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Retail Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<78910111213141516>> Total issues:161

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May 01, 2013, to May 15, 2013

New York City Is A Regulatory Briar Patch For Food Truck Entrepreneurs

NPR podcaster and blogger Adam Davidson describes how bureaucratic red tape, conflicting city rules and regulations, and expensive enforcement penalties have sent the food-truck business in New York City into a tailspin. Though many entrepreneurs have attempted to sell upscale fare from their trucks, the ratio of food trucks selling overboiled hot dogs and overpriced sodas to trucks selling upscale lunch foods is now 25 to one. In the first place, it is very difficult to leap all the bureaucratic hurdles required to start a food-truck business. And, once in business, operators are hampered by a slew of (often conflicting) regulations issued by the departments of Health, Sanitation, Transportation and Consumer Affairs, all enforced, with varying consistency, by the New York Police Department.

Metro Group Reports Slight Fall In Sales For 1Q 2013

Retailer Metro Group reported sales dropped slightly to €15.5 billion in January–March 2013 from €15.6 billion during the same period in 2012. Sales at the company's Cash & Carry business decreased 2.8 percent to €7.1 billion; however, Metro Cash & Carry's delivery sales rose 15.9 percent to €586 million from €504 million of the same quarter in 2012. Sales at Metro's Real hypermarket division declined 0.9 percent to €2.6 billion, according to the company. In Germany, sales grew 1 percent to €6.1 billion, while international sales decreased 2.2 percent to €9.4 billion. Metro AG is reportedly planning to exit retail markets in Egypt, Kazakhstan, and Japan to realign funds to its home market in Germany.

Tesco's Soon-To-Be-Sold U.S. Retail Unit Launches New Lunch And Dinner Products

Tesco's American subsidiary, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, launched more than 45 new lunch products, including salads, wraps and sandwiches, and dinner items, such as chicken enchilada and Swedish-style meatballs. Made at Fresh & Easy's Kitchen and delivered to stores daily, some of the products are aimed at refreshing the retailer's takeout lunch options for customers. Meanwhile, Tesco has confirmed its plan to sell the company and that it has received offers or expression of interest to purchase the still losing retail business.

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April 15, 2013, to May 01, 2013

Hispanics Often Have Unique Preferences When Dining Out

Hispanics in the U.S. – whose buying power is expected increase 50 percent by 2015 to $1.5 trillion – represent a major marketing opportunity for food service operators, according to Technomic. Those who are most likely to succeed will understand that Hispanics stand out from other restaurant goers because they strongly value family-friendly amenities and ambiance, food and flavor authenticity, and use of the Spanish language in marketing and advertising. Preferences are more pronounced among less acculturated Hispanics. For example, 39 percent of less-acculturated Hispanic consumers tend to look for authentic Hispanic foods and flavors at restaurants, compared to only 20 percent of more acculturated consumers.

Marketers Shift The Message: It May Not Be Cheap, But The Product Is Worth The Extra Money

With 40 percent of the American people in dire economic straits, or worried that they soon will be, some large marketers have decided to redefine "value". They’re finding that consumers will shift from bargain hunting (the old "value," as in store brands) to a new kind of value hunting where premium-priced products are perceived to be worth the extra money. Companies like Procter & Gamble, McDonald's and Ford are emphasizing convenience, effectiveness and high-quality to justify higher price tags. Greek yogurt, for example, costs an average of $0.40 more than standard yogurt but sales are booming. Consumers like that it has more protein and a better texture. In this case, "value didn't mean cheap: consumers felt it made their lives better," said an analyst at IRI.

Bacon Is Less Popular At Breakfast, NPD Group Says

For the first time in 28 years of reporting, breakfast sandwiches have knocked bacon off the list of top ten items Americans eat for breakfast at home and at restaurants, according to The NPD Group. Breakfast sandwiches, mostly grabbed on the go, climbed into the No. 10 spot. At the top of the list were coffee, cold cereal, fruit juice, milk and bread. An NPD analyst said the ”beauty” of the breakfast sandwich is “you can get that 1950s breakfast of eggs, toast, cheese and meat” in one convenient package. Forty-six percent of all restaurant breakfasts (for the year ended November 2012) included a sandwich (i.e., breakfast sandwiches, breakfast wraps, burgers and “other” sandwiches).

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April 01, 2013, to April 15, 2013

Target’s New Stores In Canada: Higher Prices Than At Walmart And Their Own U.S. Stores

Target has officially opened 24 new stores in Canada, though the response from shoppers – at least on the topic of price – has been underwhelming, especially among Walmart shoppers and those who can shop in the U.S. A Toronto Globe and Mail survey found that Target’s prices were one percent higher than Walmart’s, based on a comparison of shopping baskets containing the same household and beauty products. Some items were as much as eight percent higher at Target than at Walmart. One shopper looking to buy a Lego set for her son said she’d have her sister buy it at a Florida Target and bring it with her on her next visit – saving $15.00.

Customer Confidence In Walmart’s Produce Drops As Company Struggles To Keep Shelves Stocked

Walmart employees and industry analysts have grumbled that the company has trimmed so many grocery workers as a cost-cutting measure that it is having a hard time keeping fresh produce shelves stocked properly. This has resulted in low customer confidence in Walmart’s produce and poor quality. Walmart says it is handling the problem with a new inventory system and signs indicating what’s fresh and what isn’t. But supercenter store produce shelves are often bare because there aren’t enough employees to re-stock. According to notes from a Walmart meeting obtained by The New York Times, Walmart customers are only 48 percent confident in its produce, while Safeway produce customers are 71 percent confident.

Walmart’s Sustainability Blog Gets A Facelift

Launched a year ago, Walmart’s “Green Room” blog site – providing information on the retailer’s sustainability efforts – was meant to encourage a dialogue on sustainability with consumers and industry experts. The company has launched a more “robust” version of the blog that encourages visitors to share ideas on creating a sustainable world. The site features a cleaner design with improved navigation, more photos, videos and slideshows that illustrate sustainability topics and company news. Enhanced social sharing tools include interactive polls and quizzes, and mobile optimization.

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March 15, 2013, to April 01, 2013

Walmart Is Learning More About Hispanic Shoppers, And Adjusting Its Marketing Strategy

Walmart will be ramping up its marketing efforts this year to appeal more to Hispanic shoppers and their $1.2 trillion of buying power. The company has been closely studying Hispanic cultural differences to make sure it really understands what motivates buying – and not buying. For example, a case study prepared for a breakfast food supplier found that moms in Hispanic households typically prepare breakfast – eggs and non-toasted bread – for the family. Latino moms were chary of making breakfast from a box, including pancake mixes like Aunt Jemima’s. That finding led to a marketing campaign to give Hispanic moms and kids direct experience of the convenience and taste of homemade pancakes.

Family-Style Restaurants Should Expand Their Focus To Include Millennials, Hispanics

Family-style restaurants miss a lucrative opportunity if they don’t try to boost traffic from other types of restaurant goers, particularly younger Millennials (ages 23 to 33) and Hispanics, according to Technomic. The market researcher found that 45 percent of Millennials and 57 percent of Hispanic consumers say they visit family-style restaurants weekly, much higher than the 41 percent of all consumers polled. Sixty-nine percent of consumers visit family-style eateries because of their affordability, or because of cravings for a particular menu item or comfort food in general. Technomics also offers insights on keeping the core audience coming back: amenities (toys and games) that make the dining experience easier for moms, and healthy kids’ menu options.

Foodservice Visits Down Globally, Offset Partially By Higher Spending Per Check

In the ten countries monitored by The NPD Group – including the U.S., U.K., and China – declines in foodservice visits in 2012 were at least partially offset by an increase in spending per check. China bucked the trend, posting an eight percent increase in 3rd quarter visits. Some countries, like Australia, reported modest (one percent) increases in the 4th quarter. In Australia, Canada, China, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. foodservice spending per check increased. Lunch foodservice visits were either flat or lower, though China and Spain saw some gains. “Without growth at lunch” – the largest part of the day – “it will be hard for any country’s foodservice market to be seen as on the path to health,” an NPD exec said.

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March 01, 2013, to March 15, 2013

New Walmart Shopping Site Supports Women-Owned Business Around The World

Walmart shoppers interested in purchasing “unique and interesting products” online now have an access point that supports small businesses around the world owned by women. The company’s “Empowering Women Together” initiative features an online shopping destination that sells more than 200 items from 19 business in nine countries. Women participating in the program share “inspiring stories” of challenges overcome by determination: poverty, lack of education, domestic abuse and physical limitations. The initiative is part of a five-year commitment by Walmart through 2016 to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses.

Kroger Posts Healthy Sales And Profit Growth In 4Q, Full Fiscal 2012

The Kroger Co. reported strong sales and profits in the fourth quarter, posting net earnings of $0.88 a share and supermarket sales growth of three percent. Profit for the year was $2.77 a share with sales growth at 3.5 percent. Total sales in the fourth quarter ended February 2, 2013, increased 12.8 percent to $24.2 billion. For the full 2012 fiscal year, total sales increased to $96.8 billion, up 7.1 percent compared with last fiscal year. "Kroger's unique value offering of better service, great products and an enjoyable shopping experience with low prices continues to resonate with a full range of customers,” said CEO David Dillon.

Global Consumer Buying Trends Stifle Juice Sales

Global juice sales grew two percent in 2012, but that’s a slip from the three percent growth experienced during the previous five years, according to researcher Euromonitor. Sales of juices dropped in three of the top ten global markets, including the United States (a five percent drop). High prices have suppressed  per-capita consumption significantly. Other negative factors: fierce competition from energy drinks and beverages offering “well-defined functionality”, and consumer concerns about sugar consumption. A more positive picture emerges in the developing countries, though growth is still “bumpy”. Per-capita purchases are down in key countries because of the availability of fresh juices. Nevertheless, growth opportunities abound for beverage manufacturers, Euromonitor says.

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February 15, 2013, to March 01, 2013

Restaurant Menus Packed With Calorie Information Influence Least Health-Conscious Diners

Despite legislative directives that restaurants list calorie content on their menus, there has been little agreement as to whether such informative menus have a positive effect on dining choices. In this U.S. study, researchers observed patron behaviors in a full service restaurant that provided three types of menus with varying levels of caloric information. They found that: calorie labels have the greatest influence on people who are the least health conscious; using a symbolic calorie label reduced the caloric intake of even the most health-conscious patrons; and calorie labels were more likely to influence the selection of the main entree rather than drinks and desserts.

Safeway Posts Higher Net Income For Fiscal 2012

Safeway Inc. reported net income for fiscal year 2012 increased to $596.5 million from $516.7 million in fiscal year 2011. Income from continuing operations rose to $566.2 million from $518.2 million in 2011. Net income in 2012 includes the $46.5 million gain from legal settlements; net income in 2011 was cut by $98.9 million tax charge from the Canadian dividend paied in the first half of 2011. Sales increased 1.3 percent to $44.2 billion in 2011 from $43.6 billion in 2011, driven by higher fuel prices, higher gift and prepaid card sales, and a 0.5 percent increase in same-store sales. Gross profit margin was 52 basis points lower at 26.51 percent in 2012 from 27.03 percent in 2011.

Target Expands Selection Of Personal Care Products For Multiethnic Customers

Target Corp. expanded its selection of beauty products aimed at multiethnic consumers. Part of the retailer's "Expect More. Pay Less" marketing promo, brands include Camille Rose body and hair care products, such as Algae Deep Conditioner and Almond Jai Twisting Butter; and Kinky Curly hair care products for curly hair. Mixed Chicks brand includes hair care products the company claims are effective for all ethnicities.

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February 01, 2013, to February 15, 2013

Loyal Customers Bring Major Benefits To Quick Service Restaurants

Fast-food customers who are loyal to their restaurant brands tend to re-visit twice as often as customers who switch among competing brands, according to an NPD Group report. That suggests that fast-food (or quick service) restaurants operating in an era of consumer frugality and low growth ought to put a significant emphasis on building loyalty and enhancing value. Loyalty has other benefits for quick service establishments: as brand awareness increases, marketing costs decrease; loyal buyers bring in other buyers; loyal customers tend to care less about price; and they are more tolerant of mistakes.

Low-Cal Menu Items Boost Sales At Restaurant Chains

A study by the Hudson Institute's Obesity Solutions Initiative finds that restaurants that served more lower-calories foods experienced an average increase of 5.5 percent in same-store sales. Restaurant chains that sold fewer low-calorie items experienced a 5.5 percent decrease in sales. The group analyzed 21 fast-food and sit-down restaurant chains from 2006 to 2011. The report defined lower-calorie servings as sandwiches and entrees with 500 or fewer calories, beverages with 50 or fewer calories (per 8 ounces) and side dishes, appetizers and desserts with 150 or fewer calories. "The bottom line,” said the report’s author, “ is if restaurants don't get more aggressive behind these low-calorie products, they're leaving sales on the table."

Cracker Barrel Restaurants Sued By Kraft Over Expansion Into Retail Grocery

Kraft Foods, which owns the trademark for the Cracker Barrel cheeses brand, has filed a federal lawsuit against Cracker Barrel country stores over plans to license its brand to a food company that sells a variety of packaged meats and other grocery store items, including oatmeal and muffin mix. Kraft says in its complaint that the restaurant chain’s plans “threaten to destroy the substantial goodwill that Kraft has created in its Cracker Barrel trademark, and to create significant confusion and cannot be permitted.” Cracker Barrel, which operates 621 restaurants in the U.S., says it is reviewing the suit and will comment later.

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January 15, 2013, to February 01, 2013

Boots Uses X-Rite Technology To Help Consumers Find Perfect Make-Up Tone For Their Skin

Beauty retailer Boots bought handheld X-Rite spectrocolorimeters for 668 of its stores in the United Kingdom. Designed to accurately measure skin tone, the gadget is expected to help the retailer provide the most suitable shade of makeup products for consumers. Boots is using the technology to help promote its No7 Foundation collection of cosmetics, and has trained 1,000 of the brand’s sales advisors on how to operate the handheld devices. X-Rite spectrocolorimeters use a camera technology to measure the skin tone.

McDonald’s Gets High Marks For Value, Speedy Service And Convenience –- But Not Taste

Consumer Edge Insight’s recent survey of U.S. quick-serve restaurant patrons found that great-tasting food isn’t all that important in determining loyalty to particular chains. Loyalty is mainly based on a perception of good value (58 percent), followed by convenience (57 percent), low prices (53 percent) and fast service (51 percent). Taste was only the eighth most important consideration. The quick-service restaurants perceived to provide “good value” were McDonald’s (57 percent), Subway (53 percent) and Taco Bell (48 percent). McDonald’s also scored highest for convenience and fast service. Top scores for great-tasting food went to Subway (58 percent), Chick-fil-A (54 percent), and Wendy’s (48 percent).

Tesco Launches Private-Label Baby Products, Aims To Compete With Market's Leading Brands

Retailer Tesco launched the Tesco Loves Baby brand of baby products in the United Kingdom. Part of the retailer’s expansion of its private-label offerings, the brand includes products for children up to three years old, such as diapers, wipes, and toiletries. To help market the brand, Tesco has partnered with the Bliss Family Support, a helpline supporting premature and sick babies. Tesco also rebranded the Tesco Baby Club, which supports parents by offering them tips on parenting, recipes, and financial saving, as the Tesco Loves Baby Club.

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January 01, 2013, to January 15, 2013

2013 Brings New Marketing Trends, Challenges For Consumer Goods Companies

Consumer goods companies face several challenges and trends in 2013 that can potentially affect their marketing and advertising strategies. Public focus on obesity will continue to drive beverage companies to emphasize products with low- and no-calorie options. Procter & Gamble and other companies are likely to use savings from cost cutting to engage in price-based marketing. More companies are expected to imitate Red Bull’s use of “branded experiences” in marketing.

Stay-At-Home Men Catch The Attention Of Grocery Stores, Food Manufacturers

Recent consumer research has found that the number of men who are their family’s primary food shopped has risen six percent in five years. Another study found that 31 percent of grocery shopping is now done by men, up from 14 percent in the 1980s. The trend has not gone unnoticed by grocery stores and food manufacturers: they are paying much closer attention to the needs of men who are either working at home or looking for a job. About a year ago, for example, Shop ’n Save created an in-house gender-neutral private label line called “Essential Everyday,” packaged to appeal to both men and women. A small grocery chain in New York City is stocking end caps with man-centric items. And Target and Walmart, among others, are considering setting up “man aisles.”

Tesco Says It Had A Merry Holiday Selling Season

Tesco reported that group sales in the six weeks ending January 5, 2013, grew 3.8 percent including petrol and 3.9 percent excluding petrol from the same period of the previous year. Like-for-like sales grew 1.8 percent, driven by significantly stronger sales of food products compared with the previous year. Finest and Everyday Value brands outperformed the retailer’s other businesses. Although general merchandise showed some improvement, it has remained a negative factor for the company’s overall growth rate. Online food sales grew 18 percent, while Tesco Direct sales rose more than 16 percent.

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December 15, 2012, to January 01, 2013

Spectra Packaging Makes New Bottles For Calcot Manor's Spa Products

Spectra Packaging developed new plastic bottles for spa operator Calcot Manor’s luxury spa bath and body care product lines sold exclusively by Tesco in the United Kingdom. Available in three capacity sizes, the bottles also come with closures with colors that compliment the bottle finishes. Dating back to the 14th century, Calcot Manor has provided guests with body treatment and spa services.

Bagel Chain That Specializes In “Handcrafted” Products To Expand In Southern States

A fast-casual retail bagel chain whose specialty is fresh, store-baked New York-style bagels has announced plans to expand into Tennessee, Florida and Alabama. Bruegger's Bagels says it is the only bagel bakery chain in the U.S. that fresh-bakes its bagels in each of its locations, using a recipe developed nearly 30 years ago by company founders. Everything on the menu is handcrafted, including the bakery's signature made-in-Vermont cream cheese, and custom-made breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads.

Walmart Appoints Karen Roberts EVP And General Counsel

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. appointed Karen Roberts as executive vice president and general counsel. Reporting to executive vice president and corporate secretary Jeff Gearhart, Roberts in her new role will handle the company’s legal department. Roberts is at present executive vice president and president of Walmart Realty, which is responsible for the company’s real estate operations and portfolio.
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