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Foodservice Brands Securing Loyalty on College Campuses

25 Nov

Millennial and Gen Z customers are targeted demographics in the foodservice industry. They are all anyone in the foodservice can talk about and who can blame them. Brands want customers who will continue to buy from them, not once or twice, but for as long as the customer lives.

Although there is no exact start and end age for Millennials, most can agree that it’s somewhere between the ages of 20 and 35. One thing that experts can agree on is the fact that this demographic is, and will continue to direct food trends for quick-service brands, which means, new product development and new promotional strategies.

Some fast-food operators sit back and let Millennial and Gen Z customers find their product through marketing. Meanwhile, others see it as an opportunity and are being more aggressive, establishing locations in the center of college campuses to secure brand affinity amongst students.

For the companies that take the initiative to position themselves in college and universities, it gives them the advantage of increasing their brand awareness in front of thousands of individuals who are looking to experience new things.

For example, Moe’s Southwest Grill has 17 operating college-campus locations in the US. Positioning their restaurants on these campuses allows their brand to be exposed by thousands of potential customers between the ages of 18-21. As these customers go back home or move to other areas, hopefully that following will continue.

The connection is not only strategic but also emotional. Customers associate brands with personal experiences and that’s what college is about. Having a place on campus and becoming a notable part of your customer’s life builds a strong connection with them.

“I know with my college experience, there were a couple food and beverage places that are near and dear to my heart because of my experience in college,” says Charles Watson, vice president of franchise development for Tropical Smoothie Café, which has six college locations. “The ability to get a lot of brand affinity by being on the campus and being in that special part of someone’s life.”

In real-estate, there is a coined phrase: “location, location, location.” CHD Expert can deliver the most up-to-date location information to help restaurants determined the right college or university. With the most accurate foodservice data on over 5,000 colleges and universities in the US, CHD Expert can provide details and counts around schools in a specific area, enrollment size, ownership type (public/private), and contact details.

Whether you’re a business that wants data on all private colleges with less than 10,000 students in a 25-mile radius or a public universities with over 20,000 students in a 50-mile radius, CHD Expert can provide you with that data. CHD Expert can even break down the campus area to provide you with information as to where competitors are located and the type of cuisine offered.

If a quick-service restaurant, whether branded or proprietary, is trying to expand into the College & University market, CHD Expert can help you make more intelligent business decisions. If you would like more information on how to access CHD Expert’s databases, please contact Catherine Kearns via email at or call (312) 768-6916.


Restaurant Industry Trends: What we expect to see at the 2013 NRA Show

12 Apr

The 2013 National Restaurant Association Show is a little over a month away, and like many foodservice companies, we are busy preparing our teams, products, and marketing strategies for the NRA Show.

As we mentioned in last weeks post “CHD Expert Announces New Menu Type Segmentation Filters as part of Their Foodservice Database Web Based Query Tool, Easy2FIND,” we’ve rolled out new functions and features for one of our most popular foodservice marketing products, Easy2FIND, and we look forward to promoting this at the NRA Show. We’ve been busy sharing this new update with existing clients and spreading the word to prospects, as this new segmentation filter allows for a much deeper look at menu types. If you are interested in finding out about this product you can Click here for a free demo and 7-day trial.

In addition, we’ve also been working on a specific trade show strategy, and how we are going to “attack” the show so that we can make the most out of it. While we aren’t going to share the exact details of our plan, we will share with you is that we’ve been keeping our eye on some key restaurant industry trends. Outlining these trends allows us to prioritize who and what we want to see first at the show.

Here are three restaurant industry trends that we think are going to generate a lot of noise at the show:

  1. Heirloom “Anything” – The hottest new word on menus
  2. Communicating gluten free options
  3. Chicken is the new beef

Now, let’s break each one down from a high level.

Heirloom. Wikipedia defines heirloom as, “A horticultural variety that has survived for several generations…” We’ve always seen heirloom tomatoes at a farmers market., but now heirloom tomatoes have almost gone mainstream, and can be found in you local grocery store.

Today, we are not only seeing heirloom tomatoes, but we are also seeing a variety of other heirloom vegetables, like beans, potatoes, spinach, which have now popped up in farmers markets, grocery stores and on popular restaurant menus. Heirloom is one of the newest trends in the culinary world and we have been seeing appear on restaurant menus on a regular basis. People are becoming more and more conscious about what they are eating and where it comes from. So, the heirloom trends falls in line with the healthy, farm to table option that people are chasing after. What menus have you seen the word, “heirloom” on lately?

Communicating gluten free options. More and more people are finding out that they are allergic to different types of foods.  Today, most of us know someone who has a gluten allergy and as a result, has to keep a strict gluten free diet. While this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about gluten free options, we are now starting to restaurants start to add a symbol next to menu items that do not contain any gluten. This is only one of the many ways we are seeing the restaurant industry actively communicate to the gluten free community.

For example, did you know that the popular fast food chain Wendy’s has a separate gluten free menu which identifies gluten free items. Check it out! It’s just another example on how restaurants introducing gluten free options as more and more people learn that they have the allergy.

We believe that more and more restaurants are going to start coming out with gluten free options and products. We wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see a whole restaurant open that was dedicated to the gluten free community.  Would you dine at a gluten free restaurant?

Chicken is the new Beef.  It’s no surprise that popular fast food restaurants have been on a rampage to clean up their “unhealthy” image. Ever since the movie, Super Size Me, restaurants like McDonalds have been aggressively trying to improve their image and incorporate more healthy menu options. But now more than ever, we see that chicken sandwiches are becoming a popular alternative to hamburgers. Does this indicate the people are trying to moving toward perceived healthier options? We think so.

Here are two stories made headlines this past week on the Huffington Post: Chicken Passes Burgers on QSR Menus and McDonald’s Chicken McWrap To Be Added To Permanent Menu. Both call out the new chicken trend at fast food restaurants, which looks like it’s consumer driven, as people look for healthier options.

We hope that this has been insightful and even helpful as we approach the biggest show in foodservice. To learn more about CHD Expert, please feel free to check out our website or email us at

Our Foodservice Trade Show Recap: #NAFEM and FSMA Top2Top

13 Feb

As we mentioned in our previous post, we are going to be attending a ton of foodservice trade shows and conferences this year.  This year, as the Director of Sales for CHD Expert, I got to attend a few great shows. Here is a short recap with photos and videos from both the #NAFEM 2013 Trade Show as well as the FSMA Top2Top 2013 Conference.

Here are a few snapshots from the NAFEM 2013 Trade Show. Just look at the amazing entrance to the conference! We were eager to check out all of the HOT and COOL foodservice products, and as we do at most shows, we like to snap a quick photo of the entrance. We also wanted to share the magnitude of this conference so we also got a few great shows of the trade show floor so you can see how MASSIVE the show actually is. The North American Association of Foodservice Equipment Manufacturers is one of our favorite shows of the year and we were happy to attend and be part of the foodservice action. Check out our photos:

Just a few days after the #NAFEM 2013 show wrapped, we attended (and are still at!) the Foodservice Sales And Marketing Association’s 19th Annual Top2Top Conference. We have really enjoyed the TEAM Meetings and learning about the state of the industry and how big foodservice companies are addressing these challenges. We’ve enjoyed hearing people like Pietro Satriano is Chief Merchandising Officer, of US Foods and Wendy Perrin,  Condé Nast Traveler’s Director of Consumer News and Digital Community. Here are a few more photos from the sunny California conference:

We hope that you have enjoyed a few our pictures from the events.  If you’d like to connect and talk more about either one of these trade shows, let’s set up some time to meet or have a call. Please email me, Brad Bloom, at I am looking forward to connecting!

Customized Foodservice Marketing Solutions

23 Oct

Here at CHD Expert, we offer foodservice industry professionals customizable foodservice marketing and sales solutions. One of the things we pride ourselves on is understanding our Client’s businesses so that we can provide the sales and marketing team with the support they need to help move their business forward.

While we have a la cart products and services, like Easy2FIND, CHD FIND, GLAD, and FINDsweeper, we also have the capability to build customized foodservice solutions that combine a variety of our offerings to fit a businesses exact need. In addition, part of what sets us apart from other database companies are our strategic partnerships with Technomic and Foodservice Rewards, which gives us access to a complete view of the marketplace.

There are many different possibilities where your foodservice company might need a customized solution.  Here are two scenarios to consider: Does your company has unique sales geographies that you need to segment? Or, do you want to understand what the foodservice marketing potential and propensity for establishments to purchase your products? If your answer is yes, than you should request a free demo of our products.

We can create a custom and secure web based query platform that will not only house your data, but with our technologies we can apply custom filters or append this type of foodservice information.

So if you are interested, give us 20 minutes of your time to show you our product. Or, if you’ll be attending the 2012 International Hotel Motel Restaurant Show (#IHRMS) on November 10th to 13th, we’ll be there too and would be happy to chat then! Otherwise, email Brad Bloom at or call at 312-768-6900.

Burger and a Beer – The Chicago Way of Life is More Than Just Pizza

18 May

When one thinks of the Chicago dining scene, pizza comes to mind. After all, Chicago is proclaimed the pizza capitol of the nation.

While Chicago has more than its share of pizza places, the fact is that the predominant full service restaurant in the metropolitan area is the local bar and grill. Nearly 12% of all full service Chicago area restaurants are classified as a “bar and grill”, meaning that they generate a significant portion of their revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages. The Chicago area is dotted with sports bars, microbreweries, and pubs; boasting a much higher percentage of them than New York or LA (3.5% and 2.5%, respectively). Chicagoans spent almost $550 million in bar and grill establishments last year .

These establishments, as a rule, are quite small. About 78% of Chicago area bars and grills have annual revenues of less than $500,000. But being small hasn’t meant much to their survival. Nearly 80% of Chicago’s area bar and grills have been in business for more than five years.

Why Chicagoans prefer their local pub n’ grub to other restaurant types is subject to speculation.  Certainly, the allure of a bar and grill establishment is probably more about the beverages than the food. It is likely that many patrons’ frequent places that are close to home or work. The atmosphere of your local pub can definitely be more relaxing than other establishments. In many cases, a bond with a particular employee or the owner of an establishment results in frequent visits due to camaraderie and loyalty. It is not at all unusual for patrons to stop in virtually every day.

At any rate, what better way to watch the game or enjoy times with friends than having a beverage and a sandwich on your favorite bar stool? In the Chicago area, it is the thing to do.

Because of the preponderance and diversity of the bar and grill market in the Chicago area, marketing to them can be challenging. Cathy Kearns of CHD Expert, a Chicago based food service marketing firm, noted “Our clients are always looking for ways to reach the Chicago area sports bars and pubs. They are spread out and usually small in size but they represent a large part of the Chicago market, so you really need to get to them somehow”.

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