Triple Pundit: Is The Consumer’s Search For Authenticity Driving A Food Sales Crisis?

Triple Pundit: Is The Consumer’s Search For Authenticity Driving A Food Sales Crisis?

Can fast food restaurants diversify their menus without confusing customers and wasting produce?

Triple Pundit
  • 21 august 2013

Food sales are in a crisis. Chain restaurants’ growth formula of selling hamburgers, fries and soda at promotional prices has hit a profitability wall. Promotional pricing continues to spike sales but at the cost of eroded profit margins.

Another part of the chain restaurants’ revenue crisis is that they are having limited success selling healthier food. McDonald’s points to the successful launch of “Premium McWraps” as causing a slight uptick in same store sales. However, McDonald’s eliminated Chicken Selects and Fruit & Walnut Salads due to poor sales results. Industry-wide, research by the Hudson Institute found an increase in sales of low calorie menu items at chain restaurants during the same five year time period that higher calorie menu items suffered decreased sales. But the sales growth in healthier foods is not sufficient to compensate for lower margins created from selling higher calorie items at promotional prices.

Healthier chain restaurants are industry’s revenue-growth leaders

Chipotle and Panera Bread are two national chains that have figured out how to achieve sustained sales growth by convincing customers that their food is healthier and that their businesses are operated in a more sustainable manner. Chipotle points to the sourcing of half of their beans from organic farms and their implementation of a buy local plan as two examples of their growing adoption of sustainable best practices. This commitment has successfully connected with the millennial generation most especially through Chipotle’s award-winning short movie called “Back To The Start” that has over 7 million YouTube views. This success connecting with the millennial generation has enabled Chipotle to triple sales since 2006. One Chipotle executive summarizes their sales growth strategy as “Good Food Wins!

Panera Bread Company has grown to over 1,600 locations and $2.1 billion in annual sales by marketing themselves as having shared values with Concerned Caregivers. Their My Panera customer loyalty program has won over 13 million members by successfully connecting to their customer’s interests in good food and socially conscious behaviors. Examples of how Panera connects with their Concerned Caregiver clients include their “Community Breadbox” that gives cash donations to local charities and the “Day-end dough-nation” program that distributes unsold bakery items to local food banks.

Food industry’s challenge: Aligning value with values

The consumers search for “in me, on me and around me” solutions has made brand and product authenticity the “little black dress” that every company must wear. Yet, knowing that and doing that is a challenge facing the restaurant and food service industry. To date, just adding healthier food to a menu built on sugar, salt, fats and chemicals has produced more consumer confusion and mistrust than sales.

The consumer search for authenticity also includes their desire to buy from genuine people that can articulate values that align with their own. Local businesses are now realizing what a competitive advantage this offers to them compared to food chains with financial pressures that often result in their managers and work associates being viewed as a commodity cost that needs to be minimized.

Finally, consumers are demanding ingredient and sourcing transparency. Their emerging awareness of how restaurant meals are connected to their weight gain and growing health concerns are driving them to avoid specific restaurant chains or even restaurant dining. The ultimate revenue challenge for the food industry is that they now have to slash price (and profit margins) to sell more industrial foods that have lost their values-connection with consumers. The industry’s struggle to align value with values has effectively placed a lid on their revenue growth.

Three keys to authenticity and revenue success: Blue Heron Catering

Restaurants and food service companies that are authentic in the eyes of the consumer are being rewarded with exciting revenue growth plus attractive profitability. Blue Heron Catering is one such company. Under the leadership of owner Debbie Pfisterer, the company is achieving 300 percent revenue growth. Blue Heron Catering’s commitment to authenticity has won them major corporate customers that include Chevron and Hewlett Packard. The keys to Blue Heron Catering’s authenticity and revenue success are:

  • An unwavering commitment to being green. As Debbie defines it, “It is who we are!” This commitment is so strong that even when a client does something unsustainable like buying plastic helium balloons, Debbie will find a sustainable recycling or repurposing solution, even if it has to come out of her profits.
  • A green supply chain. As Debbie explains, it would be a lot easier and cheaper to order from a wholesale distributor. What she offers her clients is a green supply chain that has taken years to develop and nurture. This green supply chain is now core to her business’s authenticity and a competitive advantage that cannot be quickly duplicated by competitors.
  • Transparency. There are no secrets between Debbie and her clients. In fact, she goes the extra mile to educate her clients on sustainability. For example, she explains how organic food can, in fact, be sprayed with pesticides. She takes the time to educate her perspective clients on how she only sources food that is fresh, local and pesticide-free. A client that buys from Blue Heron Catering knows what they are buying and that Debbie is insuring it is sourced sustainably.

Continue reading on Triple Pundit

Original article by Bill Roth. Originally published by Triple Pundit, republished with kind permission.



PSFK's Workplace Vision: Leave The Busywork To The Bots

Syndicated Today

In Popular Games, The Recurring Theme Is Exploration

The much-hyped sci-fi sandbox game proved to be as massive as expected, while Pokémon Go continued to prove inescapable

Design Today

The Best In Wearable Tech From The Rio Olympics

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best gadgets and devices used to track performance


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Advertising Today

This Cookbook Is Inspired By Brad Pitt’s On-Screen Eating Habits

Learn how to whip up meals and snacks pulled straight from the actor's fictional universe

USA Today

Tour The US National Parks From The Comfort Of Your Home

Google's new 360-degree video feature lets people take a trip to Alaska, Utah or Hawaii and see these marvels of nature up close


Dan Barasch

Nonprofit Organization Management

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

VR Used To Train For Active Shooter Preparedness

SurviVR is an immersive environment to teach civilians how to protect themselves in dangerous situations

Cities Today

Redesigned London Tube Map Aims To Get People Walking

The updated display illustrates approximately how many steps it takes to walk between stations for a healthier commute

Experiential Marketing Today

Nike Creates An Immersive Pop-Up Fitness Experience In London

The Unlimited You space gave athletes a chance to push their limits farther than ever before


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs Today

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Automotive Today

Uber Now Lets Commuters Pay With Pretax Dollars

The prepaid cards are a partnership with WageWorks, letting uberPool users save up to 40% on their trip

Home Today

Philips Hue Adds Motion Sensor To Control Lights Automatically

The wireless device lets users interact with their environment without needing to press a switch

Home Today

Beacon Device Takes The Pain Out Of Navigating A New Airbnb

Ping provides new guests with a guided tour of the house or apartment through a simple tap of their phone

Arts & Culture Today

Shelf Makes Its Contents Appear To Hover In Midair

The design uses metal tubes to create an optical illusion when viewed from the front

Arts & Culture Today

Interactive Ceiling Responds To People Walking Underneath

The installation features built-in sensors that cause the undulating surface to morph and react to passersby


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Fashion Today

Declutter And Recycle All Of Your Unwanted Stuff

A new app will help catalogue your possessions and give them away as donations when you no longer want them

Advertising Today

Tokyo Concept Store Disguised As A Parking Garage

The retail and cafe project is designed as a hidden treasure for urban explorers

No search results found.