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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.

<<45678910111213>> Total issues:161

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August 01, 2014, to August 15, 2014

Fast-Food Companies Need To Get Back To Basics To Compete With Fast-Casuals

Buffeted by declining sales and restaurant traffic, McDonald’s has pinpointed a major problem and plans to somehow deal with it. Fast-casual restaurants are knocking the stuffing out of the fast-food giant and the fast-food segment in general. Fast-casuals stick to the quick-service format, but offer better quality food and ingredients at reasonable prices. McDonald’s realizes that cosmetic upgrades – outlet remodels, new menu items, comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, etc. – only go so far in retaining customers. The company doesn’t need to overhaul its business to compete, Euromonitor says, but can “make traditional fast food appealing again”. That means very fast, very cheap, very appealing food for people who need convenience over luxury and ease over variety.

Square Buys Restaurant Food Delivery Service In $90M Deal

Smartphone food ordering service Square has acquired Caviar, a company that provides fast delivery of food with flat-rate pricing from a curated list of restaurants, using its own delivery people. News reports say the all-stock deal is worth $90 million. Caviar is different from other food delivery services, most of which tap into restaurants’ own delivery systems. The company will be able to provide Square, which offers a food ordering service, with a way to deliver food from restaurants that don’t offer delivery to local customers.

Entrepreneur Sees Crickets As The Next Culinary Sensation

The entrepreneur who founded Bitty Foods, a company focused on using crickets as ingredients in baked goods, believes she’s on the leading edge of an emerging culinary sensation bigger than quinoa. She first tasted – and liked – cooked mealworms and crickets on trips to Southeast Asia and Mexico. Back home she did some experimenting and eventually launched her current business. Roasted mealworms have a nutty flavor, and could appeal to people following the Paleo diet, says Megan Miller, but they have one major drawback: they trigger Americans’ gag reflex. Crickets, however, evoke memories of  “pleasant summer nights and crickets chirping”.

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July 15, 2014, to August 01, 2014

Own-Brand Grocery Stores Are A Hit With Shoppers, Suppliers

There was a time when products sold at so-called limited assortment, or own-brand discount, grocery stores were considered a bit cheesy by Britons (and Americans). But that perception has changed, thanks to the success of German companies Aldi and Schwarz, owner of Lidl, which together accounted for €120 billion ($162 billion) in sales in 2013. The two companies have 20,000 stores in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Their strategy of offering a limited selection of products – 3,000 compared to 50,000 in a hypermarket – at deeply discounted prices has struck a chord with economy-minded grocery shoppers. Suppliers, too, are happy with the bulk discount structure because it is simple, efficient and profitable. Will economic recovery send shoppers back to traditional supermarkets? A Lidl exec doesn’t think so. “Those BMWs and those Porsches and Jaguars parking in our car parks, we won’t let go.”

Walmart Appoints Foran CEO Of US Operations

Walmart appointed Greg Foran as president and CEO of the retailer’s United States business. Succeeding Bill Simon who will be leaving the company, Foran’s appointment will become official on August 9, 2014. Simon will stay on as consultant for the next six months to ensure a smooth transition. With 35 years of retail experience under his belt, Foran joined Walmart in October 2011 and was appointed president and CEO of Walmart China in March 2012. He was promoted to president and CEO of Walmart Asia in early 2014.

Pharmacies Grab Market Share From Sephora And Other Cosmetics Retailers In Europe

Sephora and other specialty beauty retailers are losing market share to pharmacies that offer similar but cheaper products in Europe. Market data revealed pharmacy chains are expanding their offerings of cosmetics and other beauty products, with emphasis on organic, natural cosmetics brands, such as Weleda, Caudalie, and Garancia in France and Dr. Hauschka in Germany. Pharmacies’ efforts to promote their cosmetics ranges and consumers’ cautious attitude toward spending seem to be driving the trend.

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July 01, 2014, to July 15, 2014

Decorate-Your-Own-Cake Shop Extends The Build-A-Bear Concept To Baking

If this novel entrepreneurial idea catches on elsewhere, it could help spur the sales of baked goods. A start-up bakery/coffee/wine shop in Ladue, Mo., offers customers the opportunity to sit down with friends, family or co-workers and decorate cakes, cupcakes and cookies. It’s a knock-off of the Build-A-Bear concept and it seems to be working so far. The Sweetology provides all the necessary supplies and utensils, including aprons and spatulas, plus workspace at marble-topped tables for adults and kids. Trained coaches – Sweetologists – guide customers in techniques, as well as choices of frosting, fondant, sprinkles and sugary accessories. The cost for a six-inch or nine-inch cake is $48 and $68 respectively, which includes a $10 an hour studio fee.

Survey Results Indicate A Shift In America’s Fast-Food Preferences

Wake up call for the big fast-food chains: Americans don’t think your food tastes very good. A survey of more than 32,000 subscribers by Consumer Reports finds, for example, that hamburger aficionados prefer the fare served at In-N-Out-Burger, The Habit Burger Grill and Culver's over the burgers served at McDonald's. In fact, McDonald’s came in at No. 21 on the list of best-tasting burgers, behind Jack in the Box, Wendy's and Burger King. The best-tasting Mexican food is not served at Taco Bell, either, but at Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Qdoba Mexican Grill (Taco Bell came in at No. 8 on the list). A Consumer Reports editor noted that "more and more, food quality – not just low price – is emerging as a deciding-factor for many Americans”.

Crumbs’ Failure Does Not Signal The End Of America’s Love Affair With Cupcakes

The recent much-publicized failure of the Crumbs cupcake bakery chain sent a shockwave through the retail baking industry, but it doesn’t mean consumers no longer love cupcakes. On the contrary, Crumbs failed because it went public and expanded too fast, and because it had a “suspect” business model. It baked the product in one location (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and shipped it frozen to its 48 stores nationwide. A Philadelphia bakery owner said that involves a “defrost process” that “doesn’t work well”. An NPD Group analyst said Crumbs went bust because of market saturation, high overhead, and high prices ($60 for a dozen). Another bakery owner ventured that Crumbs simply didn't offer enough product variety, like fresh desserts.

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June 15, 2014, to July 01, 2014

Shoppers In U.K. Are Comfortable Buying Store Brand Foods

A survey of a thousand British food shoppers finds that a majority (55 percent) believe the best of the “own label” (i.e., store or house) brands are as good as national brands, and 63 percent regard “regular” own-label brands the same quality as major brands. The bottom line is that shoppers have grown very comfortable buying store brands in most – but not all – categories. Sixty-one percent of shoppers regard “value” own-label brands as worse than manufacturer brands. Only 27 percent see them as the same. A spokesman for the research company that conducted the survey says the results certainly show the impact of the recession on food shopping. But they also show a longer-term trend: retailers are more sophisticated in developing and marketing their store brands.

Wal-Mart U.S. Continues Reorganization; Appoints New Merchandising Executives

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. appointed 13 executives as part of the retailer’s reorganization of its U.S. merchandising operations. Included in the changes are Scott Huff’s promotion to executive vice president in charge of merchandising operations in the country and the appointment of several new executives to manage consumables and sales innovation. Wal-Mart’s latest round of reshuffling under the watch of CEO Doug McMillion, who was appointed in February 2014, comes after the appointment of a new head of the retailer’s Walmart.com online business and the promotion of Wal-Mart Canada CEO Shelley Broader as leader of the company’s businesses in Europe, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Wal-Mart Appoints Van Den Berghe As Head Of Canada Operations

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. appointed food retailer Delhaize Group SA executive Dirk Van den Berghe as chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Canada. His predecessor, Shelley Broader, was named in charge of Wal-Mart’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Effective on August 1, 2014, Van den Berghe’s appointment is part of Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon’s reorganization of the retailer’s management structure since his appointment in February 2014.

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June 01, 2014, to June 15, 2014

Demands For Higher Wages At Quick-Serve Eateries May Accelerate Automation Trend

Software and machines may not replace fast-food restaurant workers in the foreseeable future, but automation is beginning to play a part in food service. Some industry observers say the demand among low-wage fast-food workers for higher pay may actually speed up the development of food service automation. Others say it takes a lot of time to introduce advanced technology and it’s not likely to eliminate the need for human interaction. Nevertheless, restaurant chains are tiptoeing into the future: Panera Bread is introducing self-service ordering kiosks. Chili's and Applebee's are putting tablets on their tables that would give customers the ability to order and pay without any contact with human wait staff at all.

Panera’s New “Food Policy” Eliminates All Artificial Additives From Menu By 2016

St. Louis, Mo.-based Panera Bread – “on a mission to help fix a broken food system” – announced plans to completely eliminate artificial food additives from its menu by the end of 2016. Adopting a new “food policy” of providing only “clean foods” to its customers, the company said it will remove colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives over the next couple of years. The company has already cut trans fats from the menu and only serves meat products from animals raised without antibiotics.

Move Over Ronald, Happy Is Here To Sell The McDonald’s Menu To Kids

Add another cute character to the list of marketing icons McDonald’s has used to get its unhealthful food message across to kids. At least that’s how the anti-McDonald’s community sees it. The fast-food giant recently introduced Happy, the new mascot of the child-focused Happy Meal. According to the director of the Value the Meal campaign at Corporate Responsibility International, Happy – basically a red Happy Meals box with a toothy grin, bug eyes, a golden arches hat and spindly legs – is the company’s latest effort to “market an unhealthy brand to kids”. The aging clown Ronald McDonald, meanwhile, is apparently getting a makeover so he’ll remain “modern and relevant”, according to a company spokesman.

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May 15, 2014, to June 01, 2014

Panera’s New “Food Policy” Eliminates All Artificial Additives From Menu By 2016

St. Louis, Mo.-based Panera Bread – “on a mission to help fix a broken food system” – announced plans to completely eliminate artificial food additives from its menu by the end of 2016. Adopting a new “food policy” of providing only “clean foods” to its customers, the company said it will remove colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives over the next couple of years. The company has already cut trans fats from the menu and only serves meat products from animals raised without antibiotics.

Lawsuit Aims To Settle Big Question: Who Owns The Rights To “Stretch” Bread

The owner of a Syracuse, N.Y.-area restaurant has filed a lawsuit charging former employees with stealing the recipe/technique for a unique bread known as “stretch” bread. The owner of Pastabilities says the former employees violated a confidentiality agreement when they took the secret recipe to competitor eatery La Piazza. Whoever presides over the case will have to untangle a historical knot of personalities and events to settle the issue. But what the fight is about is fairly clear: stretch bread is a rich-tasting, crispy, chewy, flaky white bread with a thin crust that is “hands down, one of the most delicious creations to come out of Central New York since the salt potato”.

Move Over Ronald, Happy Is Here To Sell The McDonald’s Menu To Kids

Add another cute character to the list of marketing icons McDonald’s has used to get its unhealthful food message across to kids. At least that’s how the anti-McDonald’s community sees it. The fast-food giant recently introduced Happy, the new mascot of the child-focused Happy Meal. According to the director of the Value the Meal campaign at Corporate Responsibility International, Happy – basically a red Happy Meals box with a toothy grin, bug eyes, a golden arches hat and spindly legs – is the company’s latest effort to “market an unhealthy brand to kids”. The aging clown Ronald McDonald, meanwhile, is apparently getting a makeover so he’ll remain “modern and relevant”, according to a company spokesman.

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May 01, 2014, to May 15, 2014

Taco Bell Sheds Light On The Seasonings It Uses In Its “Seasoned Beef”

Some of the ingredients in Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” may have strange names, but they are all safe to eat and approved by the FDA, the company says on its Web site. Taco Bell revealed the list of chemicals, compounds and other stuff that comprise the 12 percent of the beef mixture that isn’t actually beef. The company explained what the ingredients are, where they come from and what their purpose is, being careful to note that they are found in a lot of other foods. Examples include sodium phosphates to provide texture to the beef, and trehalose, a naturally occurring sugar that improves taste.

Burger King Revives 10-Year-Old “Subservient Chicken” Ad Campaign

One of Burger King’s most popular ads over the last 10 years was the “Subservient Chicken”, a 2004 campaign based on the “Have it Your Way” theme that garnered more than a billion online views. Subservient Chicken was a man dressed up in a chicken suit that would respond to Web site visitor commands. In its new incarnation, the campaign has a broader target market – not just young men – and has a new twist: the chicken seems to be lost and the Web site provides visual clues as to where it might be. The campaign, tied to the Chicken Big King, includes newspapers, TV, and digital and social media.

Wash Your Hands Or Trip The Alarm: P&G Seeks To Reduce Germ Spread In Public Restrooms

Using some scary public restroom germ facts, Procter & Gamble announced it is experimenting with a soap dispenser alarm system that makes a noise when people don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom. Though public toilets have more than three million germs per square inch that can cause flu, pneumonia and tuberculosis, a third of people who use them fail to wash their hands. Market tested in the Philippines, the system locks the door on public restroom stalls in restaurants, schools and offices using pressure sensors connected to wall-mounted soap dispensers. To quiet the alarm, you have to use some soap.

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April 15, 2014, to May 01, 2014

McDonald’s Breathes New Life Into McGriddle Marketing

The fast-food breakfast war rages on, as McDonald’s – king of the quick-service morning meal mountain with a 31 percent market share – counters Taco Bell’s successful Waffle Taco introduction with a new ad campaign for an old standby, the McGriddle. The Waffle Taco itself is Taco Bell’s answer to the Egg McMuffin, but McDonald’s is countering with a renewed emphasis on the sweet-plus-savory McGriddle, launched in 2003 as a pancake-wrapped sandwich. The new campaign so far is confined to the McDonald’s Web site: the company has not yet launched a social media initiative.

Tesco's Troubles Continue; Expected To Report Second Annual Profit Decline

UK supermarket chain Tesco is expected to report a 6.1 percent decline in trading profit to £3.24 billion for the year ending February 14, 2014, from £3.45 billion in the previous year,its second consecutive decline in annual revenue. With its market share and stock price at record lows, the retailer has seen its business suffer from shifting trends in the country’s grocery market, such as the expanding presence of international discount retailers Aldi Stores Ltd. and Lidl UK GmbH. Also hampering Tesco’s operations and sales is the growing trend of UK consumers shopping online and in convenience stores. Although these trends are also affecting rival Asda Stores Ltd., the retail chain owned by Wal-Mart, Tesco seems to have been affected the most.

Sweden's H&M and Ikea Top 2013 List Of Leading Retail Brands In Europe, Interbrand Says

Sweden’s fast fashion retailer H&M is the top retail brand in Europe in 2013, according to brand consulting firm Interbrand. Results of a study conducted by the company also highlighted the importance of having a strong brand in the retail sector, which lets retailers influence customer choice and loyalty, attract and retain top-quality workers, and reduce the cost of financing. Furniture retailer Ikea, fashion seller Zara, retailer Carrefour, and UK’s supermarket chain Tesco make the rest of the top 5 retail brands. Among the next 5 in the top 20 brands list are UK retailer M&S, French food retailer Auchan, retailer Boots, discount retailer Aldi, and French cosmetics retailer Sephora.

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April 01, 2014, to April 15, 2014

Food Companies Try To Settle The Argument Over Paper Versus Plastic Foam Cups

Plastic foam cups do a great job of keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. But there is a perception among many consumers – and even some companies – that foam cups are not environmentally friendly because they do not recycle well. Scientists continue to debate the issue, but in the meantime retail restaurants like Starbucks, McDonald’s and Jamba Juice have turned to paper cups, particularly the more expensive double-walled ones that provide extra insulation. The big challenge for food companies is to find cups that work as well as plastic foam, don’t end up costing the consumer more and are more recyclable, according to industry analysts.

In A Time Of Food Scarcity Around The Globe, European Retailers Waste Megatons Of Produce

To demonstrate the magnitude of produce wastage by European retailers, Feeding the 5000 and partner organizations prepared free lunches in Brussels on April 1 with edible food about to be discarded for frivolous reasons. Tons of produce from as far away as East Africa were used to prepare the meals. In Kenya farmers were found to be trashing 40 percent of what they grew because of  “unfair and unnecessary trading practices” of European supermarkets. Waste handlers who collect unwanted edible produce must guarantee in writing that none of the “green waste” will be used to feed people. Produce is discarded because European retailers have cancelled a forecast demand at the last minute, or because the produce has not met “ultra-fussy cosmetic standards”.

Tom Ford Launches Online Retail Store

Fashion and cosmetics retailer Tom Ford launched its online store, allowing its loyal customers to buy products, such as the Shanghai Lily Private Blend perfume, directly from the manufacturer. Featuring the kind of photography the company has been known for, the online store includes a feature allowing shoppers to zoom in on products, such as eye shadows and blushes, making it easy to choose products. Also, by hovering their computer mice or cursors over some colors, shoppers can see sexy GIF, such as that of a woman biting her lip. The website also offers content, which includes news and updates about the company’s various brands.

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March 15, 2014, to April 01, 2014

German Discount Supermarket Chain Lidl Fires Its Chairman

Karl-Heinz Holland was fired as chairman of German discount supermarket chain Lidl because of undisclosed “unbridgeable” differences over strategic direction. Holland, a former head of buying,  was chairman for five years. Also leaving the company for the same reasons is head of buying and marketing chief Dawid Jaschok. Lidl has 10,000 stores in Europe employing 180,000 people. The company is Europe's third-biggest retailer behind Carrefour and Tesco in terms of annual turnover. Like arch-competitor Aldi, Lidl is considering expanding into the United States in 2015 with 100 stores.

Tesco Experiments With 3D Virtual Shopping Technology

British retail grocery chain Tesco is using technology developed by London-based Future Digital to give shoppers a 3D virtual look at a Tesco supermarket. Wearing Oculus Rift virtual reality eye gear, shoppers find themselves in simulated store aisles, moving their heads 360 degrees to explore shelves and products, then ending up at a huge football stadium. While in the virtual store users can only look, not pick up or study what’s on the shelves. Application of the technology to a real at-home shopping experience is probably years away, mainly because of the expense, developers say.

Online Retailers In China Close Stores Selling Brand-Name Cosmetic Knockoffs

In response to customer complaints and a Chinese television report, Amazon China and online retailer China Dangdang have closed online stores purportedly selling fake brand-name skincare products. Dangdang shut two stores and refunded customer payments unconditionally.  Amazon said it had closed the stores in February after receiving complaints from customers. The fake products were knockoffs of L'Oréal and Estée Lauder cosmetics that were priced far lower than the real things. A representative of one of the closed stores admitted that the knockoffs came from a wholesale market in Beijing.
<<45678910111213>> Total issues:161
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