Grocerants, Make Key Foodservice Trends Your Own

Coca-Cola strategy exec suggests winning ways

May 1, 2018

The wide competitive set grocerants face today requires they leverage six key foodservice trends in their own style, so they may differentiate and grow accordingly. 

These trends reshaping the industry were covered in a recent Coca-Cola webinar and in an article in The Great Grocerant earlier this spring.  To refresh, they are: Value Plus, Evolution of Healthy, Flexibility & Discovery, Hyper-Convenience, Digitization, and Brand Authenticity. 

During the webinar, Randy Raymond, Director of Retail Foodservice Strategy, Coca-Cola North America, spoke of each trend and suggested key questions operators should ask themselves and steps to take to move the needle in their favor for each one.  Here are his thoughts: 

Value Plus.  QSR Value Wars are heating up and stealing meal occasions from retail channels through dollar menus and bundles deals.  How are you providing options that deliver value in addition to those that are more premium?  QSR is the #1 alternative to Retail Meal Solutions, and their menus focus on giving value shoppers what they want.  “Having a tiered approach to delivering value in new and unique ways is really important.  The value-conscious consumer buys based on absolute price per meal or per eater.  Yet it’s equally important to think about value in terms of what people get in the experience against what they pay,” he said, noting that grocerant menus should leave room for more premium items too.  

Evolution of Healthy.  Are you offering guests the options to make healthy or more indulgent choices? Are you listening to what consumers are asking for in ingredients, local sourcing and more information? “Needs can change daily based on a person’s mood – healthy one day and maybe indulging in high calories the next day after a tough time,” said Mr. Raymond.  “Consider how you position the healthy side of your menus, how you discuss your food sourcing, clean labels, nutrition and calories.  How transparent are you?”

Flexibility & Discovery.  Shoppers want experiences and discovery. How do you incorporate flavor exploration into your menus? Are you capturing growth occasions like all-day breakfast and PM snacking?  Think flexibility in portion size to fulfill needs around dayparts.  “There isn’t always a need to have a distinct snack menu, because many of your meal solutions can be used as snacks in smaller portion sizes, as long as they’re positioned accordingly,” said Mr. Raymond.  Moreover, with changing consumer tastes, grocerants that let shoppers customize their meals based on taste or need, or pair mainstream items with emerging or ethnic flavors, assert their culinary authority.  Limited time offers let guests experience new items and gain popularity and a permanent place on the menu. Seek out new culinary ideas at large food truck destinations, which are leading edge, he suggested.

Hyper-Convenience.  Consumers increasingly want foodservice at home.  How are you evolving your Ready-to-Eat, Ready-to-Heat, and Ready-to-Serve meal solutions as the answer – where the eat-at-home experience comes close to the quality of the dining out experience?  Do these offers help you differentiate your brand?

Digitization.  Are you fully optimizing the power of social media to build brand loyalty and drive trips?  How will technology play a role in your operations?  Which platforms enhance convenience to order and pay for meals?  The degree to which guests Instagram photos of their food shows their enthusiasm and willingness to share, even over-share.  Grocerants may want to copy one casual dining operator that changed its plating techniques, assuming people will be snapping pictures that everyone sees over their feeds, said Mr. Raymond, observing, further that “this trend shapes presentation, so operators should keep focused on how they want it shared on social media.  Maybe clear clamshells with premium labels?”  Mobile ordering is one technology that could add convenience via pre-orders and pre-pay, and one less line to stand in during a store shop.  Think about how you embed technology across the entire path to purchase – pre-shop, shop and post-shop – to amplify your message, build loyalty and add convenience.    

Brand Authenticity.  Is your brand positioning authentic, clear and consistent? Does your execution enhance the experience? Are you effectively communicating your involvement with local communities?  Grocerants need a clear brand message that differentiates, and should take credit for any civic and social engagements, and how they interface in local communities, he suggested. As for executing to a better guest experience, it’s not only about the food – but seating, packaging, wifi, and other conveniences and comforts.

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