New Trends…Convenience Stores To Focus on Food in 2012

Newswise — CHICAGO- Convenience stores (c-stores) are not typically recognized for their food selections, but as tobacco and gas prices rise, fewer people are spending money on these items and other c-store staples. In the January 2012 issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Digital Editor Kelly Hensel writes that c-stores are beginning to shift their attention to growing their food/beverage and foodservice segments in order to compete with quick service restaurant chains.

According to data from Symphony IRI Group, the c-store channel is expected to see a growth rate of about 3 percent between 2010 and 2012, and one of the key drivers of this expansion are foodservice items. Technomic Director Tim Powell says that recently convenience stores are increasingly falling into the same consideration set as fast food restaurants. As technology and food innovation continue, c-stores will continue to capitalize on the opportunity to present consumers with better quality products with do-it-yourself customization.

C-stores are well known for their coffee bars that offer customers a way to make their coffee the way they like it. Some chains switched to a thermal dispensing system last year in order to keep coffee fresh tasting. In addition some c-stores offer hot tea reaching the previously untapped demographic of female consumers and those 50 years and older. It’s the hope that by getting consumers in the door with beverages, they will also end up choosing one of their many new food items such as breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs, made-to-order sandwiches, soups, etc.

Snacking is also becoming a key driver for all c-stores. According to a survey by Snack Factory more Americans would prefer to reach for snacks throughout the day instead of having three solid meals. Pairing foods with beverages is also a popular way c-stores can drive profits. Also due to the shifting paradigm of what is considered a snack, for example a hot dog or pizza slice as a snack instead of a meal can increase traffic at c-stores throughout the day.

Released: 1/12/2012

Source: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/convenience-stores-to-focus-on-food-in-2012

Truly Amazing….New Cotton Fabric Cleans Itself When Exposed to Ordinary Sunlight

Imagine jeans, sweats or socks that clean and de-odorize themselves when hung on a clothesline in the sun or draped on a balcony railing. Scientists are reporting development of a new cotton fabric that does clean itself of stains and bacteria when exposed to ordinary sunlight.

Newswise — Imagine jeans, sweats or socks that clean and de-odorize themselves when hung on a clothesline in the sun or draped on a balcony railing. Scientists are reporting development of a new cotton fabric that does clean itself of stains and bacteria when exposed to ordinary sunlight. Their report appears in the ACS’ journal Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Mingce Long and Deyong Wu say their fabric uses a coating made from a compound of titanium dioxide, the white material used in everything from white paint to foods to sunscreen lotions. Titanium dioxide breaks down dirt and kills microbes when exposed to some types of light. It already has found uses in self-cleaning windows, kitchen and bathroom tiles, odor-free socks and other products. Self-cleaning cotton fabrics have been made in the past, the authors note, but they self-clean thoroughly only when exposed to ultraviolet rays. So they set out to develop a new cotton fabric that cleans itself when exposed to ordinary sunlight.

Their report describes cotton fabric coated with nanoparticles made from a compound of titanium dioxide and nitrogen. They show that fabric coated with the material removes an orange dye stain when exposed to sunlight. Further dispersing nanoparticles composed of silver and iodine accelerates the discoloration process. The coating remains intact after washing and drying.

The authors acknowledge funding from Donghua University and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Released: 12/16/2011

Source: American Chemical  Society (ACS)

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/new-cotton-fabric-cleans-itself-when-exposed-to-ordinary-sunlight

Professor Offers Holiday Tipping Advice During the Economic Downturn

Newswise — DURHAM, N.H. – With pocketbooks stretched even more during the holidays this year, Americans may find it difficult to tip their service providers as much as they would like to, but according to a University of New Hampshire professor who researches service expectations, consumers should do their best to give something.

“Giving a gift during the holiday is a fundamental part of every joyful season, and one such holiday extra is the giving of a ‘tip’ to those individuals that have provided a service during the year. However, extra money for many Americans has been tight this year due to the economic times which many have not recovered from. So this time of year, when we feel obligated to buy presents and tip our various service providers, it may be difficult to decide who to drop from your gift list or reduce in tips if money to spread around is limited,” said Nelson Barber, associate professor of hospitality management at UNH.

“During the holiday season, tipping is more a gesture of thanks to individuals who provide services on a regular basis to you and your family,” Barber says. “We all know that both gifts and tips are great, and for many, holiday tips can make a huge difference in their annual income.”

How important are tips? According to a survey by PayScale, personal-care workers, including makeup, barbers, hairdressers, nail technicians, and cosmetologists, receive 25 percent of their income from tips.

Barber offers the following tipping advice:

How Best to Tip?
Prioritize your most important service providers by considering those who have provided you services and the extent of interaction with them, particularly those who may not be that obvious, even if you may not have tipped them regularly. “Do not make your tipping decision solely based upon ‘an implied obligation.’ At the top of your list should be those individuals that enhance your life considerably,” he says.

Think about the valued housekeeper or the barber that squeezes you in or the individual that delivers your newspaper to the front door when it is raining or snowing saving you the walk down the driveway. “These are the people that should receive the top dollars rather than infrequently used service providers,” Barber says.

How much should I tip?
When deciding how much to tip, remember that tipping is discretionary. Consider the length of time you have been receiving the service and whether you live in an urban or rural setting where tipping levels may vary. Consider the relationship to the service provider. Are you close? Is the relationship informal?

“If you don’t think tipping is necessary in a particular circumstance, then don’t tip. The following is a guide and amounts have been adjusted for today’s economic conditions. It is not implying a moral duty to tip. If you are using a service that is widely known to be a tipped service, such as hair salons and valet parking, then tip for good service,” Barber says.

Some suggestions for minimum tipping are:
• Day care provider: $20 and a gift from your child
• Parking garage attendants: $20 or a gift
• Housekeeper: no more than one week’s pay or a gift
• Nanny: no more than one week’s pay or a gift from you and your child
• Newspaper carrier: $15 or a gift
• Package carrier: a gift of no more than $15
• Home caregiver: no more than one week’s salary or a gift
• Pet groomer: 25 percent the cost of a session or a gift
• Baby sitter: no less than half one evening’s pay
• Hairstylist for women: minimum half the cost of one visit. Tipping the owner who provides you the service: yes at your discretion.
• Hairstylist for men: minimum half the cost of one haircut.
• Manicurist: $10
• Sanitation worker: $5 to $10
• Mail carriers working for the United States Postal Service may not accept cash gifts, checks, gift cards, or any other equivalent.

If consumers need to reduce their tipping amounts, Barber suggests adding a note of thanks with the tip.

“I find, depending on the service provider, including a note expressing how much you appreciate them adds value and can make the gift mean more even if the amount given is less,” Barber says. “Service workers depend on these gifts as part of their income. So unless you’ve lost your own job, or are having financial troubles of your own, try to give.”

Released: 12/5/2011

Source: University of New Hampshire

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/unh-professor-offers-holiday-tipping-advice-during-the-economic-downturn

Less Jingling in Your Pocket This Holiday Season?

Give yourself permission to ask for a better price

Newswise — Winston-Salem, NC, November 18, 2011 – With gas and food costs rising this holiday, your budget may not stretch as far as you need it to. While the slow economy isn’t good news, it could work in your favor. Charles Lankau, a business professor and expert in negotiation at Wake Forest University, says consumers should be assertive about asking for discounts when shopping for just about everything this holiday season.

You might find retailers and service providers are more willing to negotiate to get your business, says Lankau because they are anxious to make more sales. “As a consumer in today’s economy, people need to ask themselves, ‘Am I about to spend some money?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ negotiating is almost always appropriate. Price, terms, perks or extras—most of the time they are there if you just ask.”

For those new to holiday bargain shopping beyond coupons and Black Friday deals, Lankau offers the following tips:

Give yourself permission to negotiate. Bargaining is one of many valuable budget-stretching tools available to make holiday spending funds go further. Use it.

Focus on the result, not on any misplaced embarrassment for asking. Think of how good it will feel to purchase a great gift at a discounted price. If you are successful, it’s a win-win situation. In most cases, the seller will still be making a profit.

Touch a chord. Choose your words carefully to reach the emotional side of the person you are dealing with, for example: ‘I’d love to give this as a Christmas gift, but I’m just not sure I can afford it. Can you do any better?’ Practice different approaches in the car on your way to the store to see how they sound.

Practice. Just like in sales, keep trying, and your ‘ask’ will improve.

Track your results. Keep a note card in your glove box and jot down every time you purchase an item for less than the asking price. It adds up! You might even keep a record of holiday shopping successes from year to year. Seeing your savings grow is a great motivator.

Lankau says large purchases, like cars and homes, or competitive services for television or telephone, are expenses where people expect to negotiate, but deals on traditional gifts from clothes to toys can also be found in retail shops. “My mother never hesitated to point out a flaw, if there was one, in a blouse or sweater, and she almost always received at least a ten percent discount.”

Released: 11/18/2011

Source: Wake Forest University

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/less-jingling-in-your-pocket-this-holiday-season

Halloween Indicates If Holiday Season Will be Retailers’ Trick Or Treat

Newswise — There are 14 million people officially unemployed in the United States; another 12 million have stopped looking for jobs. Yet the ghoulish economy is not scaring away Halloween consumers, and that means the holiday season will not be a nightmare for retailers.

“Halloween sales really reflects well the mood of the consumer and the economy in this country,” says Mickey Gee, M.A., executive-in-residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business. “Halloween sales is a number that we as retailers really look at because it often will indicate how much extra help we need to hire for the holiday season, how much we need in inventory levels and the amount of promotion we need to do or not do.”

The National Retail Federation says the average person will spend almost $75 on Halloween, up nearly $10 dollars per person from last year. According to Gee, an instructor with the UAB Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics, Halloween is the second largest event-driven season for retailers.

“With costumes, decorations, pumpkins and candy, Halloween will approach almost $7 billion in total expenditures, which is more than double what was spent in 2005,” said Gee. “I even saw one statistic that said people will spend around $300 million this year just to dress their pets.”

So why is Halloween a treat for those being tricked by the economy? Gee, an active retailer for 40 years, says Halloween is exactly what people need because of the economy. “We get tired of all bad news that we get inundated with on the nightly news,” Gee said. “People are ready for a little frivolity, so – dress up like a ghoul and have a good time!”

Almost half of adults and children will wear a costume this Halloween. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a great retail season. Gee is quick to point out – you don’t have to go to Target to be a pirate. Even so, he believes holiday sales predicted to increase 2 percent to 2.3 percent from this past year is an underestimate.

“This year we are predicting a pretty robust Halloween season, but so far our predictions for the holiday season have been a little bit less than robust,” says Gee. “When we finally get our numbers in here for Halloween I think you’ll see those holiday numbers go up in early November.”

Released: 10/14/2011
Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Via Newswise

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/halloween-indicates-if-holiday-season-will-be-retailers-trick-or-treat

 

Business and Retailing News….Consumers Rely on Signage Over Other Ad Media

Newswise — Businesses looking for a sign on how to prosper in a down economy need look no further than their own indoor and outdoor signage.

That’s because University of Cincinnati analysis of a market research survey of more than 100,000 North American households found that shoppers are drawn into stores and make important quality inferences on the basis of signs.

In fact, one of the surprising finds of the UC research performed in collaboration with BrandSpark/Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study™ is just how highly ranked signage is among forms of communication used to provide new product information.

When consumers were asked to rate the perceived usefulness of various media, only television was ranked more highly than signage as the most useful source of new product information.

According to UC researcher James J. Kellaris, “Although television was rated as the most useful source of new-product information, indoor signage (such as those at point-of sale, e.g., signage at the ends of store aisles or at check outs) tied with magazine ads as the second most useful source. And outdoor signage ranked third, followed by radio ads, Internet ads and finally, newspaper ads.”

He added, “So, what we found was that signage, a basic form of technology and communication that evolved in antiquity still works even in today’s Internet age.”

Kellaris will present his findings at the National Signage Research and Education Conference held Oct. 12-13 in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city that serves as a premier global hub for the marketing industry. Kellaris holds the James S. Womack/Gemini Corporation Chair of Signage and Visual Marketing in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at UC.

MORE FINDINGS: SMALL SIGNS A PROBLEM FOR SHOPPERS
The survey also explored an important visual acuity issue: driving by and failing to find a business because its signage was too small or unclear.

“This appears to be a major problem,” said Kellaris. “Nearly 50 percent of American consumers report that this has happened to them.”

Although the problem is universal across genders and regions, it varies across age groups.
Surprisingly, this is not a “senior citizen” phenomenon, as both younger and older age groups report more signage communication failure than the middle (35-49, 50-64) age groups.

“What we see is a U-shaped distribution with the younger shoppers being just as affected as boomers and seniors. Surprisingly, 64 percent of women aged 18 to 24 report having driven by and failed to find a business due to small, unclear signage.”

BACKGROUND ON THE SURVEY
The BrandSpark/Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study™ is performed annually by leading independent market research firm BrandSpark International in conjunction with the Better Homes and Gardens Best New Product Awards program. The sample for this survey includes over 100,000 North American households, with approximately 63 percent being U.S. consumers ages 18 to 65+.

“The survey provides a goldmine of data,” said Kellaris. “Our ongoing partnership with BrandSpark allows marketing faculty with varying interests to explore the database to uncover consumer insights relevant to many business areas, including the signage industry.”

The most recent survey included several items of interest to those in the signage business, including some critical issues—such as the economic value of signage.

For researchers like Kellaris, the importance of the collaboration with BrandSpark and Better Homes and Gardens Best New Product Awards program lies in the ability to track these initial findings with a massive sampling year after year.

“With an annual survey, one can tweak or add new questions. We can also spot trends, track changes over time,” said Kellaris. “We can even assess the impact of regulatory changes within geographic areas as sign codes are updated. This has implications for businesses and communities.”

Released: 10/10/2011

Source: University of Cincinnati

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/consumers-rely-on-signage-over-other-ad-media