Even before it was part of my job description to take stock of retail trends, I did it anyway.  If I’m being completely honest, though, I’m not talking about just refrigerated and frozen foods. A self-proclaimed “packaging” and “product” addict, I am the type of person who could spend hours in a Target store just looking at all the boxes and bags of goodies, giving special attention to those marked “new packaging,” “now with more flavor!” or “on sale for a limited time only.”






Even before it was part of my job description to take stock of retail trends, I did it anyway.  If I’m being completely honest, though, I’m not talking about just refrigerated and frozen foods. A self-proclaimed “packaging” and “product” addict, I am the type of person who could spend hours in a Target store just looking at all the boxes and bags of goodies, giving special attention to those marked “new packaging,” “now with more flavor!” or “on sale for a limited time only.”

The poly-bagged circulars with the Sunday paper have to be combed. Those requests to join retailer’s “insider” e-newsletters have to be clicked on. And point-of-purchase displays must carefully be considered.

For many years I wore my “new product addict” badge with pride - if not honor. I was known among friends as the person to ask about the latest cosmetics and lotions and often was on the receiving end of breathless phone calls (“Have you seen the new [insert brand/product here] packaging?” “Have you tried the new flavor of gum?”).

For many years, “new” and “novel” have had a Pavlovian effect on me. So, with the holiday season here in full swing I should be delirious with a retail sugar high.

But a funny thing has happened. Suddenly new and novel doesn’t have the same appeal. It could be this fall’s stock market plunges (and rises and plunges) or the media outcry that we’re teetering on the edge of the next depression. Whatever the reason, I now crave the old and familiar - things that are comforting and evergreen.

It doesn’t seem that I’m alone.

For one, in Starbucks’ locations nationwide, warm oatmeal became the most successful food product launch in the company’s history. Further, Campbell’s Soup was the only S&P 500 company to see its stock take a sharp upward turn following September’s stock market slump. Soup and oatmeal? It doesn’t get more warm and snuggly than that.

Will this trend continue? Or will consumers be looking for new and novel again in 2009? Maybe the real challenge here is to find a way to re-package and market warm and comforting in a fresh way. I can smell the crisp-n-serve microwaveable apple pie now ... Here’s wishing you a warm and toasty holiday season!




Just the facts

It’s clear that the deli counter isn’t just for sliced lunch meats anymore. A recent survey indicates that 64 percent of consumers said they purchased a prepared food from the deli case in the last 30 days - an increase over 51 percent who said the same in 2005. Deli items seeing the biggest increase are rotisserie turkey, sales up by 150 percent, pasta, up by 125 percent, and pizza, up by 100 percent.
Source: Counter Intelligence Deli Consumer Study

How sweet it is! Sweeteners - including sugar substitutes made from the Stevia or sweetleaf plants - grew to a $3.1 billion market in 2007 and are expected to generate sales of $3.2 billion by 2012. Organic and less-refined sugar substitutes are anticipated to lead market growth.
Source: Packaged Facts’ Trends in the U.S. Market for Sugar, Sugar Substitutes and Sweeteners

Has snacking become the fourth meal of the day? According to a recent report, consumption of snacks is on the rise. Between meals munching is forecast to increase 14 percent by 2017 with the biggest snackers being children under nine and adults aged 30 to 39 and 50 to 59.
Source: NPD Group’s Snacking in America 2008

The turbulent economy isn’t a bad thing for everyone - in fact some brands actually benefit from consumer’s economic woes. McCormick & Co. spices, for one, saw its sales rise 9 percent to $782 million during third quarter 2008 as cooking at home became a more attractive (cheaper) meal alternative to eating out or ordering in. Furthermore, private label sales are up at stores such as Walgreens, where they reportedly increased by 15 percent last quarter.
Source: Brandweek