Whole Foods coaches shoppers on how to pick what they eat
ROCKVILLE, Md. — Michael Kiss, a chef who works at Whole Foods’ store in Rockville, Md., is one of the natural food supermarket chain’s army of “cooking coaches,” who are on staff to talk to customers about what kinds of food are available at the store and how to pick out the right kinds of food — something that’s helpful in a store known for carrying a dizzying variety of exotic ingredients. For Kiss, according to a recent Washington Post article, the job of a Whole Foods cooking coach is sometimes as simple as helping a recently widowed man pick out the right ingredients to make a quiche.
How supermarkets influence the way people eat has come a long way from free samples on toothpicks. Over the years, Americans have become increasingly conscious and selective about what they eat and how to eat well in general, with a special focus on food that is healthy and tastes good. Many supermarket chains like Supervalu, Hy-Vee and others have hired in-store nutrition experts and dietitians who can give store tours and assist customers looking to eat healthier diets or those who have special dietary needs due to such health conditions as diabetes or celiac disease.
Consumers continue to pamper their pets
Consumers may have tightened their belts in the current economy, but they aren’t skimping when it comes to their pets. The American Pet Products Association’s annual review of spending data revealed that overall spending in the pet category grew more than 6% to more than $48 billion in 2010.
More Americans own pets than ever before. The APPA said that the number of U.S. households that own a pet has increased by 2.1% to an all-time high of 72.9 million. And those pet owners are pampering their pets. Dog owners spend the most on their pets — an average of $364 a year. In 2010, there was a 30% gain in dollars spent on dog gifts, according to the APPA.
The APPA projected overall pet spending will increase 5% to exceed $50 billion in the coming year.
Pet owners are hungry for the “next big thing,” according to Bob Vetere, president of APPA. Pet foods offering more complete and balanced diets have grabbed a bigger share of the pet food market. Pet owners also are purchasing more pet health and beauty care products, including mouthwash and electric toothbrushes for dogs.
The APPA predicted strong growth for programmable feeding and drinking systems, automatic and battery-operated toys, self-cleaning litter boxes and self-warming pet mats.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Pet Care Mid-Year Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.
Before hitting the books, students hit drug stores
Back-to-college merchandise is big business. “College students are starting to represent the most important segment of the back-to-school market,” said Perry James, an analyst with the NPD Group. The segment has grown, Perry said, since the weak job market has caused many college seniors to extend their education through graduate school.
Chain drug retailers are adding more merchandise to attract these consumers. “Drug stores have become a popular option for families shopping for back-to-college,” said Kathy Grannis, a National Retail Federation spokeswoman. NRF data from 2010 showed that 17% of college students planned to purchase their supplies at drug stores.
“The market for back-to-college has grown tremendously; students want more than a mini-refrigerator and an answering machine,” Grannis said. “Drug stores are expanding their merchandise to satisfy these young adults who have specific needs.”
It’s not unusual to find small appliances, such as tower fans, water filters, drip coffee makers and toaster ovens; decor items, such as throws, pillow bed rests and area rugs; and storage products on drug store shelves from July to September. Laptop accessories also are a crucial category.
Parents, long accustomed to opening their wallets for their kids, are willing to spend the money necessary to trick out Junior’s dorm room. That doesn’t mean they aren’t shopping around for the best deals. NRF data from 2010 revealed that more than half of parents said they were shopping for sales.