In the Net Marketers are clueless about how to predict their behavior, and employers are beginning to realize that they may have to restructure their work places to suit them. Who are they worried about? "Net-Gens," the 88 million people aged 20 and younger, according to author Don Tapscott who came up with the term.
Tapscott takes a stab at defining this new generation of Net-savvy individuals in his book, Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation, which was researched and written on the Internet. Net-Gens are the first to grow up in the world of digital media, and they know more about computers and technology than their parents and teachers. "To them, digital technology is no more intimidating than a VCR or a toaster," says Tapscott.
They're also used to operating in highly creative and diverse environments because of their interactions with friends around the world through e-mail and the Web. Constant contact with technology and other minds has opened intellectual doors for them that their parents and elder siblings sometimes had to wait until college to attain, according to Tapscott.
To that end, Net-Gens represent a unique and problematic demographic to marketers. They already influence adult purchases more than any preceding generations. The Alliance for Converging Technologies estimates that American pre-teens and teens spend $130 billion of their own dollars annually and influence upwards of $500 billion of the their parents' spending.
How do you market to this bunch? Tapscott advises that marketers keep five things in mind. (1) Options are a must-choice is one of their most deeply held values. (2) Customize to meet their needs. These are the kids who build their own levels in video games and write their own Web pages, and they want things their way. (3) Let them have the option of changing their minds. They're growing up in a world where fixing mistakes takes a stroke of the mouse, and they believe that changing their minds should be equally painless. (4) Let them try before they buy. They're users, doers. They reject expert opinions in favor of forming their own. (5) Never forget that they will choose function over form. "Unlike the baby boomers, who witnessed the technological revolution," Tapscott says, "N-Geners have no awe of new technology. They have grown up with computers and treat them like any other household appliance.This is an audience that cares about what the technology will do, not the technology itself."
For more information on Tapscott's book Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation, (McGraw-Hill, 1998), visit http://www.growingupdigital.com. -Lisa Krakowka
Non-Smoking or Non-Smoking? Would you change your dining habits if more restaurants became smoke-free? That was the question posed by Dr. Lois Biener, of the University of Massachusetts Center for Survey Research in Boston, and Dr. Michael Siegel, of the Boston University School of Public Health.
About two-thirds of people surveyed said that restaurant and bar smoking bans would not affect their choice of dining establishments. But almost one-third said that they would opt to dine out more often if their chosen restaurants were smoke-free. Eight percent said that their usage of restaurants would decrease if the eating establishments adopted smoke-free policies.
Non-smoking bars could potentially become a lucrative investment, according to the authors of the study. About one-third of the population stays away from bars, lounges, or other places where alcohol is served. But 10 percent of that group said they would start going to bars if they were smoke-free. And 20 percent of bar patrons said that they would visit bars more often if those establishments became non-smoking areas. Just 1 percent of those surveyed said they would stop going to bars if they did not allow smoking.
The National Restaurant Association conducted a smoking survey of its own in 1993. In that study, 56 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to patronize a restaurant that voluntarily banned smoking, while 26 percent said they would be less likely to do so. About one in five said that it was not important to them. These figures are similar to those tabulated by the Boston researchers, suggesting that adopting smoke-free policies would be a good business decision for many restaurants.
But that might not be the case if the restaurant had a large client base of smokers. Almost two-thirds of smokers would be less likely to patronize a restaurant that voluntarily banned smoking, and just 21 percent said they would be more likely to visit a smoke-free restaurant. A further 17 percent indicated that they would be neither more nor less likely to dine at smoke-free restaurants.
The non-smoking crowd is more likely to voice strong opinions on smoke-free restaurants than smokers, or the population in general, for that matter. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of non-smokers said that they would frequent restaurants that voluntarily banned smoking, while 16 percent said that it really didn't matter and 14 percent indicated that they would be less likely to visit a smoke-free eatery.
For more information, contact Lois Biener, Center for Survey Research, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125; telephone (617) 287-7200 or fax (617) 287-7210. The National Restaurant Association is located at 1200 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; telephone (202) 331-5900 or fax (202) 331-2429. -Marcia Mogelonsky
Access to Health Care In 1996, approximately 12.8 million families (11.6 percent) had difficulties or delays or did not receive needed health-care services. Barriers to health care were not experienced equally by all groups.
Overwhelmingly, families cited the inability to pay for care as their main problem, according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research's 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Nearly 60 percent of those who experienced problems said they could not afford care, while 20 percent blamed insurance companies' unwillingness to approve or pay for care, and 21 percent said other difficulties, such as transportation, inability to take time off from work, or lack of child care were the root of the problem.
Hispanic families reported encountering barriers more frequently than families headed by non-Hispanic blacks and whites. More than 15 percent of Hispanic families had trouble accessing care, and 69 percent of them said it was because they could not afford it. That compares with 10 percent of black families and 11 percent of white families citing difficulties, with 60 percent and 59 percent, respectively, saying that finances were to blame. More than 27 percent of the families surveyed said all members were uninsured, and 40 percent said at least some family members were uninsured.
Access also varies by geographic region. Almost 17 percent of families in the West had difficulty obtaining care, and 62 percent said they could not afford care. While only 8 percent of families in the Northeast experienced barriers, 24 percent (a higher percentage than any other geographic group) cited insurance-related reasons.
Families living outside of metropolitan areas reported more problems obtaining care than did their urban counterparts. They too were more likely to cite the cost of care, with 62 percent unable to afford it.
Results of the survey were published in the January-March 1998 issue of the Statistical Bulletin, Vol. 79, No. 1, published by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010; telephone (212) 578-5014. -Shelly Reese
Cross-Cultural Images In an effort to bolster the image of Hispanic Americans, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) teamed up with La Agencia de Orci-an independent ad agency in Los Angeles-to develop a television commercial that aired on English-language television in southern California this spring.
MALDEF recently collaborated with Garcia Research Associates, Inc. to complete an Attitude Segmentation Study of non-Hispanic whites in southern California. Results show that 54 percent of the 600 adults surveyed disapproved of the Hispanic-American population in the area. "Disapprovers" were defined as those with a generallynegative view of Latinos, specifically related to perceived importance of concern about issues critical to improving the quality of American life.
Norma Orci, co-chair and creative officer for La Agencia de Orci, says that the 30-second TV spot is designed to combat the reputation that Hispanic Americans have gained through misrepresentation in the media. "We've been projected as a problem," she says. "Illegal aliens, people who don't pay their taxes...but that's not an accurate portrayal. We're not a problem, and we can be part of the solution."
The spot itself intersperses textual copy ("We are Hispanic Americans. You know us. We work together. We play together. We fight the same battles.") with cross-cultural images supporting the sentiment. "We show both Hispanic and Caucasian children in DARE programs," says Orci. "We show neighborhoods working together to clean up graffiti. There's an image of a Hispanic soldier in Vietnam and Hispanic kids in scouting programs. A Hispanic couple buys their first home. It's about showing that we're the same Americans as everyone else."
The spot seems to be empowering Hispanic Americans as a whole. "We've heard no complaints from the Hispanic market about the spot," Orci says. "No one has come to us to say 'this is not who I am.'" She believes that companies interested in marketing to the Hispanic population would do well to take note of this. "It shows a solidarity in a very large and diverse population. Any kind of support in projecting this image would be a good marketing technique."
For more information, contact Norma Orci at La Agencia de Orci; 11620 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025; telephone (310) 444-7300 or visit http://www.laagencia.com. -Lisa Krakowka
No More Food, Thanks For the first time ever, in late 1997, more new non-food products than food items hit supermarket and drugstore shelves. The hot area for new products is Health and Beauty Care (HBC), which increased 9 percent from 1996 to 1997. "With the economy looking better than ever and disposable income at an all-time high, the feel-good HBC category saw yet another year of steady growth in 1997," according to Lynn Dornblaser, publisher of New Product News.
The HBC category represented 90 percent of non-food product introductions in 1997 and accounted for 36 percent of new products overall. Cosmetics were 38 percent of new product introductions, while vitamins/supplements were 27 percent and skin/suntan care comprised 18 percent of new HBC products.
"Unlike other categories-except, of course, baby food-many HBC products are usually age-specific," says Dornblaser. "And the ages that are specifically being targeted are children and older consumers." Among the innovative children's products to be launched in 1997 were shampoos, dental floss, and bubble bath. The quest for anti-aging products also helped to drive the category, with anti-wrinkle creams and hair products to cover the gray for both men and women.
A third category that received a lot of attention was the realm of antibacterial products such as body washes, hand sanitizers, lotions, and deodorants. The antibacterial craze covers a wide spectrum of ages, with a certain percentage of advertising dollars being devoted to producing a nation of germ-free children, thus tying the two trends together.
Vitamins and supplements such as ginko, St. John's wort, and herbal arthritis pain relievers also contributed to growth in HBC. These items, many of which are purported to enhance the well-being of an aging population, could continue to be popular as baby boomers feel challenged to prolong their good health and active lifestyles even as they reach their senior years.
Following the changes in the cosmetics subcategory requires the ability to assume that taste is as ephemeral and changeable as the weather. This category has traditionally relied on the capricious nature of teenage and twenty-something women, but in a new twist, one of the hottest sellers was a line of nail color for men. Put out by the ground-breaking Hard Candy Co. of Beverly Hills,California, the line included such colors as Testosterone, Gigolo, and Superman.
What comes after men's nail color? How about mascara for hair, aromatherapy body washes, and Gossip perfume? In an era of affordable indulgences, there's plenty of room for innovation. And the increased number of new products demonstrates that manufacturers (and consumers) are willing to try just about anything.
For more information, contact New Product News, The Merchandise Mart, Suite 936, Chicago, IL 60654; telephone (312) 464-8501, fax (312) 464-8550, or e-mail email@example.com. -Marcia Mogelonsky
Pool Parties It used to be that a woman who could play billiards was considered a bit of a rogue. She wasn't, after all, supposed to be hanging out in pool halls, let alone associating with the typical patrons of such establishments. That's all changed in recent years, though. In fact, according to a survey conducted by American Sports Data, Inc., the popularity of billiards is growing more rapidly than the population of the U.S.-even among women.
The survey shows that the number of billiards participants has increased nearly 20 percent since 1987. In 1997, 42.2 million Americans racked up the balls at least once. More than 9 million played more than 25 times a year, making billiards the fifth most popular sport in the country.
Part of the successful comeback of billiards can be attributed to publicity from the television and movie industries, but Mike May, director of communications for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), also credits the billiards industry itself. There has been a surge in effort to renovate the stereotypical "billiards halls" into upscale parlors that cater to a cosmopolitan crowd, according to the SGMA. "They looked at what was being done with health clubs and restaurants and took note of what was popular in decor and activities," says May. "People like well-lit, smoke-free atmospheres. It became clear that if billiards was going to survive, changes were needed to make the activity popular with the customers again."
May also points out that women were a big influence on the changing face of billiards centers. "Many of the changes that were made were designed to make billiards more enticing to women," he says. "Women are very influential when it comes to making decisions about couples' activities. If she doesn't want to stay at a billiards center because it's dark and smoky, they probably won't."
American Sports Data conducts an annual survey of 15,000 households each January. For more information, contact Mike May at SGMA, 200 Castlewood Drive, North Palm Beach, FL 33408-5696; telephone (561) 840-1165; fax (561) 863-8984. -Lisa Krakowka
Call Security Americans are dubious about buying services that deregulated telecommunications companies can now offer. Despite the fact that telephone companies have new opportunities in the gas, electric, cable, and home-security markets, Americans are reluctant to buy unrelated services from telephone suppliers, according to a recent survey by CDB Research & Consulting Inc. of New York City.
The study found only 35 percent of those surveyed were comfortable buying home-security services from telecommunications companies, and only 32 percent would consider cable services. Gas and electric services are an even tougher sell for telecommunications companies, as only 16 percent of respondents would consider such a purchase.
In general, men, the wealthy, and people with more education are the most receptive to the idea of purchasing unrelated services from a telephone carrier, especially gas and electric. Older people are less likely than younger consumers to make such a purchase.
"These figures are in stark contrast to what industry and financial analysts indicated," says Larry Chiagouris, managing director of CDB. "Sixty-eight percent of the analysts we spoke with predicted that telecommunications companies could compete with home-security companies, while fully 62 percent felt the companies could compete with cable services."
For more information about the November 1997 survey, contact CDB Research & Consulting Inc., 350 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014; telephone (212) 367-6866; Web site http://www.cdbresearch.com. -Shelly Reese
Global Family Values Family values have not fallen by the wayside, in the U.S. or anywhere else. Nearly half of teens and adults in a global study say that protecting the family is an extremely important guiding principle in their lives, and it outranks 56 other values.
The British top the charts, at 66 percent. But Americans are no slouches in the family protection department. Just over half (54 percent) say it's extremely important to them. Of the 35 countries surveyed, 22 rank family above everything else. Another 12 rank protecting the family in their top-five values.
Although Latin America is known as a family-oriented culture, protecting the family is slightly less crucial there than elsewhere. Not quite half of those in Latin countries surveyed (47 percent) say it's extremely important, falling behind 58 percent of Eastern Europeans and 49 percent of Western Europeans.
What could be more important than family? In Latin America as a whole and several individual countries, including the Netherlands, honesty is the top-ranking value. Half of Latin Americans say it's extremely important, as do 58 percent of the Dutch. Self-esteem ranks second in Latin America, followed by protecting the family. In the Netherlands, family ranks second.
Only Indonesians rank protecting the family as relatively unimportant-just 13 percent say it's really important. Although protecting family is less important in Indonesia, family relationships are nonetheless vital in this Muslim nation. Respecting ancestors and faith tie for first place there, cited as extremely important by 47 percent of people.
The 1997 Roper Reports Worldwide study interviewed about 1,000 people aged 13 to 65 in each of 35 countries, representing an estimated 1.4 billion consumers. It covered topics ranging from media and technology use to brand attitudes and purchase behavior. For more information, call (212) 599-0700 or visit http://www.roper.com. -Diane Crispell
More Than a Village It takes more than a village to raise a child-it takes a village with a bank account. A rural husband-and-wife family spends between $5,310 and $11,470 per year, depending on income bracket, to raise a child from birth to age 2, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Children of urban parents are even more expensive to raise, except in the Midwest, where the annual cost of raising a child from birth to age 2 ranges from $5,270 to $11,350. Families who live in the urban West have the highest expenditures, ranging from $6,420 for the lowest-income families to $12,450 for families in the highest income brackets. Those in the urban Northeast spend between $6,100 and $12,010 annually for these youngest children.
The report analyzed a number of categories with some surprising results. Rural households spend consistently more on transportation than their urban counterparts, regardless of income bracket. The lowest-earning rural households spend $830 annually on transportation for their youngest children, compared with $610 in the urban Northeast. That region of the country, however, spends consistently more on food than households in other urban or rural areas. While rural families spend between $770 and $1,240 on food, urban Northeasterners spend from $930 to $1,380 on food for children aged 2 and under, depending on their income bracket.
Clothing spending for children aged 2 and younger is higher in the urban South and Northeast than in other areas. While higher spending on infants' clothing in the Northeast, where harsh winters necessitate the purchase of heavy outerwear, is not surprising, reasons for higher clothing expenditures in the urban South are not as clear.
The urban South also has higher costs for child care, ranging from $780 to $1,890 annually. Child-care expenses are lowest in the urban Northeast, where the lowest-income households pay an average of $560 annually and the most-wealthy households pay $1,480. In rural areas, by contrast, child care ranges from $700 to $1,760.
For more information, see Expenditures on Children by Families, 1997 Annual Report (Miscellaneous Publication Number 1528-1997) from the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 1120 20th Street, NW, Suite 200, North Lobby, Washington, DC 20036. -Marcia Mogelonsky
Religious Spirit The stereotypical materialistic Americans may be a myth. Weekly church attendance is higher in the United States than in most other developed nations, according to the World Values Survey conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
Fully 44 percent of Americans attend church once a week, excluding funerals and christenings, compared with 27 percent of Britons, 21 percent of the French, 4 percent of Swedes, and 3 percent of Japanese. Not only do they go to church, but 53 percent of Americans say religion is very important in their lives, compared with just 16 percent of the British, 14 percent of the French, and 13 percent of Germans.
Ironically, American interest in religion runs counter to the trend seen in most developed countries, according to Ronald Inglehart, a researcher at the institute. "In general, the importance of religion has been declining in the developed world," he says, "while religion remains strong in countries experiencing economic stagnation and political uncertainty."
The series of global surveys, first conducted in 1981 and most recently between 1995 and 1997, questions representative national samples of adults in 60 countries. For more information, contact Diane Swanbrow at the University of Michigan, 412 Maynard, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1399; telephone (313) 647-4416. -Shelly Reese
Home for the Holidays While Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday of the year, more people travel to visit friends or relatives at Christmas, according to the American Travel Survey published by the U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Almost three-quarters of trips taken at Christmas are to visit families, compared with 65 percent of Thanksgiving trips and 59 percent of New Year's trips.
If not visiting relatives, most people spend their New Year's vacation skiing or sunning. Only 15 percent of people use their Christmas vacation for leisure, while 20 percent spend Thanksgiving in pursuit of leisure.
The busiest travel day in the U.S. is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, with 13.7 million long-distance trips. The day after Christmas is the second-most-traveled day (12 million trips). While Christmas and Thanksgiving record about the same amount of travel, Thanksgiving travel is concentrated in fewer days. During the five days surrounding Thanksgiving, an average of 10.8 million trips are taken daily-nearly double the average number of daily trips for the whole year. Some people take the whole week between Christmas and New Year's for vacations or family time and some take even longer to tie in with school holidays.
More than three-fourths (78 percent) of holiday travelers stay at friends' or relatives' homes for the Christmas holiday, as do 72 percent of Thanksgiving travelers and 64 percent of New Year's travelers. Fewer than 1 in 5 stay in motels, hotels, or other paid accommodations. During the rest of the year, only 46 percent of travelers stay with their families or friends, while 43 percent pay for their sleeping quarters.
For more information, see the American Travel Survey from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 7th Street, SW, Suite 3430, Washington, DC 20590; telephone (202) 366-3282 or visit http://www.bts.gov/programs/ats. -Marcia Mogelonsky
Holiday Dining (Out) Those restaurants that have waitstaff singing "Happy Birthday" certainly know what they're doing. Consumers are most likely to eat out to celebrate their birthday than any other special occasion, according to a 1997 survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association. And it's not just their own birthday that leads them to a restaurant celebration. While 55 percent of consumers eat out on their own birthdays, 51 percent do so to celebrate a spouse's birthday and 26 percent to celebrate their children's birthdays.
Mother's Day is the second-most-popular eating-out occasion after birthdays-30 percent of consumers honor mom by giving her a meal out. But fathers do not receive the same treatment as frequently. Only 17 percent of those surveyed celebrate Father's Day in a restaurant.
The other big restaurant-dining holidays are Valentine's Day (21 percent), Easter (14 percent), and New Year's Eve (12 percent). Thanksgiving and Christmas, traditional family-at-home holidays, are seeing more restaurant business, especially from certain demographic segments. Childless singles, people in smaller households, and seniors are more likely to eat out at Thanksgiving than any other segment. While 8 percent of people eat out at Thanksgiving overall, about one in six people aged 65 and older do so. With families living so far apart, and with married children whose holiday loyalty is divided between two sets of parents, more seniors are finding that they may be spending the Thanksgiving holiday alone. Restaurants that provide a haven for this type of holiday diner will undoubtedly see an increase in customers in the years ahead.
The profile of the Christmas Day restaurant guest is similar to that of the Thanksgiving customer: childless households, seniors, and singles. While 6 percent of those surveyed ate out at Christmas, 9 percent of people aged 65 and older did so.
Some restaurants may want to take a more active approach to traditional at-home holidays. By presenting Christmas and Thanksgiving as opportunities for families to concentrate on each other, and not on cooking, it may be possible to convince more households to go out for the hoildays.
For more information, see Holiday Dining, February 1997 from the National Restaurant Association, 1200 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; telephone (202) 331-5900. -Marcia Mogelonsky
Zoning In http://www.epinet.org/datazone/ In 1947, the median family income in 1996 dollars was $19,651, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Data Zone Web site, utilizing Census Bureau data. By 1996, that figure had increased to $42,300. If then-and-now income and employment information is handy in your line of work, you may want to bookmark the EPI site.
The site is an extremely accessible way to get a perspective on trends in work and compensation, plus tables may be downloaded in spreadsheet form so users can manipulate the data themselves. Visitors who just want to get a refresher on where things stand without plunging into the deep end of the data pool can look at the "Data Card" page.
To make using the site even easier, EPI has placed a glossary of terms on the site, so those of us who get a little fuzzy on the difference between the CPI-U and the CPI-U-X1 can keep our wits about us. Visitors to the site may also want to make a side trip to the parent EPI site. An interesting section, called "Reading Between the Lines," contains weekly editions of corrections, clarifications, and amplifications to economics coverage in the New York Times and Washington Post. Considering the nearly infinite ways to interpret economic data, this could prove useful in keeping a balanced view of what's happening with American money.
How Old Is Old? It's vital to avoid irritating people by using terms they deem offensive. In the case of Americans of a certain age, some prefer senior, while others prefer mature, golden, or nothing at all. It's also important to know whether or not people feel they belong to a particular age group. It's generally understood that people's definition of old age rises as they themselves get older. But exactly how old is that?
Almost one in three 18-to-29-year-olds say people attain old age before their 65th birthday, compared with 7 percent of those aged 60 and older who think people get oldbefore they turn 65. For those under age 30, "old" comes about ten years sooner than for those closer to it, at an average age of 67 years versus nearly 77 years for those aged 60-plus.
Women give people the benefit of a few extra years before they consider them truly old. Women aged 18 to 49 think of as "old" is 71.5 years; for men, it's 69 years.
Seventeen percent of adults refuse to pin down old age. They say it varies too much from individual to individual. Westerners are a little more likely to offer this response, 21 percent, as are Democrats, African Americans, and those aged 60 and older, at 20 percent each. An additional 4 percent of adults flat out say they don't know how old is "old." This share peaks at 7 percent for those aged 60 and older.
Although baby boomers have entered late middle age in the past decade or so, they have not yet raised the bar on old age nationwide. The average age American adults consider "old" is 72 years, unchanged from 1982. This is likely to move up as boomers enter their 60s.
Summertime "It's summertime and the living is easy. Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high" is the way the Gershwins described the season in the classic song, "Summertime." Most Americans say they weren't far from the truth. Fifty-nine percent say those lyrics are what their summers are all about, while 20 percent say they're too busy mowing the high grass to mess with the fish. But 21 percent say, "What grass? What fish? I'm surrounded by asphalt."
And though another popular song may say "Roll out those hazy, lazy days of summer," most Americans are hardly putting up their feet and letting July and August slip by. Some 47 percent say that because the days are longer they get more done. That's considerably more than the 19 percent who admit that their whole pace slows and they get less done. Some 34 percent of respondents say their productivity is not swayed by the season.
For 42 percent of respondents, summer makes them feel more romantic: it splashes cold water on the ardor of only 5 percent. More than half (53 percent) say their romantic inclinations aren't influenced by the season.
Alas, for more than half of respondents (54 percent), summers now are no longer as wonderful as they were when they were children. Some 31 percent have been able to hold onto the magic, while for 15 percent of blessed souls, summer is even more pleasurable than in days gone by.
This article is based on a survey of 371 online users conducted by the New York City research firm CyberDialogue in April 1998.
Base Instincts In a series of articles that appeared early this spring in the Washington Post, readers were given advice on how to avoid becoming entrapped in a marketing database. To those who complained loudly about dinner-hour solicitations and direct-mail advertising, eight defenses were recommended. While these approaches (listed on the left) might be mildly successful, they are no match for the surefire techniques from the Demogaffes Database Escape and Evasion Handbook listed on the right.
Fresh-Baked Bread For many retailers, the best thing since sliced bread is fresh-baked bread. Almost 90 percent of supermarkets boasted in-store bakeries in 1998, and 28 percent of consumers shop the in-store bakery at least once a week, according to the Food Marketing Institute. The chance to buy freshly made breads, bagels, and other baked goods has made the in-store bakery a $9.6 million department, according to Progressive Grocer magazine's 1997 sales manual.
New families, those with children under age 6, spend 24 percent less than expected on fresh-baked goods, according to ACNielsen. Those with children aged 6 to 17 spend 27 percent less than expected, and families with teenaged children spend 12 percent less than expected. These families probably prefer the convenience of sliced bread for school lunches and kids' meals.
Empty nesters-child-free couples aged 55 and older-are the most likely customers for an in-store bakery. These households spend 53 percent more than expected. Affluent empty nesters are even more likely to shop at in-store bakeries; they spend 76 percent more than expected. Their single counterparts spend 12 percent more than expected.
One of the reasons the fresh bakery department appeals to older consumers has to do with portion control. For empty nesters and single older shoppers, one of the biggest issues is being able to purchase single (or double) portions of products, instead of the giant economy sizes that have so much appeal for families. An in-store bakery allows these shoppers to buy one or two freshly baked rolls or muffins. Some stores even sell half-loaves of bread, making it easier for smaller households to stock and consume only as much as is needed. This kind of convenience does not yet exist in mass-produced bakery items-the products sold in the grocery department. Until it does, as the baby-boom segment ages, the in-store bakery should continue to enjoy strong growth.