I can tell you for sure that 2-day old pizza dough is better than 1-day old, which is way better than fresh dough. It’s definitely crispier, tastier and more ‘pizzarey’. I can’t speak for 3-day old, but 2-day is the bomb according to Tony, my pizza coach at Italian grocery specialist La Bella Italia. This was a key ‘learning’ I took out of my first foray into grocernaut dining in Petone.
It may be an odd term, but it seems that groceraunts are the new big thing in the US. They are a hybrid between grocery store and a restaurant. Proper, restaurant quality dining in a grocery store. According to a recent NPD report, since 2008 groceraunts have grown by 30% and provided 2.4 billion food service visits. This equates to an incredible US$10 billion in revenue.
The ones driving growth in groceraunts have been young millennials. It seems that the appeal of groceraunts to them is a mix between the deliciousness of restaurant quality food, individually catered menu diversity, a relatively informal social environment and convenient locations. By providing alcohol, they also offer a more adult offering than quick service restaurants. In other words, they are a kind of mall food court that serves restaurant quality food and a grown-up experience.
Another dimension that makes this idea appealing is the high proportion of people who by 4pm don’t know what they are going to have for dinner (81% in the US, and probably a similarly high number in NZ). The immediacy of great food without fuss or compromise is a sitter for busy people wanting smart solutions. And for the retailer it is a way to bring more people into the store during evening times.
The groceraunt concept is not just an in-store experience. It extends easily into takeaway prepared meals and home delivery.
There are some great examples of groceraunts in the US.
Whole Foods, offers an amazing in-store dining experience. Complementing their delectable and immersive food experience they provide the opportunity to dine in-store from a range of food types. They also use contemporary food ordering technology to keep the service fast and efficient.
Market Grille is an in-store dining brand within the Hy-Vee chain of supermarkets. They have consciously targeted the millennial customer with a range of 20 different craft beers and exotic whiskeys.
Mariano’s supermarkets provide a wide range of BBQ-based foods, pizzas, sushi, seafood and bakery items across the day. An on-site dietician is available for food consulting for the healthy-minded
For supermarkets, the benefits of a groceraunt are many. They provide a great opportunity to attract new customers, they add value for existing customers, they are a new high-margin revenue opportunity, they help raise the food quality image and they provide a strong statement of innovation.
Getting it right
Like anything, there are tricks to getting a new concept like groceraunts right.
A mind shift
Probably the most significant success factor is for retailers to make the leap from providing ‘food for later’, where transportability and protection are key drivers, to providing ‘food for now’. This means a change in food presentation and packaging approach to feel like a restaurant in terms of turning on all the sensory cues and creating a desire for immediate consumption.
Make it a great dining experience
All great restaurants create great dining experiences with ambience, service and food values. This is also essential for groceraunts to master, and it is not the natural game of supermarkets, which tend to be designed for convenience, flow and space efficiency rather than lingering indulgence.
Make it social
A lot of the success of groceraunts has been driven by young people graduating from mall food courts. They want places to hang out, to be together and to share experiences.
Value is a fluid but vital ingredient. The question that needs to be reconciled is why dine at the supermarket when there is so much choice elsewhere? Value, for groceraunts can be established in different ways. It might be the convenience of the location, the informal welcome of the ambience, meal price-points or unique food options.
Never use the word ‘groceraunt’
‘Groceraunt’ is a made-up word used to describe a new concept. It may have helped with comprehension but it has been difficult to write with. My spell-check doesn’t want a bar of it, and it certainly doesn’t sound like anywhere you would want to eat.
And when it comes to pizza toppings, the Italians quite rightly believe that ‘less is more’. A pizza is not, and should never be confused with, a smorgasbord.