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Well-Rounded Wellness
Written by Betsy
Monday, 31 October 2011 01:40

Kairos Consumers follows the U.S. retailing landscape with continual interest as the recession rages on, paying special attention to those trends that seem to debunk an assumed embrace of frugality. Logic told us that consumers would trade eating out for cooking in, but what has additionally evolved has been an intimate relationship between the grocery consumer and his/her store of choice. Organic at Wal-Mart and Safeway give the stores mass appeal and seemingly would detract from an organic powerhouse like Whole Foods, stealing away the “organically ambivalent” who may prefer to buy organic for reasons they are unable to articulate, but only do this sporadically, and thus feel more comfortable making the choice at a cheaper price point. Not one to sit pat, Whole Foods stepped up the game again, solidifying its position as a lifestyle brand by offering Wellness Clubs, first introduced in Dedham Mass and Tribeca NYC and now Chicago, IL. The Whole Foods Wellness Club - according to the Whole Foods website - is a place "...where members are empowered to make educated and positive lifestyle choices that promote their long-term health and well-being through coaching, delicious food and a supportive community." For $190+ for registration and $40+ per month membership fees, the education and support comes at a price, although perks abound.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 02:32
The Whole Pie
Written by Betsy
Monday, 25 April 2011 12:48

With much fanfare, the U.S. food critics and trendspotters have noted the passing of the consumer cupcake fetish in favor of a pie frenzy. Seemingly, this “trade” would be in keeping with a return to comfort foods seen throughout the recession. Kevin Gross, Owner of Culinary Sales Support Inc. in Chicago, noted that consumers are indeed cocooning and comfort foods are a means of connecting with the past. Moreover, he stated, “Promotional activity is centered around bundling and dollar menus, meaning lower cost per serving trends in foodservice,” and forcing even greater competition among foodservice dessert manufacturers. The NPD Group reported that Americans ordered up 12 million more slices of pie at restaurants in 2010 than they did in 2009. Mr. Gross noted that Schwan’s, Sara Lee and Sweet Street Desserts have fine-tuned the pie to such an extent that these mass offerings are of high quality and likely served by a large portion of leading foodservice players. With food margins held notoriously low in foodservice, these manufacturers have stepped up the quality aspect over the years in order to deliver a product that pleases both the palate and the budget.

Yet it is the smaller scale players – who are likely shut out of the restaurants due to pricing models – that might be attracting the most buzz. Mobile food vendors in cities including Houston and D.C. report dynamic sales with no sign of a slowdown. In Chicago, arguably a comfort food mecca, Hoosier Mama Pie was selected by chef Graham Elliot as a featured vendor for Lollapalooza in 2010.  Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn is a culinary darling that sells out of its $35 Salted Caramel Apple Pie supply on a daily basis. Both Hoosier Mama and Four & Twenty Blackbirds operate out of single – and somewhat locationally-challenged – shops, capitalizing on the foodie loyalty and industry press in becoming pie destinations. However, tying in with the comfort food aspect rather than trendiness could more safely generate sustainability over the long term, suggests Roberto Seif, President of Horizon2, a food innovation and strategy consultancy. The anatomy of food concept trends tells us that translating this gourmet (and typically boutique/niche) brand buzz into high volume will prove extremely challenging, with the more likely result being major gains by the Sara Lees of the world as the mass market takes notice of pie, first in foodservice and then at the retail level.



Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 01:40
What Are You Watching? They Already Know
Written by Betsy
Saturday, 12 March 2011 18:49

An article in the March 7, 2011 Wall Street Journal (WSJ article) reminds us that not all of the consumer tracking data emphasis has abandoned television for Internet. As information-rich as the Internet may be for consumer profiling purposes, a multi-pronged approach continues to evolve in television viewing tracking, utilizing capabilities typically integrated into the personal computer experience. The article describes the efforts of one company in particular, Cablevision, in targeting different audiences with targeted ads featuring the same brand, showing a different iteration depending on the niche of interest. Targeting is based on subscriber information from third parties. This type of information could range from ages of those in the household to grocery shopping preferences and – of course – the types of television programs viewed.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 March 2011 18:55
What Staycation?
Written by Betsy
Monday, 07 February 2011 12:09

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that real U.S. travel and tourism output (adjusted for changes in price) increased at an annual rate of 8% during the third quarter of 2010. This marks the largest quarterly increase in U.S. travel and tourism spending since the first quarter of 2004 and is nearly triple the growth rate of U.S. GDP during the same period. With the rampant “Staycation” buzz emerging in early 2009 and continuing into 2010, some industry experts have struggled to identify the drivers behind this growth.  What happened: U.S. and international travelers took advantage of airfare and lodging deals brought on by the recession and, in some cases, may have traded down by choosing U.S. destinations over more exotic locales.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 February 2011 12:19
U.S. Retail on a Tempered Rebound
Written by Betsy
Monday, 31 January 2011 23:39

Lest online retailing steal the entire focus heading into 2011, reports coming out of major urban areas in the U.S. - including third-largest retail market Chicago - suggest that bricks and mortar has staged a tempered comeback of sorts.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 February 2011 12:33
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