Economy’s Impact on Grocery Shoppers

With the economic climate the way it is, there is no doubt that consumer’s shopping habits have changed in every aspect of their lives and the grocery store is no exception.  Here are a few consequences of the grocery store market, based on polling data and expert opinion:

In Search of Cheapness – A Synovate report, based on July polling, states that:

  • 65% of US consumers believe that grocery items are “overpriced and should be cheaper.”
  • 78% “will switch food brands in I find a cheaper alternative.”

Cooking is no Alternative – A new research study by The NPD Group (“Eating Patterns in America”) has thrown out the notion that people have been spending more time cooking at home due to the economy.  Instead, people have been microwaving, not cooking their way through the recession.

Healthy Eating as Casualty – The NPD Group also found that healthier eating was “one of the big casualties” of the recession.  Since heathly eating comes at a higher price it is not a total shock that this is one of the areas that has been the most negatively affected.

Price is Not the Only Factor – Synovate has found that consumers are buying in bulk, using more of their pantry items and “trading down” to lower priced products, in lieu of their old luxury items, in order to save money.  Synovate also found that price is not the only factor and advertisers still need to forge an emotional connection with consumers, as well as helping the consumers to understand the perceived value of their brand.

For more from this article, go to:

For more information on the Synovate report, go to:

For The NPD Group’s research findings, including learning about the Eating Patterns in America report that comes out later this year, go to:

No Such Thing as “The American Consumer”

The American Census is the biggest market-research project of the decade, with the Census Bureau spending upward of $15 billion to count the US population and amass a trove of data on the US consumer as of April 1, 2010.  The 2010 Census is expected to show that 309 million people living in the US.  It will also show that the concept of the “average American” is gone and that the new American society is a complex, multidimensional one which cannot be labeled simply.  The Census Bureau is expected to start releasing data in the spring of 2011.

Mr. Francese, demographic trends analyst at WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather, created a 32-page report offering his projections and insight on what the Census will show, and how marketers will need to adapt their methods to reach the new, multi-faceted American society.

A few of the finding from the report are:

  • US households are growing ever more complex and varied. The Census will give Americans 14 ways to define their household relationships, which will be very helpful for marketers and media in targeting and segmenting households.
  • Minorities are the new majority. The 2010 projections include: 80% of people age 65+ will be non-white Hispanics and only 54% of people under 18 will be white non-Hispanics.  In 2010, Hispanics will be considered the nations fastest growing and largest minority with 50 million people.
  • The nation is moving. Over the past 10 years 85% of the US’s population growth happened in the South and West.  About 3 million people have moved out of the Northeast and another 2 million have left the Midwest to move towards the South and West.

For more information about the Census project, go to:

To purchase the 32-page report, go to:


Super-Pre Roll Online Ads Available Now

ScanScout, an online video ad network, has debuted its new Super Pre-Roll ad unit.  ScanScout believes that this unit is a more interactive alternative to traditional online video ads because it attaches multiple interactive “overlay” placements in various positions on the screen.

Super Pre-Roll ads have the ability to provide advertisers with more useful data on video campaigns because the Super Pre-Roll format allows advertisers to conduct polls, provide coupons and collect user data.  These ad units can even be considered for those advertisers who are budget conscious, as ScanScout allows companies to use existing creative.

For more information about these ad units, go to:


20% For Parks – Symbiotic Union Between Advertisers and State Parks

Husband and Wife team, Christopher and Shari Boyer, have created a new company called Government Solutions Group Inc.  Their company is based on the principal that state parks are an untapped advertising resource, and if the state park allows them to sell advertisements in their welcome kits, 20% of the advertising revenue goes back to the state park.

The Government Solutions Group welcome kit contains a fold-out map, park highlights, suggested road trips, calendar of events and other information.  The kits are produced at no cost to the state, taxpayers or park visitors. The kits take 6-8 months to make and cost about $800,000.  They are distributed in May and updated annually.  Some of the companies that are already involved with the program are Coca Cola, Stater Bros. Markets, Nestle, Cascadian Farm, Odwalla Inc. and Geico.

So far, these welcome kits are in 11 states including California, New York, Texas, Florida and Ohio.  The money already raised by 20% For Parks program has gone to efforts to plant more than 1 million trees in California state parks, creating 7 playgrounds in New York state parks and has provided 4 vehicles for state parks in Utah and Colorado.

The Government Solutions Group has an exclusive deal with the state parks, which does not allow competitors to produce similar kits.  The firm expects to have distributed 6 million welcome kits by the end of 2009.

For more information, go to:,0,6687015.story

Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times / June 30)

Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times / June 30

Starbucks and Instant Coffee?

Well, it was only a matter of time until the coffee chain that charges upwards of $4.00 for a coffee entered into the instant coffee world.  Starbucks started selling is Via instant coffee in Seattle and Chicago about eight months ago, but now they are going to start going national with the product, including selling it in its Canadian stores.

Although instant coffee has not won over American taste buds yet, Starbucks hopes that Via can change their minds.  With instant coffee accounting for nearly 80% of coffee sales throughout Europe, Starbucks knows that if they can change the image of instant coffee from a drip-brewed knockoff, they just might have a successful product, especially in these times where people can no longer afford to spend $4 a day on coffee.

Via will be sold in cylindrical 3-packs for $2.95 or 12-packs for $9.95 and currently comes in Colombia and Italian Roast flavors.  Via will have a marketing campaign that includes television and a large-scale distribution to about 1,500 sites outside of its Starbucks stores.

For more information about Via, its national launch and the challenges Starbucks will face with this product, go to:


Gen BuY

A new book, Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail, details how today’s younger generation shops differently from the older generations.  They are a generation that is empowered, engaged, demanding, but also influenced by their parents and materialism.  Since Gen Y is very technology savvy they expect top-notch customer service from their websites, including bonuses like free shipping or other discounts. Experts believe that while Gen Y’ers are drawn to lifestyle brands, as a way to project who they are, and they tend to buy the latest gadgets and clothes, not so much because they are materialistic, but more so because they are a generation of an abundance of choices.

The book details two major ways Generation Y consumers differ from their parents, including technology and confidence.  Generation Y grew up with technology, so its embedded in their psychology, which is why they get bored more easily and tend to be attracted to higher levels of stimulation than older generations.  In the consumer sphere, this means that Generation Y wants a faster product turnover and more personally relevant and high impact messaging and promotions.

In terms of confidence, this generation is definitely more confident than previous generations at their age.  These kids grew up in child-centric households with more self-esteem building in the home and at school.  This translates into their expectation that their needs will be considered and if they aren’t, they will find a system that will meet their needs.

Generation Y is eager to engage, they want to design their own products, be involved in the messaging on their terms, rate products and advise companies.  This information can help marketers who are targeting this demographic to make sure they feel like they are involved.  Whether it is reaching out via a social network to help pick the flavor of a new soda, or having the opportunity to enter a contest for the latest 30-second spot, this generation feels like they need to have a say.

This book provides a lot of valuable insight into the mind of Generation Y.  For an inside look into the book from a USNews reporter who spoke to the authors, go to: as well as,

Ad Stamp: Helping Brand Advertising Move Online

Federated Media Publishing, or the FM network, is rolling out a new option for advertisers called Ad Stamp.  Ad Stamp combines two of the industry’s largest ad units with a companion banner that pulls social media content.

FM currently offers a large “pushdown” ad, which is a 970×418 pixel banner at the top of Web pages that collapses to 970×60.  With Ad Stamp, FM will also place a “tower” ad on the right side of pages that measures 300×600 and they will add a social touch to their package with a 300×250 “conversationalist” ad that is placed at the bottom of pages and pulls in brand-related feeds.  The “conversationalist” ad pulls feeds from blog post, Tweets and also includes options for friending the advertised products or services via Facebook, or as a follower on Twitter.  According to the FM CEO, the goal of Ad Stamp is to build a Web ad product that serves the similar purpose as a 2-page spread in magazines or a 30-second commerical spot.

There is of course risk involved with advertising like this, where most of a web page’s real estate is dedicated to advertising.  Consumers may not like this new format and could express distaste for Ad Stamp, as consumers have mentioned their dislike for pop-up, pop-under and interstitial ads.  Ad Stamp’s rebuttal is that the three units the program provides work in concert for a single brand and actually provide a better user experience than the scattered advertising units we see now.

For more about the Ad Stamp program, including statistics and ad caps, go to:


3 Tips For Successful Print Ads

Print ads have always been an industry staple.  The strategic goal behind print ads is different for every advertisement that goes out, some are made to build an image, other are created to drive consumers to a brand’s website, but whatever the reason, marketers hope that the time, money and creativity that is spent on these ads pays off.  MRI Starch Communications recently set out to learn what makes print ads successful i.e. moves the needle in terms of sales.  The company looked at 297 magazine issues between October 2008 and April 2009.  For each product category, they analyzed the top-performing ad based on the fact that the ad drove at least 15% of readers to make purchase.  Here are some of the results:

  1. Context Matters – Many of the ads that drove their readers to make purchases were in the magazines that were of natural interest to their target audience.  Ads for America’s Milk Processors (55% purchase rate), Vaseline Clinical Therapy Body Lotion (26% purchase rate) and Lipitor (18%) are all wellness and healing products, and were all placed in Health Magazine.  The male-dominated reader like Maxim magazine’s demographic saw ads for Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and 21% of the audience tuned in as a result of that ad.  So, it is very important for advertisers to do their research and know their target audience.  Once this information is known, you can strategically place your print ads so they will be seen by the people most apt to purchase your product.
  2. Price May Matter – Research shows that none of the top print advertisements featured expensive products like automobiles, vacations or home appliances.  Because of the amount of time and research that goes into larger purchases, a single advertisement is less likely to motivate a consumer to go out and purchase high ticket items.
  3. Brand Perception Matters – MRI not only analyzed the ads, but they also asked their readers what they thought about the specific brands that were advertised.  Research shows that if a reader is favorably disposed to the brand, there is a greater chance that they will purchased the product or service being advertised.  Four of the nine categories had 90% of readers who were favorably disposed to the brand who had the highest conversion rate.

The MRI research presented isn’t necessarily anything that those of us in the industry didn’t already know.  But it does reinforce the fact that it is our responsibility as the marketer to do our due diligence in getting to know our target consumer, placing advertisments where they will see them and making sure we are a brand they can connect with and have a favorable response to.

For the full article, go to:

Ford’s New MyKey Helps Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Ford’s MyKey is a new technology that helps parents control some of their teen drivers’ behavior.  MyKey allows parents to configure one key for their teen, which encourage teen drivers to drive safer and more fuel efficiently, as well as increase seat belt usage.  MyKey will only allow the teen driver to go up to 80mph and the audio system will not go on until the front two passengers are buckled up.  The MyKey also maxes out the stereo’s volume at half of it’s capacity and provides low-fuel warnings earlier than standard cars.  MyKey will become standard on most Ford models, but is now available on Taurus, Focus, Escape SUV and 9 others.

With the staggering statistics about how many teens are involved in car accidents each year, the MyKey program is not just a marketing program, but also a shift in providing people with safer vehicles.  Since MyKey will eventually be on every car, parents who don’t need the technology now, will be able to have it when their child is of driving age.  It will also allow used-car buyers to take advantage of the technology, without having to shell out the big bucks for a new 16th birthday present.

Does the MyKey program make a difference to you as a buyer? Would you be more inclined to buy a Ford when your teen is of age?

For the full article, go to:

Back To School Necessities has provided 12 gadgets that they feel every student needs.  Even though I’m now part of the working instead of academia, I might check out a couple of these gadgets, they look awesome!

1) JBL Onstage 400p iPod Dock/Alarm Clock – Why wake up to that annoying beeping when you could rise and shine to the music you love.  Definitely helps to start the day off on the right foot!

2) Doorganizer – This hanging organizer fits perfectly over your doorknob and allows you to find those too-early-in-the-morning-to-actually-think necessities.  It definitely beats out my current system of post-its.

3) InfoScan TS Elite – Although it looks like a highlighter, this portable scanner holds up to 500 pages worth of data.  You can scan the data directly from the page and the TS Elite will read, save and then transfer it to  your computer.

4) Smencils – These gourmet-scented pencils – bubble gum, cinnamon and root beer – not only smell delicious but they are fun and environmentally friendly.

5) Anti-theft lunch bags – Never have your lunch stolen again.  These bags are specially designed to make your sandwich look disgusting and mold-ridden.  Both your kid’s and your lunch will be safe from potential thieves.

6) Targus HeatDefense – Keeping your laptop cool is the key to prolonging your battery life.  The HeatDefense not only helps keep your computer at a safe temperature but it also keeps your lap cool.

7) Seagate FreeAgent Go – You always want to make sure that your data is backed up.  The FreeAgent Go backs up your data automatically and has encryption technology to keep your files safe.

8) Ecosol Powerstick – This back up power device allows you to charge your cell phone or PDA while on the go.

9) ASUS Eee PC – In the market for an affordable, but reliable PC? The ASUS Eee PC is great for getting you through a day’s worth of lectures and presentations, as it boasts a 10.5 hour battery life.

10) Livescribe Pulse – This pen is also a digital recorder.  It allows you to tap on what you wrote to listen to the corresponding part of the recording.

11) PowerSquid Surge3000 Calamari Edition – This surge protector is designed for today’s electronics and is particularly useful for rooms where outlets are rare.

12) Sony Reader Touch Edition – The eReader offers more flexibility and 1 million free public domain books from Google and other titles from Sony’s own eBook store.

Hopefully one or more of these items captured your attention.  Like I said, picked these gadgets out for the modern day student, but I can see myself utilizing almost all of them at my workplace.  If you happen to purchase any of these gadgets we want to hear your reviews!