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Period: August 15, 2017 to September 1, 2017
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

With Little Caesars Pizza Pick-up Machine, Shy Customers Can Avoid Humans

The Little Caesars pizza chain has made it much easier for recluses, hermits, and other introverts – in Tucson, Ariz., for now – to buy pizza without seeing or talking to a store employee. The company’s Pizza Portal machine lets pick-up customers avoid lines, snatch their pizzas, and escape without human interaction. To make use of the machine, customers need to download an app to order and pay for the pizza. CEO David Scrivano says, "It's all about convenience, in and out in seconds, no line, no wait." The company plans to add about one hundred of the machines in the U.S. in 2018.

"Little Caesars Unveils Pizza Portal, Letting Customers Grub and Skip Human Interaction", USA Today, August 07, 2017

Some Restaurants Spurn Food Delivery

A major trend in the foodservice world is home delivery of meals to people who don’t want to dine out, but also don’t want to cook. It represents a total of 1.7 billion restaurant transactions a year. Some restaurants, however, have said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” A main reason is fear that the meals won’t arrive in time to eat warm. Casual dining chain Texas Roadhouse doesn't do delivery, and even encourages competitors “to do as much delivery as they can so they can deliver lukewarm food to their people." Besides quality and temperature concerns, though, the company worries about staff preparing delivery orders at peak dinner times, when dining rooms are packed.

"Delivery is the Hot Dining Trend, but it's Not for Every Restaurant. Here's Why.", Chicago Tribune, August 08, 2017

Smart Labeling Technology Could Revolutionize Retail Food Industry

Advocates of smart packaging and labeling that use short-range wireless technology – aka, near field communication – say that interactive labels can provide product information while reducing cost and waste, and boosting store profits. The technology doesn’t require a separate app like QR codes. Consumers need only tap the phone and receive info, without any additional steps. To advance the use of the technology, the NFC Forum has partnered with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association to create the smart labels. It will be a while before the technology hits grocery stores, but NFC is compatible now with millions of contactless cards and readers worldwide.

"Smart Packaging Could Provide a Wealth of Information about Food Items", Report, PSFK, August 15, 2017

Marketers Try To Meet Demand For “Authentic” Products And Services

Though debate continues about the true meaning of words like “genuine,” “authentic” and “real,” they represent important marketing and promotional themes. In fact, the most lucrative word used to sell products on eBay in 2016 was authentic. Social media marketers are trying to figure out how to create marketing material that deliver “authentic and relatable” messages. When marketers fail at this – using dishonest marketing schemes such as greenwashing or “realwashing” – they are lambasted mercilessly on social media. In the food world, the authenticity trend is reflected in: the “natural” and ”green-tinged” movements; buying quality products with real value; buying misshapen or wonky produce; adopting traditional diets; and showing concern about food waste. 

"The Allure of Authenticity: A Top Consumer Trend for 2017", Blog post, Euromonitor International, August 16, 2017

Sephora Launches Online Store In India

Beauty retailer Sephora has launched its own online store, sephora.nnnow.com, in India. Combining the company's online and offline stores, the online channel will let the brand reach consumers across the country. According to the company, the online store will feature makeup, skincare, fragrances, bath, and body care products, as well as the rest of its product lineup.

"Sephora goes online exclusively only at sephora.nnnow.com", ETRetail.com, August 23, 2017

Ulta Beauty's Loyal Customers Empower It Against Amazon, Other Online Retailers

Ulta Beauty's loyalty program, as well as the unique experience the beauty retailer offers to its customers, will allow it to compete with online retailer Amazon, according to investment bank and securities firm Jefferies. Also, Ulta Beauty's business model can hold its own against the growing threat of online retail. Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink said the company's loyalty program has 24.5 million members and they account for 90 percent of the retailer's total sales.

"Here's one retailer that may survive the Amazon onslaught because its customers are so loyal", CNBC.com, August 23, 2017

Plenty Of Demand For Wonky Fruits And Vegetables

California-based Imperfect Produce, which sells subscriptions for delivery of blemished and misshapen fruits and vegetable, is expanding from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Portland, Ore., and eventually to the Seattle, Wash., area. The idea for the company came from the fact that most grocery stores won’t sell scarred plums or odd-shaped eggplants. They are discarded, even though they’re perfectly edible. The company gathers the unmarketable produce from 70 West Coast farms. After just three weeks of marketing in Portland, the service has added 1,500 new subscribers.

"'Ugly' Produce Delivery Service Expands to the Northwest", Oregon Public Broadcasting, August 23, 2017

Amazon Launches Business Grocery Delivery Service

Online retailer Amazon.com is expanding the coverage of its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service to include business customers. Similar to the company's grocery delivery service for consumers, the Amazon Business service for business customers will feature access to produce and groceries from the company's online store and local shops with same- or next-day delivery.

"Amazon Rolls Out AmazonFresh Grocery Delivery Service for Business Customers", GeekWire, August 23, 2017

Innovation & New Ideas  

High-Tech Water Dispenser From Coca-Cola For “On-The-Go Hydration”

Coca-Cola is testing a high-tech water fountain that dispenses filtered Dasani water for free, but charges if customers want flavored – peach-ginger or berry – or carbonated versions for “a unique solution for on-the-go hydration." The test of the Dasani PureFill station is being conducted at Georgia Institute of Technology. Customers use a smartphone app to find a nearby machine, and then pay using a cashless system. The company said the idea, which tested well among Millennials, is based on the finding that college students always carry a water bottle and a smartphone. The company may add more flavors as well as vitamins and protein.

"The Coca-Cola Co pilots free Dasani water fountain with a twist", just-drinks.com, August 25, 2017

Google and OREO Team Up To Reveal Android OREO

Mondelez International, August 21, 2017

Marketing & Advertising  

Coke Unveils Huge Times Square 3D Robotic Billboard

Coca-Cola Company has extended its century-old tradition of using large signs to advertise its products in urban landmarks and settings. It recently unveiled the world’s first and largest – certified by Guinness World Records – 3D robotic billboard in New York’s Times Square. The 68-ft. by 42-ft. billboard consists of 1,760 independently moving and choreographed LED screens that will be seen by 300,000 passersby daily. The company was among the first to advertise with painted wall murals in the 1890s, moving on to neon billboards in the 20th century.

"Coca-Cola and Fans Celebrate World’s First 3D Robotic Sign in Times Square", News release, Coca-Cola Company, August 08, 2017

Products & Brands  

Innocent Rides The “Health And Wellness” Wave To Booming Sales, Profits

British drinks brand Innocent, a unit of Coca-Cola Company, saw sales increase by 23 percent in 2016, its “biggest year ever.” Profit topped $11 million after last year’s loss of $900,000. The company has tripled in size since 2012, with half its revenues derived from international sales. Its success dovetails neatly with the “health and wellness” trend: the company does not add any sugar, and the British public understands that fruit juice and smoothies are “vital for a healthy diet.” The company has capitalized on the demand for more healthful beverages, recently adding coconut water, protein smoothies, and flavored sparkling water.

"Innocent to focus on ‘health and wellness’ as it preps brand refresh", Marketing Week, August 29, 2017

Lush brings subscription service to the UK

Cosmetics Design, August 15, 2017

Developed by Yuri Ingultsov Software Lab.