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Chinese Consumers Are Adapting Priorities As China Changes

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In an interview, Delon Wang, Manager of Asia Pacific Trends at Mintel, warned that the rapid growth seen in China’s consumer goods industry might slow as economic growth decelerates and the population adapts priorities to the new China, focusing for example on buzzwords like ‘ancient’ and ‘old’. Mintel’s Global New Products Database indicates that product claims including the word "ancient” on packaging grew 56% in the first half of 2016 within China’s beauty and personal care and food and drink and categories. Wang said that consumers are demanding authenticity, and they are increasingly concerned about health and the environment. Value remains another key attribute for consumers. More consumers are also looking at opportunities to be entrepreneurs themselves in a bid to improve financial security during turbulent economic times, and many are choosing subscription purchasing for their fitness and beauty items. Brand loyalty is highest among the middle-class consumers (68% versus 50% for consumers overall). Other factors at work within China include technological advance – such as the Internet of Everything and smart devices – and retail innovation and evolution, such as pop-up stores.
Natasha Spencer, "China’s cosmetics and consumer trends in 2017 part I: A change of pace", Cosmetics Design, January 10, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Aldi Continues To Deliver Grocery Value, Strong Sales

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks in part to strong sales from its newly-launched premium product range, discount grocer Aldi reported a 15 percent increase in U.K. sales in December. The company opened 70 new stores in 2016, and plans to open 70 more this year. An industry analyst said shoppers are embracing value players like Aldi, which emphasizes value and quality, while bracing themselves for difficult economic times ahead. Analysts are expecting more conservative sales improvements from other grocery retailers, like Morrisons and Tesco, of about one percent. [ Image credit: © Rayon- Boissons, Wikimedia  Commons]
"Aldi reports record Christmas sales", BBC, January 09, 2017, © BBC
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Tesco Streamlines Distribution Network

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British grocery chain Tesco is tightening and simplifying its distribution network, reducing the number of distribution centers (to 23 from 25) and bringing all warehouse operations handled by DHL and Wincanton in-house. The changes are part of the company’s two-year-old plan to “ensure Tesco is set up for the future in a rapidly changing retail sector.” The changes will create some redundancies, the company acknowledged, but will also create “new roles” in other parts of the network, including jobs at the Reading and Middlesbrough centers and colleague support roles in most centers. [ Tesco distribution center, Image credit:© Paul Anderson ]
 
"Tesco simplifies distribution operations", News release, Tesco, January 09, 2017, © Tesco PLC
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Canadian Shoppers Buying Less, Making Fewer Trips To Retail Stores, Study Shows

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers in Canada are shopping less, with trips to the retail store per household dropping 2 percent in the year ending October 1, 2016, according to Nielsen. Data from the market research firm revealed 22 percent of Canadian consumers showed concerned about rising food prices. Results of a review of major channels in the country showed spending per trip for grocery and mass merchandisers dropped 1 percent from $51.6 and $63.3 to $51.2 $62.5, respectively. At present, consumers spend an average of $8,492 per year across all retail channels in consumer packaged goods.
"How Canadian Retailers Can Address The Shrinking Consumer Basket", Nielsen, January 09, 2017, © The Nielsen Company (US), LLC
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Walmart CEO Sees Big Challenges Ahead For Retailers, And Big Opportunities

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon believes strongly that retailers need to adapt quickly to rapidly advancing technologies that have accelerated the pace of modern living, particularly when it comes to shopping, purchasing, and taking delivery of products. These technologies will create unprecedented opportunities for retailers. Looking ahead 10 years, he says customers will be able to fulfill everyday needs easily through stores, e-commerce, pick-up, delivery, thanks to sophisticated technologies. Retailers will need to adjust to the fact that customers globally will see what people in other countries have, and will want it too. Lastly, embedded social and environmental sustainability will require tighter collaboration among retailers, NGOs, governments and educational institutions so that customers, associates/employees, shareholders, communities, and suppliers will all benefit. “I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in retail,” McMillon concluded.[Doug McMillon, Image credit: © Shane Bevel (Walmart corporate), Wikimedia  ]
Doug McMillon, "3 Predictions for the Future of Retail – from the CEO of Walmart", Blog entry, Walmart CEO, January 09, 2017, © Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
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Amazon Making Progress With Prestige Skin Care, Provides Rich Content To Engage Consumers

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon continues to build out its offering across new categories and its Amazon Luxury Beauty store shows it will be a contender in premium segments. The company recently added a page targeted at prestige shoppers - Amazon Professional Skin Care -that provides a range of ‘tools and kits to help you develop a complete daily care regimen.’ Amazon offers simple to use filters (shop by concern, expert advice…) along with videos and educational features that engage consumers. Color cosmetic players have for a while offered rich and engaging content but skin care brands have lagged and Amazon is moving to plug the gap - content on the Amazon page exceeds what is available at retailer websites and many beauty blogs.  It also looks to be winning over large brands that were previously dismissive. Elizabeth Arden recently became an official distributor on Amazon’s Luxury Beauty store, a move that will give the online retailer credibility. [Image credit © Innocentj]
Homa Zaryouni, "Amazon Makes Strides in Skin Care", L2 Daily, January 09, 2017, © L2 Inc.
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Beauty Brands Find Risk and Reward In Selling At Sephora

January 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Sephora now has more than 2,300 stores worldwide and some beauty brands are increasingly finding the store challenging to deal with. The store, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, seems to favor LVMH brands, and also has a growing line of private label products that can give it an advantage. An assessment by The Wall Street Journal found that in the makeup area of a Sephora store, LVMH’s beauty brands can occupy nearly half of the shelf space, even though they have only 15 beauty brands compared with over 200 the retailer typically carries. Beauty brands are responding by trying to secure alternate outlets. Estée Lauder has promoted its own website as well as its MAC Cosmetics stores, while L’Oréal has opened stores for its Urban Decay brand. Some brands are also selling in lower market stores such as Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc., a risky practice that can remove allure from a brand.  Brands selling at Sephora are also vulnerable to its own label Sephora Collection line. Sephpora can use its sales data to spot fast rising niches and then develop price competitive alternatives.  [Image credit © Caia Image]
Khadeeja Safdar and Sharon Terlep, "As Sephora Adds Products, Rivalry Heats Up at Its Stores", Wall Street Journal, January 08, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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2017: The Year Of The Brand Chatbot?

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
2017 could the year of the chatbots for brands looking to automate consumer engagement. They reside within Messenger Services, like Skype and Facebook Messenger, as well as internal messenger services, like HipChat. They are becoming increasingly sophisticated with more user functionality, and as artificial intelligence becomes better understood, chatbots will be able to do even more, with development moving from what the bot builders believe consumers want to a machine-learned reflection of what they really want. Chatbots will proliferate and become an essential element of any integrated marketing campaign, supporting highly targeted campaigns delivered in the environment in which the consumer spends the majority of their online time.  
John Mccarthy, "What, Why and How: Chatbots for Brands", The Drum, January 06, 2017, © Carnyx Group Ltd.
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Starbucks Puts Food Waste To Good Use In New Line Of Lattes

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Starbucks has introduced a new latte line that not only tastes good but is eco-friendly. The new espressos are flavored with a syrup made from the husks of coffee cherries that are normally discarded when the beans are harvested. The company uses the syrup to flavor the Cascara line – the Spanish word means “husk” or “shell” – that is subtly sweet with hints of maple and brown sugar without being fruity.  [ Coffee cherries; image credit: © Jonathan Wilkins  ]
Carly Stern, "Good to the Last Drop! Starbucks Unveils New Latte Made with the WASTE of a Coffee Plant - and It's Surprisingly Delicious", Mail Escapes, January 06, 2017, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Shifting Power Balance Between Brands And Retailers As Brands Diversity Channels

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
For decades, brands and traditional retailers have been joined at the hip, but that mutual dependency is starting to change. Consumers are purchasing ever more online: in 2016 and for the first time more shoppers (51 percent) made purchases online, up from 48 percent a year earlier (ComScore). And the range is extending, with e-commerce pushing into previously largely untouched categories, such as groceries and prestige. Some retail stores are having to scale back – this week Sears Holdings announced it would close nearly 150 Kmart and Sears outlets, while Macy’s plans to shut 68 stores by the middle of 2017, but for the most part, brands seem indifferent. Brands are increasingly investing to reach consumers wherever they can find them. "Ultimately, we don’t care how or where consumers get our products," said Sarah Ortman, National Associate Director at Clorox. "We just want to be where they are." As brands diversity their consumer contact points and make ever more sales in non-conventional channels, prospects for traditional stores continue to decline. [Image credit © Hybrid Images]
Ilyse Liffreing, "Do brands care if bricks-and-mortars survive the Amazon era?", Campaign Live, January 06, 2017, © Haymarket Media Group Ltd.
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Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Profit Up On Revenue Slide

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walgreens Boots Alliance reported a rise in fiscal 2017 first quarter (ended November 30, 2016) diluted EPS of 6.8 percent to $1.10, but sales decreased 1.8 percent to $28.5 billion (a rise of 1.1 percent on a constant currency basis). The company is raising the lower end of its fiscal year guidance by five cents a share, and now expects adjusted diluted net EPS of $4.90 to $5.20. CEO Stefano Pessina said the company was “pleased” with first quarter performance, but growth in the second half of the fiscal year will “reflect the new strategic pharmacy partnerships we announced last year.” [ Image credit: © Anthony92931 ]
"Walgreens Boots Alliance Reports Fiscal 2017 First Quarter Results", News release, Walgreens Boots Alliance, January 06, 2017, © Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.
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Sam's Club Names CMO Furner EVP And CEO

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart said it has appointed Sam's Club chief marketing officer Joe Furner as EVP and CEO of the retailer's warehouse-format business. Effective February 1, 2017, Furner will succeed Rosalind Brewer who is retiring from the company. EVP and CMO of Sam's Club since October 2015, Furner has occupied several management positions with the retailer.
Tracy Maple, "Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club promotes its chief merchandising officer to CEO", Internet Retailer, January 06, 2017, © Vertical Web Media
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Wal-Mart De Mexico Posts Strong Sales Growth For December 2016

January 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart de Mexico, S.A.B. de C.V. reported sales in December 2016 grew 11.6 percent to 63.46 billion pesos, compared with the same month in 2015. Sales in Mexico rose 8.4 percent, compared with December 2015, with same-store sales expanding 7.5 percent during the period. Sales for Central America increased 9.0 percent, on a constant currency basis, with comp store sales growing 5.2 percent.
"Wal-Mart de Mexico Centroamerica Reports December 2016 Sales", Walmex, January 05, 2017, © Walmex
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I Want My Beauty Treatment And I Want It NOW!

January 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers increasingly want their beauty treatments as and when they want them and new businesses are emerging to serve this demand. Two broad business models are competing – retail ‘bars’ and apps offering at-home service. Retail bars offer a very defined service, often on a walk-in basis. Examples include Skin Laundry for a ‘15-minute laser & light facial’ ($65 base price), drybar for a wash and blow dry ($45) or Madison Reed Color Bar that will touch up your roots for $45 in 45 minutes. Other services available from similar beauty bars include makeup applications, chemical peels and eyelash extension application.

Against these retail offerings are apps that seek to be the Uber of beauty services, bringing together a range of professionals who will provide services at-home. Leaders include Zeel Massage (‘same-day, in-home massages with the best licensed and vetted massage therapists’),  The Ritualist (‘in-home skin care treatment’), Glamsquad (‘Your pro team for hair, makeup and nails—anytime, anywhere’), Vênsette (‘Luxury blowouts, hairstyles, and makeup on demand’),and most recently, Colour (‘the first app for in-home hairstyling, on demand, created by women of color, for women of color’). Both business models work best in dense urban populations but this is truer of apps that need to balance demand and work flow for a team of contractors.  In both cases, venture funding is bankrolling service rollouts in the hope of securing a position in ‘convenient beauty.’ [Image credit © Image Source]
Rachel Strugatz, "Beauty Services War: Beauty ‘Bars’ Versus On-Demand", Women’s Wear Daily, January 05, 2017, © Penske Media Corporation
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Amazon Fulfillment Services Reports Significant Growth In 2016

January 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon said it delivered more than two billion packages to 185 countries for sellers, brand owners and entrepreneurs in 2016 under its Fulfillment by Amazon program. The company said worldwide FBA shipments grew 50 percent during the holiday season. Amazon Prime members contributed significantly to the success of the program, ordering millions of items from sellers in the Seller Fulfilled Prime program that offers free two- or next-day shipping. Sellers worldwide using the FBA service grew more than 70 percent, while shipments grew 80 percent. [ Image credit: © Amazon  ]
"Sellers on Amazon are Thriving: Fulfillment by Amazon Delivered More than 2 Billion Items for Sellers Worldwide in 2016", News release, Amazon, January 04, 2017, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Gen Z Is Techno-Savvy, But More Cautious, Conservative, Industrious

January 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A college marketing agency survey has determined that Generation Z, known as the first “digital natives,” easily adapts to new technologies, expects instant gratification of needs and desires, and yet is more cautious and disciplined in the face of economic uncertainty than one might expect. The Fluent survey of 501 college students found that Gen Z-ers: have jobs (75 percent), spend less time gaming, use cash less often, prefer in-store shopping (54 percent), tend to avoid cable TV and radio, increasingly cook for themselves, are hooked on social media to connect with friends or get news updates, and want to work for midsize companies when they graduate.
"Fluent College Student Survey Reveals Rising, Falling Trends among Gen Z; New Behaviors Reflect Social and Economic Realities", Marketwired, January 04, 2017, © Nasdaq, Inc.
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Walmart Hands Haworth Responsibility For Wide Range Of Advertising/Media Efforts

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has officially dropped Mediavest as its advertising shop, replacing it with Target’s former agency, Haworth Marketing + Media. Haworth’s new role, according to U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Tony Rogers, will extend “well beyond” that of a traditional media shop. The company said Haworth will provide a number of media services beyond planning and placement. These will include developing strategy for brand integrations and developing strategic partnerships in the marketing, media and entertainment arenas. Walmart has posted 10 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth, including a 1.2 percent 3rd quarter gain in the U.S. Target reported a same-store sales decline of 0.2 percent for its fiscal third quarter, and flat sales for the first nine months. Walmart spent $2.1 billion on U.S. advertising in 2015. [ Image credit: ©  Walmart ]
Jack Neff, "Walmart Shifts Massive Media Account to Target's Former Agency Haworth", Advertising Age, January 03, 2017, © Crain Communications
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Research Suggests An Omnichannel Strategy Can Boost Traditional Retailer Sales

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In a rare piece of good news for traditional retailers that have for years seen slow growth and share declines – digital channel sales rose 23% in 2015 and 26% of all online retail sales now go to Amazon – research published in Harvard Business Review suggests that an omnichannel approach can give them an advantage. Omnichannel strategies aim to engage shoppers through multiple touchpoints and provide a seamless shopping experience across digital and brick-and-mortar platforms. Retailers that do this well can differentiate themselves through providing a multi-channel experience pure-plays simply can’t.  Researchers found that omnichannel consumers, which are by far the majority (73% in this study), commonly interact with retailers in many different ways – in-store, online, on mobile. Importantly, these consumer spend some 4% more per shopping occasion than single-channel shoppers, while customers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, when compared to those who used just one channel. They are also more loyal, as measured by repeat shopping trips and likelihood they’ll recommend a brand to family and friends. [Image credit © Zero Creatives]
Emma Sopadjieva et al., "A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works", Harvard Business Review, January 03, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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New Lidl Tagline Hammers Home Emphasis On Quality And Price

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
German discount grocer Lidl is launching a new strapline to further emphasize its focus on lower prices but not at the expense of quality. The strapline – an easily remembered subheading or phrase – is “Big on Quality, Lidl on Price.” It is not clear whether the new strapline represents a broader brand repositioning, or will replace the old #LidlSurprises tagline, or run alongside it. The idea of the new strapline is to emphasize to skeptical consumers that Lidl’s product lines do indeed have a quality provenance. The company’s sales rose 5.7 percent in the 16 weeks ending December 4, representing a growth rate that is slowing somewhat, but still far outpacing the grocery market’s 0.7 percent. [ Image credit: ©  Wikimedia Commons.]
Sarah Vizard, "Lidl Reveals ‘Big on Quality, Lidl on Price’ Strapline", Marketing Week, January 03, 2017, © Centaur Communications Ltd (a member of the Centaur Media plc group)
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Amazon, Target Were Only Retailers To Boost TV And Digital Holiday Advertising

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
It almost seems as if the big retail companies got out of Amazon’s way this holiday season, at least when it came to advertising on TV. Bucking the trend away from TV advertising – Target was an exception – Amazon aggressively boosted its ad spending on TV by 76 percent, at the same time increasing digital ad spending by 224 percent. Meanwhile, Walmart cut television advertising by 10 percent, Sears by 53 percent, and Nordstrom by 45 percent. Target was the only retailer to boost ad spending across every medium, including print, TV and online. Its spending on print ads went up four percent, while TV spending rose 54 percent. [Image credit: © Amazon ]
Deena M. Amato-McCoy, "Amazon increased holiday TV ad spend in a big way", Chain Store Age, December 29, 2016, © Chain Store Age
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Burger King’s Parent Company Promises To Get Rid Of Antibiotics In Chicken

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King and donut chain Tim Hortons, has announced plans to reduce antibiotic use in its chickens. The company, which has been under pressure for months from public health advocates, has now updated the “responsibility” page of its website to explain the new commitment to curbing the use of antibiotics “deemed by the World Health Organization as ‘critically important’ to human medicine." The changes will be implemented in the U.S. this year and in Canada next year. [ Image credit: ©  Burger King Canada ]
Tom Polansek and Lisa Baertlein, "Burger King, Tim Hortons to curb antibiotics used in chicken", Reuters, December 29, 2016, © Thomson Reuters
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Online Grocery Deliverer Fulfills Orders Using Advanced Warehousing, Robotics

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
British online grocery delivery firm Ocado is applying an array of advanced technologies to speed grocery purchases to consumer homes. The company maintains a 350,000 square-foot warehouse near Birmingham that beats Amazon at automated order fulfillment. Most of the 48,000 lines of products it sells are perishable, many chilled or frozen. The complex, time-sensitive optimization challenge is handled by sophisticated technologies like swarm robotics – teams of robots that cooperate to find, lift and grab products from shelves – as well as autonomous delivery vehicles, and machine-learned preferences. The company is expanding its warehousing and robotics capabilities to be able to handle and deliver more products even faster in the future. [ Image credit: ©  Wikimedia  Commons ]
Jamie Condliffe, "The Robotic Grocery Store of the Future Is Here", MIT Technology Review, December 29, 2016, © MIT Technology Review
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Premium Frozen Entrees Are A Smash Hit In The U.K.

December 25, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Frozen food companies in the U.K. are finding that so-called “upmarket” frozen entrees are catching on among consumers who are concerned about wasting fresh food. Research by Unilever determined that fresh food equal to about four million Christmas dinners was tossed in the rubbish this holiday season, including 17.2 million Brussels sprouts, 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes. Available now from companies like Iceland are premium frozen versions of gourmet king prawns, sweet potato chips, quinoa, Canadian lobster tails (220g), en papillote sea bass fillets, luxury rack of lamb, potatoes, and desserts. They are “flying off the shelves,” according to trade magazinet The Grocer. [ Image credit: ©  ]
Katie Morley, "Posh Frozen Meals Winning Over Waste-Conscious Middle-Class Families", The Telegraph, December 25, 2016, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Discount Stores, Drugstores, Grocery Stores Favorite Sources Of Health And Beauty Aids Of Almost Three-Fourths Of US Consumers, Report Says

December 23, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
In the US, discount stores, drugstores, and grocery stores combined are the top store formats, with 73.8 percent of consumers purchasing health and beauty care products as of November 2016, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology. Data from the market research firm's report, “US Health and Beauty AIDS Consumer Survey” revealed online stores account for 4.2 percent, significantly higher than the 1.0 percent recorded in November 2011. About 42 percent of respondents said they purchased some or all of their health and beauty aids online, while online retailers accounted for 8.7 percent of value share in the segment.
"US Health and Beauty AIDS Consumer Survey: Amazon is Not Only Competitive in Price, but Also in Customer Satisfaction", Fung Global Retail Tech, December 23, 2016, © The Fung Group
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Grocers In Kentucky Cooperate With Gleaners To Reduce Food Waste, Feed The Poor

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Kentucky organization has enlisted the cooperation of Costco and other grocery merchants in its efforts to glean unsold foods – usually perishable goods pulled from shelves before the sell-by date – and donate them to charities that distribute them to the needy. GleanKy volunteers pick up the unsold products and cart them to local shelters, soup kitchens, churches and other organizations that operate food pantries. GleanKy says it has gleaned anywhere from 200 to 1,200 pounds of unsold food in a day: sometimes 500 pounds of potatoes, sometimes 400 pounds of bananas, etc. Besides Costco, volunteer gleaners gather produce from grocers like Lucky's, Good Foods Co-op, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Market and Whole Foods Market. [ Image credit: ©  GleanKy.org ]
Janet Patton, "400 Pounds of Extra Blueberries? No Problem; GleanKy gets Food to those Who Need It", Lexington Herald Leader, December 22, 2016, © Lexington Herald Leader
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Is The Contrary Consumer Simply Frustrated With Marketers?

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The job of marketing is being complicated by contradictory consumer behavior. Consumers say they want a slower life but make quick purchase choices, and that health and wellness is a key priority for them, yet sales of products with unhealthy ingredients are still growing. The author wonders if the consumer is simply cynical of the marketers’ messages, and maybe that’s just a part of a broader feeling of distrust of a range of institutions, including government. Promises are made, and then broken. Trends help create the assumptions on which marketers base their approach to reaching the consumer, but those assumptions are increasingly being questioned. They are too general, unsophisticated and often flawed. There have always been “contrary consumers”, but now there is also a growing band of consumers that don’t like to be told what to do and like.  
"The Contrarian Consumer", Adworld, December 22, 2016, © Adworld Ventures Limited
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Fast-Food Restaurants Hope To Match Success Of Pizza Delivery Chains

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Competition from supermarket food, sluggish traffic, and even the grueling presidential election have all dampened restaurant sales. But not pizza chain sales, which are booming. The demand for pizza has pushed share of Domino’s Pizza up 45 percent, and Papa John’s up 60 percent. Analysts point to several key reasons for this: pizza is first of all cheap and fast. And thanks to smartphone apps and ordering technology on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Apple TV, pizza is increasingly easy to order. These factors together have insulated pizza chains from the woes afflicting restaurants that rely on walk-in or drive-through traffic. But that may be changing. McDonald’s and other fast-food eateries are testing delivery service, and may soon develop the kind of customer loyalty programs that have worked so well for Domino’s and Papa John’s. [ Image credit: © Papa John's  ]
Leslie Patton, "Nobody Is Eating Out Anymore, They're Just Ordering Pizza", Bloomberg Pursuits, December 22, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Sephora To Revamp Underperforming Fragrance Category Using Education and Engagement

December 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Sephora is looking to revamp its fragrance business, building its strategy around engagement and education. Fragrance is an underperforming category at Sephora where it accounts for about 10 percent of sales, lagging behind beauty and skincare. CEO, Calvin McDonald, recognizes that Sephora’s current offering fails to differentiate and that the category generally has been “commoditized by discounts.” Working on the insight that buying a fragrance is both a bewildering and personal experience, Sephora is looking to engage and educate consumers so they feel empowered to buy. Online it has buying guides to help consumers clarify their perfume profiles and in-store it has set up demonstrations.  “We know that finding a fragrance is a personal experience, but it needs to be simplified and smart as it can be an overwhelming selection process,” said Brooke Banwart, VP of fragrance merchandising at Sephora. The company has been experimenting with “InstaScent” stations (previously called “Poof”) that let customers smell isolated notes to figure out which elements of fragrances they prefer and to learn about different “scent families.” The approach is similar to its beauty strategy where it uses video tutorial stations to help customers experiment with and perfect different makeup looks. 
 
Fragrance generally looks set for a shift to demystify and simplify purchasing, with valuable lessons likely available from other categories such as wine that has for years worked to make buying fun (and not stuffy) and shows ongoing innovation with different ways to purchase.  [ Image credit © David Goldman ]
Hilary Milnes, "How Sephora is Revamping its Fragrance Category", Glossy, December 21, 2016, © Digiday Media
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A Busy Year For Sephora

December 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
2016 has been a busy year for Sephora. Online, it has two new bot-powered beauty tools for Facebook's Messenger. The new Sephora Reservation Assistant allows customers to book appointments for makeovers at Sephora stores, and Color Match is a shade matching extension for the Sephora Virtual Artist bot. It has also been working to provide more of an ominchannel experience for shoppers, and is also rumored to be looking to expand its physical footprint too, with a store outlet in London’s Westfield shopping center. Further afield, it has see growth in India and opened a new distribution center in Poland. In Brazil, it is expanding distribution by rolling out its products in El Corte Ingles stores.  
Louise Prance Miles, "2016 in review: Sephora – the digital disruptor", Global Cosmetics News, December 19, 2016, © Global Cosmetic Media Limited
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Supermarket Trends Will Stress Gaining, Maintaining, Shopper Loyalty

December 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A supermarket analyst says the top trends of 2017 will improve customer loyalty to stores and lead to better informed shoppers. Trends include greater use of digital technologies, faster checkout, greater variety in the produce department, more meal kits, and the availability of more detailed product information. One way to maintain shopper loyalty, according to John Karolefski, is for stores to increase emphasis on digital marketing. Grocers will embed beacons in shelves shelves, signs and product displays. The sensors interact with smartphones to provide coupons and other discounts. In addition, look for more mobile apps as a way to offer discounts and specials to shoppers. Lastly, expect online grocery ordering and delivery to grow as shoppers become accustomed to the convenience. [ Image credit: ©  Wikipedia ]
"Top Trends in Grocery Shopping for 2017 Announced", News release, GroceryStories.com, December 16, 2016, © GroceryStories.com
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Planned Gold Rush-Theme Ohio Eatery Will Feature Biscuits, Bourbon

December 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Two restaurant veterans plan to open a new bar/eatery in Pendleton, Ohio, next June that will “tell the story of the gold rush and westward expansion through frontier food and drink,” primarily biscuits and bourbon. An example of the cuisine to be served at the Boomtown Biscuit Bar is the Pick and Shovel open-face biscuit sandwich, including the Yukon with its buttermilk fried chicken, sawmill gravy, fried egg, smoked cheddar and thick-cut bacon. Also on the menu are Prospector Plates, like the Hidalgo: gluten-free corn griddle cakes topped with a poached egg, house chorizo, verde salsa and cilantro. The beverage menu will also stick to the “westward expansion” theme, centering on bourbon, “a favorite drink of prospectors.” [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons  ]
Andy Brownfield, "Cincinnati's First Biscuit Bar Coming to Pendleton", American City Business Journals, December 16, 2016, © American City Business Journals
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Metro Group AG Spins Off Independent Companies In Food, Consumer Electronics

December 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Germany’s Metro Group is spinning off two independent companies as part of a “demerger” in the wholesale food and consumer electronics markets. The wholesale food spinoff will be called simply Metro AG, and the electronics company will be known as Ceconomy. Metro AG will specialize in wholesale and food retail; primarily comprising Metro Cash & Carry and Real, in addition to delivery specialists and other companies. Metro is already operating in 35 countries with local wholesale companies and delivery specialists (Classic Fine Foods, Rungis Express, Pro à Pro, Midban). Metro Cash & Carry gives entrepreneurial freedom to the individual countries, allowing for greater customer focus. For 13 consecutive quarters, like-for-like sales at Metro have increased and profits have “improved substantially.”
"Metro Group: The launch of two strong companies", News release, Metro Group AG, December 15, 2016, © Metro Group AG
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The Drone Delivery Era Begins With Amazon Test In U.K.

December 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon launched a drone delivery test in the U.K. on December 7 that involves only two customers. The test will be expanded to several dozen, and then eventually several hundred, customers who live close to its first Prime Air fulfillment center near Cambridge. Drones are loaded with packages up to five pounds and then rolled out on rails for takeoff. The goal is to ensure that all deliveries arrive within a half an hour. The first Amazon drone delivery – it took 13 minutes from online order to drop off – was an Amazon Fire TV and a bag of popcorn. The drones only fly during daylight and optimum weather conditions.
Frederic Lardinois, "Amazon starts Prime Air drone delivery trial in the UK — but only with two beta users", Tech Crunch, December 15, 2016, © AOL Inc
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Carrefour Expands Speedy Delivery Service In Paris Area

December 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
French retailer Carrefour announced expansion of its “ultra-fast delivery service” of about 2,000 daily-use products for the Paris and Neuilly-sur-Seine areas. Products are delivered within an hour, though there is also a 30-minute option. The delivery cost is €4.90 ($5.11). Customers need not subscribe to use the service and there is no minimum purchase. The service was tested for two months in Paris before the launch.
"Carrefour extends its express one-hour delivery service", News release, Carrefour, December 15, 2016, © Carrefour
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Aldi Competitor Lidl To Plant Its Retail Grocery Flag On U.S. Soil In 2017

December 13, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Fast-growing German discount supermarket chain Lidl is laying the groundwork for expansion into the U.S. retail food market. The company, a competitor of highly successful discount grocer Aldi, has begun recruiting store managers at hiring events in North Carolina and Virginia. Aldi operates 1,600 stores in the U.S. and is expanding rapidly. Lidl has 10,000 stores in 27 countries in Europe, and expects to open 120-150 stores on the East Coast by the end of 2017. The increased competition will put pressure on conventional grocery retailers like Kroger and Wegmans.
Emma Thomasson , "German discounter Lidl starts hiring for U.S. stores launch", Reuters, December 13, 2016, © Reuters
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Aldi UK To Launch New Anti-Ageing Skin Line For A Limited Period

December 12, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Aldi, the German discount supermarket, is launching a new anti-ageing skincare line in the UK, called Lacura VITACELL. It’s aimed at competing with premium skincare products, and contains Complex TCR3® to prolong the life of skin cells, as well as stem cells from sea plants to promote skin elasticity and structure. The products will be on the shelves as a Specialbuy in early February 2017 with limited supply.
"Aldi Launches Premium Anti-Ageing Skincare Range", International Supermarket News, December 12, 2016, © Retail Magazine
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India's E-commerce Market Expected To Expand 200 Percent In 2015-2025

December 11, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
India's e-commerce market, valued at $19.2 billion in 2015, is forecast to expand more than 200 percent by 2025. Growth in the online retail sector is driven by many factors, including rising penetration of the internet and smartphone ownership, expanding online consumer base, changing lifestyles among Indian consumers, and advances in payment technology. Also, the market is expected to see an increase in merger and acquisition activity, driven by international retailers, such as Alibaba, Amazon, and Walmart, seeking to acquire or merge with the country's leading e-commerce companies.
Kristina Balciauskaite, "Anticipated E-Commerce Boom will Drive Logistics Industry in India", Euromonitor, December 11, 2016, © Euromonitor
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Costco Finally Getting Serious About Ecommerce

December 8, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Costco acknowledges that it’s lagging in ecommerce. As competitors built out their offerings – in the last year Target has invested in IT and improving its search function while Walmart tripled its online range and now offers grocery pickup at hundreds of stores – Costco remains largely a bystander.  Its online sales of around $4 billion (about 3% of sales) are lower than those of much smaller stores such as Best Buy or Macy’s.  Chief Financial Officer, Richard Galanti, recognizes that the company doesn’t meet industry standards but says that this will change. Improvements include increasing the number of high-end brands available online, improving search and streamlining checkout. It will also rollout better order tracking and simplify returns. In all this, Costco must balance its desire to offer a limited number of items (the average store carries about 8,000 against some 150,000 at a Walmart) and its desire to remain a physical destination where it feels it can better differentiate.
Phil Wahba, "Costco's Battle Plan for the E-Commerce Wars", Fortune, December 08, 2016, © Time Inc.
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Mintel Report Highlights Four North American Consumer Trends

December 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Mintel’s new report on North America consumer trends highlights four topics. The first, which the author calls “The Echo Chamber of Secrets”, suggests that the rush to personalization means consumers are only being shown ideas and services they already identify with and brands need more disruption to help reach inside consumers’ “bubbles” to encourage them to extend beyond their comfort zones. “Reality 2.0” reflects the growing demand for novel experiences that enable the consumer to become more immersed in their chosen worlds, through technology like virtual and augmented reality, and live streaming. Mintel says consumers are becoming frustrated with inaction by “the system” and encourages brands to “Be the Change”. The fourth trend, “Life in Sync”, suggests that the strides being made by artificial intelligence are making life smarter and more seamless.
Carli Gernot , "Trend Tracker: North America Consumer Trends 2017 (1/2)", Mintel, December 07, 2016, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Whole Foods Market Experts Predict Flavor, Ingredients Trends

December 6, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The global buyers for Whole Foods Market have pooled their observations on flavors, ingredients and consumer food preferences to create a trend forecast for 2017. Look for, for example, more wellness tonics, tinctures and beverages beyond fresh-pressed juices. The drinks and tonics will make use of botanicals with roots in alternative medicine and global cultural traditions. Exotic ingredients include kava, Tulsi/holy basil, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, medicinal mushrooms, and adaptogenic herbs. Products leading the trend include Kor Organic Raw Shots and Suja Drinking Vinegars. Other trends: products from byproducts (e.g., leftover whey from yogurt); coconut everything; Japanese food, beyond sushi; creative condiments; and five more.
"Whole Foods Market Serves up Top 10 Trends for 2017", News release, Whole Foods Market, December 06, 2016, © Whole Foods Market
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Amazon Go To Open Its First Store In Early 2017

December 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
If you prefer to shop in-store for your groceries but hate waiting in line at the checkout, then maybe Amazon Go is for you. You check in with the Amazon app as you enter the shop, choose what you want and add it to your bag, and then walk out. Using what Amazon is calling “Just Walk Out” technology that it says you might see in driver-less cars, the app knows what you’ve selected and will bill your Amazon account for the goods. The first Amazon Go store, at 2131 7th Ave, Seattle, WA, is scheduled to open early next year, although it’s currently open to Amazon employees in its Beta form. It’s not yet clear if Amazon plans to roll this out to other retailers.
Curtis Silver, "Amazon Announces No-Line Retail Shopping Experience With Amazon Go", Forbes, December 05, 2016, © Forbes Media LLC
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In LatAm, Direct Sales Struggles In Face Of Multiple Challenges

December 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Reach of direct selling in LatAm, traditionally its strongest market, is falling and now stands at a three-year low. Today, over 62 million households in the region buy from door-to-door reps but this is down from a high of about 64 million. Its popularity has been hit by the rise of convenience stores but especially drugstores that are proving the preferred channel for many consumers, notably 70% in Peru and 55% in Columbia. Investment in and reinvention of drugstores is capturing consumers – they can test and compare products in the store, pay by more options and get advice from instore advisors. Online is also taking share with consumers attracted by its range of products, price and convenience. Mary Kay is one player that is managing to buck the trend. Its investments to modernize, better reward reps and an online support channel have enabled it to grow penetration over 80% in the last three years.
Cecilia Alva, "LatAms' favorite channel faces new challenges", Kantar Worldpanel, December 05, 2016, © Kantar Worldpanel
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Snack Maker Goes Direct-To-Consumer With Holiday Cookie Website

December 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The maker of Oreo cookies hopes to take advantage of the growing number of U.S. consumers buying food and beverages online. Mondelez launched a website this month to sell holiday Oreo tins for $19.99. The site lets customers send cookies to friends using only a mobile number or e-mail address. The technology was developed by a 60-person in-house e-commerce team – tasked with generating $1 billion in e-tail sales by 2020 – after Mondelez found last year that the cost of outsourced e-commerce development and management cut into profits. The company’s new technology will be used to sell other products online in the U.S. and abroad. Whether food manufacturers can succeed at online direct-to-consumer brand marketing without Amazon’s logistical clout remains to be seen.
Craig Giammona, "With Amazon Looming, Oreo Maker Dives Deeper Into Online Retail", Bloomberg Technology, December 05, 2016, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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McDonald’s Plans To Get A Bigger Share Of The Upscale Coffee Market

December 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The coffee business is flourishing in the U.S., but not so much at fast-food eateries. While coffee sales at café-style outlets rose 10 percent in 2015, sales went up only 3.3 percent at burger restaurants. McCafe generates $4 billion a year in U.S. sales, but McDonald’s wants to crack the upscale espresso, latte and mocha market. It will revitalize the eight-year-old McCafe offering with more special deals, a variety of seasonal beverages and increased marketing of the coffee rewards program. In addition, following in the footsteps of rival Starbucks, McDonald’s will make greater efforts to source its coffee beans from sustainable growers.
Leslie Patton, "McDonald’s Revamps Its $4 Billion McCafe Brand", Bloomberg, December 05, 2016, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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Customers Of Vegan Bakery Don’t Care About The Missing Butter Or Eggs

December 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Vegan Treats Bakery in Bethlehem, Pa., attracts customers from hundreds, even thousands, of miles away. Owner Danielle Konya says she’s had visitors from Europe and Israel. She started baking vegan treats for herself at home in the late 1990s, and now employs 40 people in a 1,600-square foot shop. Instead of eggs, butter, and milk she uses potato starch, tapioca starch, silken tofu, and pureed fruit (e.g., applesauce or mashed pumpkin). Konya says the only thing that matters is the flavor of the treats she bakes. “No one takes a bite of the Chocolate Peppermint Dream cookies and asks where the butter is.”
Kristen Hartke, "The Secrets of a Vegan Bakery that Entices Customers to Drive Across the State", The Washington Post, December 05, 2016, © The Washington Post
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Cronut Creator Partners With Baileys To Invent A New Dessert

December 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Dominique Ansel, famous as the creator of the hybrid Cronut a couple of years ago, has collaborated with Baileys to create a sweet dessert dubbed Baileys Bakeout Noodles. It looks like ramen but is actually bread pudding noodles – made with kataifi shredded dough – soaked in Baileys Original Irish Cream and covered with a passion fruit "egg" and a coconut marshmallow "fish cake." A packet of "hot sauce" – actually cherry jam – comes with the dessert.
Katie Richards, "The Creator of the Cronut Made a Ramen-Like Holiday Treat With Baileys It's Mother's Latest Project", AdWeek, December 05, 2016, © Adweek
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Ulta Target Millennials With AR App, Seeking To Make Buying Fun And Interactive

December 2, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Online sales for Ulta Beauty continue to grow strongly –Q3 online sales rose 59.3% from $46.2 million to $73.6 million, and now comprise 6.5% of total sales, up from 5.0% last year.  Some two-thirds of traffic is coming via mobile and the company is seeking to play to this with the launch of Glam Lab, an iOS and Android app that lets shoppers virtually try out products before buying them. Users upload a selfie or choose a model with a similar complexion then choose the products and shades to test.  “It’s a great thing for millennials who wanted to have a more interactive experience,” said CEO Mary Dillon.  Hints of the company’s intent came clear in October when it filed a trademark for Glam Lab that would be a multi-platform application that would include augmented reality.  
 
 


 
Matt Lindner, "Ulta Goes Glam on Mobile", Internet Retailer, December 02, 2016, © Vertical Web Media
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Marketers Must Rethink Their Approach For Gen-Z Consumers

December 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for predictions for the coming year, and Kantar Millward Brown have weighed in with their thoughts on how companies  will have to market to Generation-Z, the post-Millennials group. This group wants creative content led by mobile, and marketers will have to create strong brand experiences for them, including sophisticated and brand-centric programmatic targeting, rather than more intrusive media that risks ad blocking. Kantar Millward Brown provides six takeaways: brands will re-think for the digital space, emphasizing issues such as authenticity and transparency; brand experience is increasingly key; content marketing will gain momentum, particularly on mobile, with marketers innovating and experimenting in content and formats; advertisers and their agencies will need more sophisticated and blended targeting approaches to drive brand effectiveness; the advertising industry will be forced to respond to ad blocking; and advertisers and agencies will be given more opportunity to leverage media synergies.
"Media & Digital Predictions 2017", Kantar Milward Brown, December 01, 2016, © Kantar Milward Brown
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CPG Companies Reap Major Benefits By Managing Complexity

December 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies need to constantly launch new SKUs to keep up with changing consumer preferences and new retail formats. But introducing new SKUs inevitably leads to increased complexity in the whole business, and that’s not a trivial challenge. Complexity among food-and-beverage manufacturers, for example, costs as much as $50 billion in gross profit in the U.S. alone. But, according to McKinsey & Co., controlling complexity in CPG doesn’t have to be a long-term or even difficult job. It can be done in three or four months. Companies need to assess the situation and identify relevant “complexity-management levers.” They need to prioritize, plan and implement initiatives. The results? A simpler supply chain system that leads to better financial performance, faster innovation, and greater customer satisfaction.
Christina Adams et al., "Simpler is (sometimes) better: Managing complexity in consumer goods", Report, McKinsey & Company, December 01, 2016, © McKinsey & Company
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Walgreens CEO Sees Positives In Consolidation Of US Drug Store Market, Seeks Geographic Expansion

December 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Stefano Pessina, Walgreens CEO, sees large benefits from market consolidation, arguing that unified control brings efficiencies and the chance to deliver affordable care: “If there are many services are under the same head it’s easier to coordinate the dynamics and lead in an efficient way.” Walgreens Boots Alliance is currently working to close a $17 billion merger with Rite Aid, a combination that would bring together the world’s largest drugstore operator, Walgreens Boots Alliance, with its 13,000 stores in 11 countries, and Rite Aid that operates about 4,600 stores around the US, mainly on the East and West Coasts. Pessina seeks to expand geographically to become a truly national player with “an even presence everywhere in the U.S.”
Michela Tindera, "Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina: 'Consolidation Is A Good Thing For This Market'", Forbes, December 01, 2016, © Forbes Media LLC
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