The year 2020 is just around the corner.  Last week in Chicago, I pulled together a diverse group of industry professionals and moderated a roundtable discussing some of the key issues we will all encounter in 2020.  Below is a summary of those issues.


Read On:

  • Alternative Channel Competition – We discussed the recent restaurant shakeout. We all agreed that there are too many seats and not enough posteriors in foodservice, plus suddenly, quality, convenient food is now readily available in competitive venues like C-Stores, Retail outlets (Vetri pizza restaurants in Urban Outfitters), movie theaters (AMC), etc.  In addition, we are all concerned that unless Casual Dining reinvents itself, it will disappear as a segment.


  • Situational Eating – Even though we discussed the eating habits of the different demographic groups (e.g., Millennials), we all agreed that eating occasions are being determined by time of day and location as evident with breakfast 24/7 and snacking. In addition, guests are becoming more knowledgeable about food (e.g., labeling/ingredients, sustainability, etc.) thanks to the Internet.  Consequently, those manufacturers and operators who refine their story telling will come out on top.


  • Big Data – The number one current day to day challenge and in 2020 is how best to utilize all the data, customer insights that are available.


What is your foodservice vision for 2020?

Terms and Conditions

Blink:                                                                                                                                       Remember*

*Take time to read the fine print.

The above is the closing line to an old post titled Speed, On SaleThe spine of the post was about the effective marketing tools companies use to lure consumers into ownership.  Beware of Amazon’s subscription program.

Read On:                                                                                                                                      Amazon’s subscription program, Subscribe & Save was first introduced in 2007.  It enables registered consumers to have their favorite consumable items like household staples (e.g., coffee, paper goods, etc.) refilled automatically and delivered on a regular basis.  Buried in the terms and conditions is that the program’s 5 percent discount is applied to the price of the item at the time that the order is place.  Anyone that is an Amazon regular, knows their prices can fluctuate over time, especially for those subscribers that have utilized the service for a couple of years.  An example, is Folgers Coffee.  In June a 30.5-ounce tub cost $6.64, but by late August it had risen to $12.50.  Today’s price is back to $6.64.  Another example is a 3-pack of Lysol disinfecting wipes which were $8.95 at its lowest before it peaked at $17.91; an 100% increase.

Bottom-line: Amazon prices are always shifting.  Whether you save money through their subscription depends when your order is placed.  Regardless, Subscribe & Save is a classic example of a company’s marketing ploy to lure consumers into ownership.

Beware: Always read the terms and conditions of any marketing promotion before signing on the dotted line.




Blink:                                                                                                                                                 This month, I have been watching a series about our recent Presidents.  The latest has been about President Reagan and Reaganomics.  Reminded me of an article I read recently about Sushinomics.

Read On                                                                                                                                                         In English, the cost of sushi (e.g., spicy tuna and California rolls) has become an informal way to measure the spending power of Millennials.  No longer an exotic treat, but more of a grab-and-go lunch.  Some economic forecasters believe that Sushinomics offer a snap shot into the socio-economic landscape of our economy, especially for working middle-class young adults.  The index was conceived in 2011.  New York and Los Angeles are the most expensive cities for sushi; Seattle exhibited the greatest cost increase – an annualized 5.3 percent.

Sushinomics, sounds like a fishy new economic indicator.



No Bad Ideas

Blink:                                                                                                                                           Currently my company is working on a new geo-location technology project.  The end result would be increased volume for the participants, as well as consumer data documenting purchasing behavior.  Everyone I talk to has expressed interest in participating in a test, but…………

Read On:                                                                                                                                        Jimmy, I am interested, but:

  • “I must warn you that the management company is really stodgy.”
  • “It is really tough to get our IT department to implement something new.”
  • “Thanks for reaching out. We’re all set for now.” 

Yes, unfortunately the red flags have surfaced on my project.  I attribute them to the “status quo bias,” the spine of my blog post dating back to June 2009: The Waiting Place People/organizations, tend not to change an established behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling.  Consequently status quo is less risky.  Except for those organizations that embrace disruptive innovation (e.g., Netflix).

Referencing my 2009 post:  Stay away from the status quo, experiment and enjoy the places you will go.

There are no bad ideas!    



Innovative Food Waste Solutions

Blink:                                                                                                                                          Food waste in America is a topic about which I am deeply concerned.  I last provided an update a little over a year ago.  Recently I read about several innovative food waste solutions that piqued my interest which I want to share with my readership today.

Read On:

  • Transfernation is a NYC-based online platform that connects corporations which operate registered events with social institutions that feed the hungry. Bottom-line: They are making donating food easy.  When an event is nearing conclusion, organizers can utilize Transfernation’s app to notifying potential volunteers who will transport and deliver leftover food to shelters and food banks.  Their process reduces food waste.
  • Another app is Food Cowboy (founded in Washington D.C.) that uses geo-location technology to redirect discarded food from dumpsters to hunger relief groups.
  • Cerplus operating out of the San Francisco Bay Area focuses in on surplus recovery to reduce food waste – growers and food purveyors who want to reduce their loses are connected with buyers looking to reduce their costs utilizing produce that would otherwise go to waste.

I have just scratched the surface detailing some of the innovative food waste solutions that are being funded by venture capitalists across the country.  Combined, we should witness a significant decline in the overall statistic that 40 percent of America’s food supply is being wasted.

What are you doing to reduce food waste in America?

In Between

Blink:                                                                                                                                              Personal goal: The desired result (end-point) that a person envisions, plans and commits to achieve.

 Read On:                                                                                                                                      “Everyone wants to have a goal: I gotta get to that goal. I gotta get to that goal. I gotta get to that goal.  Then you get to that goal, and then you gotta get to another goal.  But in between goals is a thing called life that has to be lived and enjoyed – and if you don’t, you’re a fool!”  – Sid Caesar (Comedian)

 Are you ready to take some timeout this summer to leave your goals at home, unplug and enjoy life!

Gamification – An Update

Blink:                                                                                                                                              I will be presenting a program at the National Restaurant Show Sunday with my friend Lisa Eberhart, world class dietician from NCSU – Well Played: Gamifying Health & Wellness.  Consequently, I had to conduct some research, thus learned some new things about gamification, a topic I am passionate about.

Read On:                                                                                                                                        I first posted about gamification five years ago, Gamification USA.  The term gamification was first coined by Gabe Zichermann, the world’s foremost expert, speaker and author of several books dating back to 2010.  Abe’s simple definition: “Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game dynamics to engage audiences and solve problems.” 

 Over the years, I have witnessed gamification utilized in foodservice in the form of loyalty programs (Starbucks), pizza dough scavenger hunts (CPK), a sandwich game (Schlotzky’s Deli – Stackin’ the Original), etc.  Lisa Eberhart, my co-presenter at the National Restaurant Show, will share with the audience how she is utilizing several games with her student guests at North Carolina State University to educate and hopefully change their behavior.  Specifically, NCSU’s games are designed to encourage students to follow a daily health and wellness regime.

Gamification is definitely a clever/fun way to encourage behavioral change.  One great example I read while preparing for my speech was a news release about former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Sandra Day O’Connor.  After retiring, she started iCivics, a non-profit civics education group that designs free online games (e.g., animated) enabling middle school students to better understand how different branches of government and the Constitution work.  Her latest digital game which has been played by more than 250,000 students is called Win the White House.  Given the current political climate of our country, I think I will get online tonight and play Justice O’Connor’s new game.


Shameless Self Promotion: Please feel free to join Lisa and me Sunday 5/22: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Room: S402a at the National Restaurant Show to learn more about gamification.