Our perspective at VantagePoint

Jose Perez joins VantagePoint as Production Manager


Contact: Amy Clarke Burns

Greenville, S.C. – April 20, 2017 – VantagePoint Marketing, a nationally recognized business-to-business marketing agency with special expertise in foodservice, has hired Jose Perez in the role of production manager/media specialist.

Perez works closely with VantagePoint’s media and sourcing director to coordinate and manage production needs and media placements for the agency’s clients.

“We’re delighted to welcome Jose, who has accumulated a wealth of knowledge over 30 years of working for and with marketing agencies,” said Craig O’Neal, VantagePoint Marketing president and CEO. “He brings a keen eye and deep skill set to help us strengthen our service to our clients, who will benefit from his know-how every day.”

Perez is a graduate of Bob Jones University with a degree in fine arts. His past experience includes branding, production and design work for clients in a myriad of industries, as well as teaching college courses in design and production.

For more information about VantagePoint, visit www.vantagep.com.

About VantagePoint Marketing

VantagePoint Marketing is a nationally recognized business-to-business marketing agency with a primary focus on foodservice clients. Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, it is ranked nationally on BtoB Magazine’s Top Agencies list, is an eight-time winner of the Business Marketing Association of the Carolinas’ Agency of the Year award and has been named one of the small/midsized Best Places to Work in South Carolina for four consecutive years. Founded in 1993, VantagePoint takes an integrated approach in offering its clients expertise in marketing, advertising, branding, digital and public relations. For more information, visit www.vantagep.com.

Bridging B2B’s Digital Divide


Earlier this year, McKinsey & Company released the results of an in-depth study about the digital strategies of B2B companies. While much has been made about the “consumerization” of B2B, the fact remains that B2B continues to be a more complex, specialized space than B2C — requiring a unique commitment to the digital tools that can move the needle and influence purchases.

The McKinsey study measured four dimensions of so-called digital strength: strategy, organization, capabilities and culture. In all but one (culture), B2B companies significantly trailed their B2C counterparts in adoption and implementation of digital tools and initiatives.

Here are just a few findings that bring the B2B-B2C digital divide into sharper focus:

  • Only 10 percent of B2B companies see digital as one of their top three investment priorities, about half the average for B2C companies.
  • Only 6 percent of B2B companies have a mobile strategy, compared with 30 percent of B2C companies.
  • For a third of B2B companies, it takes more than a year to bring a new digital idea to implementation.

As the study points out, B2B faces many of the same challenges as B2C, including “shrinking shelf lives for products, more acute customer demands for price transparency and better experiences.” While the digital gap between B2B and B2C may be more pronounced in many areas, studies like this demonstrate that digitization is universally critical to long-term growth and success.

Keeping an Eye on the Competitor Landscape — 4 tips

Regardless of industry, having a firm, continually updated knowledge of your clients and their key competitors is a must across the board.

Trade shows often provide easy access to all of your client’s competitors under one collective roof, and it’s one of the ways we at VantagePoint help audit our clients’ competitive landscape. As you navigate your industry’s trade shows, use these tips for keeping an eye on competitors and documenting key learnings to help inform future tactics and positioning.

  • Have an objective. What is the main focus of your competitive research? At trade shows, we often look to see how competitors are positioning themselves through graphics, messaging and the overall booth experience. Your objectives may be different, but you should know these ahead of time in order to be as focused and efficient with your research as possible with your limited time on the show floor.
  • Do your prep work. Understand who your client’s main competitors are and who’s attending the show. Does one have a new product launch you want to see? Do you know someone invested heavily in a new booth footprint? Map out your route to maximize your floor time.
  • Document your findings in real-time. Ensure you have some way to capture what you see, in both photos and notes, in order to paint the full picture of the competitor landscape post show.
  • Analyze. Having all of your documentation and onsite experience and exposure, now it’s time to sit down, reflect and analyze. You’re looking for trends, patterns, unique instances — things their competitors are doing well and things they did poorly. The end goal here is to identify some key takeaways that help inform you and your client on how to be well-positioned in their space. Identify areas of opportunity to continue to differentiate them from their main competition and work together to resolve gaps in communications, graphics, collateral, etc. to keep them ahead of the pack.

At the end of the day, competitive audits should allow you and your customer to glean some key nuggets of information to help identify what’s going on in the industry, benchmark against competitors and get new ideas for future marketing initiatives — all with the end goal of standing out in the market place  and on the show floor.

Menus in 2017, Part 4 | Breakfast reigns

When Nancy Kruse spoke at VantagePoint’s Insight2Impact Foodservice Marketing Summit, she laid out five predictions for menus in 2017, which we’re highlighting in this series of blogs. The first three sections covered a variety of food choices, from “clean” eating and healthy living to the decadent indulgences of comfort food.

Next up, we turn attention away from what we’re eating to when we’re eating it.

What it is

Any modern discussion about dayparts in restaurants inevitably raises the issue of breakfast. Your mom always said it was the most important meal of the day, and restaurant industry research is showing that it’s the only meal that has experienced an uptick in sales over the last few years.

McDonald’s launched all-day breakfast about 18 months ago in what was dubbed the “biggest food story of 2015,” and breakfast foods, whether eaten during the traditional morning hours or other times of day, have shown no sign of slowing their growth since then.

Why it’s coming

The boom in breakfast foods “relates to the comfort food thing because I think for a lot of consumers, breakfast foods are comfort foods,” Kruse said.

Breakfast foods also readily incorporate some features shown to be particularly appealing to millennial audiences — convenience, portability, value.

And a hot breakfast is something many of us do not make for ourselves at home, creating an opportunity for restaurants to capitalize. Breakfast has been a consistent sweet spot for restaurants like Denny’s, IHOP and Cracker Barrel that can’t compete in the grab-and-go arena but can certainly take the lead in attractive breakfasts that consumers would not typically make for themselves, Kruse said.

“Breakfast really does it all,” she said. “It can be convenient. It can be indulgent. It can be healthful. It can offer value.”

Where it’s showing up

Once McDonald’s sent shock waves through the QSR industry with its all-day breakfast in late 2015, competitors rushed not only to keep up but to offer their own innovations to lure consumers.

Among the innovations was a breakfast pretzel sandwich with an Auntie Anne’s pretzel bun introduced by Carl’s Jr. and a waffle breakfast slider offered by White Castle, which actually beat McDonald’s to the all-day breakfast phenomenon, though with much less fanfare.

McDonald’s, too, has continued to push breakfast innovation to the fore (and appeal to the health-centric eaters) by introducing breakfast bowls, including an egg white, turkey sausage and kale bowl and a scrambled egg and chorizo version.

What’s next

Breakfast and all its possibilities are far from being completely mined, Kruse said, and some perennial favorites are showing up in unexpected ways.

Cereals have been flagging in the grocery store since 2011, but enterprising chefs are having fun with them. Atlanta’s Grain restaurant featured a Nitro Cap’n Crunch made with the beloved children’s cereal and liquid nitrogen, and the Froot Loop-topped “slider dog” was an Internet sensation when it debuted at the Cleveland Indians’ ballpark on Opening Day 2016.

Perhaps more significantly than crazy cereal concoctions, though, is the influence the breakfast bonanza exerts on other dayparts. Even restaurants not traditionally in the breakfast business, like pizza joints, are tapping in by creating breakfast-inspired dishes.

What’s been your favorite addition to the pantheon of available restaurant breakfasts? Let us know in the comments. And be sure to check out the rest of the series on Nancy Kruse’s predictions for 2017 menu trends.

Innovation, trends & technology | NAFEM through the eyes of James Camacho

Foodservice professionals looking for the latest and greatest in equipment for the industry descended on Orlando in February for the biennial NAFEM Show, where more than 500 equipment and supplies manufacturers trotted out their products and services for customers to see first-hand.

James Camacho, FCSI, CSI, is a leading foodservice consultant — and a member of VantagePoint’s Foodservice Advisory Board. He is president of Camacho Associates Inc., serves as board chair for FCSI The Americas and was recently awarded NAFEM’s Doctorate of Foodservice Award.

We asked James what impressed him at NAFEM, what it says about the foodservice industry and what it’ll mean for his clients.

What kind of product developments or advances do you look for at NAFEM?

I’m usually looking for things that will improve efficiency or convenience for my clients.

Manufacturers need something that’s a little bit new to draw people in, but once I’m in the booth, I’m going to be looking for tweaks or updates that benefit my clients. Have they increased efficiency in that fryer? Is the oven easier to use?

Any examples that caught your eye this year?

Gaylord Industries highlighted a new hood that incorporates filters and scrubbers in the hood system, which helps solve the challenge of venting for a kitchen in an office tower, for example. And it reduces the cost of in-line scrubbers and filters that are often installed in the ceiling.

Imperial Brown was also showing keg hoists in their walk-in coolers, which is a great convenience for restaurants getting into the craft beer trend.

Technology is on everybody’s mind in restaurants these days. What technological developments did you see that may start to change how restaurants operate?

Technology and digital tools are definitely increasing in the equipment world. There were several examples of automated products that take the guess work and human error out of the equation.

One manufacturer was showing an oven that can detect on its own what’s being cooked and then automatically set the appropriate temperature and baking time.

I also saw a new beverage gun from Berg that can be programmed with a pre-set drink menu. It basically mixes drinks for you based on predetermined combinations. Bartenders can push a button and pour a Long Island Iced Tea or Bahama Mama without all the measuring.

These kind of digital tools are good for the labor market — restaurants don’t need skilled labor to operate this equipment. And you avoid the human error if you can simply tell the oven to prepare menu item no. 22.

But there are potential maintenance concerns since these tools will be harder to repair. With electronics and new technology, there’s always that issue.

Food trends are always a hot topic in any discussion of restaurants. Did you see any examples of equipment designed with food trends in mind?

A lot of restaurant innovation actually starts with the food and with what the chefs are trying to accomplish. They’re all looking for something to help them stand out in the market and draw people in.

A chain trying something new will often work with a manufacturer to develop a new piece of equipment, which can eventually end up on the market for everybody else to use.

I noticed Carter Hoffmann’s GardenChef herb and micro green growing cabinets. It’s obviously a great way to incorporate fresh herbs and greens into a menu, but it’s also a great marketing tool for the restaurant.

I also saw several new beer and beverage systems, particularly for craft sodas, which just reflects the growth of that beverage sector in restaurants.

Do you have any advice for exhibitors at NAFEM?

NAFEM is a great chance for people like me to see what’s out there and know what to ask for more information about, but it’s not going to change what I do overnight.

A shiny new product on display at NAFEM may sound great, but I’m not going to run out and specify it right away. It needs some proof. I want to see it on a job site or out in the field for a year before I start specifying things. I’ll often follow up with a manufacturer’s representative after the show and ask to set up a visit or lunch and learn to hear more about the equipment.

At the show, things can get overwhelming quickly. It’s huge, and there’s a ton to see. Manufacturers need to understand show attendees have a limited amount of time and be prepared to set up appointments ahead of time to tour the booth highlights on a one-on-one basis.

Let us know what most interested you at NAFEM in the comments below. And click the links for more insights from VantagePoint’s Foodservice Advisory Board on considerations for selecting foodservice equipment and trends and challenges in the foodservice industry.