Over the past decade, Cyber Monday has become almost as big a tradition among American consumers as turkey for Thanksgiving. Every year, sales figures for the day have broken records… jumping from $608 million in 2006 to a whopping $1.5 billion last year… and 2013's numbers are expected to do the same.
Interestingly, though, just as we prepare to mark online retail’s biggest day, there are signs that brick-and-mortar retail may not be as doomed as some predict:
This past weekend, we visited the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore to get a firsthand look at the latest foods, beverages and supplements in the natural foods arena. We were particularly struck by the range of subcultures that have popped up in this category – from the gluten-free crowd to casual snackers, hipster vegans to paleo dieters, artisan purists to consumers who just need a quick pre-made dinner, it's more clear than ever that there is no "typical" natural products consumer.
Even if you only casually follow food trends, you've likely noticed that we're currently in a boom of chain-restaurant "stunt" foods – started, arguably, by the bunless KFC Double Down a few years ago and best represented by the massively successful Doritos Locos Taco. The October issue of Wired magazine took a close look at the phenomenon and the enormous amount of research and development (not to mention social media analysis) that goes into each of these items.
Lately we've been hearing a lot about the craft soda trend. Brands like Izze and GuS have been giving consumers premium soda options for a while now, but in the last year or so, a new wave of hyperlocal artisanal makers has emerged on the scene. We currently have our eye on Genki-Su, a Portland-based brand that's still just $1000 short of their Kickstarter goal. Their sodas come in Japanese flavors like Yuzu and Shiso mint, and all feature an extra hit of tartness from Okinawan coconut vinegar.
In a world in which food trends are moving from the leading edge to the mainstream faster than ever before, it can pay for big brands to work with the little guy. Venerable New York landmark Murray's Cheese has had a successful partnership with Kroger supermarkets for several years now, and booming hamburger chain Shake Shack has just announced that they'll be using Dominique Ansel's cronuts for a new cronut "concrete."
Readers of a certain age will likely remember the 1973 film Soylent Green, in which the inhabitants of a polluted, overcrowded world subsist on a mysterious food known only as Soylent Green. And even if you haven't seen the movie, you likely know how that turned out.
Google has a longstanding tradition of naming each new iteration of its Android operating system after a dessert. We've seen Jellybean, Cupcake and even Froyo over the years – but the software giant is shaking it up a bit with the new Android 4.4, codenamed.... KitKat!
In the last decade, we've seen the Community Supported Agriculture concept move from the hippie fringe to the urban mainstream. CSAs have become synonymous with DIY culture, the farm-to-table movement, and the urban hipster.
Project 7 is an attempt to use the force of consumerism to affect positive change in the world. The brainchild of entrepreneur, Tyler Merrick, Project 7 is built on the idea that if people are going to buy things… and they are… there should be a way that at least part of the price could be diverted to making life better for people around the globe.