As a restaurateur, you either give your customers what they want or you could go out of business.

Where sustainability is concerned, you can leverage your customers’ opinions and attitudes to better understand what environmental efforts you should undertake, which could generate more sales.

A short case study from our neighbors to the North is helpful here.

Tips from a Canadian success story

In Canada, selling root beer and burgers is good business. With 845 locations, A&W Food Services of Canada, Inc. has a successful business model and is committed to reducing its environmental footprint. When they wondered where to begin their eco-efforts, they asked their customers.

The company crafted an environmental strategy focused on waste diversion, based on consumer market analysis and feedback.

“The majority of our sustainability initiatives are guest-led,” said Tyler Pronyk, director of distribution, equipment and packaging.

“We became the first national QSR chain to exclusively serve beef raised without the use of hormones and steroids, and that was sparked by consumer demand. (read more…)

As today’s consumers become increasingly digitized and mobile, it’s no secret that food retailers have some ground to make up when it comes to connecting with shoppers on their smartphones, tablets and other devices. However, retailers that deal in the business of something as traditional as groceries face the challenge of finding a balance between reaching out to shoppers who prefer the more traditional forms of communication like paper circulars and those who are looking to get all they can out of retailers’ mobile applications.

At traditional supermarket retailer Kroger, the digital business team has been working to catch up to today’s consumers, while still leaving some of the older forms of communication in place, the retailer’s Vice President of Digital Business Matt Thompson told an audience at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show earlier this week.

“When you start to peel back the layers, customers’ needs are very different,” he said. (read more…)

If you’re getting ready to clean your kitchen, you’re probably ready to break out the bottle of brightly covered liquid stored in the utility area.

Do you ever wonder exactly what’s in that bottle? If it’s an eco-friendly cleaner, the package, which usually has a bunch of logos on it and friendly looking bunnies and leaves, typically claims: “This cleaner is greener, safer for the environment, or is concentrated to use less packaging.” It’s an example of what is called “environmentally responsible chemistry,” but what does that mean anyway? A key source of confusion is that there is no real or widely accepted definition of the term “green”.

In the world of “green cleaners,” there are dozens of confusing environmental labels that may pair sustainability with safety. That’s why it’s important you do your homework and make sure the claims are accurate. With a little information, you can cut through the clutter and find the right cleaning products for your business. (read more…)

It wasn’t too long ago when some supermarkets began ditching their loyalty cards altogether. Albertsons stores, for example, announced “card free savings” in 2013, notifying customers they no longer need the company’s Preferred Card to receive sale prices on items. Other grocery chains have instead adapted loyalty programs with improved mobile technology and customized rewards options.

Customers still want to save money when they buy groceries. And, they like the idea of getting special treatment for their loyalty to a company. In fact, loyalty card membership has increased by 26% in two years, from 2.6 billion total U.S. loyalty program members in 2012 to 3.3 billion in 2014, according to a COLLOQUY report, Customer Loyalty in 2015 & Beyond.

Too often, however, loyalty card memberships have become a burden rather than a perk. Most customers realize supermarkets use the loyalty programs to build a database of consumer purchase information. And, they’re willing to part with some degree of personal information to become a member, but what’s in it for them? (read more…)

Consumers continue to reshape the food and beverage marketplace driven by desires for higher quality life experiences. Many of these desires translate in to a search for balance and energy when it comes to health and wellness and a curiosity for new food and beverage experiences with a “simpler,” cleaner ingredient profile. Here are four examples of trends from 2015 that will exert considerable influence in the year ahead on both the food industry and food culture itself.

The importance of strategizing “simple” in the food and beverage market place. The “simple” labeling trend is overtaking “natural” as large companies wish to avoid lawsuits provoked within a non-regulated sector as well as to meet consumer demand for cleaner ingredient lists. To most, though, what CPG companies mark as “simple” or “simply” is better understood as the natural foods sector. We call it the new premium marketplace because we know that brands commanding the highest price premiums are generally younger, entrepreneurial brands whose default assumption is a target consumer who wants minimally processed foods and beverages, which the natural and organic sector has relentlessly pushed through the market in the past two decades. (read more…)