The “fast food” formula for growing revenues through promotional pricing of fries, burgers, tacos and sugary soda is in crisis. Sales are not going up and margins are eroding. This revenue crisis is being driven by the Millennial Generation and their moms, Concerned Caregivers, who are questioning what to buy and who to buy from. Their combined $9 trillion of annual buying power is reshaping the food service industry.
In search of the business opportunity in this mega-trend I conducted three years of interviews with restauranteurs, caterers, bakers and food industry leaders who were growing sales and profits. Some of those interviewed were from large corporations. Many were local entrepreneurs. The interview focus was upon their “secret sauce” for making money. Their answers are best practices that are proven to win customers and save money.
Common among those interviewed was a focus upon human and environmental health. Their commitment went beyond expanding their menus to include lower calorie options. Their businesses and products were structured to be solutions sought by the Millennial Generation and moms. By doing so they won a level of authenticity with these customers (and work associates) that competitor advertising or dollar value promotions could not overcome.
This level of authenticity also allowed these businesses to price their foods higher than competing dollar price promotions and still win a growing number of customers. Their authenticity has attracted a core group of loyal customers which are a food service company’s most profitable customers. The authenticity of their food has won them new customers attracted by the social media messages and ratings posted by customers.
These food service businesses are also winning profit margin advantages. Yes, their food often costs more. But this cost disadvantage is mitigated by their focus upon reducing costs tied to emissions and waste. They compost because it is green but what they have found is that composting reduces the cost of waste disposal and pest control. They install LED lights because they use less energy. But the financial results are reduced electricity costs including less A/C use because LED lights generate little heat. And LED lights reduce costs because they typically have a five year failure horizon. LED lighting is also proving to grow sales because dining spaces are more attractive.
On May 14, 2013 I will be conducting two coaching sessions hosted by SDG&E to profile my research findings. I will also be working with attendees to develop their project for implementing at least one of the profiled best practices within the next 90 days. Below is the link to sign up: click on “Seminars Calendar and Registration, then find May 14-there are morning and afternoon sessions-click on the time you want and register to attend:
If you are unable to attend then please revisit Earth 2017 in the coming weeks as I will begin posting case studies profiling selected food service industry interviews on pricing, marketing, branding and operational best practices that make money by being green.
Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017