OPERATIONS

Netflix, Google, Amazon, Target and Publix rank highest in brand simplicity

BY Staff Writer

New York City — Netflix, Google and Amazon top a list of the 10 “simplest” U.S. brands, according to Siegel+Gale’s second annual Global Brand Simplicity Index.

(Netflix was picked as the simplest brand in the survey after it announced price hikes but before the announcement of the formation of Qwikster, which was subsequently reversed. In the wake of these missteps, mass subscriber departures followed.)

"This survey demonstrates that brands that put a premium on simpler and more transparent user experiences and interactions inspire confidence and generate customer loyalty,” said Howard Belk, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief creative officer.

Also among the top-ranked simplest brands are retailers Target, Publix, Whole Foods Market and shipping UPS. Rounding out the top 10 are fast food purveyors Subway, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.

“It is time for brands across all industries to recognize that communicating in a clear, direct and straightforward manner generates a high level of customer loyalty and, ultimately, profit," said David Srere, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief strategy officer. "Consumers are demanding simplicity in all of their interactions, and those organizations that can satisfy this demand will be able to compete — and thrive — in today’s competitive marketplace."

Within the Internet retail industry, Amazon, Zappos and iTunes ranked among the leaders in providing customers with simple interactions and experiences online. Consumers benefit from easy price comparison, free shipping and a streamlined selection process funneled through customized communications.

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OPERATIONS

Mintel: Five trends that will shape restaurant offerings in 2012

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence, has identified five trends that will shape how restaurant operators appeal to their customers in 2012.

“Our trends are based on original consumer research, developments among restaurants and trends observed in other industries,” said Eric Giandelone, foodservice director at Mintel. “Our goal with these trend predictions isn’t merely to identify what’s going to happen, but to deliver a roadmap on how to take advantage of these trends."

The trends include:

  • American regionalism: Consumers are not only more aware of global cuisine, they are also more aware and interested in the regional specialties that define American cuisine. Whether it’s Kansas City or Memphis barbecue, New England Chowder or Low Country grits, more consumers and restaurants are looking at the regions and cities in the United States to identify the "Best of" cuisine.
  • Double-sided menus: Menus will continue to feature widely indulgent options, but will be balanced with healthier, better for you options. Additionally, this goes beyond healthy and indulgent to include premium and value pricing. Operators understand it’s not either or, it’s both, so we’ll continue to see both high priced and low priced options on the same menu.
  • Consumer control: Consumers expect that their voice will be heard and that their wants and needs will be met. And the surest way to listen to the customer and ensure their needs are met is to give them the ability to control their dining experience. Customized ordering systems will continue to flourish, as will greater flexibility in menu design. 

  • Slow it down: Quick service restaurants are able to drive margins through their standardized efficiencies, but more and more we are seeing fast food restaurants return to more time-intensive preparation methods. As such, items described as "handmade" or "home style" are popping up on restaurant menus as consumers recognize that they want more from their dining experience than efficiency.
  • Importing ideas: For many restaurant chains, growth lies elsewhere, in international markets. And for those companies already with an international presence, menu concepts and product testing is taking place overseas. From there, good ideas are making their way to the U.S. market, as was the case with McDonald’s recent McBites, which first started in Australia before entering the US market. Given the importance of international markets for growth, this is one trend that will continue to growth beyond this year.
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STORE SPACES

Ikea extends solar commitment with plans to install solar on all ten southern U.S. stores

BY Staff Writer

Conshohocken, Pa. — Ikea announced plans to install solar energy panels on 10 additional United States locations, its entire presence in the Southern United States.

Pending governmental permits, installation will begin this winter, with completion expected in summer 2012.

Collectively, the nine stores and one distribution center will total 10.7 Megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity, nearly 45,360 panels, and a projected annual electricity output of 15,248,334 kilowatt hours (kWh).

This investment by Ikea reinforces the company’s long-term commitment to sustainability and confidence in photovoltaic (PV) technology. Ikea will own and operate each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings — as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) — now including its three Texas stores (Frisco, Houston and Round Rock), three Florida stores (Orlando, Sunrise and Tampa), three other stores (Atlanta and Charlotte, and in Woodbridge, Va.), and the Ikea distribution center in Savannah, Ga.

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