1 in 5 San Francisco residents cannot afford their weekly groceries.

November 20, 2009

As part of EC1’s efforts to help the San Francisco Food Bank meet their goal of distributing 36.5 million pounds of food in 2009, we’ve launched an application on Facebook meant to both inform and inspire.  Please help us help San Francisco.


Wendy’s and Breakfast Soul Searching

January 14, 2009

wendys-4c-052According today’s article in AdAge Wendy’s Taking a Break From Breakfast, Wendy’s has decided to re-tool or eliminate their breakfast offerings for now, even though their market studies have show a “significant opportunity” in the area. It’s interesting to read the article from an outsider’s perspective and to listen to your instincts: what would you, as a consumer, expect Wendy’s breakfast to include? The article calls out a couple of the products like the “frescuit” and breakfast burrito. Right away we can see how Wendy’s put themselves at a disadvantage with these obscure offerings. In what was probably an honest attempt at differentiation, “frescuit” takes the product much too far away from a recognizable food that could trigger a craving, or onjw that would remain in the mind so that when a craving hits, the customer thing “oh, I need to go to Wendy’s for that.”

And, if you’re thinking breakfast burrito, you’re probably not thinking about Wendy’s either. Honestly, would you expect a fresh and tasty burrito from Wendy’s?

Absolut Disco

December 5, 2008

photo1Ran across a holiday bottle of Absolut this morning at a local food store. This year they’ve gone even flashier with the Absolut Disco. The one-liter Absolut Disco gift pack is built of exactly 1,000 reflecting prisms which serve as a bottle package and can be put into use as a disco ball. The Absolut Disco is a clamshell package that opens to reveal the bottle. The empty gift pack has a loop for hanging.

There are no requirements that you finish the vodka before you hang the disco bottle. A better souvenir than what’s at the bottom of the tequila bottle.

The Promise of Tomorrow is Here !

November 19, 2008

tivo_pizza2TiVo and Domino’s have announced a partnership that allows a TiVo user to order a pizza directly from their digital video recorder. By clicking “I Want It” with their TiVo remote, viewers can order a pizza that will show up at their home within 30 minutes.

Pizza sales on line already account for “a double-digit percentage of … sales” for the Domino’s pizza chain, which pushed Domino’s to reach for a bigger solution to boosts sales.  Papa John’s already accepts orders through cell phone text messages and Pizza Hut, a leader in on line ordering, allows users to to order directly from their Facebook page. Purveyors of pizza are struggling to maintain sales in this challenging environment as higher ingredient costs and a consumer slowdown have made pizza a more expensive option than fast-food.

Time will tell whether set-top boxes provide the convenience that push consumers to purchase pizza, or whether audiences are looking for more meaningful connections between their living rooms and their wallets.

Will vote for food!

November 3, 2008

Its not just celebrities who are encouraging people to get out and vote. Many food service chains are offering freebies to anyone who hits the polls on election day.  National brands like Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and Ben & Jerry’s are all particpating, with many local chains getting in on the action as well. We can’t know if these restaurants are truly motivated by the political process or simply excited by the free PR the offers generate. Personally I don’t think it matters, as long as it encourages more people to vote.

Top 10 Food Trends for 2008

October 28, 2008

I recently read an article about the top 10 food trends this year.  This is relative to our food clients’ changing practices AND what messages about the food rises to the surface and resonates with their / our consumers’ tastes and changing diets.  

Top 10 Food Trends for 2008
By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

‘Locavores,’ bold flavors, and healthier choices will be hot, experts predict.
What new food trends are in store (the grocery store, that is) for 2008? According to the experts, 2008 might be called the year of ethical eating. Consumers are looking for more locally grown foods that support a healthier environment and a healthier lifestyle.

“Locavore” — a person who seeks out locally grown and produced foods — was designated the 2007 word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, and eating locally is also is anticipated to be the biggest food trend of 2008. Experts say we can also expect consumers to think more holistically about their food — questioning where it came from, its packaging, and its ecological footprint.

Americans are also expected to experiment this year with exotic foods with bold flavors — like goji berries, yumberries, pomegranates, blood oranges, colored and flavored salts, and grains such as red rice, amaranth, and black quinoa.

And, experts predict we can look forward to more healthy choices on grocery store shelves. People want foods that are convenient, fill them up, taste good, and will help them lose weight, says American Dietetic Association President Connie Diekman, MEd, RD.

Soups, salads, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein are examples of these healthy foods that multitask. Manufacturers are also expected to continue to create more portion-controlled packages of foods (like the popular 100-calorie snack packs).

Here’s more of what diet and nutrition experts have named as the top food trends for 2008:

Food Trend No. 1: Eco-Friendly Foods

Increasingly, consumers want to know more about their food — where it was grown, what ingredients it contains, how it was packaged, and the footprint its production left on the earth.

“It is the evolution of organics that consumers want to know and understand more about the foods they eat,” says “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert, food trends editor and correspondent for NBC’s Today Show.  “You may choose a locally grown product over one that is organic because the food is fresher and its footprint is smaller.”

Food Trend No. 2: Local, Natural, and Fresh Foods

On a similar note, we’re likely to see more farmers markets and community co-ops, as well as more locally grown foods in mainstream grocery stores. Consumers are also said to be scrutinizing imported foods more carefully these days, and looking for those from countries that have very high safety standards.

Food Trend No. 3: Concern About Food Safety

No one wants to repeat the scares we had in 2007, when tainted pet food, peanut butter, ground beef, and other products made headlines. “Consumers are demanding safe food for us and our pets, and want the government to update the food safety system so we can have confidence that our food supply is safe,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Jeannie Moloo, PhD, RD. 

Food Trend No. 4: Higher Prices


Food prices are expected to continue rising, which experts say will cause consumers to rethink their purchasing patterns. “Higher food prices will push consumers out of the fresh produce section into the freezer or canned food aisles to re-evaluate other options that can be just as nutritious,” says Lempert.

Food Trend No. 5: Prebiotics and Probiotics

Consumers are learning that adding “friendly” bacteria to foods can help with digestion. And they’re not just for yogurt any more. We’ll be seeing the beneficial bacteria added to a wide variety of foods — including chocolate, predicts Moloo.

Food Trend No. 6: Whole Grains

Shoppers will continue to opt for more healthy whole grains, including exotic types aimed at tempting the jaded palates of baby boomers, experts say. “There are numerous health benefits of whole grains, and food manufacturers are making it easier to enjoy them with new products,” says Diekman. “Exotic grains such as amaranth, quinoa, teff, millet, and Kamut are going mainstream.”

Food Trend No. 7: Simple Ingredients and Clearer Labels

Increasingly, consumers don’t want ingredients they can’t pronounce, nor do they want artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, experts say. Look for more informative and clearer labels, and foods with just a handful of simple ingredients.

Food Trend No. 8: Emphasis on Lowering Salt

The American Medical Association has urged food manufacturers to lower the sodium in processed foods. “With an aging population and recommendations to lower sodium in our diets, companies are working to keep the same flavor profile and lower the sodium,” says Moloo.

Food Trend No. 9: Alternative Sweeteners

Alternative natural sweeteners like ultrasweet stevia (which is 300 times sweeter than table sugar) and zero-calorie erythritol will replace high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners in more beverages and foods, experts predict.

Food Trend No. 10: Bottled Water Backlash

Bottled water remains popular among consumers looking to cut down on calories and artificial sweeteners. But growing awareness of the impact all those empty plastic bottles have on the environment (and the fact that many brands of bottled water are nothing more than purified tap water) is expected to make this option less appealing, experts say.


Presidential Cup Poll

October 13, 2008

7-Eleven is continuing their people-driven predictor of the presidential election by allowing coffee customers to voice their vote through selection of a 20-ounce cup.  Democratic blue or Republican red will indicate a drinker’s preference at the polls, which have accurately predicted the winner (within a few percentage points) in 2000 and 2004. Votes are tallied and reported in USA Today every week.

We applaud this effort, not only as coffee drinkers, but also as marketers who believe in data.  7-Eleven has found a great way to tie a person’s needs to their values / views, and gain meaningful measurements as a result.  Is this the future of focus groups?

7-Election '08