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Retail on Wheels

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite TV shows, CBS Sunday Morning, had a segment on about LA’ s growing street-food culture.

Grass-fed, free roaming beef hotdogs? Sliders on rice patties with farm-fresh cheese? Vegan ice cream cups? It seems that, on-the-go street food has taken a turn toward gourmet. And the response from consumers has been remarkable. So remarkable, in fact, that there is an entire Website dedicated to the Food Truck culture in L.A., N.Y., S.F. and Portland to help diners find out where their favorite meals on wheels will be next.

Now, street food isn’t necessarily a new idea. Think about the hotdog stands in NYC and the ice cream man who came around when you were a kid. However, the way in which these visionaries are serving it up is. They took a conventional tried-and-true way of selling food and revamped the process, by jazzing up the eats, transforming their trucks into cool machines, and keeping incredible-tasting food at a price point for the masses to partake in. They also tapped into the viral craze of twitter, which is the perfect form of media to communicate this dynamic retail landscape that changes on a daily basis.

What is most interesting about this shift in the food-service category is that it is just that: a shift. It is not a massive depart or a total reinvention. It is simply a way of thinking differently by disrupting the category to create a new retail and shopping space, in this case for food.

Can your category benefit from a simple shift in thinking? Could implementing a simple twist open up new retail channels or ways of shopping? Can manufacturers go directly to the people through different distribution channels? Can retailers expand their footprint by creating a street presence?

It’s all food for thought.

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