Tag Archives: distribution

Back to Basics: Toilet Paper

We consumers are a strange bunch. One minute we are buying in a predictable way, at the usual times and in the usual patterns. Then, boom! Suddenly the world changes seemingly overnight and consumers take drastic and unusual shopping actions.

In this case, what was once a stable item – toilet paper – became a hot product in high demand as the coronavirus hit the U.S. According to Nielsen, in the first week of social distancing guidelines, toilet paper demand increased 120% versus the same time last year. Customers began buying toilet paper in bulk and ratcheted up hoarding of the commodity product. This type of reaction is not uncommon during times of stress when consumers feel a need to control at least one aspect of their lives.

Why the shortage though? In part, it is because toilet paper manufacturing and distribution flows through an efficient, tightly-controlled supply chain. Since it is a bulky product to ship and shelve, retailers keep low inventory on-hand and depend on frequent shipments to replenish stock.

On average, the volume a household consumes toilet paper is about 141 rolls per year. But, during the current crisis, consumers are going through more toilet paper at home since more people are working at home and not venturing out to restaurants, retailers, and other out-of-home events.

Be kind. Share.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the elements in the supply chain and marketing channel.
  2. Diagram the supply chain and marketing channel for toilet paper.
  3. Show a brief video about toilet paper supply chain: https://youtu.be/By2mmIUzG-w
  4. Another video choice: https://youtu.be/NiQKvfo3l94
  5. View Cottonelle’s Web site and it’s plea for kindness and sharing: https://www.cottonelle.com/en-us/share-a-square
  6. Where are the stress points in the supply chain and marketing channel?
  7. What can be done to better produce and manage products such as toilet paper during times of crisis?

Source: Ad Week; Associated Press; Nielsen Research; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

 

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Fresh Food Vending Machines

Consider the humble vending machines. They are virtually everywhere, and we do mean everywhere! We see them in stores, hallways, offices, subway stations, laundry mats, gas stations, and more. Not only are the vending machines convenient, but they are easy to use, can take cash or cards, and consumers do not have to interact with a cashier or sales person. Easy. Fast. Convenient. And, usually not very good eating.

Yes, the common vending machines as just that – common. They have been around so long that they no longer excite consumers. There is nothing particularly interesting, and virtually little food that is healthy for us. When was the last time you looked forward to eating a meal or snack dispensed by a vending machine?

That may be about to change with the advent of new machines that dispense fresh, healthy food in high density locations. Instead of soda, candy bars, and chips, today’s machines carry salads, yogurt parfaits, pudding, specialty coffee drinks, and much more satisfying fare. Not only are the foods better, the service is faster than stopping at a fast-food joint and waiting in long lines. And, as an added bonus, some of the machines will even recycle the packaging to reduce waste.

Here are few of the new alternatives:

  • Farmer’s Fridge – 400+ machines in office buildings and food courts in six states
  • Fresh Bowl – Seven locations in New York
  • Chowbotics – 100 salad robots that build orders from touchscreens
  • Le Bread Xpress – Five bake machines that cook croissants, pizza, and quiche
  • Briggo – High-end coffee cars that make 100 custom drinks per hour

Hungry and in a rush? Let’s meet at the vending machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why do they buy from vending machines?
  2. Divide students into groups. Have each group take an existing vending machine and work out an update for today’s consumers.
  3. Alternative: Show Web sites of new vending machines dispensing fresh food and have a team of students analyze each vending machine and company.
  4. For each company, determine the target market, where it should be located, and the messaging.

Source: Black, J. (13 February 2020). The machine that lets you skip the salad bar. Wall Street Journal.

 

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Target Launches New Athleisure Clothing Line

It’s a new year and a new time to set some resolutions, right? Target thinks so and has come up with a set of resolutions about the joy of movement, being inclusive and accessible. These resolutions are a lead-in to a new Target brand of athleisure apparel.

Athleisure apparel sales in the U.S. have grown 140% in the last decade and is expected to reach $83 billion. Athleisure is a crowded market however, with loyal followers of brands such as Lululemon and Athleta. What will Target need to do to create value for customers of its new “All in Motion” line of active wear and sporting goods?

The company did extensive research for the new line. Target gathered data from more than 15,000 men, women, and kids, from all areas of the country, to gain insights into what customers want from their sporting apparel. The result is a new brand of sports apparel that was developed for the entire family, at all stages of fitness, and in diverse sizes.

All in Motion also uses sustainably-sourced materials, and includes features such as water-resistant, UPF50+ sun protection. Designs include secure zippered pockets, thumbholes in sleeves, and is a broad range of sizes. But the best part is that prices will be mostly under $40.

Ready to move?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the components of a situation analysis: company, general industry, trends, key competitors, technology, legal, etc.
  2. Review Target’s new line of athleisure clothing: https://www.target.com/b/all-in-motion/-/N-4apdi?lnk=Madeforeverymov
  3. Ask students what data they would need in order to make a marketing decision to start this product line.
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team do secondary research to answer the questions such as industry overview, size, growth, competitors, social trends, new technologies, environmental impact, etc.
  5. Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board. Does this give a good picture of how Target arrived at its decision?

Source:  Ad Week; Minneapolis Star Tribune; other news sources

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