Cruel Summer

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Summer is in full swing, and in this new, warmer season, most of us would care to shed not just a few layers of clothing, but also a few pounds. Thus begins the inevitable annual fitness battle against inertia and bad habits…all for the sake of the desirable ‘bikini body’ (and the male equivalent!).

84% of Americans surveyed by InfoScout stated they wanted to lose weight or get in shape for the summer. Yet 67% also said they don’t get enough exercise. If only someone could wave a wand and allow us to get fit without all that excruciating effort!

No pain, no gain…

The simple truth is that most Americans plan to lose weight through a tried and true formula of more exercise (81%), healthier eating (68%), and nutritional supplements (16%).

In terms of exercise, women were much more likely to favor walking (49% of surveyed women vs. 35% of men) while men were more likely to favor weightlifting (26% vs. 9% of women).

You are what you eat…

In terms of supplements…not surprisingly, when we investigated sales among InfoScout shopper panelists, we also found that weight/fat loss products peak in sales dollar volume from January through June in the run-up to summer (and quickly trails off after that).

supplements

This makes sense given typically different fitness goals of weight/fat loss (70% of women vs. 58% of men) and muscle building (3% of women vs. 16% of men).

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On store shelves in time for the summer

We’re also keeping our eye on several new ‘healthy’ snacks that recently launched.  We invited InfoScout panelists who had tried the products to rate them, including:

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Are we in the midst of a gummy supplement bubble?

Lastly, according to a study of transaction data from InfoScout’s panelist shopper database, sales of adult gummy and chewable nutritional supplements grew 4.5x faster than the nutritional supplements category in January, February, and March 2014, suggesting adults are increasingly embracing their inner child.  To dig deeper into the data, InfoScout surveyed consumers and asked respondents their preferred format for taking nutritional supplements. Most respondents stated they preferred their supplements in capsule form (28%), although chewable gummies and candies ranked second most popular (20%), beating out bars, cookies, gels, powders, and ready-to-drink items. Once a bribe to entice kids, gummy vitamins have taken off with sweet-toothed adults.

The trend is picking up steam. Even Martha Stewart, who was always best known for cooking and crafts, has jumped into the market. Around June 2014, she launched a new line of Martha Stewart gummy supplements, which included an email blast with the following announcement:

vitamins

http://www.marthastewartessentials.com/shop/martha-stewart-essentials-vegetarian-gummies/

InfoScout Closes $16 Million Series B Funding

InfoScout Closes $16 Million Series B Funding

 Bain Capital Ventures and Multiple Strategic Investors Fuel Growth of America’s Largest Consumer Panel and Fund Expansion Abroad with the Acquisition of Out of Milk. 

SAN FRANCISCO, June 19th, 2014 - InfoScout, a mobile-powered retail market research provider, today announced that it has closed a $16-million round of Series B financing. The round includes participation from Bain Capital Ventures who led InfoScout’s Series A, as well as Horizon Partners, MHS Capital and multiple strategic investors.  To date, InfoScout has raised $21 million.

The company will use the infusion of capital to grow America’s largest consumer panel to one-million participants and expand into key international markets through the acquisition of the world’s most-used and top-rated shopping list app, Out of Milk.  The app has nearly one million active users who add 12 million items to their shopping lists every month, thus expressing their purchase intent before they go shopping.

“InfoScout has created fun and rewarding smartphone apps that incentivize shoppers to take pictures of their itemized receipts, and we now capture over 50,000 grocery shopping trips daily – more than five times the next largest all-retailer consumer panel,” said Jared Schrieber, InfoScout CEO.  “Now, with the addition of Out of Milk and a powder-keg of capital, we’re prepared to fuel the next phase of explosive growth in our panel and expand the types of data and survey responses these shoppers share along their daily path-to-purchase.”

Since launching its real-time shopper insights solutions in October 2013, InfoScout has experienced incredible momentum, and the company’s client list now reads like the who’s who of the consumer goods industry:  Procter & Gamble, Anheuser-Busch, Unilever, PepsiCo, Kraft, Nestle, and others.  These clients leverage InfoScout’s path-to-purchase insights to guide brand innovation efforts, optimize their marketing mix during new product launches, and course-correct major promotional campaigns as they happen.

“The InfoScout team has the technical ability, vision and execution required to change the way consumer data fuels the retail experience,” said Ajay Agarwal, managing director at Bain Capital Ventures and InfoScout board member. “We’ve believed in their vision since the very beginning, and the users, insights and momentum they’ve built over the last year has been unprecedented. We’re excited to work with the team as they continue on their phenomenal trajectory.”

Want to see the data in action?   Visit InfoScout’s free grocery brand and retailer dashboards for insights at InfoScout.co.

InfoScout Dashboard

 

About InfoScout

InfoScout’s real-time shopper insights make brands better marketers by providing the industry’s largest, richest and most actionable source of household purchase information across all retailers at the item-level.  The company’s proprietary consumer panel, launched in the summer of 2012, is designed from the ground-up to provide marketers with a broader and more representative ‘mini-America’ while enabling deeper dives into specific subsets of the population than traditional panels support. Leading consumer goods companies such as Procter & Gamble, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo & Unilever leverage InfoScout’s data and analytics to monitor changes in shopper behavior and better understand the ‘why behind the buy.’

 

Media Contact

Cristin Zweig

619-865-7019

Cristin@infoscout.co

Healthy Eating Is Not A SNAP

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The White House and USDA are strong advocates of healthy eating, providing U.S. citizens guidance on how to achieve balanced nutrition on a reasonable budget. But is the federal government’s food assistance program able to help those most in need meet its own recommendations? In light of the recent changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the team at InfoScout wanted to find out.

In 2013, SNAP – also known as food stamps – provided an average monthly benefit of $133 per person and $275 per household in 2013, reaching 48 million people across 23 million households. SNAP benefits were decreased by about $10 per month per person in November 2013, reducing the maximum benefit to $189 per individual. Given this reduction in benefits, we decided to explore the extent to which beneficiaries of the program could eat healthily on the reduced budget of $189. Let’s find out.

The USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov website provides a plethora of information for a healthy lifestyle, from weight management and physical activity tools and guidelines to tips for eating healthy when eating out. The site showcases various cookbooks including a 7-day meal plan that meets a recommended 2000-calorie diet with the right balance of food groups and nutrient intake, all at a “moderate cost”.

healthy_eating_menu

So we try to answer the question: can an individual relying solely on government benefits afford to follow the government’s recommendations regarding a balanced diet?

Over the past two years, InfoScout has established America’s largest and richest source of household purchases across all retailers at the item level. With this data we are able to dig into real-world food spending patterns to find out.

We began by looking at each recipe and its ingredients within the USDA’s 7-day meal plan. We took each ingredient from the USDA recommended menu and paired it with the top-selling product corresponding to that ingredient from our InfoScout database, where we’re able to see per-basket SNAP purchases. Factoring in the packaging sizes and prices per serving of each ingredient, we calculated the price of each meal.

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We found that a single adult following the USDA recommended 2000-calorie diet would spend nearly $8 per day, or $240 per month at current food prices. That’s $51 more per month than the maximum benefit allowable under the SNAP program. Put in practical terms, this means that even with a perfectly-planned and executed grocery budget, a SNAP recipient would only be able to feed themselves until the 24th day of the month, and run out of financial support before dinner.

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This gap becomes even more prominent as the household size grows. For each additional household member, the incremental allotment decreases. So while an individual can get $189 each month, a household of two gets $347, or $173.50 each. As these per-person benefits decrease, the cost of feeding each person remains the same. So as you can see, that gap grows tremendously as the need increases.

As the household size grows, so does the gap between the home's benefits and its food expenses.

With healthy diets clearly so far out of reach for the 47 million Americans relying on the government for support, it is no surprise that those in the lower income brackets turn to higher-calorie, though often nutritionally-poor, meals. We found that, compared to high-income consumers, lower-income Americans have a 30% shift in their food expenditures towards snack foods (like potato chips, cookies, and candy) and away from nutritional foods (like yogurt, fruits, and vegetables). While the USDA-suggested diet clocks in at about 247 calories per dollar, our study of the most purchased snack foods yielded an average of 672 calories per dollar, with popular brands of chips leading the pack at an incredibly efficient 752 calories per dollar.

Calorie counting doesn’t stop at the grocery store, especially with more and more fast-food chains accepting food stamps. A quick study of Burger King, KFC, and Subway, where a standard meal-deal includes an burger or sandwich, side of fries or chips, and a soda yielded an average price of around 250 calories per dollar – effectively the same cost per calorie as the buying groceries to follow the USDA suggested meal plan. And since fast food doesn’t require any meal-planning, grocery-shopping, or cooking, it’s unsurprising that low-income consumers often prefer a meal on-demand. The problem, of course, is that a fast food diet can easily result in 230% excess fat and 370% more sodium than recommended, all while offering fewer key nutrients.

Moreover, low-income consumers can stretch their food budgets further with choices like McDonald’s McDouble sandwich which packs 390 calories for just $1 – that’s 58% more calories per dollar than buying healthy foods at a grocery store. If a person could live off McDouble’s alone (not that anyone is suggesting that’s a good idea), they’d save $90 per month compared to a healthy diet of home-cooked meals and be able to feed themselves via food stamps throughout the entire month.

Whether it’s the relatively cheap meals on-demand offered by quick service restaurants or the low-cost calories of snack foods like potato chips, we should not be surprised to know that lower income Americans (especially women) are more likely to be overweight or obese while also experiencing poorer health and shorter lifespans. With the rapid rise from 11% of American households receiving support from the SNAP in 2008 to 20% of households in 2013, at a cost of nearly $80 billion, it’s no wonder that the programs merits and funding have been hotly debated in Congress. At InfoScout, our intent is not to fuel the debate as to whether SNAP funding should be increased or decreased to support more or fewer participants. Instead, we believe the data begs for further debate over fundamental policy questions such as:

~ Should SNAP offer greater incentives towards purchases of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables to help improve the healthy outcomes that everyone desires from such a program?

~ Should the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program even allow the purchases of junk foods and fast foods that fail to meet basic nutritional standards? (Especially considering the fact that these foods offer lower costs per calorie to those Americans who can’t afford to follow a healthy meal plan.)

~ How should we prioritize healthy eating amid a growing base of people relying on federal support, and the associated growing costs?

In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts and feedback as we continue to study real-world purchasing behavior.

Will the Winter Olympics help Advertisers?

Let the games begin! As the 22nd Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, we at InfoScout want to understand how the Olympics can impact sales.

Right now, athletes and spectators are gearing up for the competition on the field while advertisers are holding a competition of their own. This competition is for share of your mind and it’s been brewing for years. We asked our highly engaged panel of U.S. shoppers about their interest in the Winter Olympics just before Opening Ceremonies. Some of what they told us bodes well for the Olympic games, however, shoppers may not be as likely to convert this interest into sales for the largest advertisers.

Three-fourths of shoppers indicated that they plan to watch or follow the Olympics. The vast majority (95%) indicated that TV is one way they will follow the Games. Internet News and Social Media follow closely behind and are likely to be the first sources of information that viewers turn to for the latest on Team USA. Let’s hope that advertisers have shifted a large portion of their Olympics ad dollars to new media.

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Just over 40% of viewers indicate a high level of interest in the Olympics; the majority may just catch a few highlights here and there. If you are wondering which events will be followed most, that title goes to Figure Skating.

Winter Olympics 2014 Interest and Top Events

Unfortunately, the only thing that shoppers seem to care about is Team USA and not the major sponsors behind them. Only 13% of shoppers indicated that they would be more likely to buy products from Olympics sponsors versus companies that do not sponsor the Olympics.

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Though the games have just begun, already there are some clear winners emerging from our pre-Opening Ceremony survey. Looking at our Worldwide Sponsor Leaderboard, it looks 40% have already seen Coca-Cola or McDonalds ads, however “None of the Above” is surprisingly taking the Bronze ahead of P&G and Visa.

Winter Olympics 2014 Recall seeing ads from these sponsors

Look for a follow up with actual purchase behavior of our panelists, including how the Olympics is driving share of wallet for the big global sponsors.

Survey Details: 500 InfoScout panelists were given a smartphone-based survey starting on Feb 6th. All 500 responses were obtained in 48hrs.

Walmart’s Millennial Problem: 5 Reasons Dollar Stores are Beating the World’s Largest Retailer

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It’s no secret that Millennials’ widespread adoption of technology has helped transform many industries. Their use of social media has shifted how we communicate, their adoption of smartphones has changed how we shop, and their use of taxicab replacements like Uber and Lyft is altering how we get around. Even Walmart’s tried and true grocery business has not been spared. As Millennials enter their 30s, they are beginning to influence a grocery sector traditionally dominated by multi-person households. 3 factors are driving this:

  1.  The Millennials (born between the early 1980s and 2000s), at 78 MM, are the largest U.S. demographic group today
  2.  As shoppers, Millennials favor convenience and wear their ideals on their sleeves
  3.  Due to societal trends and poor job prospects, Millennials are delaying marriage and family formation

From 2007 to 2012, the percentage of young Americans who are married fell from 30% to 25%.  As Millennials wait to marry and have kids, their grocery behavior deviates from those of past generations. A single-person household has fewer needs than a full family, and thus purchases a smaller quantity of products in a given week. As a consequence, single Millennials can complete their grocery trips more quickly than someone stocking the pantry for an entire family. So why would a Millennial spend close to an hour pushing a cart around a giant Walmart store when he or she can get in and out of a smaller dollar store in half an hour or less? Using InfoScout’s database of U.S. grocery shopping behavior, we determined this is more or less exactly how consumers shop at Walmart and dollar stores. For example, at Walmart, the average basket is 13.5 items while at Dollar General, it’s only 6.3. We also studied where else Walmart shoppers bought groceries in the first half of 2013, discovering that more than 1-in-4 started spending relatively less at Walmart and more at dollar stores over time. Who are these dollar store ‘converts’?

  •  Lower income: 50% earn less than $60K per year
  •  Unemployed: almost 2x as likely to be unemployed
  •  Young: 43% are between age 21 and 34

By means of InfoScout survey data, we also identified the top reasons these customers are leaving Walmart for dollar stores:


spending#1 Consumers are having a hard time making ends meet:
31% of dollar store ‘converts’ either lost a job or had hours reduced within the last 6 months

#2 Their grocery budgets are falling: 37% of dollar store converts decreased their grocery budget over the last 6 months

#3 The Walmart brand doesn’t resonate: converts are 2.5x as likely to complain about the Walmart brand

#4 Dollar stores expanding and getting closer to Walmart’s customers: Family Dollar, Dollar General, and others opened hundreds of new stores in 2013.  24% of converts had a new dollar store open nearby within the last 6 months (often within walking distance, important to Millennials who are less likely to have a car compared to earlier generations at the same age)

#5 Shopping at Walmart isn’t convenient, especially for quick trips: 24% of dollar store converts say Walmart stores are inconvenient, too big, or confusing to navigate.  In addition, 77% dollar store shoppers name location and convenience as the primary reason why they shop at dollar stores versus just 60% for Walmart.

 

This trend is not limited to Walmart – So what can retailers and brand marketers do?

  • Offer great prices on the products that matter most to this segment
  • Invest in new smaller-footprint store formats, and make it easier to get in and out quickly
  • Reach Millennials where they spend their time (online and social media), support causes Millennials care about, offer innovative products to save them time, and reward them for their loyalty

Now what Millennial wouldn’t take interest in that?

 

Want to know what everyone else got for Christmas?

This holiday season, InfoScout tracked the item-level purchases of 125,000 panelists across all brick-and-mortar retailers to identify this year’s biggest winners and losers.  It’s no surprise that those products dominating the sales activity on Black Friday continued to sell well through Christmas.

As mentioned in our previous posts, this year’s top gift was the Apple iPad mini 16GB and the top game console (and second highest grossing product) was the XBOX ONE.  As a direct result, the biggest losers were Android & Microsoft Tablets as well as Sony’s PlayStation 4 which sold well in November, but also sold out before the holiday season.  The year’s biggest surprise goes to Beats by Dr. Dre coming it at #6 with its premium headphones.

Top 15 Holiday Gifts in 2013

 

* Sales Rank based on gross sales in dollars from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Eve 2013.

InfoScout’s Black Friday Breakdown

It’s been an insightful couple of days here at InfoScout as we monitored & analyzed Black Friday activity in real-time.  With over 100,000 shopping trips captured from our panel of 125,000+ Americans, we had plenty of item-level purchase data to answer some of the most pressing Black Friday shopping questions. By tracking retailer performance, top products purchased & consumer sentiment throughout the day, we found a couple of nuggets worth bubbling up.

So to wrap up the Black Friday shopping frenzy, we’ve created a high-level summary of key findings & insight :

backfridayinfographic_v6-01-01

 

Interested in learning more? Explore our in-depth blog posts deep-diving into consoles, top 20 purchases at Walmart, sources  of iPad purchases, and more.

For more information about how InfoScout captures data & our methodologies, checkout www.infoscout.co/data

Black Friday Console War

Which gaming console took over living rooms this Black Friday… the newly hyped PS4, Xbox One, or Wii U? Or, would the incumbent PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii consoles hold their ground?

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Both Xbox consoles dominated sales on Friday, jointly accounting for 61% of the console market. Their success can be largely attributed to limited availability of the PS4 in addition to Walmart discounting the Xbox 360 down to $99 for Black Friday.

The majority of console consumers were in the giving mood on Friday as 80% purchased the item as a gift, though 10% of those admitted it would likely get pulled out from under the tree before Christmas.

Of users that purchased a console, 85% reported they plan to purchase 2+ video games during the holiday period. In fact, consumer spending on console games surpassed spending on consoles themselves this Black Friday.

Black Friday - Top Games
Here’s what consumers had to say about the gaming consoles…

PlayStation 4

“Too much hype when Sony doesn’t produce enough”

“Expensive. Games are expensive.”

“It’s too high tech none if the older ps games will work with it and everything is way to expensive I think it’s more for the adults.”

“My oldest child wanted a playstation I have no opinion.”

Xbox One

“It’s the only system that has the game my kids want. I’m not happy about it.”

“Waiting to see the first ‘Must have game’”

Xbox 360

“I think its a great system, with the Kinect, the family can get up and move around”

Nintendo Wii

“Fun for kids and families. Love the old school games that you can download”

“Older technology, so less expensive”

 
Data methodology:
Of over 102k shopping receipts tracked by InfoScout on Black Friday, slightly over 1,500 included purchases of a gaming console or console game. The data includes purchases at all major retailers carrying electronics including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, RadioShack, and others. For more information related to our data and panel representation, visit our data page.

Roughly 40% of Black Friday iPads bought by Android users

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In recent years, the fight for the connected living room has heated up with products such as Apple TV, Roku, Google TV & Google’s latest incarnation: Chromecast. In this budding ecosystem, there is no doubt the tablet has started to, and will continue to play a crucial role. Looking ahead, it is the central device that we’ll likely be using as the remote to control our television, as the dial to turn up our thermostats, and as the search engine to browse & stream short videos and music.  With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that Google and Apple are adapting their respective Android and iOS platforms to become the brains of our living room.  This begs the question: Which platform, Android or iOS, has the upper hand?

Today, we had the opportunity to observe and analyze Black Friday tablet purchases in real-time.  Our U.S.-based panel of Android & iOS users submitted over 90,000 shopping trip receipts within the day, giving us plenty of data to work with.  As we noted in our previous posts (here and here), iPads are this year’s hottest commodity.  To our surprise, however, we found that roughly 40% of Black Friday iPad purchases could be attributed to existing Android smartphone users.  This discovery clearly poses a challenge for Android moving forward and heightens the importance of Chromecast as Google competes for mindshare in the living room of the future.

Stay tuned as we continue diving in to tablet purchase data & monitor the sales of Google Chromecast and Apple TV throughout this pivotal holiday season…