When Labels Say … They Really Mean …

The Wall Street Journal: “Government regulators forbid ouright dishonesty, but labels with narrowly defined, cleverly deployed or unregulated buzzwords can confound shoppers trying to figure out what’s what.” For example: “‘Made with’ often means ‘made with very little,’” said Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Many consumers assume it means made only of whole grain. That’s simply not true.”

“Cage-free: Most egg-laying hens in the U.S. are confined in small, wire cages that measure 67 to 86 square inches per hen … Cage-free birds, on the other hand, are allowed to roam in a room or open area—but they are not guaranteed access to the outdoors. Free range: These chickens … do have outdoor access, although producers may provide minimal outdoor space or use screened-in porches with floors made of concrete, dirt or grass to provide the access.”

“Hormones aren’t allowed in poultry or hogs … Nonetheless, some producers label those products ‘no hormones added’ … Natural: This refers to the preparation of a product, not how a plant or animal was raised, and the label is supposed to include a statement explaining what it means … ‘Free’ means there is less than 0.5 gram per serving of a nutrient that has a daily value … ‘Low’ means there are 3 grams or less per serving … And ‘reduced’ means there is at least 25% less of the nutrient compared with another food.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Small Rivals Trip Big Brands

The Economist: “For a time, size gave CPG companies a staggering advantage. Centralising decisions and consolidating manufacturing helped firms expand margins. Deep pockets meant companies could spend millions on a flashy television advertisement, then see sales rise. Firms distributed goods to a vast network of stores, paying for prominent placement on shelves.”

“Yet these advantages are not what they once were. Consolidating factories has made companies more vulnerable to the swing of a particular currency … The impact of television adverts is fading … At the same time, barriers to entry are falling for small firms … Distribution is getting easier, too: a young brand may prove itself with online sales, then move into big stores.”

“Most troublesome, the lumbering giants are finding it hard to keep up with fast-changing consumer markets … As their economies grew, local players often proved more attuned to shoppers’ needs. In America and Europe” shoppers “can choose from cheap, store-brand goods … But if a customer wants to pay more for a product, it may not be for a traditional big brand. This may be because shoppers trust little brands more than established ones.”

“EY, a consultancy, recently surveyed CPG executives. Eight in ten doubted their company could adapt to customer demand.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Women, Men & Storytelling

The Wall Street Journal: “New research … shows that women find men who are good storytellers more appealing … Psychologists believe this is because the man is showing that he knows how to connect, to share emotions and, possibly, to be vulnerable. He also is indicating that he is interesting and articulate and can gain resources and provide support … The men didn’t care whether the women were good storytellers, the research showed.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Story-doing: The Kellogg’s Café

The Wall Street Journal: “Who would go to a restaurant to eat Frosted Flakes—and pay $6, maybe even $8 for it? What if the bowl was topped with a sprinkle of lemon zest, toasted pistachios and fresh thyme, and was singularly delicious? Kellogg’s will find out the answer on July 4, when it opens its first-ever restaurant, in New York’s Times Square … a sleek, intimate space in which to challenge eaters’ conceptions.”

“The playful recipes … include the pistachio- and lemon-spiked bowl of Frosted Flakes and Special K … and ice cream topped with Rice Krispies, strawberries and matcha powder. Customers will pick up orders via a set of ‘kitchen cabinets,’ a kind of un-automated automat. Inside the door will be their food and a little surprise, like those found in a box of cereal. Most days, it will be a small treat—a plastic ring or a morning newspaper. But there are also plans in the works to give away several tickets to the Broadway smash, Hamilton.”

“This is story-doing versus storytelling,” said Andrew Shripka, the associate director of brand marketing. “We could have put a great recipe on the box. But this is so much more powerful.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Bestseller Code: Algorithmic Hits

The Bookseller: “Jodie Archer, a former publisher and consultant, and Matthew Jockers, co-founder of Stanford University’s Literary Lab, have built an algorithm aimed at proving that mega-hits are predictable. The system, which analyses theme, plot, style and character to predict whether a manuscript will be a bestseller, has looked at 20,000 novels using “cutting-edge text-mining techniques”. The duo’s efforts are charted in a new book, The Bestseller Code to be published by Allen Lane in September.”

“The authors claims that it is correct ‘over eighty percent of the time.’ However the selection of The Circle, which according to Nielsen BookScan in the UK, has sold 43,638 copies in paperback since spring 2014, and never appeared in the Top 50 or any of The Bookseller’s fiction charts, could prove controversial. The Eggers book—the novel which scored 100% on the algorithm—is described as ‘the single most paradigmatic bestseller of the past 30 years’.”

Jodi Archer comments: “The maverick editor that wants to do something new, to start a new trend, that’s not going to happen using technology.” Yet she says that the algorithm will
“actually be very good” at identifying likely best-sellers.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Is Bud ‘Light’ on Women’s Pay?

The Washington Post: “In its newest national TV ad, the world’s biggest brewer portrays itself as a staunch defender of paying women as much as men … But the ads highlight an awkward reality for the beer giant — and the rest of corporate America.”

“In the Bud Light ad, (Seth) Rogen and (Amy) Schumer discuss how women must often pay more for the same things, a problem consumer advocates call the ‘gender tax.’ When Schumer says women are charged more for cars, dry cleaning and shampoo (among other things), Rogen says, ‘You pay more but get paid less? That is double wrong!’ Shumer says: “That’s why Bud Light costs the same, no matter if you’re a dude or a lady.”

So, The Washington Post asked “Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian beer conglomerate that brews Bud Light, whether it pays the thousands of men and women in its workforce equally … The company won’t say. It declined to provide data on how many women it employs, how much those women are paid, and how that pay compares to their male colleagues.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The ‘Cheese Pull’ & Other Chemical Reactions

Quartz: “In advertising, the cheese pull is more than just a tantalizing glimpse of melted goodness. It’s an idea, and an enduring one at that. Advertisers use it to communicate with the part of our brain that’s not verbal, with the primal core of our being that doesn’t understand words but responds with hunger, thirst, arousal, desire.”

“Pizza chains aren’t the only ones that use such evocative visual cues to tap into our baser urges. The hair flip in shampoo commercials, the car cruising down a windy road in auto ads, and the closeup on condensation on an ice-cold bottle are each metaphorical ‘cheese pulls,’ designed to provoke an involuntary response—one that advertisers hope will lead to a purchase.”

“In food advertising, the cheese pull can ‘trigger deep-seated memories of food experiences’ to ‘signal an enjoyable experience in you,’ said Uma Karmarkar, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School … Those memories can actually set off a release of chemicals in the brain akin to those involved in drug addiction.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

PS: Ikea Beyond The Basics

Fast Company: “Every few years, Ikea releases its limited-edition PS Collection—a series of experimental products that aren’t intended to supplant its perennial offerings, but rather to add a jolt of energy into its stores … For its 2017 PS Collection, Ikea’s designers chose a theme they call Young Urban Life, delving into new material research, fabrication techniques, and product types.”

“Some of the more idiosyncratic products include a seating piece that looks like the love child of a Papasan chair and a rocker, a sofa that looks like it’s composed of pillows, and a throw blanket that can be worn like a jacket … For the practicality-minded set, there are still a few space-efficient pieces, like stackable storage bins, collapsible side tables that fold away when not in use, and arm chairs that join to become a love seat.”

Henrik Most Nielsen of Ikea: “Ikea is for the many, but the many are different. We’re trying to attract customers who think Ikea isn’t at the front of design. We’re moving from basics to embodying a strong personality and style.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail