This week, S2G portfolio company Sweetgreen will celebrate some sweet success with a public listing which I expect will be oversubscribed and well supported, given the strength and visibility of the brand, and wide road of opportunity to grow their company which lies ahead. Sweetgreen’s debut represents yet another mark that high quality and convenient healthy food options are here to stay.
Just as sweet, but perhaps not as well known, is the backstory of the co-founders meeting up at university some fourteen years ago and starting out with a big vision and a single store close to the campus where they met. Three of the four original founders are still leading the band and making the music. It is their passion, determination, grit and agility that deserve equal praise and recognition this week, for it takes real effort and time to build an enduring and impactful company. The public listing is their reward for all those years of hard work, but also the beginning of their new chapter of opportunity and challenge in the public markets. Heartfelt congratulations to Jon, Nic, Nathaniel and the entire Sweetgreen team from the S2G team.
What does Sweetgreen’s success suggest about retail food today? So much.
We are now digital first, and the native Sweetgreen app is as good as it gets, with personalization / customization dialed in, and offering unique features to build loyalty and ongoing use. The customer has also made it clear that they want to go to the restaurant as well, and Sweetgreen provides neighborhood-centric, accessible and beautiful store experiences which seamlessly tie in their digital platform for order ahead, pick up and product and menu updates. The increasing focus on fresh high-quality food and ingredients is at the core of Sweetgreen’s offer, and includes recognition and credit to their supplier partners, not just on the sideboard but on the menu itself. Transparency around what’s in your food is also a Sweetgreen hallmark, which is increasingly table stakes ( pun intended ) for the new generation of customers. The lessons for retailers is to serve your customers in the very best way you can, true to your mission and values, and let the size of the market unfold from there.
There is no question this is a true moment of inflection for retail food, as customers find their way through the new hybrid world, ongoing inflation, out of stocks, health protocols and even new food tech choices. This week alone many other major retailers are releasing their quarterly results that provide data points on how customers are shopping, and now Sweetgreen will be joining the quarterly chorus of public companies helping us to all understand how customers and retailers are evolving their relationship with one another. But for today it is wonderful to celebrate the Sweetgreen team and all that they have accomplished in building a company that has all the hallmarks of becoming a widely respected and admired brand in the marketplace.