Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Holiday Shoppers Plan to Buy More Gifts for Themselves
Merry Christmas to me!
Holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of the discounts that come along with the Christmas holiday season to stock up on items for themselves, according to the findings a new survey.
Holiday shoppers plan to spend less on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise this year -- about $704 per person, compared to $719 last year. But they will spend more money on non-gift items for themselves and their family, according to the findings of the survey conducted by BigResearch on behalf of retail industry trade group, the National Retail Federation.
The average person will spend about $130.43 on such items this holiday season, that's up from $112.20 in 2010.
This trend speaks to the desire consumers have to stretch their money in this tough economy, where unemployment remains high and income stagnant. Consumers know the deals are coming, and they want to take advantage of them.
It is also in keeping with the NRF's holiday forecast, which they issued earlier this month, for holiday retail sales to grow 2.8 percent during the months of November and December to $465.6 billion.
Focus on value
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said retailers will likely try to appeal to this consumer mood.
"Knowing their customers are more focused than ever on value, retailers will entice shoppers with promotions that go beyond discounts, whether they're touting free gifts with purchase, an extended warranty, or stellar customer service," Shay said, in a press release.
Since consumers are still very concerned about their budget, discount stores -- a category that includes stores such as Wal-Mart and Target -- are expected to see slightly more customers than they did last year as will department stores with unique private-label offerings, the NRF said. Examples of such department stores include Macy's and Kohl's.
"In 2009 it was all about personal, practical gifts, and last year consumers wanted to treat their loved ones to something special -- this year, it's a little bit of both," said Pam Goodfellow, director of Consumer Insights at BigResearch. "Limited budgets and a desire to make the most of the gift-giving will drive consumers to shop at a variety of retailers while also thinking outside the box for great gift ideas."
More meaningful gifts
This isn't the first survey this season to reflect a desire to give more meaningful gifts. A poll conducted by Harrison Group and American Express Publishing found that affluent consumers were focused on their relationships and experiences rather than material gifts this holiday season. The majority of the consumers, who had discretionary household income of between $100,000 to more than $1 million, said they would spend less this holiday season.
However, the drop in spending doesn't reflect a fear about the economy, the Harrison survey said. Instead, the majority of those who are looking to buy fewer gifts said they were doing so because they "just don't need as much stuff." That response was up 14 points from last year. In 2010, the number one response to this question was "worried about the economy" and, interestingly, that response is down 21 points in 2011, from 68 percent to 47 percent.
In addition, a significant chunk of the affluent said they would splurge on themselves while they were doing their holiday shopping.
Americans want gift cards
Maybe that's because Americans fear they won't get the gifts they want.
For the fifth year in a row, and at the highest level in the NRF's survey's history, 57.7% of shoppers said they want to receive a gift card this holiday season.
The NRF also asked about online and mobile shopping patterns and found a continuation of the trend of shoppers doing more shopping online and on mobile devices.
Nearly half plan to make a purchase online, up from 43.9% last year. Also, the average shopper plans to do about 36% of their shopping online. This includes researching products and making a purchase.
Among adults aged 25 to 34 years old, the percentage is even higher. This group, which likely includes many households with young children, will complete about 43.7% of their shopping online, the most of any age group.
As for smartphone owners, about 52.6% will use their devices to assist with holiday shopping. One third said they would use their phone to research product and compare prices, 14.1 percent said they would purchase products using their device, 17.3% would redeem coupons and 15.6% will use apps to research or purchase items. A quarter will use their phone to look up store hours and locations.
But shoppers who have an iPad or other tablet device will be even more likely to use it as a shopping aid. Seven in 10 tablet owners plan to research and shop with their device.
Mobile shopping skews younger than online shopping does. It's the adults aged 18 to 24 years old who are the making the most use of their smartphones for shopping. About 72.2% of this age group will use their smartphones and 86.4% will use their tablets to shop for holiday items this year.
And the shopping has already begun. About 39% of consumers say they will start their holiday shopping before Halloween.
The NRF 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey polled 8,585 consumers between Oct. 4 and Oct. 11.
(Source: USA Today, 10/24/11)
||Happy Hours Branch Out
Stretching a time-honored promotional gambit to new limits, some restaurant operators are getting creative with happy hour.
They're switching up the times when they offer special deals, focusing on products they're proud of, and otherwise reinventing this longstanding tradition. The reward is an influx of new, good customers and higher sales at formerly slow times.
At 24 Diner in Austin, Texas, happy hour runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday through Friday, with half-prices on quality well brands and specialty cocktails. The latter, regularly priced at $6 to $12, include libations like Amarillo Lemonade, made with local vodka infused with two kinds of hops, ginger liqueur and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Another signature is the French 24, a riff on the French 75, made with gin, preserved local Meyer lemons and champagne. The kitchen produces a menu of chef-inspired comfort food favorites 24 hours a day, ranging from chicken and waffles to a bacon Gorgonzola burger and a French toast platter.
"We wanted the restaurant to feel comfortable, casual and approachable -- the beverage as well as the food," said sommelier Billy Caruso.
Around 7 a.m., hospital employees from the graveyard shift are usually the first to arrive for happy hour. As the day progresses, young professionals, off-duty restaurant personnel, college students and runners still in their sweat suits are likely to walk in. On game days, Austin's fervent college football fans stop by for an eye-opener.
"And we honestly see some people drinking really interesting craft beers at 8 a.m.," said Caruso. "But it's not an over-the-top party. It's more people having great conversations about art, music, sports and the world."
Attaching a happy hour discount to high-quality goods can be a wise move, said David Commer, president of Commer Beverage Consulting in Lewisville, Texas.
"It is a really strong strategy for driving people towards your signature items," Commer said. "I think that is a better approach than just giving away ordinary stuff."
Six locations of Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, a 14-unit chain based in Burbank, Calif., have been promoting Reverse Happy Hour for about the past year. The deal offers special pricing on drinks and appetizers from 9 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday, and 8 p.m. to close on Sunday.
The goal is to increase late-night covers in those locations and to promote Japanese beverages, said Young Kim, director of marketing and real estate. It has succeeded on both counts.
"During Reverse Happy Hour, we see a lot more customers coming in later and ordering bottles of sake," Kim said. "We are getting baby boomers who instead of ordering wine are ordering sake."
Although the full bar is on offer during Reverse Happy Hour, the focus is on Japanese bottled beers and sakes, as well as cocktails like the Tokyo Mojito ($5.50) and the Ki-Bomb ($3.75). The latter, a 12-ounce mug of Japanese draft beer served with a small hot sake, is a "phenomenal" seller, Kim said.
Every Monday is All-Day Happy Hour at Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace in Boulder, Colo., part of the eight-unit Big Red F Restaurant Group based there. A special menu of about a dozen beverages and small plates is offered when the doors open at 11:30 a.m. Food service ends at 10 p.m. but the beverage offer runs until midnight.
Centro's bartenders send out $5 shots of tequila and mezcal, glasses of house wine and Margaritas priced at $4, and cans of a house-label Mexican-style craft lager for $3, to go with executive chef Ian Clark's Green Chile Hush Puppy and Garlicky Griddled Shrimp Soft Taco.
All-Day Happy Hour has grown "exponentially" in popularity since it debuted three years ago, said operations manager Mike Lawinski. What was formerly the slowest day of the week now surpasses Tuesday in total sales by 30 percent, despite the discount prices.
The patrons include "a ton" of restaurant employees who are off on Monday, working people, students "and the typical lunch customer getting bang for the buck," Lawinski said.
"It's very much an event, a party, a place to be seen," he added. "Three or four other restaurants also have it here now, but our business is growing despite the competition."
(Source: Nation's Restaurant News, 10/12/11)
||Definition of 'Single Mom' No Longer Singular, or Stigmatized
The movies tell us all about the single mom: She's young, harried and hassled, running around from here to there haphazardly, juggling work, kids and romance, and trying to make it on her own. At least that's how the Hollywood story goes.
But real statistics indicate otherwise. Today, there are about 10 million single mothers with children younger than 18 in the U.S., but they are older (average age, 39) and almost one-third have the support of a live-in partner. They do tend to have lower household incomes than their married counterparts, but most of them, about 80%, are working moms.
Why should single moms even matter to marketers? They're certainly not the majority of women in the U.S. But consider this: About 40% of all children are born to single mothers today. The trend of single motherhood isn't slowing, and these women influence not only the children they're raising, but also their peers, thanks to technology, and their extended families, thanks to their participation in the growing trend of multigenerational households.
"That old-fashioned idea that a single mother is someone who got pregnant by accident or didn't want a child is just not true anymore. These days there are plenty of single moms by choice," said Dana Points, editor in chief of Parents/American Baby.
The stigma that goes along with that stereotype is waning as well. Ms. Points quoted 2010 Pew research that found that 52% of millennials think being a good parent is "one of the most important things" in life, compared to just 30% who said the same thing about a successful marriage. That 23% differential was just a 7% difference only decade ago when those same questions were asked.
"Millennials seem to be minimalizing the importance of marriage related to the importance of parenthood," Ms. Points said, adding that to reflect today's parenting reality in the magazine, she is careful about words like "husband" or "spouse," changing them to "partner" when used generally.
Single mothers today are also traditionalists. Even though their unmarried head-of-household families may not classify them in a typical government designation, 55% of single moms agreed to the statement, "I consider myself to be a very traditional mom," in a recent Women at NBCU study. Sixty-four percent of married women also agreed they are traditional.
"In a time when there are probably more kinds of unconventional families than ever, there is a huge upsurge in the idea of traditional. Traditional is becoming the aspiration for all moms," said Melissa Lavigne-Delville, VP-trends and strategic insights, integrated media at NBCUniversal. "They're defining tradition less about the statistics like whether they're married couples or have biological children, and more about the cornerstones and values of what matters in their families like sitting down to eat together."
The NBCU study segmented all mothers into eight different categories, and found that four of those categories skewed heavily single. Of those four, each differed greatly in both demographics and thinking.
The first group, for example, tended to be more like the traditional stereotype of single motherhood. Ms. Lavigne-Delville calls that group "Girl Interrupted," and she is more likely to be young, Caucasian, and have a lower income. This group makes up 13% of moms, and their outlook on life tends to be one of personal sacrifice for their children, and a life interrupted by the birth of a child. They are more likely to live with extended family, but don't receive a lot of support. As Ms. Lavigne-Deville pointed out, it may not be the happiest group of women for marketers, but they are the most tech-connected with influence and of all the mom segments. "Reach them digitally, and don't just write them off. Because they've got lots of friends," she said.
Another young demographic group, the "Dream Girls," or 15% of moms, has a much sunnier outlook on life and are "extra psyched" to be moms. They are more likely to be Hispanic, are tech connected and tend to have a lot of family and friend support. Their optimism about opportunities and having it all could be a marketer's opening for inspirational and aspirational messaging, Ms. Lavigne-Deville said.
The third single-mom demo from NBCU is the "Survivor Mom." She is older, more likely to be divorced or widowed, and struggles financially. However, this mom is also independent and confident in her parenting choices and purchases. This segment, 13% of the total, is the most brand loyal.
And last there are the "Secondlife Moms." This is an older-skewing group more likely to be divorced, but also more likely to be educated, work full time, and be financially secure. They're experiencing life again and looking for new brands. Ms. Lavigne-Deville said they are a bit of a "mommybopper," living out those teen years a bit, with online dating, new clothing and going out with friends as common activities.
In general, even though they are quite different, the single-mom stigma didn't hold up for the moms in the NBCU study. When asked if single moms are accepted more by mainstream society, 92% said yes. And 93% agreed that in the next 10 to 20 years, there will be even more single moms.
(Source: Advertising Age, 10/17/11)
Daily Sales Tip: Trial Closing
A good way to determine a prospect's interest is to use a trial close. When trial closing, a salesperson is asking for the prospect's opinion about the product or service. It helps measure a prospect's interest at any time during the presentation.
It's a good idea to use a trial close as soon as you spot a buying signal. There is usually no risk in trial closing.
You may get an immediate positive response or uncover some resistance that has to be overcome before you can close the sale. It's a win-win situation, in either case.
Source: Adapted from The One Minute Closer, by sales consultant James W. Pickens