The monster International Home & Housewares Show hit Chicago a couple of weeks ago with 2,000+ exhibitors and some 60,000 attendees. This is the place for retail buyers — from the likes of Walmart to small specialty shops — to gain perspective and see what’s new.
Celebrity chefs and their wares were in abundance — for good reason. A top trend is the return of The Kitchen as the connecting point within a home. For meeting, eating, working and entertaining, the kitchen has become the hub. People are cooking again, and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes to save money. Often for health. Most interestingly for self expression and status. That’s right — status. This has divergent meanings, from social standing to being eco-conscious.
A highlight of the show for me was a keynote presentation by Tom Mirabile, the SVP, Global Trend & Design at Lifetime Brands, entitled, “Staying Relevant to an Unpredictable Consumer.” From fashion to food to housewares, many marketers are operating with a dangerously outdated view of today’s consumers. For instance, most people look at a “married with kids” family as typical when in fact only 20% of U.S. households fit that mold.
Currently in the U.S., two groups — Boomers and Gen Y’s — account for the largest numbers. While Boomers are trying to age gracefully, Gen Y’s are resourceful and seeking ways to express their creativity. Yet a desire for wellness factors into the food choices of both groups in a big way as people realize that to enjoy a higher quality of life, health is critical.
What were some of the key insights from the show? Functional Design was celebrated as evidenced by the shapes, colors and ergonomics of kitchen gadgets and wares. Appliances that allow for personalization were in abundance, like the Soda Stream machine that allows the user to create infinite varieties of flavors. Eco-friendly products were pervasive with lots of bamboo and other natural materials. And this is the show where Pantone unveils the color of the year. Going into 2014, let’s all celebrate Emerald (PMS 17-5641) for a big dose of harmony and balance.
I’ve recently noticed a fair amount of media coverage on a supposed “phenomenon” – men who shop for groceries. Absurd, right?! From St. Louis, “Schnuck Markets released consumer research showing that 6 percent more men have become their household’s primary shopper compared to five years ago.” The story goes on to cite an ESPN study that found men do the shopping 31 percent of the time, up 14 percent from the 1980s.
The way most of the coverage is framed, you’d think it was 1942 again. While multiple reasons for men heading to the stores are cited, the weak economy is viewed as the biggest force at work here. Apparently more out-of-work men are home and need to pick up some of the chores. It is inferred that women are the “breadwinners” so men are forced to shop and prepare meals.
Never mind that men and women increasingly share household management duties and anecdotally grocery shopping seems way more fun than other “chores” – like vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom. Or that the incidence of marriage and “traditional families” in the US has plummeted (and has been declining for decades). Men are single “heads of household” and single parents, too. And if they don’t get to the grocery store once in a while, they’ll starve.
We’ve tracked the increase in male shopping – and their growing interest in food – in our last 5 years of buyer surveys here at CBD. Our recent research points to a much more meaningful trend – that is, guys actually enjoy exploring the grocery aisles. Men are cooking more, they like to try new things and they are taking responsibility for what they eat.
This year, we’ve found that:
- Younger men (29 and under) often shop for themselves and are motivated most by convenience. They shop often (not stocking up on items), shop quickly and purchase spontaneously.
- Gen X men (30–45) are the least likely to shop for specific dietary needs. These are the guys often shopping for a family. Expedience and budget are their primary drivers.
- Boomer men (46–60) are more leisurely shoppers who are not as convenience oriented and the least price-conscious of any group, male or female.
Most retail environments and product manufacturers struggle with how to attract the male shopper. It’s funny to read about stores setting up a “man aisle” with beer, batteries and beef jerky. Seriously? Men are that stereotypical? Maybe so. But there are more meaningful ways to get their attention, such as product sampling. Men in our survey said they will often purchase a product they try at a store, regardless of price, if they like it. And once a man likes a product, his loyalty is far higher than that of his female counterpart’s.
Retailers may also consider other strategies for engagement outside of the store. Social media is a big channel in food/beverage, yet the influence of social media on product selection is much stronger for women than men. Women across all generations are 3x more likely than men to engage with brands via social media. Providing a unique social media experience for men could be an excellent area of exploration for brands and marketers.
Packaging and advertising may yet be other areas of opportunity. CPG companies and retailers have catered to women for so long, often portraying men as inept in the kitchen. Big mistake! In doing so, they have missed the opportunity to gain the loyalty of the second largest group of buyers.
We will soon be publishing our White Paper on our study. If you’d like a copy, please email James Patrick Schmidt at email@example.com.
Waking up this morning to temperature in the 50s was an in-your-face reminder that this week officially closes out our glorious summer season. Out comes the fall wardrobe and a realization that some of the clothes relegated to the back of the closet aren’t going to work this year. Some no longer fit; others were never quite the right purchase in the first place. Others are too worn out to see the light of day.
Did you know that Americans throw 85 percent of their clothes and other unwanted textiles in the trash each year? Most of us think that charities want only those items that can be resold in their thrift shops. While these are the most valuable donations, other castoffs can still make millions for charities on the secondary market
As part of CBD’s Meaningful Month, we are encouraging employees and friends to find better ways to dispose of used items than tossing them in the trash, which is why CBD is collecting on behalf of an organization called Bottomless Closet (http://bottomlesscloset.org/).
This particular non-profit organization supports women in their quest to enter the workforce by supplying clothing suitable for interviews and an office environment. They offer free image coaching in an effort to give women the confidence in their appearance that is so important when searching for a job.
The founding mission of Bottomless Closet is “to elevate the employment potential and marketability of women welfare recipients who want to work. It will provide clothing, at no charge, to women on assistance who don’t have suitable clothing to wear to a job interview.”
So, if you have professional, good quality women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, hose or handbags, you can take them to Bottomless Closet in downtown Chicago the second Saturday of each month (except January and September). Or, drop them by CBD’s office any time this month—we’ll handle the delivery.
But what if you’re a guy? Or what if your clothing isn’t suitable for professional office wear? There are multiple other ways to donate your used clothing items.
Resale shops are a good option for clothing that is “gently used.” The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries are two of places that accept any type of clothing. What they can resell, they will. The rest goes to the secondary market which includes selling used clothes in developing countries and recycling them for industrial uses. That means repurposing textiles for wiping rags or even adding to things like asphalt.
Don’t worry about ripped shirts, clothes without zippers, stained linens or ragged socks… textile recycling is a $1 billion business, which means significant revenue to places like the Salvation Army.
So, de-clutter your closets and get organized for fall (and winter)! There are plenty of charitable organizations that will make wonderful use of all of the good, bad and truly ugly items that don’t work for you anymore.
CBD is a canine-friendly office and, for the past 9 years, my lovely girl Jasmine has been a constant presence. Sadly, Jasmine departed this world on Tuesday for the big doggie park in the sky. A Shepherd-Husky mix, Jazzy was a talker, with a “woo-woo” howl unlike nothing we’ve ever heard. Various pitches of that howl announced her arrival at the office, her desire to eat (right smack at high noon), her need for a walk, a demand for a treat… even expressing annoyance at having her morning or afternoon nap interrupted. She often talked–and ran–during her sleep as well, an amusing diversion in the day. Our office manager, Sharon, was always a soft touch, and Jazzy pestered her relentlessly for treats. She helped herself to a good share of unprotected sandwiches and the occasional piece of birthday cake and would bound in like a freight train to a client meetings if food was involved.
Jasmine left behind an office full of admirers—my husband, me and Puck (her much more aloof and quiet companion who misses her a bunch). No dog will ever be another crazy Jazzy, but we feel the best way to honor her life is to provide a new life for another pup who will, of course, be absolutely wonderful in her unique ways. So, this weekend, we will take Puck “speed dating” at Chicago Canine Rescue, the wonderful organization that plucked them both out of Chicago animal control’s pound so many years ago. Stay tuned!
What do Starbucks, Coke, Whole Foods and Oreo Cookies have in common? In addition to being iconic American brands, they are each leading the industry in embracing social media in their own highly relevant and completely brand-right ways.
Let’s look at a couple of these beginning with Starbucks, a true social media giant. I found an article dated 2010 highlighting Starbucks’ 30,270 followers on Twitter. Two years later, that following has grown to 2,502,063. Plus an astonishing 30,000,000+ fans/likes on Facebook. Watch their posts on Twitter and be amazed by the volume of one-to-one problem-solving communications in 140 characters – all helping build brand loyalty by being super attentive. Listening, interacting, asking for ideas. Respecting their customers while keeping the hard sell to a bare minimum. The result? A record quarterly profit in Q4 of 2011.
Whole Foods views social media as a chance to educate while working on a hyper local level to bring customers into the store. So in addition to the corporate site (with nearly 3 million Twitter followers), individual locations (often groups of 4 or 5 Whole Foods within a city) have their own social media sites (typically Twitter) to handle local comments and talk about what’s on sale or new at the store. In fact, Whole Foods community managers estimate that only about 10% of their posts are content based, 5% are promotional and a full 85% are responses to customer comments.
Oreo – with 26,000,000 fans on Facebook – is a brand that turned 100 a couple months ago and is having a lot of pure fun and games via social media channels. To commemorate this milestone, they’ve introduced a birthday cake flavor (limited time) and developed a highly integrated birthday celebration campaign with a dedicated website and heavy social media engagement. A component is the “Oreo moments” movement, where people upload video or share tweets about their favorite interactions with Oreos. They’re looking for a “million moments” and are closing in with nearly 800,000 at last count.
Does a good social media program drive sales? Here’s what Coca Cola’s (35 million Facebook fans and 40,000 Twitter followers) senior vice president of integrated marketing has to say. In short, “Fans are twice as likely to consume and 10 times more likely to purchase than non-fans.”
Thus supporting recent studies which have shown that engagement via social media can resurrect food and beverage brands, helping them win the battle vs. private label. Especially amongst younger shoppers, the direct relationship via social media provokes an emotional brand connection that translates into loyalty and purchase.
How is your social media presence evolving?
Everyone in the industry has their opinion on the “pink slime” phenomenon that has been an unavoidable part of media coverage for the past month. Or rather, “finely textured lean beef” as those in the meat processing industry (especially Cargill and Beef Products) are now asserting. Last week governors of three states (Iowa, Kansas and Texas) plus two lieutenant governors (Nebraska and South Dakota) toured one of the processing plants, tasting the “lean, good and nutritious” burgers made with the product.
What’s interesting from a consumer marketing perspective is how social media fueled the rage in the first place. From its moment in the lime-light last year courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s reporting from LA school lunch rooms to the decision last week by multiple retailers and fast food outlets to “ban” its use, the social media trail ran deep and wide.
Seems that on March 6, Betty Siegel of Houston, the author of The Lunch Tray blog posted a petition on change.org for signatures in support of removing pink slime from school lunch programs due to the ammonia treatment and the general overall health impact of the substance. The number of signatures (258,632 when the petition closed) surprised both Ms. Siegel and the folks at change.org.
As the petition gained momentum, other online activity surged. Nearly 1,500 videos have been posted to YouTube. Check out a #pinkslime on Twitter for interesting point-counterpoint dialogue. Posts from the Meat Institute and WSJ stories defend the substance. Then there’s Wendy’s tweet: “Wendy’s has always had high standards for our beef. We’ve never used what they call “pink slime.” Details at http://Wendys.com.”
The back and forth is rather amusing. But when politicians and industry associations get into it, more fuel is on the fire. Check out www.pinkslimeisamyth.com for all the value that lean beef trimmings bring to the world in addition to food safety — greater sustainability, lower food costs and jobs for America.
Social media can make or break a business – and change an industry. As evidenced by the backlash a couple years ago against High Fructose Corn Syrup, once an issue gains steam fallout is often rapid and intense. For companies that live or die on consumer preference – such as Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks – controversy presents an opportunity to take the high road and disassociate with the demon ingredient.
Consumers hate thinking that Big Food (with the political machine in tow) is putting one over on them. Whether the “lean beef trimmings” are the devil’s doings or whether they are keeping hamburger safe from e.coli, the shots have been fired and the result to the industry is devastating. And so quickly.
Proving the enormous power of social media.
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