Whether you’re working in the food retail, restaurant or consumer packaged goods industry, customization and personalization are likely terms you’ve heard before. In fact, personalization has become a hot topic across many industries, and to achieve personalization, companies must first think about targeting different consumer segments.

For retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to really achieve consumer segmentation, it’s all about building data into “segments of one,” according to Jed Alpert, vice president of marketing for 1010data. To do this, companies need to collect as much data as possible, which is becoming easier thanks to today’s technology. Once that data is captured, it can be used to define customers as individual segments.

“Build an individual model, an individual forecast for every single one of your customers,” Alpert said. “All of that data can be used to build a complete profile of that person, and ultimately get down to that segment of one.”

Defining consumers in this way and delivering one-to-one marketing not only gives companies insights into how consumers are going to interact with their own businesses, but it can also help them understand how consumers interact with competitors and businesses outside their industry, according to Alpert. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by TraceGains.

Karen Klansek has an expression she likes to use when it comes to manpower versus automation in her role as manager of supply chain quality assurance at Pinnacle Foods: “For so long as we require humans to do the work, we will manage humanity.”

Despite the efficiencies that automation and technology bring, Klansek says she never loses sight of the fact that human nature plays an important role in her behind-the-scenes world. Strong relationships with others, both inside and outside the company, create constructive business solutions, she says.

Klansek works in the dynamic, multifaceted world of food safety and quality assurance, where brand reputations, corporate success — and sometimes human health — hang in the balance. Specifically, she focuses on the food safety and quality of the ingredients Pinnacle sources from its suppliers.

Parsippany, N.J.-based Pinnacle Foods is the manufacturer of a growing array of brands, including Duncan Hines, Aunt Jemima and Birds Eye. (read more…)

On one of too-many-to-count recent cross country flights, I had the pleasure of reading entrepreneur/venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s great new book “Zero to One“. Among many topics of interest, I found his discussion of “path dependence” interesting and important for the restaurant industry to consider. Path dependence refers to the economic concept that our set of decisions in current time may be constrained by the decisions that we’ve made in the past. In other words, we’re following a pre-determined path that makes it impossible or at least difficult to take the proverbial less-beaten path. In reading Thiel’s discussion of path dependence, I thought about the problem of path dependence in the restaurant industry.

The decisions facing restaurant executives today are limited by decisions of the past. Take the area in which my company Olo.com works the most: technology. I’ve yet to meet a restaurant IT executive who is thrilled with the technology landscape that he/she has inherited from his/her predecessor. (read more…)

At FMI MidWinter last week in Miami, attendees received a profound message — we are reaching the end of an era in retailing that is fundamentally changing how consumers shop, when they shop and why they shop. Traditional marketing methods have evolved to maximize the capabilities of social media and technology, and consumers are now more educated about the products they consider and buy, as well as where they buy it from.

In a session entitled, “The New Consumer: a 360 Degree View”, Doug Stephens, author of “The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism,” discussed the characteristics, motivations and behaviors of shoppers today along with the significant impact technology and e-commerce are having on the retail industry.

According to data shared by Stephens, e-commerce totaled $1.2 trillion dollars worldwide in 2013, representing a 20% year-on-year growth rate, and is estimated to account for 30% of all retail spending by 2025. (read more…)

To hear Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President, Research & Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association, speak is to be optimistic about the future of the restaurant industry. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Riehle speak at the Restaurant Innovation Summit in Atlanta. He showed the attendees charts that presented American eating habits and the greater and greater shift toward “food away from home” rather than “food at home” — in other words, getting food from restaurants rather than getting food at grocery stores.

In fact, for the first time, the restaurant industry and grocery industry in the U.S. are nearly neck and neck, each with about $700B in annual sales (each approximately 14% of the $5T retail industry). In years past, the grocery industry far outpaced the restaurant industry. But restaurants have been making strong progress and have pulled even. If one extends the trendline into the future, it is clear that restaurants will become the majority recipient of what Riehle refers to as “the food dollar.”

This shouldn’t be terribly surprising to us. (read more…)