Archive for the 'economy' Category

Halloween Sales Numbers Aren’t Looking Scary At All

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Halloween isn’t one of those “mandatory” holidays like Christmas or Chanukah, so the prediction from IBISWorld research firm that Halloween spending is expected to grow 10.7% from 2011 seems telling of economic optimism. Consumer spending on things like costumes, candy and decorations are expected to reach a record-setting $8 billion this year!

Candy – Halloween’s bread and butter – is estimated to account for $2.4 billion of the sales and this year it isn’t just kids who want to scare up some festive fall treats. Big brands, like Mars, are turning their marketing attention to adults and not just as the purchasers but as the consumers of Halloween candy. So keep an eye out for Halloween-themed Snickers commercials to join the “you’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign.

Not to be outdone, Hershey’s is rolling out ten new candy products for the October holiday – four more than they did in 2011! Further evidence of how they remain the chocolate candy market leader with a 43.3% share of the market. Another new trick up Hershey’s Halloween sleeve this year is to focus less on Halloween-specific packaging and capitalize more on the further-reaching fall-theme which will work to extend the seasonal selling season beyond November 1st, when most Halloween-packaged candy products lose relevance and move to the clearance shelf for a slow, painful death.

With so much new activity on the Halloween candy scene this year, what will you be handing out on October 31st? Here are some of our picks:

Hershey Co. Cadbury Haloween Sceme Egg

The Hershey Company Cadbury Screme Egg: White and green caramel center inside a milk chocolate shell

Milky Way Caramel Apple Minis Chocolate Candies - Halloween Flavor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mars Caramel Apple Milky Way Minis: Apple-infused caramel over chocolate-malt nougat in a soft milk chocolate shell.

Herr's Chocolate Pumpkin Shaped Pretzels - Halloween

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herr’s Chocolate Flavor-Drizzled Pumpkin Shaped Pretzels: Mini pumpkin shaped pretzels covered in chocolate.

Seattle Chocolates Bloody Orange Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Chocolates Bloody Orange Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar: Candied orange peel in a deep dark chocolate bar.

End of the Brand?

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

National vs Private Label Food Brands

We’ve been reading a lot lately about stores cutting back on national brands to make room for more private label goods. And perhaps the greatest impact will be that made by Wal-Mart. When one manufacturer generates a significant portion of your annual sales, it becomes a bit worrisome, to say the least.

But is this a long-term trend, or a short-term reaction to our current economic situation? The current private label boom can be directly attributed to the economy. Food prices went up…personal finances went down. We all looked at our own carts and said, “Well, maybe we’ll try the store brand this week.” I know I did.

There are stores dedicated to private label brands – Loblaw’s No Frills, Trader Joe’s and Aldi. But the idea of entire sections in traditional markets, converting to private label, may be a bit much for consumers to handle.

There are just some loyalties that consumers are not willing to give up. You know what brands you cannot live without. Personally, I make no exceptions when it comes to my favorite peanut butter. If a store is out of stock, I’ll go to another. And at our Innovation Roadshow®, keynote presenter Doug Palmer of A&P noted a store brand laundry detergent that beat the brand-name leader in blind tests, but couldn’t keep up in sales.

Our favorite brands aren’t going away. They’re in for the long haul. But it will take some time and recovery to win back customers that have strayed in favor of lower prices. In the meantime, some U.S. manufacturers are looking to fuel growth with emerging overseas markets.

But that doesn’t mean an end to private label either – far from it. Private label brands have won over unbelieving consumers with quality and price. Moving forward, competition between the two will be intense, as national brands fight for space on the shelf.

“Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf.”

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I love that scene from A Christmas Story, when the little brother, Randy, won’t eat his dinner, and Mother and The Old Man have to rely on a combination of threats and games to get him to take a bite.

I love it because I was that kid. In fact, Mom and I once held a two-hour staring match over a forkful of peas. I still hate peas.

Sure, I was a picky eater. There’s no question about that. But sometimes, I think I was just bored with the options. Never again will I eat chicken baked in cream of mushroom soup – it was delicious, but I’ve had my fill for a lifetime.

Recently, I read an article from Reuters that stated the average mom in the UK relies on a rotation of nine meals to feed her family. Just nine! While the study was performed in the UK, I’m sure results in the USA wouldn’t be that far off.

Explanations were all pretty similar – time constraints, picky eaters, and expense. Most moms stick with what their families know and love, rather than waste time or money on something that may not go over well. Others also admitted to cooking two meals – something for the kids early in the evening, and a different meal for mom and dad, later at night. Most common are true comfort foods – spaghetti Bolognese, roasts, casseroles, stews and pizza.

When hubby and I first got married, I was on a mission to increase my repertoire. Pre-wedding, our weekly menu consisted of take-out, chicken and stuffing casserole, chicken tacos, and the occasional pasta night. To fight it, I forced myself to try one new recipe a week. Some were complicated, some were not. Some made it onto our regular menu, and some more, did not. The effort may have tapered off, but today we have seasonal favorites, quick options and more drawn-out weekend fare, and more importantly, vegetables! We may average more than nine, but there are definitely items we eat every 10 to 14 days.Meatloaf Cupcakes - mini meatloaf topped with whipped potato "frosting"

It’s important to add a little variety, but I certainly understand how hard it can be most nights. That’s what makes kit meals so important. Allowing minimal effort, but still a sense of self-preparation, kit meals allow many home cooks the advantage of trying out new foods, hopefully at a low cost. Comfort foods are great most nights, but exotic options can help to freshen things up. Take a look at ethnic cuisine, like Thai curry, tamales, and chicken tangine, to create more variety for your consumers.

There are also ways to deliver variety in prepared foods, while tapping into those conventional recipes that everyone loves. At the 2009 Innovation Roadshow, we featured Meatloaf Cupcakes – mini-meatloafs with whipped potato “frosting.” We varied the meatloaf itself, with Italian herb and carmelized onion flavors, and further extended options with the potatoes, in butter parmesan and brown sugar cinnamon sweet potato.

Just a little creativity and flavor can help consumers get out of a food rut!

World of Flavor

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Last week I received an email from Lonely Planet, listing their top travel picks, and it got me thinking about my own travelin’ ways. Like many families, the hubby and I are cutting back this year, and traveling is, sadly, on the back burner.

What I’m really going to miss, though, is being able to sample new foods, or even foods that I’ve tried here at home, in their authentic environment. Call me crazy, but the best cup of tea I ever had was in London, the best gyro was in Athens, and the best salpicon in Mexico City.

Enjoying afternoon tea in London...

Enjoying afternoon tea in London…November 2006.

For years, we’ve been saying that consumers are looking for more authentic ethnic flavors, and this year it couldn’t be truer. With more people making the best of the “staycation,” consumers are looking for ways to create exotic experiences in their own homes. Using food to recreate those experiences is not only cheaper than, say redecorating the living room in a Moroccan motif, but it is also attainable for everyone.

Personally, when I feel like reminiscing about Greece, I grab some Wegmans Greek Marinade and tzatziki from their Mediterranean Bar, grill up some chicken, pour the Ouzo, and make a cucumber salad. Those little supermarket helpers certainly make the experience more authentic to me. Having the ability to control the ingredients, adjust them from memory, but still purchase the products that make them unique – it’s a win-win.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece…..August 2008

For new product developers, especially those interested in ethnic flavor, it’s a good idea to keep up on the latest travel trends. They can really clue you in to future destinations, and possibly future flavor trends. How do you do that? Well, I can’t give away all of my secrets, but I do have one helpful clue. Check out Lonely Planet’s Top 20 Bestsellers for their top selling travel books by destination. And, keep in mind, Lonely Planet serves the global community, not just the North American traveling crowd.

Then, go home, make a Piña Colada, sit in the back yard, and try to imagine that it’s the Caribbean.

No Foolin’

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

My sister and I are preparing for a little weekend getaway. I’m going through my usual pre-vacation ritual – washing laundry, restocking toiletries, and…printing coupons? That last one’s pretty new, but I’m stocking up. Two-for-one entrees…20% in-store discounts…free dessert. Heck, we even got the hotel room as part of a special promotion! The thing is, I’m not the only one shopping deals.

After the Super Bowl, Denny’s Restaurants gave away free Grand Slam breakfasts to diners. Today, the restaurant chain announced a buy-one-get-one-free Grand “Slamwich” giveaway for April 8th. Nope, this isn’t an elaborate April Fool’s joke – they’re at it again!

According to the Wall Street Journal, the last promotion brought in two million customers between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. Normal traffic for those hours is typically only 200,000.

Other restaurants are increasing value for their customers too. Rumor has it that U.S. locations of Tim Horton’s gave out free sandwiches at lunch-time today. IHOP is running an all-you-can-eat pancake promotion. And those brown-bagging their lunches daily may be easily tempted by the $5 lunch deals a number of fast-casuals are promoting.

The Wall Street Journal article brings up a good point, though. Will consumers get too accustomed to these low-price deals? While they may eventually lose that full-price phobia, their expectations of value will certainly increase.

Blame it on the economy…

Monday, February 9th, 2009

This weekend, a friend told me that for anything that goes wrong, she and her husband now blame the economy.

Car broke down – “It’s the economy.” Out of cereal – “It’s the economy.” Jeans don’t fit – “It’s the economy.”

You can’t look at the daily headlines without a story on how the economy is affecting our lives – not to mention the food industry. (Although, as we sat in the Cheesecake Factory on Saturday afternoon, the crowds may have indicated otherwise!)

But the truth is, that recessions can be times of great innovation. The iPod, Trader Joe’s, Crest White Strips – all of these brands were built during a recession. When manufacturers are competing for fewer consumer dollars, their products must stand out from the competition, offering value, both monetary and life-oriented.

One great way to determine consumer value, is from the consumers themselves! There’s tons of consumer feedback out there. From blogs, to Facebook fan pages and status updates (“Erin is excited that Shamrock Shakes are back!”). Another great, and sometimes untapped area, is your own website. If you have a consumer feedback section of your website, embrace it. It’s the perfect place to find your consumers’ wishes. If you post recipes, check out comments posted by users to see how they’re customizing and using your product in a way you never thought of. I read an article recently that online feedback can go unchecked, and couldn’t believe it. The best part about using this type of consumer feedback? It’s pretty darn cheap.

In a recent issue of Fast Track Fast Trends, we profiled a new product from Nissan Food Products Cup Noodle in Japan. Their new Milk Curry Cup Noodle is based on their original Curry Cup Noodle variety, and internet word of mouth that the product tasted better when prepared with hot milk, rather than hot water. Nissin responded with a milk based curry soup mix. The same is true of the company’s Milk Seafood Cup Noodle also launched last year, which was again based on consumer feedback, and an extremely large number of hits on Google when the keywords ”milk” and “seafood noodle” were used.

 Nissan Food Products Cup Milk Seafood Noodle

Another great idea, check out My Starbucks Idea - a website for Starbucks customers to vent-i (haha, couldn’t resist), share and suggest. One suggestion from the site that Starbucks recently implemented was free coffee on election day.

So go ahead and check out what your consumers are saying about you online. After all, if you’re not happy with the results, you can always blame it on the economy! :)

David Michael & Co. • 10801 Decatur Road • Philadelphia, PA 19154 • 1-800-DM-FLAVORS

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