Definition and Examples of a Grocerant

Customers choosing food from display at supermarket
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So what is a Grocerant? Steven Johnson, the Grocerant Guru says this: "Grocerant means any retail food item that is ​ready-2-eat or ready to heat. Traditionally these items can be found in grocery stores in the deli/lifestyle section, C-stores in the prepared food area and prepackaged, ready to eat items and in restaurants under the To-go, takeout or take away or delivery section of the menu or on the website."

When I say retailer, it is broadly defining supermarkets, mass drug merchants, C-Stores (convenience stores) and fast food or fast casual restaurants.

What Drives the Grocerant Trend

It's 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner. 81% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality ready to eat foods and ready to heat meals. Today's time-starved consumer wants to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.

Examples of Grocerants

  • Restaurant examples are McDonalds, Pret A Manger, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy's, and Starbucks, each having a fresh ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat food menu. You may not think of Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee, and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants. In the Casual Dining sector, Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a 2nd home for free in their Classic Pastas menu section.
  • Convenience Store examples are 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages.
  • Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Central Market, Safeway, and Kroger…all sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches, and most offer sushi and beverages.

The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges.

Presentation of the ready to eat or ready to heat food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great… let's call this "food for now". Retailers are primarily selling "food for later" or take-out and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of ready-2-eat meals and snacks begin to change.

Why is it so hard to package food to go? In the Hot food section of the grocery store, the food in most cases does not look appealing so our expectations drop when we get it for Take-Away. In convenience stores, like WAWA, the ready to eat food looks great in the to-go containers. Why? Because WaWa puts the entire package together. They exert more control on the look and feel of "food for later."

Around the world, we are now seeing sections in department's stores and kiosk in malls in Europe and Asia and airports around the world. The items can range from entrees to side items and deserts. Some examples of items range from fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to liver and onions, pizza, hot dogs, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads pie, cake and any single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.

In summary, a Grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores aimed at the time-starved consumer with ready eat or ready to heat food components that can be bundled into a meal.

Information provided here is courtesy of Steven A. Johnson.

Examples:

Wegmans Market Café is an early pioneer of the Grocerant concept.