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Study: High-income shoppers like warehouse club products

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — High-income consumers think warehouse club products are on a par with leading brands, according to new research from Mintel. Indeed, 38% believe store brand or private label brands at warehouse clubs are comparable to name brand items in terms of quality — a number that increases to 44% of households earning $150K+. That’s the highest percentage of all income groups surveyed, compared to 27% of those earning less than $25K, 36% of those earning $50-$74.9K and 41% of those with incomes between $100-$149.9K.

Furthermore, 40% of warehouse club users say warehouse clubs carry quality products — with 46% of households with an income of $150+ reporting as much. The number drops to 32% for those earning less than $25K, 41% of those earning $50-$74.9K, and 42% of those with household incomes between $100-$149.9K.

"Shoppers in this group may be more likely to shop across a wider variety of retail stores, and therefore more aware of the price differential among retailers," said Ali Lipson, category manager – retail, apparel, technology and automotive at Mintel. "They are also more likely to be able to afford the shopping trip compared to those with lower incomes. Product messaging and signage that highlights the quality of warehouse club products is sure to resonate with this demographic."

This market also might be immune to threat of online shopping, as more than six in 10 (63%) Americans have shopped (in-store) at a warehouse club in the last six months, but only a quarter (25%) have done so online.

"One deterrent to online shopping in this channel could be that stores offer bulk- sized packages so the cost of shipping large items could prove prohibitive," noted Lipson. "Additionally, part of the appeal of warehouse club shopping is the ‘treasure hunt’ aspect, or discovering unique items throughout the store. Currently, the warehouse clubs’ online model is unable to replicate this experience."

More than one third (36%) of warehouse club shoppers agree that they like finding unique items when shopping at warehouse clubs. This number increases significantly for women 55+, with 45% of that demographic reporting as much. The least likely bargain hunters at 30% are women 18-34.

Warehouse club shoppers may not be visiting their favorite store online, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fans of technology. Eleven percent of those surveyed said an app that helps them navigate the store and find items would encourage them to visit warehouse clubs more often or sign up for a membership. Meanwhile, 12% agree that sales associates with handheld devices that can provide checkout anywhere in the store would increase their usage.

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Report: Retailers lag behind Amazon in strategic use of analytics

BY Marianne Wilson

Randolph, N.J. — Retailers are behind Amazon in analytics maturity, according to a new research report from EKN Research. Eighty percent of retailers say they are behind Amazon in analytics maturity, and 71% of retailers perform either basic analytics reporting or none at all – revealing retailers’ inability to take advantage of the data that is available to them.

The report, EKN’s 3rd Annual Analytics in Retail, show that while four in five retailers use enterprise-grade analytics, they cite analytics interpretation as their biggest challenge. (The study was sponsored by Manthan and SAS.”

“Retailers view analytics as extremely strategic, yet they currently struggle to derive commensurate value from their analytics investments,” said Gaurav Pant, senior VP Research and principal analyst, EKN. “However, there are significant opportunities for retailers that can harness the power of analytics. Retailers that can overlay their analytics capabilities with a strategy and organizational capability tightly linked with their business model will gain competitive advantage.”
Highlights of the report include:

• Retail spending on analytics is increasing. The retail industry’s average spending on analytics as a percentage of the total IT budget is set to increase from 14% (2013) to 23% (2017). With increased spending, retailers can begin to bring on skilled resources and systems that can help translate analytics data into strategic competitive differentiation.

• Retailers lack structure and ownership for analytics reporting: According to EKN’s data, 51% of surveyed retailers don’t have a formal analytics team, which creates data silos and inconsistency in reporting. Moreover, 42% have no single owner that is responsible for creating an analytics strategy and roadmap – further hindering retailers’ abilities in analytics.

• Retailers are focused on hindsight reporting. 70% of retailers are stuck in a hindsight-oriented reporting cycle; however, as the report indicates, a shift towards data/insight-driven decisions can have dramatic impact on efficiency and performance. The transition from hindsight- to foresight-oriented analytics reporting gives retailers a big opportunity to close the value realization gap.

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Olive Garden rolling out new restaurant design, online To Go platform

BY Marianne Wilson

ORLANDO, Fla. — Olive Garden has begun the the roll out of a new restaurant remodel design and logo. The company, a division of Darden Restaurants Inc., is also launching an updated web experience and an online to-go platform for desktop and mobile computer users at all its U.S. restaurants.

The updated design will be implemented at more than 75 Olive Garden locations during the next year. The look is more open and vibrant, designed to create an atmosphere that promotes togetherness, while maintaining the chain’s casual warmth and family-friendly nature.

Features of the new design includes the removal of walls to create a more open and inviting atmosphere; distinctive decor in each dining area for a more homelike feel; a striking, more modern lobby and bar area; flexible seating that better accommodates large parties; and more vibrant colors, fabrics and textures.

Olive Garden also is introducing a redesigned web experience that includes the national launch of online To Go, where guests can order meals via Olive Garden’s website for pick-up at restaurant locations across the country. Guests can pre-pay for their purchase online or when picking up at the restaurant and redeem coupons with their order. They also have the option to save their favorite orders for future transactions and order meals days in advance.

Olive Garden’s new logo will be featured on remodeled restaurants, Olive Garden’s new website and social media pages, as well as on menus and other marketing communications. All restaurant signage in remodel markets also will be converted to feature the new logo. This marks the first time Olive Garden has significantly evolved its logo in more than 15 years and is a physical indicator of the significant changes the restaurant is making to update its brand, the company said.

"We’ve done a lot of work during the past year to evolve the experience we deliver to our guests, from offering more choice and variety on our menu to creating a more flexible service approach that puts our guests’ needs first," said Jay Spenchian, Olive Garden’s executive VP of marketing. "As we continue to update our brand experience, we needed to send a strong signal to our guests that there’s something new and exciting at Olive Garden, and our new remodel design, web experience and logo are designed to do just that."ma

Olive Garden also is testing a new menu design and format in more than 30 restaurants with plans to roll out nationwide later this year. In addition to this test, all remodeled restaurants will feature a new leather-bound menu with an updated look and streamlined format that’s easier to navigate and consistent with Olive Garden’s new brand merchandising and logo.

During the past year, Olive Garden said, it has simplified its culinary operations to focus on food quality, evolved its service approach to be more flexible and personal to anticipate customers needs, and expanded its menu with more than 20 new items.

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