Thursday, April 26, 2012 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Mother's Day Spending Expected to Top Last Year
Riding the coattails of a spring where they spent freely on everything from garden supplies and home décor to colorful fashions, consumers will stretch their dollars a little further this Mother's Day to make sure mom has the perfect day.
According to the National Retail Federation's 2012 Mother's Day consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, the average person celebrating the holiday is expected to spend $152.52 on gifts, up from $140.73 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $18.6 billion.
"Despite grappling with high gas prices, Americans will look for sentimental and unique ways to shower mom with affection this year," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "As one of the most important holidays of the year, consumers can expect to see a wide range of promotions from mom's favorite retailers leading up to the big day, including savings on apparel and electronics and even special Mother's Day menu options at restaurants."
According to the survey, consumers will spoil mom with special meals and/or outings, clothing, electronics, flowers and more. Two-thirds (66.4%) will buy flowers, spending a total of $2.2 billion, and nearly one-third (32.8%) will treat mom to a new blouse or sweater, spending $1.6 billion on clothing and accessories.
Those buying electronics (12.7%) will shell out a total of $1.6 billion on tablets, digital cameras and more, and over half (54.3%) of all celebrants will treat mom to a nice dinner or brunch, spending $3.4 billion.
Additionally, consumers will shell out $1.8 billion on gift cards and $1.3 billion on personal services such as a trip to a day spa.
When it comes to where people will shop, the survey found nearly two-thirds (35.6%) of gift buyers will shop at a department store, the most in the survey's history. Adults ages 18-24 also prefer to shop at department stores where more than half (55.7%) will look for the perfect gift for mom.
Other shoppers will head to discount stores (30.2%), specialty stores including jewelers, florists and electronics stores (36.3%) and specialty clothing stores (8.2%). One-quarter (25.6%) of shoppers will buy their gifts online, up from 21.5 percent last year.
"While still very mindful of their finances, consumers will open their wallets a little more this year to ensure Mother's Day is extra special for the women in their lives," said BIGinsight Executive Vice President Phil Rist. "Many will use the opportunity to comparison shop and research products to save a few bucks, utilizing their mobile and tablet devices at home and in stores as they look for gifts and other ways to celebrate."
Mobile and tablet owners will keep a keen eye out for deals this Mother's Day as nearly four in 10 (39.3%) smartphone owners and 51.2 percent of tablet owners plan to use their devices to research products/compare prices, redeem coupons, look up retailer information and purchase gift items.
Specifically for tablet owners, nearly one-quarter (24.4%) will purchase a gift for mom, 35.7 percent will research products and compare prices, and 19.6 percent will look up retailer information such as store hours and location. Tablet owners ages 18-24 and 25-34 will make the most of their device as 40.4 percent and 40.9 percent, respectively, plan to shop and purchase gift items for mom via their tablets.
Of the 86.5 percent celebrating Mother's Day this year, nearly 65 percent will shop for their mom or stepmom, while others will buy gifts for their wife (22.4%), daughter (10.5%), grandmother (8.2%), sister (8.4%), friend (7.6%) or godmother (2.1%).
Men will spend an average of $189.74 on the women in their life this Mother’s Day, compared to the $117.42 women will spend.
To access the complete survey results, follow this link.
(Source: National Retail Federation, 04/24/12)
To help you take advantage of the predicted increase in spending for Mother's Day, this month's issue of "The Pitch" features a special section devoted to Gifting. Download a copy of "The Pitch" by clicking here.
||Homeowners Keep Renovations Simple, Budget-Friendly
Glitzy is out and comfy is in as Americans take a simpler approach to home renovation.
With real estate values still in the doldrums, people are seeing their houses less as investments and more as, well, homes. Since they're staying put, they're taking on targeted -- rather than extreme -- makeovers aimed at livability.
Home remodeling is expected to pick up and post solid growth in the second half of this year, making 2012 the strongest year since 2006, according to a recent report by the remodeling futures program at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Driving the market will be midsize kitchen and bath projects, maintenance work and energy-efficiency upgrades.
In fact, unlike a few years ago, Americans are now spending more on remodeling than on new construction, says Stephen Melman of the National Association of Home Builders. He says they're moving less now than at any time since World War II, so they're thinking less about the resale value of a remodel.
"They do it because they want to. That's a major change in the psychology," he says.
Yet with home equity loans in short supply, many Americans are paying cash for renovations, so their projects tend to be smaller and focused.
"Everyone is value-oriented," says Debra Toney of Three Week Kitchens/Baths in a Week, a remodeling firm with offices in Denver and Texas. "They're just more cautious," she says, citing their willingness to pick basic appliances rather than Sub-Zero refrigerators and Wolf ranges.
More consumers, 61%, said it was important to get the most bang for the buck last year than did so, 56%, in 2010 and slightly more said they'd spend extra time looking for bargains, according to a reader survey released in February by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
The survey found consumers are most interested in style upgrades to countertops, flooring, faucets and fixtures, followed by general maintenance, decor updates, efficiency and home organization.
"I suggest people try simple changes first," such as new light fixtures or paint colors, says designer Stephen Saint-Onge, author of No Place Like Home. He recalls a couple in Manhattan who wanted to gut their condo, but after he moved their furniture around for a few minutes, they saw new possibilities and a less extensive makeover.
A cultural shift may be afoot as a response to the Great Recession.
"There's a shying away from being ostentatious," says architect Sarah Susanka, co-author of Not So BigRemodeling. She sees this even among people who have little reason to worry about finances.
"The trend we keep seeing is a move from formal to informal living," says Jerry Levine, president of the Washington, D.C.-area remodeling firm Levine Group Architects & Builders. He says his high-end clientele, who spend an average of $240,000 on renovations, want spaces to be comfortable, not fancy.
Take Sherry Hiemstra, for example. When she remodeled a 2002 duplex in the nation's capital, she shrank the luxury kitchen (it took over half the first floor) and added windows to the dining area to bring in more light and views of the holly-rimmed patio walkway.
"We wanted something that was very comfortable and met our lifestyle," she says.
"Before, it was curb appeal, showiness and keeping up with the Joneses," says Duo Dickinson, author of Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want.
Now, he says, Americans are going back to the future as they try to create permanent, family homes that reflect who they are. "The house is the most direct mirror of your personal values," he says. "When people renovate to change their lives, they waste money," but when they renovate to improve how they already live, they benefit.
Levine agrees. Before a project starts, he says, "It's really important for homeowners to know what's bothering them about the house." He says if they can't identify the problem, they may not find the right solution.
What are homeowners seeking?
• Outdoor connection. Dickinson says the single biggest overall trend is homeowners craving to be connected to the outdoors, via larger windows, decks or porches.
"Since the advent of smartphones and laptops, people have found their visual focus is about 1 foot away," he says, adding they need a release from that. "Homes are more permeable. We have many more garden designs than before."
Vegetable gardens, too. Many homeowners are indulging their outdoor craving, and the push to eat local, by creating a homestead that grows food and -- in some cases -- even raises livestock.
• Livable kitchens. "The kitchen is the new living room," says Dickinson, so he says Americans want cushioned seating at the counter or in a built-in banquette. He says homeowners also want the kitchen to multitask as a recycling center and a spot to recharge laptops. He says they're shifting from wall cabinets, which can block views to a living area, toward walk-in pantries for storage.
• More-open floor plans. Many homeowners want kitchens that connect not only to a living room but also to a dining area and the outdoors. "They want more light and openness," says Richard Loosle of Kube Architecture, a Washington D.C.-based firm that remodels many row houses.
• Togetherness. With this open-living core, there's "a return to togetherness, a countertrend to the 1990s, when everyone fled the great room," Jill Waage of Better Homes and Gardens said February in a presentation at the International Builders Show. "Now we're flocking back." She says Wi-Fi and headphones allow individuals to remain in the same room while doing different activities.
• Smaller master baths. Kitchens may be opening up, but many master baths are shrinking. "We're doing away with spa tubs. We're reclaiming that space for larger showers and vanities," says Josh Baker of BOWA, a high-end remodeler in the nation's capital. He says his clients now focus more on quality, timeless finishes and less on size.
• Better use of space. Rather than expanding their living space, homeowners are looking to reconfigure existing space to make it work better. Readers surveyed last year by Better Homes and Gardens said they wished for a home with 1,856 square feet -- down from 1,914 square feet in 2010.
• Energy efficiency. "Windows, insulation and doors were the 1, 2, 3 for energy efficiency" upgrades requested by clients in the last quarter of 2011, says Melman of the National Association of Home Builders. A close fourth was more efficient heating and cooling, or HVAC, equipment.
"Show me the money" is what Connecticut-based architect Dickinson hears from clients about green renovations. He says consumers want retrofits, as long as they pay for themselves within 10 years.
Federal tax credits for more efficient doors, windows, roofs and HVAC systems expired in December, but they remain in effect through 2016 for solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, small wind turbines and fuel cells.
• Mudrooms or "drop zones." "Mudrooms have burgeoned in size," Dickinson says, as Americans seek to reduce clutter and bring order to their homes. He says those who don't have the space for a mudroom are asking for a basic "drop zone" to put shoes, etc.
• Universal design. As Baby Boomers age, they're seeking to stay in their homes by building wheelchair-accessible ramps, wider hallways and step-free showers.
Such universal design ranked as the fifth-most-popular feature in kitchen remodels and the third in bathrooms, according to a fourth-quarter 2011 survey of consumer interests by the American Institute of Architects.
"You have no idea what your life will be like at 80," Susanka says, so she recommends people do the "sensible things" such as making doorways at least 34 inches wide to accommodate a possible wheelchair and having space on the main level that could be used as a bedroom and bath.
• Remodeling apps. Dozens of smartphone and iPad apps, some free, are available to guide homeowners. Houzz offers more than 325,000 photos of homes and landscapes, and DreamHome shows the works of professional designers. Sherwin Williams' ColorSnap and Benjamin Moore's Color Capture allow users who provide a photo of something they like to find a paint to match its color.
(Source: USA Today, 04/20/12)
||Pizza Sales Are Piping Hot
Pizza consumption continues to rise. More than four in 10 (41 percent of) consumers polled say they're now eating pizza once a week, compared to 26 percent just two years ago, according to a study by Technomic.
Pizza consumption has increased over the past two years as leading players revamp menus to include more innovative specialty pizzas, gourmet ingredients and items beyond pizza that help operators drive traffic.
As increased consumer confidence leads some to trade up within the pizza category, others still feeling the pinch are attracted to the special offers and coupons that chains are rolling out as well as generally less expensive, yet high quality, take-and-bake and frozen pizza offerings.
"Consumers increasingly view pizza as the 'go-to' food when they don't feel like cooking," says Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. "Operators can emphasize convenience in their marketing message, positioning pizza as an easy, convenient and affordable meal solution that will appeal to an entire group or family. It's a message that resonates with many customers."
To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively identify opportunities for growth and gain a competitive advantage, Technomic has developed the Pizza Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:
(Source: Technomic, 04/11/12)
- Combo-meat varieties and calzone-style stuffed pizzas stand out as growth areas at LSRs. At FSRs, there has been slight growth in the number of veggie/garden and combo-meat pizzas.
- Chicken's adaptability contributes to its widespread use as the top-listed protein topping in the full-service segment and third most-frequently listed protein in limited-service, largely due to barbeque and Buffalo chicken varieties.
- The latest menu trends call for authenticity, from Neapolitan, Sicilian and other regional Italian interpretations, to depth-of-flavor preparations, such as hearth-baked, wood-fired, coal and brick-oven cooking.
- 37 percent of respondents order pizza from non-pizza limited-service and fast-casual restaurant locations once a month, signaling room for growth for these concepts and a potential threat for LSR pizza chains.
- 49 percent of consumers are purchasing pizza from a grocery store once a month, making it the second leading foodservice source for pizza, surpassed only by LSR pizza restaurants (71 percent).
- All foodservice pizza purchases have increased over the past two years, but carryout and dine-in pizza occasions have increased the most; 68 percent of consumers now order carryout pizza once a month or more, followed by 45 percent who say they order pizza for dine-in.
Daily Sales Tip: Using Fear to Your Advantage
Great salespeople have fear. The difference is that the best are fearful of not being the best, or not winning. Struggling salespeople are fearful of losing.
The real question is not "Are you fearless?" The real question is, "How are you going to use your fears to make you better?"
The next time fear has you, try the following:
1. Name something that you were fearful of that you absolutely didn't get through. We get through everything.
2. Develop a plan B and take action immediately. Have plan C ready to go if need be.
3. Recognize what your mind and body does when fear pays a visit. Invite it in, and then invite it to leave.
Greatness is about going where no others will go -- don't try to tell me there's no fear attached to that. The key is to recognize and use your fear so that it becomes your friend.
Healthy fear tells us we're on the edge of a breakthrough. We're in the right place doing the right thing. That's a little different than letting fear own us.
Source: Sales consultant/executive coach Chuck Mache