The Lempert Report LIVE

TikTok's Impact on the Food Industry and the Rising Cost of Halloween Candy

October 23, 2023 Phil Lempert Episode 100
The Lempert Report LIVE
TikTok's Impact on the Food Industry and the Rising Cost of Halloween Candy
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to get a taste of how TikTok is transforming the food industry and the implications of the rising cost of Halloween candy? Hold onto your broomsticks, because we're diving into the viral wave of TikTok food reaction videos, exploring how brands and grocers can ride this trend without scaring off potential customers. We'll unveil surprising facts from a recent Advantage survey which shows that inflation will make 41% of shoppers rethink their Halloween candy spending, leaving us to question - how will this impact our own Halloween preparations, and the wider festivities?

Piqued your curiosity? Now, imagine a world where mental health, healthy eating, and food enjoyment are seamlessly interconnected, and supermarkets play a critical role in enhancing the joy of eating. Intrigued? We certainly were by an international survey that identifies Puerto Rico, Greece, and Norway as the champions of food enjoyment. Join us as we dissect this fascinating correlation and discuss how North American supermarkets can learn from these nations to make their customers' food experiences more enjoyable. As we approach Thanksgiving, we also ponder how supermarkets can help shoppers combine these three critical elements for a healthier, happier holiday celebration. Get ready to be challenged, informed, and entertained. 

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. Today we're very proud to announce that we celebrate the 100th episode of TLR Live. We thank you for joining us and we appreciate your viewership and your comments. On today's episode - the TikTok opportunity for grocers and for brands Following 2023 may look very different than in previous years. A look at Green Picks Market. On Food Not Phones, new research finds links to well-being. And on the bullseye, ChainFEST is coming up and why you should care. Let's get started. So, Sally, you know we all know that TikTok has become this food phenomenon, if you would, and there's a report in the Washington Post, an article in the Washington Post that talked about some of these terrible TikTok cooking videos and how many you know views they're getting. In one case, there's over a billion views, #ChefReactions. Also. Tanara Mallory, who goes by Tanara Double Chocolate on TikTok, used to work. She's 47. She used to work in a supermarket as a production cook and she started sharing food reaction videos when she stumbled upon a recipe post on her TikTok for you page and decided to give voice to her internal monologue while watching it. So why are we addicted to these horrible TikTok videos and people will just keep on watching them.

Sally:

It sure is a phenomenon, and just food in general. You know, across TikTok has been a very viral topic, but in regards to these videos that we're seeing, we're seeing people do all kinds of crazy things with recipes. We've got one creator on TikTok Barfly is what he goes by and he cooks things in his hotel bathroom, so he's using the toilet tank, the bathroom sink, which doesn't sound very appetizing. And so, yes, why are we watching this? And some believe that we are attracted to videos that are humorous, that are disastrous, that are something that we can share with our friends and have a laugh bat, or we just see something and we can't stop looking at it because it's so unbelievable.

Phil:

And some of these recipes, like there's a pickled flavored gelatin with hot dogs, chicken cooked inside a pumpkin ground beef, egg dish with cheesy potato chip mashed potatoes. You know, I just have to wonder, you know how we flip this around, how we could get you know grocers and even some CPG brands not to make these kinds of disgusting videos, but how they can really up their game as it relates to TikTok. This article goes on to say negative feelings like shock and disbelief make content more spreadable as people share, not necessarily because they like what they see, but because they want to see others reactions and to be a part of a larger communal experience. So how do we do that to bring awareness to supermarkets without, you know, being disgusting with the food and just being able to create these videos? And I know a lot of supermarkets. Kroger in particular does a lot on TikTok and you know other videos are good, but it doesn't have that, you know zip to it that gets a billion views.

Sally:

There's definitely a line somewhere, and it can be very blurry as far as how far you can go on social media, particularly TikTok, but you know, what we are hearing from some of these creators, for example, in this Washington Post article, is that you know the ones that are creating these ridiculous recipes, that they have good recipes too, but they're finding that their good recipes are not being taken seriously. So there definitely is a line somewhere. I think it is important for retailers and brands to get creative with their social media and try to introduce some humor and some fun into their videos, but we also have to be careful that we aren't making people run away. Yep.

Phil:

And we have to remember that it's food. Talking about food, halloween is right around the corner and there's a new survey from Advantage that came out Halloween 2023. Shoppers reveal plans to spend and celebrate and 41% of the shoppers that they surveyed said that inflation will alter Halloween candy spending. Now, one of the things that I find really interesting about this survey and then I want to talk about NRF survey and their prediction for it is that the price of sugar is up. It's one of the highest prices that it's ever been. As a result, candy is more expensive. So it's not just about, you know, the food inflation that we've seen raising prices, but also the ingredients and from NRF, the total Halloween spending is expected to reach $12.2 billion. Last year was $10.6 billion and the top ways that consumers are planning to celebrate 68% of them say by handing out candy, 53% decorating their home or yard. Only 50% are gonna dress in costume. On average, per capita spending is up $108.24 for Halloween. Last year it was $102. And candy specifically, will reach $3.6 billion in sales and I'm gonna suggest that a lot of that has to do with the price increases because, again, if we look at the Advantage Survey, they're saying that 41% of people are, you know, not gonna spend as much on candy? More than half. Again to the Advantage Survey, 55% of candy buyers will spend more than $25 on candy. One fifth are planning to spend more than $50, but half expect to spend the same amount but buy less candy due to the higher prices. So we're at odds with Halloween here, because we're seeing, you know the numbers from NRF through the roof. We're seeing the Advantage Consumer Survey saying whoa, you know, maybe I'm not gonna. You know, give us money candy candies out there that I used to. What do you think? What are you gonna do for Halloween?

Sally:

Well, we are Halloween celebrators here, as I have two children that still trick or treat and we have a neighborhood that has a lot of trick or treaters, so we definitely will be participating. We have not bought our candy yet and one of the reasons for that, Phil, is if we buy it too soon, it gets eaten. That's one of the reasons Love it. But you know the Advantage story here. One thing the survey from Advantage that I thought was interesting is that it said that about half 48% of candy buyers will make their purchases a week or less before Halloween and 17% will buy their candy within three days of the holiday. So what I'm hearing is that you know, maybe these retailers don't be so quick to start getting ready for the next holiday products to being moved in and clearing out your shelves, because your shoppers are still gonna wanna see those Halloween displays and that candy available and maybe even some last-minute decorations in your store that week before Halloween and even the few days leading up.

Phil:

That's a great point because these retailers you know, here in Los Angeles I've been seeing Halloween displays for at least a month, if not longer, and you know it's sort of like boring. It takes away the excitement of being able to go in the store and get pumpkins and do those things. And when I'm in the grocery stores I'm looking in people's carts and I don't see them buying the Halloween candy. They've got these huge displays but it's probably to your point. You know they're afraid that if they bring it home they're gonna eat it. It's not gonna last very long to get to Halloween. There's a new market called Green Picks Market. It's cashierless, contactless and cashless. It is in the suburb of Atlanta and, what's interesting, it's very similar to Amazon Go, where you scan the app when you go into the store. It opens up the turnstile and then sensors on the shelves and cameras throughout the store detect when a product has been picked up, put down or carried out the door. But there's an interesting twist to Greenpix Green Picks Amazon Go. What is it?

Sally:

Well, they're using AI to really help the shopper have a more personalized experience to find products that are suited to them, and so when you get on their app and you sign up and download this technology, not only are you getting the frictionless shopping when you go in the store and you're not having to deal with self-checkout, which I know a lot of people have been expressing their frustration with lately. The store themselves is not having to worry about theft as much, which we've talked a lot, but also the shoppers are getting a more personalized experience with interacting with this app and choosing their products.

Phil:

And the other thing that I love is this store and it's a small store only has better for you brands in it, so we're talking about combining convenience technology and products that are better. We don't need a supermarket that has 42,000 products in it. Now on Food not Phones this week we want to talk about the link between food and well-being, and there's a new survey that has come out. It's from the Ando Foundation and Nissin Food Products. It's called Satisfaction with Food Enjoyment and Variety Survey. It was actually part of the 2022 Gallup World Poll, when they asked consumers around the world three aspects of the food they ate in the seven days before they were interviewed whether they mostly enjoyed their food, thought it was mostly healthy and felt like they had lots of choices in the types of food. What did they find?

Sally:

Well, what they found was that 82% described their food as mostly healthy. Healthy People start there, but 87% say that they mostly enjoyed the food that they recently ate. And so what we're hearing from people is that they are connecting the food that they are eating on a regular basis with their well-being, which we want our eating experiences to make us feel like we are eating healthy, that it is serving our well-being, as we have been talking about with #food not phones. We're talking about focusing on the meal itself, the preparation, the family time, the time with our friends, the connecting face-to-face and putting our phones down and really taking in the experience of enjoying our food. So there is a connection here in this survey that's telling us that a lot of people are saying that they have a really great experience with their food.

Phil:

And when we look around the world, it's a bit surprising to me. The people of Puerto Rico, greece and Norway enjoy their food more than diners in any other countries, and they surveyed 142 different countries. Lithuania had the lowest food enjoyment of any European country and the highest level of enjoyment, as I said, was not only in Puerto Rico but that part of the world, in the Caribbean. Overall, people living in North America, latin America and Caribbean were most happy with what was on their plates, with an average satisfaction score of 96%. So when I look at that, it makes me wonder what supermarkets could or should be doing to make food more enjoyable in North America for people. Certainly pre-pandemic, when people were sampling, that gave them a lot of enjoyment, they were happy with it. But this correlation between mental well-being, eating healthy and enjoying your food is really something fascinating to me and, to be honest with you, nothing that I've thought about before. So when we look at Food not Phones, the next event is coming up on Thanksgiving. Let's make sure that we try to combine all three of those factors. Thanks, Sally. This week on Lost in the Supermarket, I took a deep dive into vertical farming with Irving Fain, co-founder and CEO of Bowery Farming and discussed why this combination of farming and technology is just so very important for the planet. For the complete episode, just log on to wwwsupermarketgurucom and here's what he had to say. So we see behind you these racks of produce items growing. Let's talk a little bit about the technical aspect of vertical farming. It's not just having racks with dirt and plants in there. Really, talk about the technology that's involved. Talk about how it works.

Irving:

You asked something before that I didn't really cover and I want to use this. It's a good opportunity. Farmers are actually quite technical, as you know, field-based farmers. In fact, farming is a technology-focused craft and has been for quite some time. It always bothered me when people said, oh, there's been no innovation in farming. I always kind of said that's not true at all. In fact, there's been enormous amounts of innovations in farming. It's just different types of innovation. So there's a deep technical focus in the way we grow and harvest and manage our land. Today, what we're doing at Bowery is we're bringing different technologies in a different approach, and so you have a set of farmers already who are becoming a lot more conversed with technology already, and what we're doing is bringing a different type of technology, a different manner of growing and, to the point you made earlier, it certainly attracts either a different type of farmer or at least it opens the door to individuals and younger people who may not have ever considered farming because they don't live near farmland or they don't come from a farming family. But what we do at Bowery offers them an opportunity to be a part of growing food, which is something that's been cordial country since the founding of our country. There's something very nice and fulfilling about being able to feed the community you're a part of, and so we're giving that opportunity to people who may not have grown up anywhere near anything related to farm.

Phil:

Today on the Bullseye. Bj Novak, best known for his role in the US version of the television show the Office and his critically acclaimed short stories, has always been one to challenge conventions and to push boundaries and, by the way, most importantly, he loves chain food. But few would have pegged him as the mind behind ChainFEST. Now this venture could upend the grocery retail world if we pay attention to it. ChainFEST is, at its core, a celebration. It's a festival that highlights and appreciates the various fast food chains across the nation. Now it's the world's first chain food festival. From the allure of sonic driving to the budget friendly Dunkin, ChainFEST recognizes the unique culture and the foods of each of these chains, and grocers should pay attention to this great marketing idea and, frankly, in my opinion, trying to copy it. Novak saw an underlying issue in the fast food industry. Most chains, despite their distinct offerings, followed the same old conventions providing a similar customer experience regardless of the brand or the type of food. So he got together with a chef and envisioned chain fest as a platform to showcase the nostalgia consumers feel for chain restaurants that he himself feels. In addition to the already mentioned ones, there's also Chilis, Jack in the Box, Panda Express, Pizza Hut and Red Robin. ChainFEST takes place December 1, 2, and 3 at Hollywood's Niya Studios and features just one reimagined iconic menu item from each of the restaurant. They then pair it with beverages from Pepsi and specialty cocktails from Guinness, Smirnoff, Crown Royal and Captain Morgan. This fest is not for kids. Chain Fest started in 2021 during COVID on the streets of Los Angeles and was a smash hit. In fact, these days, its invitation list has a 20,000 plus person wait list of those who want to attend these exclusive events. Now, December 1 and 2, I checked they're already sold out. There are a few tickets that remain for December 3, that's Sunday and they cost $75. And it covers the cost of all the foods, not the alcohol. Why do I say that grocers should check it out and embrace the concept? Well, I've come up with five really good reasons. Number one: Building Brand Loyalty. In an age where consumers can get any product delivered to our doorsteps, what keeps us from walking into a store? Brand loyalty Chain Fest allows the chain brands to connect with consumers on a very personal level, creating deeper connections that go beyond mere transactions. That's critical. Number two: Showcasing innovations. It's a great way for the grocery industry that's rapidly evolving, with advancement in supply chain management, AI-driven shopping assistance, sustainable sourcing. To really be able to communicate that directly to consumers, an event like ChainFEST could become a platform for retailers grocery retailers to showcase their innovations, demonstrating to consumers that they are future ready in a location other than in the store to attract new customers. When people are in your store, you've already got them. Let's go outside the four walls. Number three: Direct Feedback. By interacting directly with these consumers, the chains got real-time feedback on their products and their services, and grocers can as well. Insights like these are invaluable to tailoring offerings to meet the evolving customer demands and needs. Number four: Reinforcing Sustainability. Today's consumers aren't just looking for quality and affordability, they're also very interested in sustainability. All of our surveys show that and underscored especially with younger generations. It's an opportunity to emphasize your efforts, underscoring the importance of your sustainable practices, and to showcase your efforts to reduce waste source locally and minimize your store's carbon footprint. Number five: Community Building. Beyond business, Grocery stores play a very pivotal role in communities. They're not just places to shop, but places that bring people together. Events like ChainFEST highlight this role, turning grocery shopping from a chore into a community building exercise. Bj Novak and his partner, michelin chef Tim Hollingsworth. ChainFEST is not just a festival. It was an innovative and food revolution. In a world where online shopping is very rapidly overshadowing brick and mortar stores, ChainFEST reminds us, reminds everyone, of the fun, the nostalgia, the charm, the importance and the potential of the chain restaurants brand choosing. In my opinion, that every grocery store should envy and emulate, Sally. Any comments or questions today.

Sally:

Yes, we have a comment from John Pandol. He says that, with smaller trick-or-treat age cohorts and fear of safety, perhaps more are opting for safe Halloween events instead of staying home at the traditional door-to-door neighborhood and thus not buying candy to get out.

Phil:

It's a great point, John, and I think it's time to really reimagine what Halloween is. The one thing that we also didn't really talk about is safety. In today's world, where we're seeing more protests, we're seeing more hazards, if you would to everyday life, it's probably a good time to not go out for Halloween. So thanks everybody for joining us. Thank you as always, john, and we'll see you here next week.

Sally:

Be sure to visit SupermarketGuru. com for the latest marketing analysis issues and trends, and don't forget to join us back here next Monday at 2.30 pm Eastern for more.

TikTok's Influence on Halloween Spending
Food Enjoyment and Chain Festivals