Clarion Group Introduces New Micro Markets

“Among the fastest-growing solutions in corporate food services is the micro-market,” says Tom Mac Dermott, president of Clarion Group, a food services consulting firm.

A micro market is an unattended convenience store, typically located in a workplace setting where there’s not enough population to support a food service operation and vending machines by themselves are not adequate.  Customers select food, snacks and beverages from refrigerated display cases and racks, just as in any c-store or a dining center’s grab-and-go section. 

They pay at an ATM-like touchscreen kiosk by credit card, debit card or cash. .A surveillance camera monitors the space, discouraging pilfering.  The deterrent has proven effective according to operators.

The concept was created by independent vending operators who saw their revenue and profits from conventional vending machine installations shrinking, according to Mac Dermott.  The idea caught on quickly in the vending industry and by the end of 2012, had grown to more than 2,600, according to the industry magazine, Vending Times.

“The micro-market idea has begun to catch on with corporate food service providers,” Mac Dermott said.  Some national and regional food service companies are beginning to offer them.

“To be successful, the location and circumstances for the micro-market has to be right,” Mac Dermott said.  He noted the follow requirements:

• The population has to be fairly small, under 500.  The concept works best for a fairly slow but continuous flow of customers.  It can’t handle an influx of 50 or so customers all at one time.

• The location must be accessible only to a specific workplace population.  The security provided by the surveillance camera is voided when an unknown customer walks out without paying.

• The foods offered has to be fresh and good.  If customers perceive the food as “vending sandwiches,” they simply are not going to buy.  This means the market’s refrigerated display cases have to be filled with fresh, appetizing sandwiches and salads every day.  Other refrigerated foods can be packaged, microwaveable meals and similar products.

• The market has to be kept clean, neat and well merchandised.  It’s serving the same customers every day.  The operator has to keep offering something fresh and new and hold frequent promotions to keep customer interest high.

“A micro-market can take up a fairly small space and is easy and inexpensive to install,” according to Mac Dermott .  “All that’s needed is one or two of the three-door, glass-front refrigerated display cases you see in any supermarket or c-store, racks or shelving for dry products, the payment kiosk and surveillance camper setup.”

“A micro-market can be an effective solutions in several settings,” Mac Dermott noted. “It can serve as a company store, offering company-related products – logo coffee mugs, t-shirts and the like – as well as food and beverages.  It also might be a solution for  company that has staff working late or overnight and late-night café service isn’t practical.”  
About Clarion Group
Clarion Group is an consulting firm that advises companies, professional firms, colleges and universities, independent schools and institutions in the management, operation and improvement of  their in-house employee/student food services, catering, conference, lodging and related hospitality services throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For information, contact:
Tom Mac Dermott, FCSI, President
Clarion Group
PO Box 158, Kingston, NH 03848-0158
603/642-8011 or

Talk to us about your vision for your food service operation — Contact Clarion Group

Food Service Consultants
P.O. Box 158,
Kingston, NH 03848-0158

Phone: (603) 642-8011   
Fax: (603) 642-7744

Offering food service management consulting, hospitality services consulting, sustainable dining facility design. Nationwide food service consultants.

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