Eating and Cleaning with One Hand Tied Behind the Back

Discussion
Jun 07, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


More consumers than ever are eating while they drive, walk and engage in various other forms of transport. Not surprisingly, that also means there are more cups of spilled beverages,
leaky sandwiches and a host of other mishaps that find their way onto clothing at the most inopportune of times. As a report in The Wall Street Journal puts so succinctly:
“A nation of snackers has become a nation of stainers.”


The result of all this moving and spilling is that food manufacturers have come up with snacks that consumers can eat one-handed with less mess. Products such as yogurt tubes,
snack bars and soup cups have made it easier for consumers to move and munch at the same time. Nestlé modified its Hot Pockets sandwich to make it “practically drip-proof,”
according to the company.


In those instances where drips and spills occur and stains follow, manufacturers of cleaning products have come up with quick and easy one-handed solutions to match.


“The key to effectively removing stains,” Brian Sansoni, a vice president of the Soap and Detergent Association in Washington told WSJ, “is speed, pure and simple.”


Products such as Procter & Gamble’s Tide to Go stain-removal pen (P&G is a sponsor of RetailWire), S.C. Johnson’s Shout wipes and Oxiclean Instant Spot remover wipes
from Orange Glo International have all been developed to help consumers get rid of stains as soon as they happen.


Julie Woffington, brand manager for Tide, said the real value of these instant answers is to keep people from feeling overly self-conscious. “No one needs to know you ever had
a stain,” she said.


Moderator’s Comment: Where do you see the greatest opportunities (products, operations, shopping experience, marketing, etc.) for retailers to differentiate
based on their ability to make consumers lives more convenient? Are there retailers, you might not normally think of being convenience-oriented, that you think do a surprisingly
good job in this area?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "Eating and Cleaning with One Hand Tied Behind the Back"


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Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 8 months ago

I think there’s an opportunity for a whole slew of clean-up-from-lunch-at-your-desk products, too. Wipes have been a huge hit, and we need wipes for those unexpected handshakes after eating a bag of chips at your desk; the stain-remover wipe for that blotch of salsa on your shirt, the freshen-up wipe for all-over burger and fries aroma removal, and of course the wipe up your desk wipe, the mini keyboard wet/dry vac, and on and on…

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

This one is especially for Rick – the Guardian in the UK has had a lengthy correspondence over the past few months with readers’ suggestions for re-using empty 35mm film cannisters. They would probably be ideal for a few grapes or strawbs. Alternatively, for something slightly larger, how about re-using empty deli containers? Over here they’re made of plastic rather than paper so easy to rinse out and keep recycling (another thing on which we are very big). I know manufacturers and retailers would much prefer that their customers kept on buying new stuff rather than just recycling the containers but you don’t always have to do what they want you to. (Also, whatever happened to tupperware?)

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Thanks, Bernice, but I mean…really! How many grapes can you fit in a 35 MM film can? (I don’t expect they’ve lost any popularity with pot growers, though.) Plastic deli containers are too big, once you put the bottle of vitamin water, yogurt cup and sandwich in the bag. Nope… need something in between those sizes. Strawberries present a particular problem. Unless you meticulously alternate the positioning, you get a lot of dead space in most Tupperware-shaped containers. I picture sort of an egg carton design, but with one row holding maybe four medium size berries. You could slip that in the corner of the bag vertically, if you stack the sandwich halves instead of laying them out side-by-side.

Eva A. May
Guest
Eva A. May
15 years 8 months ago

I think that there is a major opportunity for healthy snacks on the go. Just as the Atkins diet took the US by storm, the new food pyramid and the new awareness of youth and adult obesity have lots of people looking for healthy and easy meal/snack options. Serving-size, tasty, healthy products have a lot of potential now. Nabisco has a new line of 100-calorie snacks – cookies and crackers. Pre-packed lunches such as Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables have all kinds of new extension possibilities both for children and adults.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
15 years 8 months ago
Snack foods on the go are a blessing or a curse depending on your business model. I recently addressed a conference of dry cleaners who, of course, are more than willing to provide services to all those travelers who have a little spill. Regarding driving and eating, recently I learned of the significant numbers of drivers who have been involved in accidents when trying to balance that ‘Big Burger’ in one hand, an extra large drink between their knees (because it doesn’t fit in their car cupholder), and then take hands off the wheel to reach for another french fry. Maybe as a service to its customers, fast food retailers need to offer drive-through parking lots with music, monitors showing TV or movies or news broadcasts, etc. which encourage diners to stay put for a few minutes until they finish their ‘quick lunch.’ I was also intrigued by the earlier comment about the need for more healthy or nutritious ‘hand’ food. As a avid ‘snacker,’ I think that others like me would love to see… Read more »
Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 8 months ago
I agree with Eva. Healthy-convenient is going to be the wave of the next 5 years. One way for product developers and retailers to think about this is to imagine what can be stuffed into a brown bag lunch that will provide balanced nutrition without getting squashed. The various packaging innovations for yogurt are a prime example, as were individually-wrapped string cheeses and ready-to-eat mini carrots in produce. But I have to say, some of the attempts to pre-prepare items seem overdone. I saw one new product intro this year that had sliced apples in a shrink-wrapped container. I mean, what’s a better package than a regular ol’ apple…right off the tree? And I won’t be surprised if Nabisco scores big with their new line, but how hard is it to grab about 100 calories worth of graham crackers and put it in a zip lock bag for your lunch? Personally, when putting lunch together for my kids, I prefer to save money and do the packaging myself. If retailers could suggest good lunch ideas… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 8 months ago

Drive-thru daiquiri stores along Bayou Teche in Louisiana. Gotta’ be the most convenient inebriation since Jell-O shots. Drive up, stick out a hand with a couple of bucks and receive a paper cup full of lemon juice, sugar, and rum. Generally, no age check, and no open container law in the state. The daiquiri cups are sealed with plastic when sold, and passengers can open and consume them as long as they don’t share with the driver. Open seven days and seven nights, and extra-active on paydays and holidays.

Now that’s convenience. And, I see a related opportunity for freelance ambulances to cruise Louisiana highways at key times, just as many tow-truck drivers currently do in metropolitan areas.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 8 months ago

Marketing is about meeting needs. The article clearly points out a continuing trend in our society toward limited free time. Consumers who place a low value on the social aspects of eating are probably looking for quick, efficient, and appropriate means of eating while doing something else. We are becoming a nation of aspiring multi-taskers.

Meeting a need, regardless of the need, requires that the need be articulated, fully understood, and existing products analyzed for competitive opportunities. Where should CPG firms go with this information? Where they go with any identified and verified consumer need: develop product attributes which create differentiation, deliver perceived value, and contribute to volume and profit objectives.

The harder task is in meeting needs which are as yet poorly defined or hard to articulate. Apparently, it’s pretty clear that eating-on-the-go is an established behavior pattern, and the needs generated aren’t difficult to establish.

The key will be to avoid the Innovators Dilemma: adding cost to a product which has little or no actual value to the consumer. Don’t make assumptions: test.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 8 months ago

The one stain that sometimes results from eating and driving, drinking and driving and cellphone, applying makeup, etc is BLOOD.

Any time someone is operating an automobile, they have a great responsibility. We all know what happens when you spill a beverage in your lap while driving. Anyone who has had this experience survived due to pure dumb luck. I don’t advocate passing laws to regulate behavior, but I sure wish that people were more responsible when they drive. I don’t think P&G, OxyClean or any of the detergent manufacturers have found a way to reduce blood stains in automobiles.

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