shopping

Mouthwatering Words: The New Branding Strategy

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Which one of these shapes is a kiki and which is a bouba?
Did you choose the curvy shape as a bouba and the jagged one as a kiki?
Do you think it was an arbitrary choice?
The names are made up with no inherent meaning, but there’s nothing arbitrary about your selections. Upwards of 95% of people make the same choice. They do so in nearly every language on the planet and at ages as young as 2‏½ years.

Names matter.
Even nonsensical names evoke perceptions. When it comes to packaged foods, the name precedes the taste, so good branding appeals to the palate with words. The words need to stimulate perceptions and connections in the shopper’s mind that hint at the deliciousness inside. Think of product names like ‘Twinkies,’ ‘Miracle Whip,’ and ‘Gatorade’— completely meaningless yet somehow evocative.

The latest trend is food names that simulate eating.
Brand strategists have latched onto something called inward wandering brand names. They want names that, when spoken, mimic the act of eating. The names are ‘inward wandering’ because the articulation of them causes muscle movement and mouth activity that starts with the lips and ends with the throat.

How to eat your words.
The ideal inward wandering word would begin with p, b, or m.
A front-of-the-mouth vowel should come next (a, e, i, ā, ē).
The concluding syllable pulls it over the tongue and into the esophagus with a back-of-the-mouth vowel (o, u, ä, ō, ü).

An outward wandering word is just what you think.
It mimics movements of the mouth that simulate spitting or vomiting.
K, h, and g are the best back-of-the-mouth consonants to begin an outward wandering word.
Follow one of them up with a back-to-front vowel and consonant sequence and you’re basically spewing in an abstract fashion.

It sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo, but it works.
Numerous studies have established the ability of an inward wandering brand name to make a product seem more palatable. It works across languages, allowing for differing phonetics and speech mechanics. It’s effective whether you’re reading silently or saying the words aloud. Of course since we’re seeing inward wandering brand names in the marketplace, you can be sure that the technique translates into higher purchase rates and a willingness among consumers to pay higher prices.

 

Posted in food business, food trends, shopping | 1 Comment

Trader Joe’s Claims There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Pumpkin

 

I beg to differ.

 

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Pumpkin Ice Cream…Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s (sandwich cookies)…Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter…Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels…Mini Pumpkin Tea Scones…Pumpkin Spice Coffee (pods)…Pumpkin Spice Coffee (ground)…Pumpkin Waffles (frozen)…Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps…Iced Pumpkin Scone Cookies…Pumpkin Pie (frozen)…Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend…

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…Pumpkin Pie (frozen)…Mini Pumpkin Pies (frozen)…Pumpkin Biscotti…Pumpkin Macarons (frozen)…Pumpkin Rolls With Pumpkin Spice Icing (in a tube, bake at home)…Mini Ginger Pumpkin Ice Cream Mouthfuls (pumpkin ice cream ginger cookie sandwiches)…Pumpkin Seed Brittle…Pumpkin Body Butter…Pumpkin Tortilla Chips…Pumpkin Salsa…

via the Coupon Project

via the Coupon Project

Pumpkin Seed Pita Crisps…Greek Style Pumpkin Yogurt…Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce…Assorted Belgian Chocolate Pumpkins…Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Baking Mix  (also available gluten free)…Pumpkin Cornbread Mix…Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix (also available gluten free)….Pumpkin Panettone…Raw Pumpkin Seeds…Pumpkin Flavored Dog Treats…

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via Serious Eats

…Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds…Organic Pumpkin Purée (canned)…Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli…Pumpkin Bagels…Pumpkin Butter…Pumpkin Spice Cake…Pumpkin-y Pumpkin Bites…Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins…Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream…Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latté Mix…Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea…Pumpkin Croissants (frozen)…

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…KBC Pumpkin Ale…Pumpkin Bread Pudding (frozen)…Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread…Pumpkin Cheesecake…Organic Pumpkin Toaster Pastries…Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal…Pumpkin Bar Baking Mix…Pumpkin Cranberry Scone Mix…Joe’s Pumpkin O’s (breakfast cereal)…Pumpkin Spice Granola…This Pumpkin Walks Into A Bar… (breakfast bars)…

At least there’s one issue we can all agree on: there’s too much pumpkin at Trader Joe’s!

 

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Trumpkin and more via John Kettman



 

 

 

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More Men Grocery Shop, Few Reports of Testicle Shrinkage

notepad from Guajolote Prints

notepad from Guajolote Prints

 

It’s big news to retailers: men are no longer the hapless dolts of the household.
They can finally be trusted to walk into a supermarket with a list and walk out with more than chips, bacon, and beer.

Just a few years ago stores were rolling out man aisles.
2011 was the year that men first surpassed women as the likely primary shopper of their household and retailers were scrambling for ways to broaden their man appeal. Studies were commissioned and theories were trotted out, and they latched onto the old chestnut of men as hunters and women as gatherers. Shopping was seen as a modern adaptation of our species’ ancestral skills and the theory goes that man has no interest in strolling the aisles. He’s programmed to treat the supermarket like a prehistoric hunter; he should get in and out quickly and stay in safe territory. These days instead of a gazelle one in ten men is on the hunt for a good under-eye cream to reduce puffiness, but the male ego still needs reassurance that they’re not performing ‘women’s work.’ Stores like Target, CVS, and Wal-Mart established their man aisles as safe havens within their stores where men wouldn’t have to encounter troubling lady things like Tampax and mustache bleach, or be led astray by probiotic yogurt and frilly tarragon leaves.

Gone are the days of dopey dads and ‘honey-do’ lists.
Grocery shopping is now evenly shared in most households, and among millennials it’s predominantly a male domain. And except for their resistance to coupons (most men say it makes them feel like a cheapskate), their shopping habits and patterns are nearly indistinguishable from women’s. Men and women grocery shop with the same frequency and spending differences are narrowing. They’re in a virtual lockstep when it comes to engagement and concerns for the role food plays in the household’s well-being. They choose fresh ingredients over processed the same rate, and assign similar values to local foods, nutrition quality, and branded goods.

As the stereotypes fall, so go the man aisles.
When we shop for food for ourselves and our families, we’re driven by needs that transcend gender. It’s nice to see the supermarkets finally got the memo.

 

 

 

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The Surprising Names Behind the Brands You Trust

 

 

The average American supermarket carries nearly 40,000 products.
It sounds like myriad options until you realize that most of them—estimates run as high as 90%—come from fewer than a dozen companies. Acquisitions and consolidation have left us with Unilever-Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, ConAgra-Hebrew National kosher salami, and PepsiCo-Sabra hummus, and all but 15 of the nation’s organic food processors are in the hands of multinational giants.

The melding of brands matters.
When you buy Sweet Leaf organic tea you’re a customer of a company that funds initiatives to block GMO labeling; the parent company of your Morningstar Farms veggie patties is party to the mass destruction of rain forests. Stealth ownership of brands means that your carefully spent grocery dollars are ending up in the hands of the top 10 food and beverage producers who together emit more greenhouse gases than Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway combined. If you care about poverty and hunger, child labor, living wages, women’s rights, and climate change, then you should care about who really owns the brands that are lining the shelves of your supermarket.

Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign rates the social and environmental policies of the world’s largest food and beverage companies. The top 10 companies are megacorporations whose products are sold virtually everywhere on the planet. Millions of people, most in poor countries, rely on them for employment in agriculture and production. Their policies and business practices shape national economies and influence lifestyles for billions of global citizens. Oxfam evaluates the companies according to seven criteria: corporate transparency, women’s rights, labor practices, farming practices, land use, water use, and pollution. While some companies are doing better than others, overall it’s a fairly bleak portrait of the food system.

Oxfam’s campaign highlights the massive reach and global influence wielded by just 10 companies. If these industry leaders can be prodded to use their power responsibly, they could play a major role in the world-wide fight against hunger, poverty, inequality, and climate change.

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Nothing Says Merry Christmas Like Custom, Edible, and Anatomically Correct

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Your name on a Christmas stocking is so old school.
Custom gifts that use digital imaging and 3D printing will put a contemporary spin on personalized holiday gift-giving. 

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Choc-Edge will render your face (or Santa’s) in dark, milk, or white chocolate. Just send in a photo; custom molds start at $80.

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Parker’s Crazy Cookies turns your likeness into a caricature of fresh-baked goodness. The design process costs $25 for an initial proof and three revisions, and then you can order all the cookies you need for your holiday cookie swap.

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A 3D scanner maps you from head to toe to create a detailed silicone candy mold that renders you as a gummy mini-me .


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Fondant doppelgänger cake toppers aren’t just for June weddings. Like Butter creates plenty of custom, edible sculptures (starting at $60) in the days leading up to December 25th.

 

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Send in a photo and Chocolate Dreams will re-create it in chocolate. They’ve made a subspecialty of so-called exotic designs that they claim are ‘not for the fainthearted.’

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The Trader Joe’s Magic

 

 

 

It doesn’t work for everyone.
Trader Joe’s store locations are second-rate and their parking lots are impossibly small. The aisles are cramped, there are so many missing product categories you’ll never knock off a whole shopping list, and the lines at the register rival July 4th at Disneyland. It should all add up to the retail equivalent of waterboarding, but instead, the population of admirers continues to swell.

Trader Joe’s has figured out how to take its many shortcomings and weave them into its mystique.
There’s just one brand of olives and one box size of polenta, but customers will bet that if Trader Joe’s picked them, those olives must be fabulous and it’s the best damn polenta out there. Employees are scruffy, laid-back, and Hawaiian-shirted, but also customer-friendly, always out on the floor to answer questions, and quick to open a package to give you a sample. Beloved products spontaneously disappear from store shelves, but they’re replaced with new and offbeat culinary discoveries that are often a half-step ahead of our palates (anyone for adzuki bean chips and dried green mango?). Instead of a chore, shopping at Trader Joe’s is a cultural experience.

Trader Joe’s carries around 4,000 products, compared to the typical grocery store’s 50,000. It’s a mix of foodie-friendly staples, like cage-free eggs and extra virgin olive oil, plus affordable luxury and exotic items, like frozen truffled ricotta pizza and Moroccan tagine sauce. This is not inexpensive food, but the offerings are unique and the prices are often the lowest in town. If this is not how you shop, cook, and eat, you just won’t get it.

To make sure its customers get it, the company looks at demographics like education levels and cooking magazine subscriptions to divine its next store locations. And they sure do get it: Trader Joe’s has average store sales of  $1,750 per square foot—that’s double the sales per square foot of Whole Foods and triple the amount of a typical conventional supermarket. For Trader Joe’s, it adds up to $8 billion in annual sales.

The genius of Trader Joe’s is its marriage of cult appeal and scale. It doesn’t just masquerade as a neighborhood store with its bad clip art and folksy hand-lettered signs; it is a neighborhood store, with a tight customer focus and an ability to curate each store’s offerings to suit local tastes.

With 471 stores and counting, individual store oversight is less manageable, and a buying error can cost the company millions. Let’s hope as Trader Joe’s grows, it can hang on to the quirks and surprises that make it a special place to shop. Although no one will complain if they expand their parking lots.

If you do nothing else today, be sure to watch this video. If I Made a Commercial for Trader Joe’s is one man’s unauthorized tribute. It’s a complete, warts-and-all portrait; a love song celebrating the customers, employees, and eclectic merchandise of his favorite store. And it’s charming and very funny.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Buy Girl Scout Cookies

Yup, it’s Girl Scout cookie time.
Those girls time it just right. Just as your New Years diet resolve is weakening, they come a’knocking.
In case you need a little nudge toward an extra box of coconut-caramel Samoas, here are 10 good reasons why you should buy Girl Scout cookies.

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10) They’re not Boy Scout cookies.

 

 

 

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9) You can thumb your nose at Conservative mudslingers.
Prominent voices on the Christian Right claim that we’re distracted by the cute green outfits and cookies; that the Girl Scouts are really out to feed us a radical feminist lesbian agenda along with a box of peanut butter Do-Si-Dos. The Family Research Council published Girl Scouts Not Pro-Abortion! Earth Not Round!; WorldNetDaily blared the headline GIRL SCOUTS EXPOSED: LESSONS IN LESBIANISM; and HonestGirlScouts.com created a timeline titled  A History with Planned Parenthood, United Nations, Radicals & More as part of its Girl Scouts Hall of Shame.

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8) Cookie app!

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7)There’s something to this Girl Scouts thing.
Nearly three-quarters of all the women serving in Congress, including 14 of the 20 women senators, are former Girl Scouts. This is especially notable when you consider that less than 10% of U.S. women were scouts in their youth.

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6) The Girl Scouts take credit cards.

Girl-Scout-Cookie

 

 

 

5) New cookie boxes.
The re-designed packaging features girl-power images from the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly who has photographed four decades of American presidents, documented the Jonestown massacre, and produced a book about the last Seinfeld episode.

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4) The Girl Scouts made LGBT history welcoming the first transgender scout.
Last year’s statement from the Girl Scouts of Colorado: “Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

 

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3) Do it for Hillary.
Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Sandra Day O’Connor, Janet Reno, and Madeleine Albright. Every woman astronaut that’s ever flown in space. Gloria Steinem, Barbara Walters, Martha Stewart, Taylor Swift, and Venus Williams. All told, the Girl Scouts of America claim 64% of today’s women leaders—civic, athletic corporate, political, arts and sciences— as their own.

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2) National Girl Scout Cookie Day is coming.

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  1) Thin Mints.

 

 

Posted in cookies, diversions, kids, shopping | 5 Comments

Supermarket Waste: Where Does the Old Food Go?

image via Scary Mommy

The out-of-date yogurt cartons, the dented cans, the misshapen potatoes that shoppers passed over.
There’s a lot of activity behind the scenes and after hours at your local supermarket. Employees strip the shelves of brown bananas, opened boxes, broken jars, and stale muffins. They take the past-peak quality produce and meats to the deli or the salad bar and recycle them into prepared foods. They also remove packaged foods approaching their expiration dates—still perfectly good, but who’s going to buy a 5-pound block of cheese with 3 days left?

The good news is that more food than ever is finding a second life.

Wholesalers and supermarket chains have set up reclamation centers that operate as clearing houses for products considered unsaleable by the stores. The centers are filled with Christmas cookies in January, Valentine’s chocolate in March, and a year-round assortment of products that are nearing their sell-by dates or have packaging that has since been updated by the manufacturer. Much of it is shipped off to dollar stores and discount grocers, two categories that have become important to the food chain in our current economic state. There you’ll find an ever-changing assortment of foods—items discontinued by manufacturers, unfamiliar regional brands, foods labelled for export, and plenty of familiar and even high-end products all offered at highly discounted prices.

Food banks are another outlet for unsaleables, and most supermarket chains and reclamation centers participate in some sort of hunger relief program. The passage of the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act encourages participation by protecting the stores and distributors from criminal or civil liability around issues of food safety. The FDA also enthusiastically supports the practice and has even emphasized that other than baby food and formula, most food expiration dates refer to the point when a product’s taste, texture, color, or nutritional benefits start to deteriorate rather than the point when you need to worry about the product’s safety.

Americans waste a lot of food—more than 40% of  all we produce. According to the The Natural Resources Defense Council if we wasted just 5 percent less food, it would be enough to feed 4 million Americans; 20 percent less waste would feed 25 million. This is indefensible at a time when both food prices and the number of Americans without enough to eat continue to rise.

On his Wasted Food website, Joanathan Bloom has a lot to say about food waste and what we can do about it.

AlterNet grades the food waste handling of Wal-Mart, Safeway, and other top grocery chains.

 

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We’re Like Rats in a Maze

image via Futurity.com


What’s dangling from your keyring?

Buy ten coffees and get one free.
Or pints of frozen yogurt, bakery muffins, or home-delivered pizza.
If you’re like most of us, you’ve got 14 loyalty cards and tags clipped to your keys or stuffed in your wallet, although just around half of them are ever used. […]

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No Cash? No Problem. How to Barter for Food

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My This for Your That

You used to do it as a kid. You had an innate sense of the relative value of Twinkies and would broker a lunchroom exchange.

In recent years, barter has been making a comeback. This ancient form of trade is alive and well in e-commerce. Combining the DIY ethic with social networks, online barter exchanges are flourishing in the current, shaky economy. […]

Posted in food trends, shopping | Tagged , | 6 Comments
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