Do your street tacos have street cred? As consumers spend more time in supermarkets and increasingly seek in-store meal solutions, retailers can enhance their credibility, reputation and, ultimately, profitability by extending their store brand or creating a new sub-brand for their foodservice-at-retail programs.
That’s a concept espoused by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president and founder of Shikatani Lacroix Design Inc., a Toronto-based consulting firm. In a recent article published on his company’s website, Lacroix suggested that stores who already have a level of food credibility among consumers, in terms of quality and diversity of offerings, can leverage that by branding their foodservice area in creative ways.
One option, according to Lacroix, is to team up with an established restaurant, franchise or foodservice brand that can deliver on the process and service, which can be unfamiliar to grocery operators. Several retailers have done that, whether it’s Walmart and McDonald’s, Lowe’s and Subway or other examples, he says.
Another option is to brand a grocer’s foodservice area as an extension of the store’s name and brand. When done with the support of the organization and with the logistics required to properly and satisfactorily deliver meals and snacks to shoppers, this kind of initiative can set a store apart in a competitive climate.
Lacroix cites the Calgary Co-Op in Canada, which already had a culture rooted in a superior shopping and service experience and an extensive meal replacement program and coffee program. “Launching their Cafe to Go program was a natural extension of the brand,” he observes.
Ultimately, he says, honing a grocer’s own foodservice brand hinges on meeting shopper needs at the right time and place. “For any type of foodservice brand to succeed, it must win at creating relevancy as part of lunch and dinner dayparts, both highly contested opportunities for food operators,” Lacroix declares in his article.
The brand success also depends on the nuts and bolts. “Grocers need to ensure the right infrastructure and staffing model with appropriate training form an integral part of the brand experience—not an easy cultural fit with an industry where margins are razor fine. In addition, it’s important the grocers consider how scalable the in-store food service offering can be across multiple store locations,” he points out.