business news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting stuff in the new edition of Facts, Figures and the Future, available this morning from the Food Marketing Institute, ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert.

Among the issues discussed, with plenty of insight and analysis:

  • Strong Online Grocery Activity. Several sources have reported that online grocery sales are expected to reach nearly $9 billion in 2004, and annual growth levels of 20 percent are expected for the next 4-5 years. While this level of sales represents a small fraction of all grocery sales, it is a significant level of consumer spending. It also represents an opportunity for grocery retailers who are looking to satisfy the hunger of time-starved consumers who are leveraging the Internet to save a trip to the grocery store and who don't mind paying extra for the added convenience.

    Nielsen//NetRatings tracks online behavior across a large sample of individual (at-home) as well as business (at-work) Internet users. The December 2003 online grocery audience (among at-home users) fell just shy of 4 million individuals - up a whopping 41 percent over the prior December.

  • Reevaluating The Nature Of Loyalty. In the fourth quarter of 2003, the Homescan Consumer Panel surveyed nearly 45,000 households to determine their usage and perceived attitudes towards frequent shopper programs. Nearly three-fourths of all cardholders reported that they have more than one "loyalty" card, suggesting that the premise of this type of program, which is to build a unique relationship that induces shoppers to limit the retail outlets they shop into just one banner, may need to be reevaluated.

    At the same time, we note that the percentage of households participating in these programs have leveled off at 81 percent, indicating that a decline in usage may be around the corner unless retailers add new features and benefits to their loyalty programs to both reward present users and attract new ones.

  • The Power of Retail vs. the Power of Congress. Wal-Mart has announced that it plans to voluntarily comply with country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations for fruits and vegetables even before the federal government mandates compliance. In a recent SupermarketGuru quick poll, 92 percent said that they believe fresh products, like produce and meat, should include information on country of origin. In addition, 91 percent said that they believe packaged food products should include information on country of origin labeling.

And, there's much more, including an update on the impact of the four-month Southern California grocery strike.

For your copy of Facts, Figures and the Future, go to: .
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