costco, Dollar store, Walgreens, and even restaurants the ilk of Corner Bakery, and Boston Market. Why buy from a copycat grocery store?  Not to worry the team at Foodservice Solutions® knows why a meal kit would sell if done right. Call us.

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  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Monday, August 14, 2017

Are Grocery Stores Big Money’s Big Mistake

Did big money do what it has always done that is drink out of the cup of compliancy? Today food consumers are eating out at restaurants less they are also cooking from scratch less at home than ever before.  According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® consumers are migrating to Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meal components at an accelerated rate.
According to commercial real-estate firm CoStar Group “Commercial square footage of retail food space per capita last year set a record, with 4.15 square feet of food retail per person.” That is nearly 30 times the amount of space allocated to groceries at major chains in 1950.

The simple fact is consumers are buying meals and food for takeout today at companies the ilk of IKEA, Eveytable, EatFitGo, Snap Kitchen, Boston Market, Wawa, Sheetz, and Dollar General.  Never before in America has so much retail square footage been devoted to selling food simply put there is just too much.

A massive build-out by retailers has left the country piled up with grocery shelves as consumers are shifting from big weekly shopping trips to more snacking and to-go meals. The mismatch has flattened retail sales and leaves the industry vulnerable to a wave of closures that some executives, bankers and industry experts think is coming soon.

While shopper loyalty to conventional grocery store chains lifted same-store sales for food retailers by at least 3% annually since 2013, that metric was flat in 2016 and is projected to remain static this year as competition grows, according to FactSet. “There’s only so much food we can buy,” said Suzanne Mulvee, director of research for CoStar.

European fresh food grocery retailers Aldi and Lidl are vying for U.S. market share, investing over $4.5 Billion combined in the US market over the next three years according to the team at Foodservice Solutions®. That will increase the retail footprint while elevating competition for share of stomach in all retail channels.

Change is in the air it is reported that Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional supermarket chain by stores and sales, is reducing its new-store openings this year to 55 from 100, a nearly billion-dollar drop in capital expenditures, and its chief financial officer, Michael Schlotman. All the while non-traditional meal and meal component grocerant niche retailers the ilk of Snap Kitchen, EatFitGo, Everytable just keep opening new units and expanding their reach.

Wal-Mart Stores has no other move but reposition to the middle of the grocery price range according to the team at Foodservice Solutions® as it plans additional cuts at will build 55 supercenters and smaller-format stores in its 2018 fiscal year, down from the 132 it opened in the 12-month period ending in January.

With drug stores ability to drive incremental food sales one has to question if the corner grocery store will become a drug store, as today food, beverages and other consumables account for about a third of transactions at drug stores nationwide.

Many legacy chain restaurants will continue to close units as will legacy grocery store chains and according to the team at Foodservice Solutions®.  Consumers will continue to migrate to new non-traditional points of fresh food distribution.  Is your company evolving fast enough?  Are you putting money into food retail that looks more like yesterday than tomorrow?

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Foodservice Solutions 10 Business Clues

The retail foodservice customer is not fickle they are evolving, dynamic and moving forward searching for ways to many dinner complexity free according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson.  I hope you are not the Neanderthal brand marketer we talked about in yesterday’s blog.  

The consumer is dynamic not static and all food retailers and start-up fresh food retailers must strive to create or maintain consumer relevance while evolving their own brand.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson believes that the following ten clues to build contemporized food brand relevance that will edify your brand while building top-line sales, bottom-line profits and year over year customer counts.  Here are his 10 Clues:

1.       Purpose:   Customer relevance with evolving focus.  The most successful brands are inclusive, include values greater than themselves.  That means they focus on a Lifestyle, a philosophy, an emotion, a point in time.  Today that must include a halo of better for you the consumer as better for the consumer is better for the retailer. 
2.       A story: Most major brands have a story. Examples: If you like Wawa you know the family history, If you line McDonald’s you have heard the story or seen the movie If you like Ford vehicles, you might be familiar with the story of Henry Ford or if you love your Nikes, you probably know how the Nike swoosh logo was created. You get the picture.  What’s your story and where is your story being told?
3.       Consumer interaction:  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® firmly believes that within foodservice retail they brand, products, and footprint must be consumer interactive and participatory. When your business is first starting out, don't fool yourself into believing that your marketing efforts are 'brand building' efforts. They're not because to build a real brand, you have to have an extensive track record with consumers. Consumer will build the brand and the story for with you.
4.       Trust:   Establish operating standards that are measurable for every department within your company and each standard must edify a customer facing tactic, communication, service, or product.  When you've consistently delivered for your customers long enough, you'll gain the type of trust that many brands have.  Would you buy a Edsel today? Maybe so, but you are buying to today as a relic not as a product of today.
5.       Consistency:  Consumers today choose a product or service because of brand association.  The consumer is buying an expectation, a promise. Perhaps it's the expectation that the branded product is of higher quality or that the service will be provided in a more efficient manner. The expectation must be met time after time.
6.       Differentiation: Customer migration from a legacy  to an new brand is often borne of differentiation. Many brands offer products and services that are commodities but they're successful in developing some differentiation in the product or the avenue of distribution for their products and services that consumers are sold on.
7.       Imitators: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and you're probably not a 'brand' until you have competitors trying to copy you. Enough said. (However, we have imitators trying to play catch up and we thank you for edifying our brand and sharing this blog.)
8.       Market leadership: Success does leave clues, collect your clues and own them. Top brands are usually looked at as leaders in the markets they compete in. Own the space, and understand why you do.
9.       Evolve:  The consumer is dynamic not static your brand must be as well.  The best brands are flexible and capable of reshaping and reinventing themselves and their messages over time. Brands are either growing or dying.
10.   A strong marketing presence: The information super highway has evolved into a mobile marketing platform in the palm of your customers hand; your message must follow with the traffic.  Don’t get stuck on the road less traveled.

Success does leave clues feel free to reach out for a private corporate presentation, confidential engagements, educational forums, or keynote. Contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® at: 253-759-7869 or Johnson

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Customers Too Chain Restaurant Brand Marketers By-By

When consumers are hungry they want to eat.  They will buy food at a gas station, train station, bridge, or along the side of a road.  Consumers are dynamic not static and chain restaurants must evolve with consumers.  Only stubbornness on the part of c-level executives at chain restaurants can be blamed as sales fall at chain restaurants once again or so says Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®
The chain restaurant business model must evolve as there is no notion of channel blurring in the minds-eye of the consumer. Channel blurring only exists in the BLIND eye of Neanderthal chain restaurant and Grocery Stores brand managers according to Johnson as he stated back in 2010 and it has never been more evident than today.   
The customer has moved and legacy chain restaurants continue to try to do what they have always done and are doing it in the same way. It’s time for a new business model for chain restaurants according to Johnson.
In July 2017 same-store sales dropped 2.8 percent across the restaurant landscape, a significant 1.8 percentage point decline from the previous month. Customer traffic at restaurants plummeted 4.7 percent in the July and 1.7 percentage points worse than June of 2017 according to numbers from Victor Fernandez, executive director of Insights and Knowledge for industry tracker TDn2K.
When same store sales are calculated on a two-year basis, July’s sales were down 4.2 percent versus July 2015, and same-store traffic declined an eye-opening 8.7 percent. These are the weakest two-year growth rates in more than three years.

The line between foodservice channels exist only in the minds-eye those protecting their own jobs not those interested in the evolving consumer, path to purchase, retail sales growth, or brand relevance according to Johnson. 
A study shows consumers regard the service provided by Wawa  (a state of the industry convenience store retail chain), as superior to what they get at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. Simply put brand protectionism is dead once again our Grocerant Guru® said that first back in 2009 but so much for understanding the undercurrents driving our evolving foodservice sectors. 
Retail foodservice today is about Share of Stomach, and you are either capitulating share of stomach or garnering share of stomach customer by customer.  Is your retail foodservice brand garnering year over year customer counts or capitulating customers?
Edifying Foodservice Solutions® findings recent research by White Box Social Intelligence found “Wawa is more likely to meet service expectations than all 619 restaurant brands the researcher monitors on a constant basis. Closest to the c-store chain in positive service evaluations was Papa Murphy’s, followed by Seasons 52, Fleming’s and Wienerschnitzel.” The consumer knows best.  Is it time you began rethinking how to integrate Foodservice Solutions® FIVE P’s of Food Marketing?
White Box Social Intelligence also revealed “consumers’ intentions of visiting the monitored restaurant chains have continued to wane, by a hefty 6.4%, and that they believe the food quality of those brands has slipped from a year ago. Yet their estimation of restaurant service rose by 10.2% year over year. Wawa was one of the brands that scored high in customers’ intention to return, with only Qdoba and Carvel ranking higher.
Wawa’s top rating on service was indeed a surprise, says Victor Fernandez, TDn2K’s executive director of insights and knowledge. “It all depends on expectations, whatever the expectation of what good service is,” he says. “Obviously people expect something different from Wawa than they do from Fleming’s.” But they’re more likely to have those expectations satisfied at the c-store chain, he indicated.
While Victor was surprise no one on the Team at Foodservice Solutions® was after conducting over 7,790 Grocerant ScoreCards. Again we continue to think it is time for chain restaurant brand managers to look at some of those persistent factors aka consumer facing grocerant niche valued attributes that are driving change customer adoption of new fresh food avenues of distribution.  
The fact of the matter is the consumers have moved on and channel blurring only exists in the BLIND eye of Neanderthal chain restaurant and Grocery Stores brand managers not in the minds-eye of the consumer.  Restaurants, Grocery stores, must evolve or risk capitulating incremental customer counts to other retailers that are addressing the attributes that are relevant to consumers today. 

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Want Football Food Dickey’s Delivers

It’s that time again when the undercurrents of college football and NFL football bring old friend together and this year Dickey’s Barbecue Pit can deliver a grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat tailgate party pack for $99 that everyone will enjoy according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is offering guests a more convenient way to order, deliver, set-up, clean-up and perfect football fan food.  The Tailgate Party Pack can feed up to 12 adults, boasting four pounds of Dickey’s most popular slow-smoked meats and enough classic barbecue sides to satisfy a defensive line. The Tailgate Party Pack includes:
·         2 lbs Brisket
·         2 lbs Pulled Pork
·         64 oz Potato Salad
·         64 oz Coleslaw
·         64 oz Barbecue Beans
·         12 Buttery Rolls
·         Serving utensils & plates

Want more you can also order or add Dickey’s new Rack N’ Roll Platter ($26), which includes a full rack of ribs and six buttery rolls, to satisfy your crew well into overtime.
Laura Rea Dickey CEO of Dickey’s stated “Barbecue and big games are a perfect match. We think folks will find our Tailgate Party Pack is a win for parties and a much higher quality alternative to wings or pizza for a similar price,”… “Plus, the Tailgate Party Pack can be ordered for delivery, so no one misses any football. We’re excited to bring slow-smoked barbecue into the delivery space, giving guests more time to enjoy the season.”
Both the Tailgate Party Pack and the Rack N’ Roll platter, along with Dickey’s full menu, can be ordered at The majority of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit locations are also launching delivery directly through the restaurant or through a third party delivery partner. Orders may also be placed by calling 866-Barbecue.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has partnered with more than 50 delivery services across the United States to ensure guests can enjoy Texas-style barbecue without leaving the comfort of their homes. Most Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchises have partnered with vendors like GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates and Amazon, amongst many others. Through Dickey’s newly redesigned website, guests have the ability to easily place online orders for what is most convenient to them whether it be delivery through these partners or in-store pickup.

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