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Credit card group takes swipe at NRF

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation has been outspoken in its criticism of credit card fees and now a group called the Electronic Payments Coalition that represents credit unions,banks and payment card networks is firing back, claiming that the retail lobby is making false statements regarding checkout fees.

As of January 27, 2013, consumers can be charged a “checkout fee,” or merchant-imposed surcharge, when paying with a credit card. As a result of a major class action settlement agreement between retailers and the payments industry, Visa and MasterCard agreed to retailer demands that they remove their longstanding “no surcharge rule” which protected consumers from these fees, the group stated.

According to the coaltion, there are no existing Visa and/or MasterCard rules that in any way prevent a merchant from surcharging Visa and/or MasterCard credit transactions in such states that do not prohibit surcharging, even when the same merchant may also have a presence in a state in which surcharging is prohibited.

The group commented that NRF’s claim thatAmerican Express contracts bar surcharging, and that if a merchant accepts American Express that this would also preclude them from surcharging Visa or MasterCard is inaccurate. According to the group, the settlement agreement expressly allows merchants to enter into individual contracts with competing brands that prohibit or restrict surcharging for independent consideration.

For more information on the Electronic Payments Coaliton and credit card fees, click here.

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LG introduces allergy-friendly washer

BY CSA STAFF

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. — LG Electronics USA has launched what it claims is the industry’s first top-load washer with steam technology certified "asthma and allergy friendly" by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

In addition, the new high-efficiency top-load washer is designed to deliver superior high-efficiency performance, offering uniquely gentle but deep cleaning capabilities, with the added benefit of odor reduction, the company said.

During the exclusive LG "Allergiene" cycle, steam gently but powerfully penetrates fabrics for a deeper clean and allows for the reduction of allergens and wrinkles, the company said.

"LG is proud to be the first in the industry to bring these new technologies to top-load washers," said David VanderWaal, director of home appliance brand marketing, LG Electronics USA. "LG pioneered the use of steam in home laundry, and this new top-loader exemplifies our commitment to enhancing consumers’ lives through the powerful combination of smart and steam technologies."

The new LG top-load washer and its companion gas or electric dryers are available now through selected U.S. regional dealers and expected to become available nationally during the second quarter.

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Study: New strategies needed in CPG merchandising

BY CSA STAFF

CHICAGO — Consumers are better able to make informed decisions when it comes to grocery shopping, meaning new strategies are needed in order to reach them, according to a new report from SymphonyIRI Group.

“Smartphones, digital coupons, online retailers and the Internet combined with financial pressures and shifting marketplace dynamics are forever changing how consumers shop,” said Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI. “If you want to reach and resonate with shoppers today, you need to do more than traditional in-store merchandising. Emerging and evolving technologies have enabled innovative marketers to begin reaching shoppers in their homes while they are researching products and making their lists, and then reinforcing their messages on the way to the store and in the store when consumers are making their final selections. Marketers that keep pace with and embrace this opportunity will achieve success, while those who fail will find it difficult—even impossible—to remain relevant and competitive.”

The report found that merchandising, defined asdisplay, feature ad, feature and display combined and price-only actions, increased across the grocery and convenience channels, while the drug channel saw a decline in merchandising support.

The report found that marketers are investing merchandising dollars in an effort to raise the profile of categories that cater to prevalent consumer rituals, including home-based eating and drinking, and underscore the value propositions they offer across key ritual-related categories. This type of strategy is also being embraced by marketers in other high-activity level food and beverage categories, including breakfast meats and carbonated beverages, which saw volume sold with feature support increase by one point and one-half point, respectively.

In recent years, merchandising lift has changed dramatically, the report found. In fact, average lift has declined across 80 percent of categories within the U.S. multi-outlet geographies, which include Walmart, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains along with the traditional food, drug and mass merchandise outlet coverage. Grocery and drug channels have seen average lift fall across 70% and 73% of categories, respectively.

Even some of the most heavily merchandised categories had declining lift in 2012. For instance, the carbonated beverages category, which sells more than 60 percent of its volume with merchandising support, saw lift decline by 14 points during the last year. And, Mexican foods, which sell half of its volume with merchandising support, saw lift slide more than five points during the same period.

“The ‘old way’ of doing things is simply not as impactful as it was in the past,” Viamari added. “To capitalize on new and evolving opportunities, marketers must enmesh the broad and rapidly growing array of old and new media tools at their disposal. They must take chances and not be afraid to make mistakes.”

Click here to read the full report.

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