It’s always good that Foodie Friday follows my shopping day, which is Thursday (gotta get that senior discount – Thursday only!). If you aren’t the primary shopper in your house and you haven’t been to a grocery store lately, you probably haven’t noticed that the shelves are less-full than usual. It’s not just the meat case (you’ve probably heard about the issues with meatpacking plants during the pandemic) or the toilet paper aisles that are on the empty side either. I’ve noticed lots of gaps.
It turns out that while it’s due to the current crisis, it might not be for the reasons you think. As CNN reported:
It’s also because major food companies — the ones that make our cookies, chips, and canned soups — have been paring down their product offerings. When stay-at-home orders went into effect this spring, Mondelez, General Mills, PepsiCo, J.M. Smucker, Campbell, Coca-Cola, and others saw a massive spike in demand for some products. To help meet that increase, they sped up production lines on their most popular items -— and that meant cutting back on more fringe offerings. That translates to fewer varieties of Jif peanut butter, Oreo cookies, and Frito-Lay chips at the store.
In other words, they reverted to the Pareto Principle and focused on the items that brought them the most revenue and profits and didn’t worry much about line extensions or the varieties that filled the shelves but not the corporate pockets, at least not as much as the main lines do.
Restaurants are doing much the same thing. Many places have trimmed their menus way back to focus on the most popular and profitable items. For example, Dave & Buster’s reduced its 40-item menu to 15 offerings and McDonald’s has cut salads, bagels, yogurt parfaits, and all-day breakfast during the crisis. IHOP used to have a 12-page menu. Now it’s giving guests a 2-page, disposable menu. This should improve economies of scale, simplify ordering supplies, make it easier on the staff, etc.
Less can be more and the exercise that these businesses have conducted to deal with a crisis is something that your business might consider as well. What services are you providing that are less attractive or less profitable? Is your product line overextended? Is it better to focus on the more profitable sectors even if it costs you a few customers? Something to think about this weekend!
Foodie Friday! Unless you grew up in the New York area, you probably have no idea what an egg cream is. I suspect you might even have to be of a certain age to know. No, it has nothing to do with those eggs Cadbury sells. It’s a beverage, one that was a real treat when I was a kid. Here’s the thing: it contains neither eggs nor cream.
An egg cream is basically a glass of chocolate milk with some carbonation added via seltzer. Of course, a REAL egg cream is made only with Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, whole milk, and a good spritz out of a blue seltzer bottle to froth the whole thing properly. Good luck finding one of those bottles any more!
The egg cream actually has its own day – March 15. Its origins are shrouded in mystery and it seems as if every soda jerk in NYC had his or her own closely-guarded recipe (proportion is everything!). The most interesting thing about it to most people is that it’s not at all what one would think it is, which leads to our business point today.
One thing that’s essential to any successful business (or businessperson) is authenticity. Their purpose is clear, they operate under a set of values that everyone involved knows and adheres to, and they have a defined personality. You can call it a brand image but I think it goes deeper than that. Apple, Disney, and others are great examples of this. As Dennis Green famously said, “they are who we thought they were.” Unlike the egg cream, the image you have about them is probably spot on to reality.
None of us can afford to be egg creams. We need to be clear about our personal and business brands. We need to project an image that rings true. I hope that makes sense. Now if I could only find a way to get a full, traditional seltzer bottle here from NYC without spending $100!
This Foodie Friday, I’d like you to imagine that you went to bed after a lot of reveling this last New Year’s Eve and have just woken up. In any other year, you might be mildly surprised as to what’s gone on for the first 5 months of the year. 2020? You wouldn’t recognize it.
The pandemic has changed many things and people’s relationship with food is one of them. More than 80% of consumers say the coronavirus pandemic has changed their food habits, driving them to cook, eat, shop, and think about food differently, according to the annual Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council. Obviously, with most restaurants closed, many more people are cooking at home. About 60% of people, in fact. But 85% of people say they’re doing something differently, ranging from snacking more to washing produce more often.
They’re also changing what they’re eating. Generally, people are trying to eat more healthy although both KFC and Pizza Hut saw sales soar into the double-digits last month as consumers stayed home and ate more chicken and delivered pizza. Still, cooking more at home tends to be a little bit more healthy than the choices that we might make when eating out. That’s probably why the stuff we cook at home doesn’t taste as good as restaurant food! That said, three out of five people said they consider how healthy items are. And compared to 10 years ago, more than half said the healthiness of food makes more of a difference to them now.
Why am I bringing all of this up? I guess it’s just another reminder that the world we all knew has changed significantly but therein lies opportunity. The reason that we older folks tend not to be targeted by much marketing is that there’s an assumption that our buying habits are locked in stone. A lot more money is spent going after younger consumers whose shopping habits may be more malleable. I’d suggest to you that at this point everyone is rethinking not just how they buy food and eat but also how they spend their money on other things. People who used to travel a lot may find they’re not doing that now. Do those dollars go to home improvement or a shiny new entertainment center?
Habits are changing. You need to be changing with them if you want your business to continue to thrive.