Tag Archives: retail

Plant Milks Keep Growing

What is your favorite milk drink? And, no, we don’t mean do you prefer skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk. Because today there are more “milks” available to consumers than just dairy milks.

There are numerous plant-based milks available made from various nuts, seeds, grains, and even vegetables. But the latest is one you might not be familiar with on your morning cereal – it’s a plant milk made from – wait for it – potatoes! The new potato milk is made by Swedish company Dug Drinks and is already being sold in Great Britain with distribution in the U.S. planned later this year.

Dug is far from alone as a non-dairy milk on the shelves and in coffee shops. With a growth in health-conscious diets such as vegan and non-animal food fare, the market has seen a proliferation in food and drink plant-based substitutes made from oats, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, and more. Plant-based foods are trending up as consumers gain interest in sustainability, health, and ethical practices. And of course the pandemic’s impact on supply chain also pushed people to try different products when their old reliable products were not easily available.

“Milk” drinks alone are a large category of products. Sales of plant-based milks in the U.S. were an estimated $2.5 billion at the end of the year, accounting for 15% of all retail milk sales and 35% of all plant-based foods. Repeat sales of the beverages averages 75% for a high level of retention. And, plant-based milk is one of the most developed plant-based food categories and is consistently shelved next to dairy milk.

Most plant-based milks are made the same way; the main ingredient is soaked in water, then pressed or blended into a puree. This is then filtered to remove particles, and additional ingredients may  be added to gain better texture and flavor.

However, the drinks also carry a political weight; the dairy industry had been petitioning the U.S. Food and Drink Administration to prohibit the  term “milk” label for all non-dairy products. And many drinks made from nuts can have adverse environmental impacts, particularly when water is scarce in communities. But, the category is quite innovative and keeps growing to offer additional plant-based drinks and foods.

Now that you know some of the options, what is your favorite milk?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  2. Poll students: What are reasons for people to consume plant-based foods?
  3. Show a brief video about the rise of plant milk: https://youtu.be/yoAeuJlt7qo
  4. Have students use laptops to review various plant-based milk drinks.
  5. Oatly oat milk: https://www.oatly.com/en-us
  6. Dug potato milk: https://dugdrinks.com/
  7. Silk almond milk: https://silk.com/
  8. Ripple plant milk: https://www.ripplefoods.com/
  9. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for a plant-based drink. What are the two axis labels they will use?
  10. What happens if the axis labels change?

Source:  Petersen, V. (28 February 2022). Have we reached peak plant milk? Not even close. New York Times.

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Puppy Love

Aww….. They are so cute!

We do love our pups and pets. And there are more pet-parents than ever before thanks to the pandemic. According to the American Society for Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), more than 23 million U.S. families have adopted a pet during the pandemic. And while there is lots of love to go around, there is also a lot of money being spent on pampering and caring for our little animal buddies.

How much money? Well, according to Statista.com the U.S. pet industry accounts for $103.6 billion, including $44.1 billion for pet food. Doggy daycare centers and veterinarians are booked solid these days. Plus dog walkers such as Wag are certainly in high demand. Pets even get treated like one of the family – massages and acupuncture, along with dental care, are not uncommon.

The pet business is booming. Target Corp. has started its own line of pet-food, branded Kindfull. General Mills re-entered the pet food market in 2018 when it purchased Blue Buffalo Pet Products for $8 billion. The company also spent $1.2 billion for a line of pet treats from Tyson Foods last year. Nestle Purina holds the largest share in dry pet food sales at nearly $3.5 billion. In retail, PetSmart and PETCO account for 40% of the market. That’s a lot of puppy chow!

Ready for some puppy love?  

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has a pet? How much did they spend last year on the pet?
  2. Bring up pet care sites such as Rover (https://www.rover.com/) and Wag (https://wagwalking.com/).
  3. Also show retail sites including Target (https://www.target.com/b/kindfull/-/N-q643le71aup?lnk=snav_rd_kindfull), PetSmart (https://www.petsmart.com/), and PETCO (https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore), and Chewy (https://www.chewy.com/).
  4. Have students do a search for pet health care and insurance rates.
  5. Compare rates at: https://quote.petinsurer.com/quote/ref=usnews?insurer=petsbest&subId1=other-products-in-table&subId2=https://www.usnews.com/insurance/pet-insurance&subId3=desktop&subID4=large
  6. Have students use their laptops to research different types of products and care for pets.
  7. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for various types of pet owners.
  8. How should pet products be promoted to the target market?

Source:  Bogage, J. (Feb. 12, 2022). The high cost of puppy love. Washington Post.; Sitaramiah, G. (Feb. 10, 2022). Twin Cities businesses benefit as pet owners spend like parents. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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Singles Day 2021 Hits $75 Billion!

It’s fall and the start of the holiday shopping season. And once again, the world’s biggest shopping event has occurred. But no, it’s not Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the U.S. The biggest shopping day comes from the opposite side of the globe from the U.S. – China! Singles Day is held annually on November 11 in China.

Singles Day was originally started in 1993 by college students as a celebration for people who are single, chosen because of the connection between singles and the number ‘1’. Eventually, Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba forged an online shopping event in 2009 to take advantage of the interest, and the rest is retail history.

November 11 is now the globe’s largest shopping event. This year’s sales (stated as Gross Merchandise Value – GMV) reached $84.5 billion, an 8.4% increase over last year. (Note: GMV has no standardized way of calculating the metric.) The GMV reflects sales from November 1 – 11.

Singles’ Day has become an event on its own, including celebrities, fashion shows, TV galas, virtual reality, and augmented reality shopping, and it continues to expand to countries outside of China. However, this year’s event was slightly calmer as Alibaba faces the impact of Beijing’s scrutiny of technology companies and China’s “common prosperity” drive for the nation’s citizens.

Criticisms remain that Alibaba’s infrastructure outside of China is weak, particularly with respect to larger household appliances and items. It is developing international warehouses and improving its transportation efforts though as it seeks to compete with Amazon and other ecommerce companies in the west.

Highlights of this year’s event included:

  • Themes of green logistics, eco-friendly products, and consuming “with care.”
  • Gave out “green vouchers” for discounts on energy-efficient and low-impact goods.
  • Launched a dedicated eco channel that hosted 500,000 products from 2,000 merchants.
  • Offered to recycle packaging waste at 60,000 pickup stations across China.
  • Donated one yuan (16 cents) to charity every time someone interacted during the event with a social media post about charitable giving.

Why is it so important for global brands to enter this shopping day? Consider that there are roughly 300 million middle-class shoppers in China, rising to an estimated 500 million in the next 8-12 years. While Singles Day may have originally started for lonely Chinese consumers, the shopping day now is seen as critical to driving China’s – and the worlds – economy.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Most students will not have previously heard of China’s Single Day. Discuss the shopping holiday and its importance in China.
  2. This is likely the first time students have heard about Singles Day. There are a number of videos that can help explain the event:
  1. What is 11/11?  https://youtu.be/bRv9qG75x2c
  2. Evolution of Singles Day: https://youtu.be/CY_fE5EJZ-Q
  3. Discuss how this holiday compares to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S.
  4. Video report on 2020: https://youtu.be/iwHbvxd5Rqk
  5. WSJ video report: https://on.wsj.com/3olgSm8
  6. How should U.S.-based companies participate in Singles Day?

Source: CNBC; Forbes; New York Time; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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