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July 21, 2014

Shopper Insights in Action Conference 2014 – IIR – Event Recap

Howard TelfordAnalyst Insight by Howard Telford - Beverages Analyst

View Howard Telford's profile on LinkedIn

This past Wednesday, the 14th annual Shopper Insights in Action conference concluded in Chicago, Illinois. As always, the event focused on strategies to improve shopper activation across all kinds of consumer retail categories and channels, providing the shopper side of consumer marketing (and its research suppliers) an engaging forum to share ideas and success stories.

From a beverages and food service perspective, the three-day event at Navy Pier left me considering the need to address three, macro-level organizational challenges in the drinks industry:

1.       Using ‘big data’ more effectively

As the event’s exhibit hall demonstrated, there are a myriad of methodologically different ways to collect, measure and interpret the in-store responses of consumers to your products and shelves. As an industry that frequently delivers and merchandises its products through a two-tier bottling system (or other independent direct delivery partners), measuring the effectiveness of in-store activity - displays and product location - is vital. How can marketing and channel management teams demonstrate that ‘soft’ information on shopper response, preference or opinion is robust and indicative of volume growth or incremental revenue? Brands and their retail partners must work harder to interpret and contextualise data and insights in order to effectively advocate for change within their businesses.

Research focused and data literate leadership certainly helps. Keynote speaker Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco plc, spoke about the need to improve the dissemination and understanding of data within large retailers and other organizations. As research tools become more powerful and useful – from generating understanding of potentially new, developing markets, to specific, localised consumer segments and their behaviours – it remains important that these insights are clear and actionable while reaching the right pairs of eyes.   

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July 17, 2014

The Real Cost of Cocoa


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The rising cost of cocoa has been touted by manufacturers as one of the biggest challenges to maintaining healthy profit margins. By 2020, some are forecasting the price of cocoa to be double at US$6000/tonne. If rising prices were not passed on to consumers and absorbed by the manufacturer, the manufacturer’s mark-up on 100g of chocolate would fall from US$0.44 to US$0.37, a decline of 16%. Yet this mark-up is still twice the amount that cocoa costs the consumer when they buy 100g of chocolate.

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Techweek Chicago 2014 Recap

David McGoldrickAnalyst Insight by David McGoldrick - Research Associate

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Techweek Chicago was held in Chicago over 23-28 June. The event centred on new technological advances that are disrupting nearly every area of commerce. Every industry – from finance and health to packaged food and tourism – is being impacted by these technological developments. The event was a chance to discuss and present on what has occurred so far and on new ideas in the pipeline.

Beacons and Mobility Create New Possibilities

Mobility was a big topic at the conference, with presenters discussing the infiltration of electronics into all aspects of life and how this will create smarter consumers, businesses and cities. Ray Velez, Global Chief Technology Officer at Razorfish, explained that growth in the number of internet-enabled devices sold will soon outpace growth in the number of children born each year. A panel on the future of location-aware marketing discussed how these internet-enabled devices (especially the combination of beacons and smart phones) could be used to enable customers to see reviews of products simply by standing in front of them. These devices could also let consumers know that items they have previously viewed online are available in the store they just entered. Others cited their potential usage in high-end boutiques and hotels, which will enable employees to recognise loyal customers and provide a personalised level of service.

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July 16, 2014

Hemp Ice Cream and Champagne Popsicles to Target the Mellow and Buzz Mood Demographic

Lianne van den BosAnalyst Insight by Lianne van den Bos - Food Analyst

View Karine Dussimon's profile on LinkedIn

Maturity, health-conscious consumers and a decline in product launches have all contributed to a slowdown in ice cream sales in saturated markets such as the US and the UK. However, whilst Unilever and Nestlé dominate overall sales of ice cream, with a combined global value share of 35%, a somewhat controversial revolution is brewing in the background, targeting the ultimate indulgent experience.  Will hemp-infused ice cream and alcoholic popsicles pioneer the wave of craft ice cream? Euromonitor International takes a closer look at the rise of craft ice cream and how Unilever and Nestlé should take pointers from two university graduate entrepreneurs.

hemp ice cream_small_small.jpgRetail ice cream sales in the US posted a 1% decline in 2013 compared to historic average growth of 2%, primarily due to a drop in product innovation, consumers switching to healthier products outside ice cream, such as Greek yoghurt or fruit, or opting for cheaper formats. The UK paints a somewhat different picture; growth has also slowed down, but still registered a 5% value increase in 2013, compared to 7% in 2012

New Product Launches in Craft Ice Cream

While major manufacturers have been busy trying to launch healthy ice cream formats or jumping on the Greek yoghurt bandwagon, a new wave of entrepreneurs are instead focusing on flavour, excitement and, above all, provocative product innovation. Hemp-infused ice cream by Relaxation Solutions, a subsidiary of Bebida Beverage Company (BeBevCo), is expected to be launched in the US by August this year. The company is partnering up with 80s comedy duo Cheech and Chong to be the face of this ‘’relaxation’’ ice cream, which claims to contain 5mg of hemp per half pint serving. With some states in the US having already legalised recreational marijuana use and more to follow this year, it’s quite the catchy product launch of 2014.

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July 14, 2014

Sweets & Soda: Can Carbonates Learn a Lesson from US Confectionery?

Howard TelfordAnalyst Insight by Howard Telford - Beverages Analyst

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Carbonated soft drinks and confectionery are two areas of the US consumer basket that contain high amounts of processed sugar and have duly attracted negative attention from public health advocates. Despite vulnerability to growing wellness concerns, the two categories have experienced divergent recent fortunes and future prospects, as a greater number of consumers adjust their food and beverage purchasing habits towards less frequent, more premium indulgences. Through the early incorporation of smaller packages and more premium products, the confectionery category has outperformed carbonates in terms of value growth. 

Value Sales: Confectionery potentially on par with Carbonates by 2018?

Source: Euromonitor International

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July 13, 2014

Sound Bite: Expansion Strategies for Private Label Manufacturers

6a01310f54565d970c01a73de96494970d-120wiPinar HosafciWith Lianne van den Bos - Food Analyst and Pinar Hosafci - Food Analyst

Private label manufacturers need to establish various strategies when targeting different areas of the world. For example, in areas such as Western Europe and North America where private label is well established, manufacturers can add products at different price points to attract consumers. In areas where private label is less established, companies can export their private label brands or expand their chains. UK-based Waitrose has established both of these strategies, exporting its private label goods as far as Chile and Japan and expanding its physical outlets outside the UK.

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July 10, 2014

Nissin Should Launch Harissa-Flavoured Express Pasta in the Middle East

Pinar HosafciAnalyst Insight by Pinar Hosafci - Food Analyst

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Another year, another big Nissin move. Following joint ventures with the Turkish conglomerate Yildiz Holding and Kenyan JKUT University in 2013, Nissin is now eyeing the Maghreb. The Japanese noodle giant recently announced plans to introduce instant noodles into Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia through the establishment of a local subsidiary. Given the declining population and stagnant economy in Japan, it comes as no great surprise that Nissin is looking for growth abroad. With a combination of rising incomes, buoyant populations and steady demand for wheat, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) should be a boom area for noodles. However, MENA, which boasts the highest noodles growth globally is also the region with one of the lowest consumption levels. If Nissin wants to rejuvenate its sales by reaching out to MENA, it first needs to convince the Maghrebis that they should slurp Japanese noodles instead of continuing to spoon couscous.

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July 9, 2014

Tapping into Demand for Gourmet Burger Cheese

Lianne van den BosAnalyst Insight by Lianne van den Bos - Food Analyst

View Karine Dussimon's profile on LinkedIn

The US consumer’s love of the hamburger runs rather deep, with annual spending in fast food burger establishments reaching almost US$100 billion. To put this in context, that figure exceeds overall consumer foodservice spending in all but five countries. With premium cheese on the rise, Arla has launched blue cheese slices designed specifically for use with burgers in an effort to take a bite out of the enormous burger market in the US. Launched under its Castello brand, the product is already on the shelves of major retailers in the US and could be set to become a major phenomenon in markets with a similar penchant for gourmet burgers.

The Best Thing since Sliced Bread

A burger with blue cheese is a classic combination, and one that sells particularly well in the foodservice channel. However, there is one problem with blue cheese at retail level - it is difficult to cut. Providing pre-cut slices to complement burgers is a simple but very effective innovation. With convenience being one of the key selling points, it goes without saying that the simplest new product launches can sometimes be the biggest success stories.

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July 7, 2014

Could Weetabix Succeed with Western Breakfast in China?

Pinar HosafciAnalyst Insight by Pinar Hosafci - Food Analyst

View Pinar Hosafci's profile on LinkedIn

In September 2013, one year on from its acquisition by China’s Bright Food, UK cereal major Weetabix put its Weetabix and Alpen brands on sale in stores in Shanghai. Earlier this month, the company announced plans to open a production facility in China. This appears to be quite a brave move given that cereal with milk is not the way Chinese consumers like to “fuel their day”. According to Euromonitor International, Chinese per capita consumption of RTE cereals is one of the lowest globally, standing at just 7g in 2013. Yoghurt is also not a product that can be considered traditionally Chinese. However, spoonable yoghurt registered 14% volume growth over the last five years, making China one of the fastest growing yoghurt markets globally. Moreover, the category is led by Bright Food’s much-loved Momchilovtsi brand, which has grown twentyfold since its launch in 2009. If Weetabix wants to gain a foothold in the Chinese breakfast cereals market, cross-branding Alpen and Momchilovtsi could be its route to success.

RTE Cereal Per Capita Consumption vs Spoonable Yoghurt Volume Growth in Selected Markets

Source: Euromonitor International

Note:  RTE - Ready to eat. Selected markets refer to the markets where Weetabix is present.

Continue reading "Could Weetabix Succeed with Western Breakfast in China?" »

Hormel Acquiring Muscle Milk Highlights Importance of Protein Trend


Hormel’s acquisition of Muscle Milk manufacturer Cytosport is another in a series of ambitious moves by the company in recent years and highlights the importance of sports nutrition as a category of consumer health. The ready to drink protein segment will grow twice as fast as the overall sports nutrition category and massive opportunities exist outside of the US where this category is untapped. This could be the first of many acquisitions in sports nutrition as protein continues to be hot trend in packaged food and drink. 

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