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Thought Leadership
Cross-industry insights for a deeper perspective

Food for Thought – Outlook for the Food and Beverage Industry

Another interesting year for the U.S. food and beverage industry is drawing to a close. Restaurants continue to struggle with flat-to-declining traffic, and retailers face stalled growth. E-commerce, however, continues to be a bright spot, and meal delivery kits are cozying up with retailers and moving away from a complete subscription model.

2019 Automotive Aftermarket Outlook Highlights

At AAPEX 2018, Nathan Shipley revealed how sales in 2018 are measuring up to expectations, insights into consumer attitudes that will shape the coming year, and his outlook on sales for 2019 and beyond.

8 Expectations for Holiday 2018

We asked our top industry advisors to weigh in on how they see Holiday 2018 shaping up for their respective industries. Drawing upon Holiday 2017 trends, the retail environment during the first three quarters of 2018, and our 2018 Holiday Purchase Intentions survey, the advisors shared what to expect this holiday season, both in stores and online.

E-commerce Trends You Can’t Ignore

The emergence of the endless aisle has created stiff competition for brands and retailers trying to win online. Uncover the latest e-commerce trends across fashion, home, and technology. Read on to see how successful brands and retailers are winning by leveraging digital content to engage with consumers.

Solve the Dinner Dilemma

Consumers are strapped for time — they’re looking for shortcuts in their dinner meal planning, shopping, and preparation. See how grocery stores can play a pivotal role in all three of these areas.

3 Ways Food Companies Can Get Their Business Cooking

Technology's evolution and the rise of e-commerce are spurring change in how meals are sourced, prepared, and consumed both in home and away. Learn three new ways to get your business growing.

5 Things Smart Industries Are Doing to Engage Consumers

In this paper, released at Summer Outdoor Retailer, NPD's Industry Advisor Matt Powell looks to growing industries' strategies to fuel the outdoor sports market.

Food for Thought – Health Has Gone Tribal – Here’s What To Expect

Health has a continuously moving focus point. In the past, health was equated with avoiding substances like fats and carbs, and this was generally considered something that worked for anyone who tried it. However, in today’s world of social media and blogging, consumers are seeking their echo chambers of health the same way they use them for lifestyles and politics.

Five Themes Defining Footwear and Beyond

U.S. footwear sales improved during the first half of 2018. With many brands and retailers in transition, market share is up for grabs. Here’s a look at what’s driving the turnaround and the trends leading growth.

3 Ways Back-to-School Shopping is Changing

Ordering everyday goods online and having them delivered to the doorstep has become the norm in many American households. E-commerce sales growth shows how this new normal is playing out, but how will convenience-based purchasing methods affect back-to-school shopping for traditional supplies?

Foodservice Perspectives: Change, Innovation, and Progress

The buzzword these days is disruption. What was initially used as a term to define “technologically straightforward” services and products that target the bottom end of an established market and then move their way up to overtake the market leaders — think Uber — is now a catchall to describe any change or innovation. A disruption isa disturbance or problem that interrupts an event – not always a good thing. Change, innovation, and progress — although unsettling at first — are often good things. 

3 Ways to Foster a Seamless Consumer Experience in the Future

In the future, brands and retailers will adapt to increased consumer demand for more seamless experiences. See how this will impact every aspect of their lives—from the kitchen to the gym.

Sustainability in Fashion

As fashion brands look to innovate, sustainability is becoming an important initiative in the apparel industry. Find out how much consumers care about social responsibility, and which are willing to spend more on sustainable apparel with these high-level insights.

5 Fashion Trends Worth Watching

The U.S. fashion industry is rapidly changing. At the same time, a flurry of factors – including shifts in consumer shopping behavior, retail closures, new celebrity influencers, and today’s macro trends – are having an impact on consumer spending. Here’s a look at 5 fashion trends we’re watching right now.

IDEA 2018 Executive Summary

Our recent executive summit IDEA 2018: Under Fire | On Fire brought together 300 leaders representing the C-suites of more than a dozen industries. Get a high-level view of how brands and retailers are growing the bottom line, and other compelling insights explored at IDEA.

The Future of Apparel

From to Direct-to-Consumer to private label, new platforms and retail outlets are disrupting the way consumers shop for apparel. What predictions do industry advisors Marshal Cohen and Matt Powell have for the industry moving forward?

Food for Thought – Under Fire, On Fire Also True In Food and Beverage

In May, we held our IDEA 2018 thought leadership summit, where the theme was Under Fire | On Fire. The event highlighted struggles in the retail sector, and also acknowledged brands that are having great success during these transformative times. Themes like rekindling growth, using technology to turn up the heat, and innovating to ignite business resonated with participants from a wide range of industries, including food and beverage.

10 Trends You Should Know About Kids’ Licensed Products

Licensed products make up one quarter of U.S. unit sales for children ages 14 and under, across 17 industries. From backpacks to coloring books, to t-shirts and games, kids love the company of Harry Potter and Doctor Seuss characters alike. What industries, categories, and products are doing well across licensing, and how can licensed products fuel your business?

An Introduction to Blockchain, and What it Means for Retail’s Future

What is blockchain in layman’s terms, and how is it different from bitcoin? Learn about  the industries this new technology is reaching, and how it could alter retail—with added insight from our industry experts.

Value Wars 2.0: The Value Menu Revisited

In December 2017, McDonald’s announced it would renew its focus on value through a new value menu that would launch in January 2018. For McDonald’s, the primary business objective was to bring back customers lost over the past few years when the chain moved away from promoting its Value Menu and began promoting other parts of its menu. Other QSR chains, like Taco Bell and Jack-in-the Box, introduced value offerings of their own to compete directly with that of McDonald’s.

Food for Thought – Are Americans Rediscovering Their Sweet Tooth?

The low-carb diets of the early 2000s demonized sugars in U.S. consumers’ minds, leading them to change their behaviors. Categories with higher levels of sugar, like confections, saw persistent consumption declines. More recently, a change seems to be happening.

Private Label Revolution: The Second Wave

Presented at Shoptalk 2018 and written by NPD’s Chief Industry Advisor, Marshal Cohen, this paper explores how private label has evolved in the U.S., why it’s hot again (and why now), the industries and categories it’s affecting, where it’s headed, and what you need to do about it, whether you’re a manufacturer or retailer.

8 Retail Trends Through a Millennial Lens

NPD’s Chief Industry Advisor, Retail, Marshal Cohen, recently came up with eight ways Millennial consumers differ from older consumers, when it comes to the kinds of products they buy (and why).

Food for Thought – E-commerce Will Require Solutions Over Products

Convenience is a key driver of ecommerce growth in food and beverage, which means marketers must reimagine their products as solutions. The world is becoming more focused on the experience of using products, rather than focusing on owning products.

Categories Shifting Online

More grocery, apparel, prestige beauty, and toy sales are shifting to e-commerce, with new offerings and delivery options. Find out how online sales are growing, and why now.

10 Retail Predictions for 2018

2018 will be another challenging year for retail. What  trends will captivate consumers? How will the online/in-store shopping  dichotomy play out? 

Food for Thought – What Sets Gen Z Apart When It Comes to Food Preparation and Consumption

Much of the talk in marketing these days focuses on connecting with Millennials and Boomers, as both groups are acting differently from their predecessors and are in dramatically shifting life stages. While this is a sound approach, it’s important to continue focusing on the future and prepare for the up-and-coming Generation Z. 

12 Shopping Predictions for Holiday 2017

Get expectations and recommendations for how consumers will shop this holiday season from NPD’s industry analysts across retail, accessories, apparel, beauty, footwear, home, technology, toys, sports, and video games.

Food for Thought – Consumers Have Varying Levels of Appliances and Desires To Use Them

Each generation brings slight changes to the way we approach food and preparation, and that’s no different from what we see with Millennials. We know already that this generation is consuming fresh foods at higher rates than previous generations did at the same life stage. The food items Millennial families keep on hand, as well as the tools they have in their kitchens, reflects this shift toward freshness.

Guide to Gen Z: Debunking the Myths of Our Youngest Generation

Over the past few years, public interest has shifted from Millennials to the younger kids on the block: Generation Z. Also referred to as "post-Millennials," "the iGeneration," and the "Homeland generation,” they’re most commonly known as—simply—“Gen Z”.

9 Ways Back-to-School Shopping Is Changing

With one month left to go before school’s return (in much of the country), back-to-school shopping is already well under way. Our industry analysts across fashion, office supplies, consumer electronics, B2B technology, home, and toys have been following the 2016 and 2017 season trends closely. See how the retail holiday has evolved and what brands and retailers need to know to weather the storm.

Back to Basics: An Ode to Yesteryear and the Products People Are Buying Again

Things come back into style eventually. Across the fields of music, fashion, television, and design, our society nods to decades past with the resurgence of old trends. Many describe this fashion cycle as one that follows a “40-year-rule”, where nostalgia primarily occurs for an era 40 years prior. Some acknowledge a shorter 20-year cycle, and others say waves of nostalgia don’t occur on a fixed schedule.

Cash Is Still King … Sort of

The payments world may be moving inexorably toward digital, but there’s still a place for cold, hard cash.

Owning an Amazon Echo Dramatically Changes How You Shop

Much of Amazon’s marketing efforts during this year’s Prime Day will focus on convincing consumers to buy one of its Echo products.

Whole Foods, Amazon and the “Last Mile” in Grocery Delivery

It will be a long time before the dust settles from the announcement this morning that Amazon will buy Whole Foods.

Age Isn’t Just a Number at Retail

You’ve heard it said of some young folks that they “have an old soul.” You’ve also heard some older folks described as “young at heart.” But sayings like those refer to exceptions. In general, old folks act like old folks; while young people act like young people. That’s particularly true at retail, according to the Checkout Penetration Index.

What Receipts Data Says About Coach’s Purchase of Kate Spade

The news that Coach Inc. is buying Kate Spade & Co. for some $2.4 billion --  a substantial 27.5 percent premium over Friday’s closing share price -- had us wondering what could justify such a price.

Prime Days and Mini-Seasons: Looking Differently at Back-to-School Shopping

There’s no longer a back-to-school shopping “season.” Rather, there is a series of mini-seasons with distinct timelines that attract different types of buyers and involve varying types of products.

Under the Covers at Bed, Bath and Beyond

Investors in Bed, Bath and Beyond have been tossing and turning in bed of late, as the retailer issued a number of less-than-stellar earnings statements.

Rue the Day

Rue21 has filed for bankruptcy. That doesn’t come as a surprise. The teen retailer’s woes have been well-documented. And just last month, the apparel chain said it would close 400 of its stores.

Staying In Is the New Going Out: The Hygge Trend’s Impact on American Retail

Let’s face it—the world can be a pretty scary place. Throughout history, people have turned to different forms of escapism to recharge and refuel from their increasingly high-stress lifestyles.

Penetrating Insights of the Penetration Index

How big is Wal-Mart? How pervasive is McDonald’s? Dollar Tree? Dunkin’ Donuts? In the intense and lucrative battle for consumers’ attention and dollars, which retailers and restaurants have become fully woven into American life?

MM.LaFleur Dresses for Success

In the world of retail, particularly in that subset of E-commerce stores that are expanding into brick and mortar, no company is getting as much attention as MM.LaFleur.

Retail Reborn: How the Aspirational Purchase Has Shifted

Key Considerations for Retailers and Brands for the Future of Commerce

The Retail Evolution

The death of retail as we now know it is greatly exaggerated. Retail isn’t dying, it’s evolving and doing so out of necessity. The current retail evolution is being driven by a confluence of change. Changing consumer attitudes, behaviors, and demographics; ongoing channel and digital disruptions; and increasing competition for consumer mindshare and dollars are forcing a shift in long-held paradigms – continuing the status quo is no longer an option.

10 Ways to Win Over Consumers in 2017

As we approach the end of the first quarter, our industry analysts are studying our retail sales data, identifying industry trends, and looking ahead toward what key technologies, categories, and products might change the direction of retail this year.

How Do We Calculate “Velocity”, and How Can It Help You?

A Complete Guide to Using the Velocity Metric to Sell High-Performing Products

Marrying Macy’s

In mergers, as in marriage, it’s a good idea to have a few things in common.

From Board Games to Toothbrushes, Five Holiday Hits You’d Never Expect

What was hot during Holiday 2016? It’s a question brands and retailers all want to answer as they reflect on the holiday’s successes and misses in preparation for Holiday 2017.

What Makes a Millennial Spend Big?

Money isn’t easy to come by. Especially when you’re young. 

Why Buy a Dress or Company When you Can Rent or Partner

You’d be hard-pressed to name two retailers with brand identities as different as those of Neiman Marcus and Rent the Runway.

Don’t Rain on Macy’s Parade Just Yet

As the media and Wall Street parse the news that Macy’s may shed more than 10,000 jobs in the wake of poor earnings, we decided to see what the data says about Macy’s prospects.

Holiday Shopping Sprees Are Just Getting Started

Hold your horses. Early forecasts surrounding holiday spending this year may have come too soon, our partner CivicScience has found. People who expect to spend more money this holiday season has increased. In October, only 16 percent of adults said they would spend more this holiday season over last. As of this month, that number has climbed to 21 percent. There are a few possible reasons for this.

How Far Along Are Shoppers in Their Holiday Shopping?

With less than one week to go before Christmas, Americans are on the home stretch with their holiday shopping. Our partner, CivicScience, has been busy polling U.S. adult consumers on their holiday shopping progress since early October—because it’s never too early to get in the holiday spirit.

Holiday Shopping Trends: 2016 Recap (Infographic)

Our partner CivicScience has been tracking a variety of consumers’ holiday shopping habits this season – everything from Black Friday shopping plans to the gifts people would most like to receive. Take a look at their Holiday Shopping 2016 Recap Infographic to help jump-start your 2017 planning.

Skip the Stress: Our Short and Sweet Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

Buying gifts for friends and family can be daunting, no matter how well you know them. Luckily, our partner CivicScience is here to give you some data-driven information that might help put you at ease, so you can focus on the important things (food and family, of course). In this short post uncover what your friends and family prefer to give as gifts, what your friends and family prefer to receive as gifts, and which gifts are most often returned or exchanged.

Shoppers Don’t Like Anything About Holiday Shopping

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or so the Muzak piped into the mall speaker system declares as holiday shoppers scramble to complete gift lists on time and under budget. The holiday season fills some of us with stress, while others actually enjoy the season. What gets the holiday shopper excited about the gift-buying season, and how can stores improve the experience?

Top 6 Home Entertaining Trends of Holiday 2016

An essential part of the holidays is gathering with your people to celebrate family, friends, and the milestones of the calendar year. For many Americans, this means decking the halls fantastic, making a mountain of food, and buying anything and everything to make the entertaining process easier—and more fun. We combed our POS and consumer databases to discover what people buy to entertain throughout the holiday season. Find out what’s hot during Holiday 2016 across the home and food sectors.

How Early is too Early for Christmas in Retail?

Is it some circadian rhythm, or do Christmas lovers set their clocks to November 1 at Midnight to start playing “All I Want for Christmas is You” and installing twinkle lights? Holiday fans and retailers alike have begun putting up Christmas displays right after Halloween.

Are There Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen for Williams Sonoma?

Wall Street has not been kind to Williams-Sonoma. A year ago, shares in the kitchenware and home furnishings retailer traded above $75. Today the stock price hovers below $47.

Subscription Retail: Subscribing to Experiences (via Products)

These days you can buy just about anything, for just about anyone, via online subscription services. Are you a cat lady? Cat Lady Box has just what you love. Geeks and gamers—just sign up with Loot Crate. Need to entertain kids? Sign them up for Tinker Crate lab experiment kits or get them to create with Kiwi Crate.

The Significance of Buying a New Kitchen Range

There’s a range, as it were, of meaning to be found when looking at receipts that include major domestic appliances.

The Demographic Challenge for Lands’ End

Controversial CEO Federica Marchionni has departed from Lands’ End after just 19 months at the helm of the apparel retailer.

How We Predicted Sales for the Under Armour Curry 2 Low Basketball Shoe

Want to make products people love? You need to distinguish winners from losers, move fast to keep ahead of trends, and maybe even plan for a hot category’s decline.

Who won when Chipotle stumbled?

Tuesday was National Taco Day. We trust you celebrated in appropriate fashion.  One place you may have visited in honor of the day is Chipotle.  Or perhaps not.

Athletes’ Feet (And What They Wear on Them)

Today marks the start of the track and field events at the Olympics in Rio. And that has the Checkout team particularly excited.

What Is Victoria’s Secret? Young and Loyal Customers

In the retail and apparel worlds, there is one ultimate goal, one simple yet extraordinary metric that speaks of success like no other: having loyal customers who shop more frequently, and spend more money, than do other consumers.

Foodservice Brief: Full Service – Your “Sweet Spot” Has Eroded

“What’s for dinner?” is a decision consumers grapple with daily. With so many options, it’s a constant question – make, or buy? Are they in the mood to check out that new neighborhood taco joint, or

The Future of Social Commerce: How “Buy Buttons” Are Disrupting the Retail World

When discovering a product of interest on social media these days, who has time to open a new browser window, navigate to a brand’s website, and complete a new search for the product? By 2016 standards, that’s way too many steps.

What drives TJX earnings?

Once again TJX has posted earnings that are the envy of the retail sector.

Old brands win young adults

Millennials, as you’ve no doubt heard, have a deep interest in personal branding. They want the things they buy to be unique to them.

Walmart goes shopping

Reports yesterday that Wal-Mart is in talks to acquire online retailer Jet.com had the entire retail universe talking.

Games and sneakers

When you have considerable expertise with mobile-games data, as the Checkout team does, you’ll find myriad insights hidden in the numbers.

Tech Talks

This time, our Market Intelligence team focuses on Bluetooth headsets. Where is consumers’ affinity strong? Where are your most promising opportunities?

Even the Affluent Adore Dollar Stores, Finds Checkout Tracking

Amid the disappointing U.S. earnings news in Q2, one segment of the retail industry has reason to celebrate: dollar stores. Both Dollar Tree Inc. (which owns the Dollar Tree and Family Dollar chains) and Dollar General Corp. beat analysts’ expectations, and shares in both companies rose dramatically as a result.

Generation, Life Stage, or Both: What’s Behind the Shifts?

The behaviors of the Millennial generation have been highly analyzed and studied, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear this group consumes many fresh foods and beverages and makes healthy snack food choices. The unanswered question until now has been whether these behaviors are attributable to life stage or if they are generational shifts that will carry through the rest of their lives.

Do These Pants Make Me Look Vegan?

Wellness. The term is so ubiquitous nowadays that we rarely stop to think about it outside of the context of juicing, yoga, and expensive sweatpants. What does it actually mean to be well, and what does it mean to live a healthy lifestyle?  How are consumers adopting a healthy lifestyle? What are they buying to make themselves feel and look better? Read on for shopping trends in food, home, fitness, tech, fashion, beauty, and other industries. Discover what the wellness craze means for you as a manufacturer or retailer.

An Eye on Boomers’ Fuel Consumption

While Millennials have been on retailers’ radar as a prime demographic group to target, the Baby Boomer age cohort should not be ignored. Baby Boomers are the generation with the greatest buying power in the history of the U.S.; they account for a dramatic 40 percent of total consumer demand.

Planners Are About the Future, Not the Past

I’ve been using a Franklin Planner for more than 25 years. Much of my adult life is recorded in the paper pages of that calendar system, which is designed to push users to organize their time by focusing on their personal values.

By Nudge or by Shove: Toward the Survey of the Future

By George Terhanian, Group President and Chief Research & Analytics Officer, The NPD Group

Winning Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers With the Five Ws

Every journalist and student in America knows the so-called five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. It turns out the same five Ws are also the most basic forms of consumer segmentation.

What opportunity does JCPenney see in appliances?

The news this week that JCPenney is adding 100 appliance showrooms to its stores raised some eyebrows in the retail industry.

Exploring Cross-Generational Buying Behavior at a Time of Complex Change in the Retail Landscape

A Joint Report by The NPD Group and the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School

2015 Holiday Wrap-Up

If you’re anything like us here at NPD, the holiday season is a pretty big deal. Heck, we start getting in the holiday spirit come September. We relish the outpouring of shopping status updates November through December. Even now that the garlands are down and retired fir trees line the streets, we’re still talking about the retail holiday. That’s because we like to start out the New Year with a moment of reflection: a look back on full 2015 holiday shopping data and a play-by-play of the season’s highlights and lowlights, using the lessons learned to plan for an even better and brighter 2016.

8 Ways Consumers Holiday Shop Differently Across the U.S.

When it comes to how people feel and behave around the holiday retail season, it is by no means the same throughout the U.S. So when you divide the country into regions, some pretty cool trends emerge. Our partner, CivicScience, has been regularly polling more than 12,000 Americans online from September through December, asking them all types of questions, from what they hate about holiday shopping, to what they love, to the food they’re buying for holiday meals, and how far along they are in their holiday shopping.

Food For Thought – Food and Beverage Habits To Expect In 2016

What we eat and drink each year might not change as quickly as the mobile phones we carry in our pockets, but food and beverage marketers should not take this as a license to rest on their laurels. Change has been brewing for decades.

10 Unexpected Things we Learned in 2015

Every year at this time we start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Our goal -- which mixes ambition and realism -- is to choose resolutions that are both worth doing and actually possible. In 2015, we chose wisely.

4 Reasons to Feel Good About the Holiday Shopping Season

We recently explored what people hate most about holiday shopping in stores, detailing consumer grumbles about the holiday shopping season. Because we also like to see the glass as half full, we were just as curious to see what people love about the retail holiday.

Food For Thought – Consumers Still Evolving Their Consumption Behaviors

Health plays a major role in influencing what we choose to eat, including at snacking occasions, but depending on the time of day, health can have little to do with the foods and beverages we consume. With snacking being all the rage in the food industry, it’s important to know why and when consumers are reaching for your products.

Understanding Omnichannel Shoppers Through Receipt Mining

Back in the day -- and we mean the mythical, halcyon days of small-town America -- shopkeepers were among the core, central figures in a community. Their prestige came from their well-recognized knowledge of the truths surrounding any given family.

What Wins a Consumer’s Loyalty?

CivicScience, a research partner of The NPD Group, asked more than 30,000 U.S. consumers what made them loyal to a particular brand. The top answer, as you can see in the graph below, is “quality.”

Segment and Sell to Gen Y: 10 Ways Younger and Older Millennials Shop Differently

The retail world is obsessed with Millennials.

The Top 5 Things People Hate Most About Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping is full of highs and lows. One moment, you feel a surge of victory as you come across the perfect gift for your dad, seemingly undiscovered and marked down 20 percent, just as the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy sounds throughout a snowflake-adorned hall.  

Amazon Prime Reaches One of Every Four American Households

Roughly a quarter of American households now have access to an Amazon Prime account, shown by new research from The NPD Group and CivicScience. This suggests the online retailer’s premium service has altered how consumers shop – just a decade after its launch.

Food for Thought – Consumer Economics – Impact On Food and Foodservice Industries

It might seem consumption patterns are extremely stable since there are relatively few changes from one year to the next, but rest assured there is movement – and it’s best to be prepared for it.

Doing Good and Doing Well

Winning customers’ dollars by winning customers’ hearts. Looking at the advantages of corporate social responsibility

Retail Data 101: How Much Impact Does Change In Your Market Share Have On Your Business?

This is the first in a series that breaks down retail data measures for the math-averse. Whether you’re just getting started, or if this isn’t your typical area of focus—this is for you.

Moms Rule Retail

The differences between the generations’ moms are bigger, and more important, than you might expect

Toying With Gender-Neutral Labels

In mid-August Target made headlines after announcing a phase-out of gender-based signage in certain children’s sections of its store.

The cost of not knowing the right price

A rose by any other word would smell as sweet. Shakespeare taught us that. But does the same hold true for price?

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