Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sushi & Condoms “To Go”

Entrepreneurial adage: One door closes, another door opens.  How true!  Here in Philadelphia on the Northeast corner of Broad and Chestnut streets, Borders closed their doors; Walgreens just stepped in with a super store.  Smart move given the forecast for food purchased at retailers for at-home consumption through 2022. 

Read On:
Last week I made my first visit to the new Walgreens.  When entering the store positioned by the door is a refrigerated island merchandising “grab & go” sandwiches, salads, wraps, sushi, fruit cups, bags of produce, boxes of strawberries/blueberries, healthy/unhealthy snacks, etc.  There were additional foods in the back of the store on floor one, as well as on the second floor complete with seating.  Impressive, but if you really want to be knocked off your feet, check out their super store at 151 N. State St. in Chicago complete with a juice bar, a selection of more than 700 wines, artisan cheeses and an assortment of specialty meats. 

The NPD Group forecasts that prepared food purchased at retailers for at-home consumption will increase by 10 percent over the next decade.  That does not bode well for restaurants which they project will grow at 4 percent.  Each demographic group according to NPD has a different set of needs; consumers 35 years and older are more likely to buy prepared foods from retail compared to consumers 18-24 who prefer snacks or seniors (+65) who look for lunch items.  Pizza, chicken, macaroni & cheese and sandwiches continue to be popular items.  

It is time for restaurants to step up their game.  Candidly it might be too late to pull consumers out of their homes and back into restaurants since everyone is opting for their in-home technology cocoons (e.g., gaming, social networking, movie streaming, etc.).  One area of growth will be takeout and delivery thanks to technology.  Consumers now have more options to order and pay via their smartphones when it comes to pickup “grab & go” or delivery.  However, restaurants will still be challenged to deliver quality food in a speedy fashion compared to what a Walgreens superstore offers. 

Restaurant Marketing Opportunity: Leverage online order data and proactively sell/market to consumers based on their order patterns. Otherwise, restaurateurs will continue to lose their fair share of stomach to consumers that stop at retailers like Walgreens on their way home to conveniently shop for Sushi and Condoms “To Go.”  



  1. Jimmy,
    Great observation on the 'to go' trend. Why not offer food and life's necessities? Walgreens nailed it...One stop shopping at its finest. For restaurants - I see an opportunity to offer more than one meal occasion at a time to consumers - come in for breakfast and we will package up a lunch or dinner for you to eat the office or at home. Jan P

  2. Just last week at an evening event I opted to go to Wawa for some "grab and go" rather than eat the overpriced hotel restaurant. There were only 2 things in the store I could actually have on my gluten, diary, soy-free diet: Potato chips and hard boiled eggs. Not a great dinner, but it was a better choice than spending $14 on a dinner salad that probably cost $3 to make, if that. If restaurants want to survive, there has to be a great reason to pay more for the food. Even though I love to go out to dinner with my husband, and rarely do, there is almost always buyers remorse when the check comes and we realize how much we just paid to eat food we could have prepared just as well at home.

  3. Thanks for opening up this brave new world of cocoon dining. I might suggest an app targeted for restaurants that want a piece of this dwindling pie: send competitive offers for those that have shopped at the local prepared food retailer (based on GPS coordinates /time / frequency) and change their behavior by better food and competitive prices. It could be gamified too! Requiring an extrinsic reward (I smell wine!).


  4. Two things strike me. First, the ever-continual amoeba-like ebb and flow of segmentation. Walmart, Walgreens, ... WaWa...

    Second, customer service levels are the key result for effective category ownership. Restaurants won't go anywhere soon, and will figure out their new niche.