Lexpo1Over recent decades, licensing has expanded rapidly as a critical marketing tool, helping brand managers across many consumer product categories to understand that licensing is an effective communications strategy that also enhances brand value. Brand owners desire not only to generate meaningful revenues, but also sustain brand relevancy by increasing touch points with consumers through licensed brand extensions.

This is the reason that licensing has grown to become a $185 billion industry, responsible for the growth and longevity of many of the iconic brands consumers are familiar with today.

Insight1 Gluten-free is becoming the latest trend in food consumption, even among those who can tolerate gluten. Almost one-third of U.S. adults reported in January that they want to cut down or be free of gluten in their diets, according to The NPD Group’s Dieting Monitor. This is the highest percentage making this claim since the NPD Group began asking that in 2009.

The NPD’s Dieting Monitor – which continually tracks on a biweekly basis the top-of-mind dieting and nutrition-related issues facing consumers – reports that in January, 30 percent of adults claimed to cut down on or avoid gluten completely. Additionally, interest in gluten-free menu items at restaurants also is growing.

Sweets1The 2013 Sweets and Snacks Expo May 21 to 23 at Chicago’s McCormick Place continues to expand its status as a global resource for products, innovations and insights. Companies from 23 countries have secured booths or pavilions on the show’s floor.

More than 570 confectionery, cookie and snack companies are expected to participate in the expo. Confectionery, cookies and salty snacks sales up 3.8 percent and growing $1.2 billion in 2011, according to the National Confectioners Association, the expo’s sponsor.

Fridge1Observe the refrigerated and freezer section of any supermarket or grocery store that still has open cases. What you’ll see is shivering shoppers rushing to the registers, products that appear washed out by bad lighting and scuffed, dirty cases that accumulate dirt and repel buyers. It is a universal phenomenon.

“I shop at two stores, one is close to home and has open cases and the other is 15 minutes away, but they have new closed cases,” says Kristin Manning of Charleston, S.C. “I try to avoid the one closest to home because the store just looks run-down, plus the cold cases are all open, so the store always feels like a meat locker. In fact, that’s what we call it – ‘the meat locker.’

Marketing1Strategic decisions are only as good as the information upon which they are based. Currently, most business leaders face the challenge of discerning the quality of information being supplied before determining how best to use it. To forge the way to sustained success and company growth, executives now can and should call for data free of bias and flaws.

Traditional models of data collection and customer research result in a variety of pitfalls, rendering the information obtained only fractionally useful at best. For example, customer surveys cannot objectively measure a store’s performance, because survey respondents are prone to their own bias and subjectivity. Customers do not enter a store expecting to evaluate the experience, and they are thus dependent on recollection and memory.

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