Fresh & Easy kicks off reusable bag giveaway
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. California-based grocer Fresh & Easy is bringing back its popular reusable bag giveaway, which will run through the end of the month for customers who spend $20 or more.
Since opening its first store in November 2007, Fresh & Easy has given away more than 600,000 reusable bags at store openings, events and through giveaways, the retailer said.
Fresh & Easy offers several different bag options, including a large organic bag for $2.99, a popular bottle bag for $1.99 and a logo canvas bag for 99 cents.
“We’ve always believed the best option is a reusable bag, and we’re excited to see more and more customers use them,” said Roberto Munoz, Fresh & Easy neighborhood affairs director. “We’re working to raise awareness and get as many bags in customers’ hands as possible through contests, in-store promotions and giveaways.”
Value, deals favorite BTS subjects
Parents may spend a bit more freely for back-to-school this year, but value still is the name of the game. Nielsen predicted an “extremely modest” sales increase for the back-to-school season, due mostly to an increase in prices compared with last year. Nielsen forecasted unit sales for the office/school supply category to drop 5.25% to 1.04 billion.
Average amount U.S. families intended to spend on supplies
Supercenters, dollar stores and drug stores likely are to see gains in the category, according to Nielsen. “Those retailers offering strong discounts and appealing to customers’ desire for savings and value will be this year’s back-to-school winners,” said James Russo, Nielsen’s VP global consumer insights. “The drug channel may do better in the back half of the season as planning becomes less of a motivator and impulse shopping takes over.”
Cost-conscious consumers will be looking for deals and coupons, and manufacturers are planning to deliver. “We expect consumers to be focused on value,” said Tim Koletsos, director of stationery marketing at BIC Consumer Products USA. “Couponing continues to be a big focus for BIC, and during 2010, you’ll see an expanded presence.”
%of consumers planning to spend at least $250 on BTS shopping
While BIC’s Koletsos expected such value products as ballpoint pen and mechanical pencil multipacks to have strong sales, he anticipated consumer demand for products that are new and different. “Fashion-barreled mechanical pencils continue to be extremely popular with students of all ages,” he said. Large ballpoint pens, which provide a bold and smooth gel-like writing experience, are an emerging category trend.
Newell Rubbermaid’s new Sharpie Liquid Pencil, which writes like a pen but erases like a pencil, should be a big hit this season as well.
There’s also room for fashion on every school-supply shopping list. “Kids expect their supplies to incorporate the trendiest colors and patterns, and their supplies function in much the same way as their clothes and accessories,” said Denise Sada, marketing manager at Mead. This year, Sada expected geometric patterns and bold florals to return as big fashion influences.
Peace signs also are a big fashion symbol this year, according to April Whitlock, a spokeswoman for Carolina Pad. The company’s Dreamsicle collection has been popular with mass-market consumers.
Students also are embracing recycled products. Mead is offering 100% recycled notebooks and folders, both with 30% post-consumer waste. Carolina Pad’s popular eco-friendly line, Sasquatch, has fresh, updated looks this year.
Paper Mate also has introduced a pen and mechanical pencil that is made with a majority of biodegradable components, which will naturally decompose in the soil or home compost in a year. The pen comes in black, blue, red or purple ink and retails for $2.50.
Sustaining the environment, restoring idealism
A certain literary hero of mine might have called it “Fear and Loathing in San Diego.” Stranded at the airport bar for the better part of nine hours while JetBlue drove down a new part from Los Angeles International Airport for our plane’s public address system—without which Flight 188 to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport “wasn’t going nowhere,” as Lenny the flight attendant explained—I tried with Martha Stewart-like resolve to just focus on my notes from NACDS’ Pharmacy and Technology Conference and the ice at the bottom of my glass, while the crazy woman from Chicago rambled on about hurricanes. Her purple-stained lips suggested it could have been the wine talking, but she claimed to work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and that in that capacity, she too might soon be heading to New York.
“They say Earl could be a ‘Category 5’ by the time it hits New York,” she said. “If that were to happen, the subway tunnels would all fill with seawater and downtown would be underwater.”
Great. Nothing quite takes your mind off the status of your flight delay like a little light conversation about the potentiality for the quasi-biblical destruction of your hometown.
To cheer myself up, I read a cover story in The Atlantic about how Israel likely would attack Iran’s nuclear weapons-making capabilities by about January. To be sure, whenever I finally did get home, the world still was going to be a big, scary place. The only consolation is that you can still get a burger and a beer at 5 a.m. in New York City.
Ironically, it’s my work as the editor of Drug Store News that often shatters my cynical delusions of a world gone to hell in a bucket, restoring the idealism of my youth. Retail pharmacy and the consumer packaged goods industry’s response to events like Katrina, and more recently the earthquake in Haiti, are classic examples of good companies doing good work. Then there’s stuff like Procter & Gamble’s recent Future Friendly initiatives—the most recent of which the company unveiled during a special Sept. 2 conference call with business reporters—which demonstrates how a good company can do good while doing good work.
The overarching goal of the Future Friendly program is to make green products more user-friendly for mainstream consumers by redesigning P&G brands to save water or energy, or to reduce waste. Phase one of the program featured the launch of such products as Tide Coldwater and Cascade ActionPacs, and a considerable PR investment to educate consumers on what’s in it for them. For instance, washing laundry in cold water can cut energy usage by as much as 80% per load.
Now P&G is gearing up for a February 2011 re-launch of its powder detergent brands, including Tide and Gain, aiming to compact the size of its packaging by one-third. That will amount to savings of 28% less corrugated cardboard, or roughly 68 million sq. ft.; 6%, or 5,900, fewer trucks on the road; and 5% to 8% less fuel, or as much as 890,000 gallons of diesel. For consumers, the new packages are easier to carry and store. The products also represent brands that consumers know and understand, versus some unknown name they have never heard of—an important sell for retailers, too.
In all, P&G expected the changes to drive growth of 2% to 4% in the powder detergent category.
These kinds of efforts give a new meaning to the concept of “sustainability” because they aim to make saving the planet a sustainable effort by making it good business to do so. That, along with a good burger and a beer, can be a hell of a consolation at 5 a.m. for a journalist who’s just happy to be home.