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In spite of all the electronic gear we carry, from Blackberrys and iPhones to laptop computers, an unexpected phenomenon has surfaced. It seems today that everyone has a “Little Black Book” and meetings really never get started without most participants placing their book on the table.
These little books started popping up at business meetings and conferences and they have become a tool for recording ideas, thoughts and drawings. It seems that business people have embraced these Moleskin books not necessarily for the recording of numbers but as a way to memorialize creative ideas, keep a record of business trends and to write inspirational jottings that are outside the hard data stored on other electronic devices.
I sometimes wonder what it would be like to sneak a peek into other people’s “Little Black Book” and I bet you have felt the same. Therefore, I thought you might enjoy sharing some of the trends I have recorded in my little black book that deal with our industry.
Over the past year, we have been witness to a cataclysmic change in American lifestyles, going from a country with a long history of consumerism to a new “hunker down” mentality. While the changes may seem unnerving, the amazing aspect is the speed with which American families have rethought their values and altered their behavior. These changes in American lifestyles and shopping habits have happened within a year’s span and are changing the food we eat and the products we buy. The result has been the emergence of several new trends.
1. Without a doubt the biggest change we have seen is the recommitment to family. Spending more time at home has resulted in the creation of a new word to describe this phenomena— “Staycation.” Along with this has come a renewed interest in cooking— not in the cooking techniques of Julia Child, but in the form of contemporary cooking magazines endorsed by celebrity chefs as well as a new generation of step-by-step cookbooks focused on fast, simple and easy recipes. In keeping with this, “grilling” has been rediscovered. Be on the lookout for exciting new products, from stove top grills to electric grills, that your consumers are primed to buy.
2. The restaurant industry has undergone major upheavals this past year. From the temples of food touting creative cuisines prepared by celebrity chefs, a shift has occurred that now sees many of these chefs opening burger restaurants featuring high-quality ingredients in comfortable surroundings. Stuffed hamburgers with Foie Gras in Las Vegas restaurants are being changed to stuffed burgers with cheddar cheese in American homes, and America is loving it.
3. We are learning today that it is the little things in life that count, and that is particularly true when it comes to cooking. Gadgets and cooking tools for the kitchen are selling at an amazing rate. Many companies have created wonderful inventions that are fun and exciting, but more importantly are affordable to everyone. The Corn Zipper is a must have for everyone along with the Microplane Grater, a non-stick spatula and a julienne peeler. The tool and gadget business is a growth opportunity with high margins and high consumer demand that allows the consumer to feel like a cooking expert in a matter of minutes. In these challenging times, tools and gadgets are proving to be the best performers for retailers across the country and warrant additional retail space.
4. The big news in the coffee business is that coffee is coming home, and consumers are looking for new high-tech features that deliver a great coffee experience. For the last several years, drip coffeemakers have really taken a back seat to the espresso maker. Today, the consumer is updating their old drip coffeemakers with newer high-technology products that deliver a superior cup of coffee. This new generation of drip coffee maker is on the horizon.
5. The single-serve category is not just important in coffee but provides a new growth opportunity for the wine industry. Wine bars have been cropping up around the world offering the best wines instantly by the glass. Select your wine, press a button and the wine pours into your glass at exactly the right temperature and preserved to perfection. The newest idea in wine products today is from Skybar, a division of Jarden Consumer Solutions, offering refrigerated chambers to store three of your best bottles of wine chilled to the exact right temperature. These systems preserve the wines’ bouquet and flavor, delivering it to your glass at the touch of a button. This idea revolutionizes wine delivery systems in American homes and keeps you from ever wondering whether you should open a wonderful bottle for yourself ever again.
6. Barbeque is on the rise and consumers are stepping up to a wide array or foods, sauces and accessories in the category. This trend is again being driven by restaurants, whose strong wood flavors, savory spices and zesty sauces are encouraging consumers to experiment with great barbeque at home. In addition, consumers are learning how to smoke meats, and while it’s not an easy technique to master, new smokers on the market take most of the challenge out of it, delivering great taste and using less expensive cuts of meat.
7. Three dimensional cakes are revolutionizing the bakery cake business and are finding their way into consumers’ homes, in turn serving to influence the development of bakeware products. Instead of the old layer cake, kids want their favorite characters and images in 3-D.
8. Innovation has never been more important in getting consumers into the store and enticing them to buy. For many companies, new product accounts for up to 40% of 2009 shipments, making your product selections more important and challenging than ever. The best way to do this is to attend trade shows, meet regularly with your reps and read every trade publication you can find. Staying in close touch with the industry is the order of the day.
9. Today’s consumer is studying products more diligently than ever before purchasing, and are trying to make every dollar go farther. While “value” has become the watchword of the day, those who will be truly successful understand that it is more about offering “Meaningful Value,” which is created when retailers offer branded products at a great price. There are suppliers today with program specials, closeouts and discontinued products that you should be using to get the consumer’s attention and focus it on your store and product offerings. Through these promotions, you can turn lookers into buyers and make sales happen.
Teaching consumers about cooking is just as relevant as it has ever been. We just have to make sure the message we deliver is current and not grounded in yesterday’s recipes, ideas and practices. Our challenge as an industry is to stay well ahead of the consumer to give them exactly what they’re looking for. Keep yourself motivated in challenging times and success will always be right in front of you. Zig Ziglar once said “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing— that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Hawthorne Gilt is new from Caskata’s luxury line Insignia C, and features jewelry-inspired bands of weaves and crosshatches in a matte gold color way. The dinnerware is bone china, and it is made in the USA.