Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Frugal Notions

 Sometimes a Great Notion             Week of Aug 10 , 2009                                                

Ah the discount days of summer! With overall retail sales slumping in July, the trend to follow right now appears to be frugal shopping. Back to school season is all about savings, discounts, and cutting back on the BTS budget. Cheap is the new black.

Amongst all the doom and gloom, THERETAILMUSE checks out at the latest in restaurant trends, orders a coffee from McDonald's, tries to use the laptop in NYC, and hangs out with Sears (Sears?!), to choose some new dorm room accouterments.

Happy frugal notions!

Getting Chopped

A Tuscon, Arizona couple have opened a new restaurant concept called “chopped” . With two locations in Arizona, the couple hope to take their concept nationwide through franchising. The concept is pretty simple. Fresh, big, made to order salads, with fresh soup and sandwiches. Customers can choose from created salads or create their own by filling out a card, and ticking off their favorite ingredients. Salads range from 6.99 to 9.99. It’s a healthy, leafy version of 31 flavours ice cream. A perfect fit for campus food services.

A Cup of McJoe

McDonald's Corp should be happy these days. While all their competitors try to ride out the recession, McDonald's global sales have increased 4.3% in July. Most of this increase comes on the back of McDonald's coffee sales, including the espresso and latte’s, under the new McCafe banner. This low price, coffee alternative, is pulling people away from Starbucks and other premium brands, making a simple inexpensive cup of coffee a consumer delight.

Not always welcome.

Coffeehouses in New York City have had enough of people using their restaurants to dwell in, and use the free wireless service. Stating that customers take up tables that are needed for lunch rushes, one coffee shop owner has stopped offering wifi service in the café, and others are following suit. Although this appears to be happening only in NYC, it is likely to spread as owners and operators look for ways to maximize their investment. It reminds me of the trend to put chairs in Bookstores, then take them out, then now bring them back again. Keeps customers guessing I guess!

Radio Waves.

Presumably Radio Shack is still in business! To celebrate this fact, and to remind customers that they are still around, Radio Shack is re-branding as “the Shack”. Well, sort of. Word from Radio Shack CEO is that “the Shack” moniker will be used in marketing and branding statements, but the stores will remain as “Radio Shack” for the time being. Will this change confuse people, or just seem be ignored?

Old School Marketing

Since all the marketing money these days seems to be spent on E pursuits, a new study suggests that old school newspaper insert marketing may be just the way to go. According to MORI research, 59% of adults use newspaper inserts to review, analyze, and make purchasing decisions on products. Certainly bucks the conventional wisdom. Wonder if this holds true for the 18 to 25 year old crowd on campus?

Booksellers Unite.

Barnes and Noble has purchased B and N College Inc for 596 Million. The college division was separated from B and N in 1986. Interestingly, while B and N store sales are down 3% this year, the college division have seen sales increase averages of 6.2% over the past three years.

Powell’s City of Books is revamping its website to stay competitive, and remain a force within the online book purchasing world. Although significantly smaller than Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Powell’s attributes 25% of their yearly 45.2 million revenue through their online site. Plans to revamp the site include adding new product categories, and have resulted in new store positions, including an e-commerce store manager, an e-commerce marketing manager and technology specialist.

Dorm Room Chic

Sears has entered the dorm room business in a big way with a facebook application called “campus ready”. It  includes, among many things, an interactive dorm room design tool  that allows users to drag and drop furnishing into the space, getting a chance to see what their selections will look like in their new dorm. Of course, they can then choose color combinations, order online, and pick up from the Sears store nearest their campus. Smart idea, if somewhat utilitarian.

If Sears is not for your customers, check out an interesting article from the Hartford Courant: Dorm Décor on a Dime. The article describes a number of strategies students are using to ensure frugality (there is that word again), is not frumpy. Students are loading carts at dollar stores, checking out discounts on facebook and twitter, and browsing overstock.com.








No comments: