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Actress Marg Helgenberger to appear in Safeway Foundation breast cancer campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — Actress and Stand Up To Cancer ambassador Marg Helgenberger will appear in a new public service campaign on behalf of The Safeway Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer, the companies announced Wednesday.

Helgenberger, known for her role as Catherine Willows on the CBS drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," will appear in both a print and 30-second broadcast public service announcement in direct support of the campaign.

Debuting the end of September, the public service campaign will coincide with Safeway’s annual in-store breast cancer awareness fundraiser, which offers customers multiple opportunities to donate at more than 1,600 Safeway stores across the United States and Canada. The public service campaign will extend through October.

At the center of the public service campaign is a limited-edition, breast cancer awareness reusable shopping bag. The bag will be available for purchase at all Safeway locations, including Vons, Pavilions, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Dominick’s and Carrs stores, as well as online at Safewayfoundation.org. Two dollars from the sale of the $2.99 reusable bag will go directly to breast cancer research. Additionally, Safeway shoppers will have a chance to make a separate donation at checkout stands.

"As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I am deeply committed to the fight against this disease," Helgenberger said. "I am proud to take a stand on behalf of my mother, and in support of all the women and families who have been affected by breast cancer."

To date, Safeway and The Safeway Foundation have raised $102 million in support of breast cancer research.

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Booz & Co. unveils shopping trends for 2012 holiday season

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — While holiday retail sales will remain flat or only slightly up from last year, emerging consumer buying trends will have significant implications for retailers, according to a new survey from Booz & Co.

In its 1,600-person survey — which polled consumers, retail store staff and retail executives to determine buying habits and potential trends for this holiday season — Booz & Co. found that in-store competitive browsing, heavy online shopping and downloaded gifts top the new shopper behaviors expected this holiday season. Booz & Co. specifically called attention to multichannel shopping, which it said will be a core part of how consumers shop: 40% of surveyed consumers describe "showcasing" as their new shopping strategy: browsing in-store before buying online, which creates a major challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Additional key findings included:

  • 52% of consumers will closely consider affordability in their shopping decisions;

  • 73% of consumers said they expect to find great deals this season, compared with 62% last year;

  • 51% of consumers reported that economic survival is a great reason for celebrating this year;

  • More than 80 million shoppers plan to purchase gift cards this season, about 4% more than last year;

  • Downloadable gifts will become a distinct and rapidly growing category this year, as 45% of consumers expect to give at least one downloadable gift (i.e., an e-book, a music download or a movie);

  • 53% of consumers intend to buy at least one luxury item (up from 41% last year), and the item is likely to be one the whole family can enjoy; and

  • Consumers are looking forward to the holiday more than last year; 53% expect to host multiple gatherings, compared with 45% last year.

"The biggest challenge this season for brick-and-mortar retailers is determining how to drive more than their fair share of ‘showcasing volume’ to their websites rather than Amazon.com or another competitor," said Thom Blischok, chief retail strategist for Booz & Co. "While technology enhancements and economic uncertainty will both impact this holiday season, there is a dose of optimism compared to 2011, as people shop with a value-seeking mindset."

Booz & Co. outlined certain "winning strategies" for retailers for the 2012 holiday season. They include:

  • Developing seamless digital and physical experiences. For example, using QR code-driven promotions to convert a sale, considering free shipping on targeted items, using loyalty points to drive conversion or using online competitor price matching sparingly to drive price perception;

  • Preparing online and mobile technology platforms for high volumes, because crashing mobile applications will discourage consumers;

  • Ensuring that sales associates are intimately familiar with both the website and any mobile offerings so they can help customers navigate among different buying channels in real time; and

  • Offering free shipping on targeted items or basket sizes. "Shoppers are increasingly savvy about their all-in costs; last year free shipping was a major online sales driver, and we expect more of the same this year," Booz & Co. said.

"Retailers will need to adjust their holiday sales strategies to embrace an evolving consumer mindset, favoring a more seamless shopping experience through smartphones and in-store opportunities," said Nicholas Hodson, partner in Booz & Co.’s Consumer & Retail practice.

To view the full "Holiday Retail Outlook 2012" report, click here.

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GMDC facilitates virtual conference meetings at trade show event

BY Michael Johnsen

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — GMDC will feature its connectivity tool, GMDC*Connect Powered by Telepresence, to help facilitate more top-to-top meetings with on-site attendees and executives with tight travel schedules at its 2012 HBW Conference, which kicks off Sept. 21 in San Antonio, Texas.

GMDC will be piloting these virtual appointments, which first were introduced earlier this summer at the 2012 General Merchandise Conference.

"By broadening the scope of the meetings ability to include more executives for face-time with our customers, … [t]his technology will extend our reach to incorporate virtual connections to company headquarters or even more remote locations, so that our brand and product story can be communicated directly by our team to our customers," Shurtech Brands sales director Peter Fahrenkopf said after his meeting with H-E-B. 

"We anticipate HBW12 to be the best yet. For a second conference in a row, our members this year at Health Beauty Wellness Conference will experience all the success and enhancements that were offered at GM12," GMDC president and CEO Dave McConnell said. "GMDC has also implemented improvements to our Telepresence capabilities through the positive feedback of our members to continue to increase our levels of engagement, bring a ‘feel real’ through the best quality of equipment, and deliver new levels of participation with executives across the country. This is simply a conference where the right buyers are connecting at the right time, in the right environment."

For more information about the GMDC HBW12 Conference, visit GMDC.org/hbw12.

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