Monthly Archives: April 2023

No Card Needed: Pay at Panera using your Palm

Have you ever bought something only to realize you did not have your credit/debit card with you? Oops, how embarrassing. But that may be a problem of the past at Panera Bread (at least in St. Louis).

Panera Bread is now testing Amazon’s palm-screening technology at two of its St. Louis restaurants. This means that instead of using cash or charge, just place your palm on the scanner to pay for your meal – and connect to the Panera loyalty program. Panera has long been considered a leader in using technology in its restaurants with more than 2,000 locations and 52 million loyalty members.

While there has been consumer concern about palm-scanning, the positives are that it’s contactless and biometrics give a unique identifier for customers. No two palms (like fingerprints) are identical. Biometric data is also common for consumers who use face ID or fingerprint scanners. Palms provide yet another option.

Amazon’s palm-scanner technology is already being used at its Whole Foods stores in California as well as Amazon Go stores plus a handful of sports arenas such as T-Mobile Park.

How will you pay?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has used face ID or fingerprint scanning? What has been their experience.
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team list the positive and negative factors for using palm-screening for consumers? (Can do the same poll for Face ID as well.)
  3. What are the positive and negative factors for businesses?
  4. Show Amazon’s information page about the scanning:
  5. Show video about Panera’s use of palm-scanning:
  6. Also check the site for Amazon one locations in your geography. If there are any, consider having students shop at those locations to try the scanners and get their feedback.
  7. How should Panera explain and market the new scanning?
  8. Have each team develop three different promotional tactics to ease consumer fears about the technology use.

Source:  Panera Break tests Amazon’s palm-scanning technology in St. Louis. (22 March 2023). CNBC.; NPR; The Guardian; The Verge; other news sources.

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The Changing Face of Takeout Restaurants

America’s biggest chain fast-food restaurants are changing how they operate. Responding to the changing consumer behavior during the pandemic, stores are delivering food, but in a new way. Takeout food is now often ordered ahead via online and apps. To respond to the new ordering process, restaurants are eliminating seats and expanding drive-through service.

For example: A new McDonald’s restaurant in Texas has no seats or tables for customers. Instead, a conveyor belt sends food to drivers who have ordered ahead. And it’s not just McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Taco Bell are also considering new formats including a four-lane drive-through.

Why the new strategy? Building operations around large drive-through and digital orders can reduce staff and make the sites more profitable and efficient. America saw takeout foods rise during the pandemic. In 2022, 85% of all food orders as fast-food locales were taken to-go instead of eaten onsite.

Even Starbucks, long known for being a place to meet and linger, plans to add roughly 400 stores that offer delivery and pickup only. Why? Starbucks cafes are often jammed with orders for pick-up, drive-through, delivery, and in-café, leaving customers unsatisfied with the long lines.

What would you like for dinner tonight?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the changing takeout habits of the students. What do they like? Dislike?
  2. Poll students: Who has switched to mostly takeout? How do they place orders?
  3. Show video of new McDonald’s:
  4. Discuss the importance of environmental scanning: technology trends, social trends, laws and regulations, competitive trends, and economic trends.
  5. What trends are these restaurants responding to?
  6. Have students outline a promotional plan for communicating the value of the new concepts.
  7. Optional: Have students go to a fast-food restaurant (such as McDonald’s) and observe (a) how people order, and (b) how many people eat at the restaurant (versus leaving with the order).

Source:  Haddon H. (28 January 2023). Americans are gobbling up takeout food. Restaurants bet that won’t change. Wall Street Journal.

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New Foods for Toy Kitchens

The humble toy kitchen that kids play with has come a long way with the food selection. While many of us grew up with the old standard toy foods such as cereal, eggs, fruit, and juices, diets and food choices have changed dramatically in the last few years.

Adults (and their children) now dine on more global foods such as charcuterie boards, sushi, dim sum, tacos, tortillas, fish cakes, and more. So it makes sense that their kids want to cook those types of foods in their play kitchens. Children grow up in a connected world – they can use foods to experience different cultures as well.

For brands, it’s a great opportunity to market to the parents of tomorrow’s shoppers – the kids. Marketers need to respond to all types of new trends and things that interest the consumers. Food clearly reflects consumers wants at the time.

The toy foods also help get kids interested in trying new foods, plus learn about the culture of the food. For example, a child who likes to play with the sushi kit might become curious about Japan and its culture.

Toy designers have been careful in how they present cultural foods. For example,

labels for the taco set are written in English and Spanish. And there is opportunity to explore all sorts of cultural and geographic foods. Food definitely helps us learn about the world.

My favorite toy – the toy cappuccino machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the types of foods that students eat.
  2. Show the websites of toy food companies.
  3. Short video about a play cappuccino machine:
  4. Melissa and Doug:
  5. Learning Resources:
  6. Maisonette:
  7. Tender Leaf:
  8. Divide students into team. Have each team select a toy food group and prepare a marketing plan. Include sections on target market and promotional plans.

Source:  Morales, C. (3 March 2023). In the toy kitchen, tacos, lumpia and charcuterie are on the menu. New York Times.

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