ow To Encourage Shoppers to Return, and Be Glad They Did

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The recent duel trade show for the Independent Grocers Association (IGA) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) produced an idea that smart grocers across the country should be picking up on soon: Instore contests for shoppers to take the most imaginative “selfies” they can, with prizes awarded to winners – ideally selected by an independent party. (A local photo studio would probably be pleased to play that role, getting themselves some good PR in the process!)

Michael Sansolo, formerly editor of Progressivee Grocer, Senior VP at the FMI (Food Marketing Institute and presently a consultant and columnist for Morning News Beat, an industry blog, reported that shortly before a break in a program at that convention, a social media marketing company introduced the selfies idea. In the break room, “people went nuts,” Sansolo reported, when they found small props such as glittery sunglasses, false mustaches “and the ubiquitous selfie stick.”

So many photos were taken, “and some were so creative, [the marketing company] on the fly had to add two more prizes to reward people’s efforts”.

This is a program that could so easily be introduced at the store level companies would be foolish to not give it a try. Do it a store or region at a time. Offer actual prizes – displays of which would encourage participation – or reasonable level store coupons. However you try it, do so. You WILL win. You will create a sense of excitement, a challenge, something fun, parallel to the shopping experience.

A store coupon redeemable on your next visit is a great thing – a tool to get the shopper back in your store. In today’s retailing environment, you need to employ every tool you can.

Whole Foods Bans False “Healthy” Claims Based on Presence of a Probiotic

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Whole Foods has told a number of its product producers to ‘cut it out’ – to quit advertising and promoting assorted junk foods as healthy simply because their makers have built a probiotic of one kind or another into them.

This is a brilliant more.

Too many producers are trying to climb on the “we’re healthy” band wagon – failing to realize the public is getting too smart for such ruses.

Adding a probiotic to something doesn’t, in and of itself, make the product “healthier”.

Probiotics are supposed to help clean “bad stuff” out of your colon and, in the process, have a positive impact on your health. But when an item otherwise falls into the “junk food” category – loaded with”added sugar” and extra calories – a probiotic is not, in the short or long term, going to defeat that.

First of all, probiotics are said to work over a long period of time, when consistently taken daily. The excess sugar and other unhealthy ingredients in health foods act on your system with hours, or days, at worst. Even if you ate the sweet thing, or whatever it is, daily, the probiotic’s effects would be overcome by the negative effects of the negative stuff.

A significant share of the public realizes that. Those who don’t, well, they can’t see that those producers are effectively lying to them.

And that’s wrong.

Ingredient-watching is a worthwhile activity. Practice it.

Beer Edges Out Wine as Bevvie of Choice

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A survey taken at the end of last month by The Harris Poll revealed beer to be a near favorite over wine among adult imbibers.

While many consumers will increasingly drink across all three major adult beverage categories (beer, wine and liquor/spirits), they still have their preferred type,” Danny Brager, SVP of Neilsen’s beverage alcohol practice, told Beverage Daily.com.

Nearly four in ten (38%) of U.S. adults who drink several times a year or more told the pollsters they choose beer as their go-to bevvie, and 31% named wine as their sippy selection. Those favoring as their first choice the liquor/spirits amounted to 28% of the 2,148 surveyed.

These numbers, by category have pretty much flipped in the last decade, with liquor/spirits losing ground, particularly, to wine.

Hardly surprisingly, wine is favored over any other kind of alcoholic beverage by women.

Bay Area Restaurants Can ‘Buy’ A Retest on a Failed Inspection

 

 

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Restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area are being given an opportunity, if they fail a health inspection, to buy a second chance to pass. The $191 fee doesn’t assure they’ll pass; it simply gives them the ability to fix their deficiencies and get re-tested.

A report in Restaurant Business said local health inspectors believe the program, which allows a re-inspect within 30 days of a failed inspection, will encourage operators to fix problems quickly, and encourage a dialog that will help them alter standard operating procedures at least partly responsible for the failing grade.

Got Wings?

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National Chicken Council

More than 110 million individuals in the U.S. are expected to tune in to next Sunday’s Super Bowl, a sports tradition that has, over the past half century, seen other-than-Bowl related activities creep to a crawl from coast to coast. One thing that is sure to speeding up, meanwhile, is viewers’ consumption of chicken wings.

The National Chicken Council (NCC) anticipates wing consumption will be up 6.5% from last year’s 1.3 billion wings to an astonishing 1.33 billion. That’s enough bone-bearing poultry pieces to stretch, if laid end to end, around the world nearly three times.

And collectively, they will weigh 166.25 million pounds – 32 times the weight of the NFL’s 32 football teams.

The National Chicken Council estimates that 75% of the wings consumed during the Super Bowl period – which actually kicks off with parties galore on the day before the event – will come from restaurants or foodservice outlets, bars and pizza places and 25% will be sourced from supermarkets and other food retailers. The latter’s wing sales spike during the week leading up to the game. With sales skewing toward households with three or more consumers.

Wherever you get them, says Tom Super, Senior Vice President of communication for the NCC, “that’s a lot of freaking wings!”

It’s Settled: The UK’s Best Chippy Is Kingfisher’s Fish & Chips in Devon

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Photo: National Fish and Chip Awards

After seven months of magnifying-glass scrutiny of everything from the fish and chips themselves to responsible sourcing practices, the observations of mystery shoppers, and more, the Kingfisher Fish and Chips shop in Devon has captured top honors at the UK’s National Fish & Chip Awards this week in London.

The judges said the overall enthusiasm of the owners, identified simply as Craig (Maw) and his “partner,” Nikki was a important factor in the decision to declare, as The Mirror newspaper put it, that they had “battered” their competition. It didn’t hurt that, beyond their menu staple (a number of species of them!), they offer whole lobster (at £15), chicken wings, racks of ribs, burgers, and a range of “barista” coffees.

The item photos on their web site make you want to hop on whatever mode of transport you need to get there and… go!

By the way, there’s a video link in the Mirror story recounting the history of fish and chips. It’s a couple of minutes long, and well worth your time.

“Smart” KFC in Beijing Is Not Quite Smart Enough

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No one is paying any attention to the “smart” machine at the left of the photo. (Amy Hawkins, The Guardian)

Even in China, where lack of privacy is pretty much taken for granted, KFC is running into some resistance its efforts to employ a machine able to recognize facial characteristics to pre-select food choices for customers before they have a chance to choose for themselves.

The Guardian’s Amy Hawkins “test-drove” the machine at a KFC in Beijing’s financial district. Though the store was busy, she was the only customer interested in ordering through the machine, which was created by Baidu, the search engine company often called “China’s Google.”

Maybe the machine is too closely oriented to Oriental features to be able to make sense of Amy’s Western ones. Maybe that’s why it was a decade off on her age. Maybe that had something to do with why she was offered the same thing – a crispy chicken hamburger – as the 20-something male who demonstrated the machine to her.

If you don’t like the machine’s recommendation, you can click through an assortment of other food options until you find what you want, they pay for your order through your smart phone and pick up your food at the counter.

The device, in what’s being billed as “China’s first smart restaurant,” is going to need to get a good deal smarter if KFC follows through on its plan to install them in the company’s 5,000-plus stores across China.

A press release from Baidu said that “a male customer in his early 20s” would be offered “a set meal of crispy chicken hamburger, roasted chicken wings and [a] coke”, while “a female customer in her 50s” would get a recommendation of “porridge and soybean milk for breakfast.” Fortunately, most Chinese would be too polite to bash the machine’s brain if it offered the “porridge and soybean milk” option to a lady in her 20’s!

Developments concerning food — from research to farm to factory to restaurants and home.