Kat Cole of Focus Brands discusses her rise from server at Hooters to food industry leader and her outlook on the future of the quick-service restaurant business from the impact of technology to meeting the demands of more health-conscious consumers.
This episode was filmed during Goldman Sachs’ Capital Markets Conference.
On the trend in more health conscious consumers: “The truth is when we progress as humans on things that affect our lives, like health and wellness trends, consumption trends, we never go backward.… People will continue to move down a path of healthfulness, and not just want it and think it, but actually alter their consumption habits and their purchasing habits down that path, which they have. We used to say, I want something healthy, but then we'd buy the least healthy thing possible. Now, behaviors are a little closer to what people say.”
On the impact of technology on the food business: “Convenience is the wild rocket ride right now. But if we're honest, it has been for decades. You think about delivery broadly. That's not new. It's just tech-enabled last mile delivery, enabled by the sharing economy of contract workers and drivers. So delivery is not new. Convenience isn't new, but it used to be convenience stores and drive-thrus. Now, with compression of time, which is actually complicated by access to technology, not necessarily holistically improved by it, certainly anything that can speed up a customer's access to product is going to win with the consumer. It doesn’t mean it's economically viable. We all know the models that are enabling convenience are not profitable on their own. But the customer is winning.”