Posts tagged with "The Chicago Tribune"

Greet (and eat) the ‘croiffle’ at one of Godiva’s 2,000 new cafes

April 18, 2019

For nearly 100 years, Godiva has made life sweeter and more pleasurable for chocoholics worldwide. But until April 17, the Belgian confectioner offered only its beloved premium-quality boxed chocolates, chocolate-covered strawberries, ice cream, and drip coffee at its 800 boutique stores across 105 nations.

Starting with a Manhattan location this week, Godiva has announced that it is rolling out 2,000 cafes through 2025, at which the company will offer a menu of fanciful food items, including the “croiffle”— a croissant and waffle hybrid that’s stuffed with fillings like cheese or chocolate and pressed on a waffle iron, The Chicago Tribune reports. Other items include an expanded list of coffees and a new collection of teas; as well as grab-and-go items such as sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. And of course chocolates.

The cafes mark Godiva’s first foray into prepared meals, the Tribune notes. It’s all part of an ambitious growth plan spearheaded by CEO Annie Young-Scrivner, who took over Godiva’s helm in 2017 after serving as a top executive at Starbucks. Her goal: to increase its revenue fivefold by 2025, the news outlet says.

The company, which is privately owned by Turkish Yildiz Holding, doesn’t report sales or profits—but according to reports, Godiva was about a $1 billion business in 2017. It expects 40% of its total sales to come from the cafes in the future.

“We really have a stronghold on formal gifting but we want to expand to everyday consumption,” Young-Scrivner said in a phone interview.

A few of the current boutiques will be converted into cafes, but Godiva is looking beyond malls and will also have stand-alone storefronts and airport locations.

Research contact: @GODIVA

Will this food trigger allergies? Label Insight discloses the ingredients

March 26, 2019

Label Insight, a Chicago-based firm that “decodes” and “interprets” food label data for retailers—and, in turn, for U.S. shoppers who want to know more about the ingredients they will be consuming—has raised $21 million in new funding, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The series C round brings the company’s total funding to roughly $35 million; the company closed its last round in January 2016, The Chicago Tribune notes. Delta-v Capital led the round alongside River Cities Capital Funds. Delta-v managing partner David Schaller joins Label Insight’s board along with the deal.

The company—which was founded by brothers Dagan and Anton Zavier in 2008 in order to increase transparency in food, pet, and personal care marketing and enable customers to make more-informed purchasing decisions—claims to offer “more than 22,000 high-order attributes per product.”

Thus, a shopper with an allergy can ask a store rep and quickly figure out what products to avoid. Retailers get a tool to help customers understand what they’re buying, while companies can offer more information to sway ingredient-conscious shoppers.

The company says it works with top brands like Unilever, Conagra, L’Oreal, and Ocean Spray, and its database has information on more than 400,000 products. It provides that information to retailers like AlbertsonsMeijer, and Raley’s.

Earlier this year, Label Insight announced it was expanding into products like pet food, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins and supplements, and personal care items. CEO Paul Schaut said Label Insight plans on building its database to one million items with the new funding.

The series C round brings the company’s total funding to roughly $35 million; the company closed its last round in January 2016, The Chicago Tribune notes. Delta-v Capital led the round alongside River Cities Capital Funds. Delta-v managing partner David Schaller joins Label Insight’s board along with the deal.

“The consumer’s mandate for more information doesn’t stop with what they eat—it includes what they put on their bodies, personal care; it includes what they feed their pets, pet food; or their babies, baby food,” Schaut told the news outlet. “It’s not going to stop at what they buy at the grocery store. You get on a plane, you go to a restaurant, you’re going to want to know more about what you’re eating. Our business is just to support the industry any place the consumer is asking for more information.”

Schaut said Label Insight currently employs about 115 people, split evenly between its Chicago and St. Louis offices. With the funding, it plans to bring that number to 170 within the next 12 months. The hires will be focused on the company’s data science team,s as well as its sales and marketing teams, he said.

Research contact: bmeyerson@chicagotribune.com

What’s with all of the decluttering?

January 17, 2019

Healthcare. Gun control. Privacy. Global warming. At a time when most major issues are out of our control, Americans have focused on the pressing need for decluttering. If we cannot fix the world, at least we can bring some order to our own small parts of it.

It began back in 2014, with a manifesto by a professional organizer based in Japan—“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”—and it has built to a cultural climax with the hit Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

And while, The Chicago Tribune reports, Marie Kondo’s minimalist manifesto is a phenomenon unto itself, with Twitter testimonials (#tidying, #konmari) and hundreds of YouTube videos, the author also has helped to espouse a broader societal cleaning spree: Your family, friends, and neighbors are accepting the 40 Bags in 40 Days (#40bagsin40days on Twitter) clutter-removal challenge—which runs from March 6 through April 20 this year.

They are listening to Graham Hill’s TED Talk (“Less Stuff, More Happiness,” with 4.4 million views and counting), posting photos of dumped junk on Instagram, and snapping up popular get-rid-of-it guides targeting minimalists (“The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay).

“The whole decluttering thing is a huge trend right now,” Kristin Collins, 40, of Raleigh, North Carolina, told the Tribune. She has been on a self-described clutter reduction “bender” for the last few years. “It’s what everyone’s talking about.”

Collins, a communications professional who lives with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, told the news outlet that she doesn’t even have to purchase kid clutter; it comes to her. “Birthday parties (mean) piles of presents, and there’s treasure boxes at school, and they come home with all these cheap junky toys and goody bags, and then grandparents are shipping lots of cheap stuff from Walmart that breaks in the first two weeks and scatters on your floor. I feel like we’re at a point where it’s reaching a critical mass and people are just losing their minds

How did decluttering rise through the ranks of the American self-improvement agenda?

In a pioneering 2001-2005 University of California at Los Angeles study that sent researchers into the homes of 32 middle-class families to carefully chronicle their possessions, researchers found refrigerators covered with magnets, photos, calendars, memos, and kids’ art; common spaces full of toys; shelves stuffed to overflowing with DVDs, books; and mementos; and garages so full of boxes, bins and rejected furniture that there was no room left for cars.

The researchers began their report on “The Clutter Culture,” by describing the value system of the home owners: “Get stuff. Buy stuff. Get more of it. Keep that, too. Display it all, and proudly.”

“One thing that was really striking to everybody that worked on this study was just how much of a clutter crisis our families are facing right now,” Darby Saxbe, now a professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, told the Chicago Tribune. “They were surrounded by stuff to the point where it seemed emotionally and physically stressful and taxing for them.”

Saxbe traces the clutter buildup, in part, to unprecedented access to deeply discounted consumer goods.

“We’ve got Walmart, where you can buy anything for $10, and we’ve become used to this very acquisitive style, where if you can’t find your stapler, you just go buy another stapler,” she said “I was just reading the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books with my daughter, and if they wanted a doll, for example, they had to make it, and it was incredibly labor-intensive.”

Ergo, the success of Kondo’s book, which was a best-seller in Japan and Germany before hitting the U.S. market. The book—which is part cleaning memoir, part decluttering how-to—centers on the author’s personal “revelation” that our possessions, themselves, create stress. As a young girl, she learned to cull them mercilessly, keeping only those things that brought her joy. She built a system of decluttering based on that insight, as well as a business.

In a true Kondo household, every object has its place and is returned to it religiously after it is used. Kondo makes the remarkable — and very seductive — claim that no one who has completed her private tidying course, which involves a one-time, full-home purge, has rebounded into disarray. No one.

“This whole Marie Kondo thing has changed my life,” Jamie Gutfreund, the global chief marketing officer at the global digital agency Wunderman, told the Tribune.”Everybody who knows me right now is so tired of me talking about it, because I feel so much better,” Gutfreund says. “I really feel so much better. I (used to) lose my glasses every day. The whole thing is, you have to respect your items, and you have to put them in the places where they’re supposed to go. So now I’m putting my glasses where they’re supposed to go, and I don’t lose them — funny! I probably gained 20 minutes a day.”

There’s also an emotional aspect to decluttering, and for some a spiritual one. Like meditation and yoga, decluttering appeals to overscheduled Americans seeking calm and focus, Gutfreund says.

And that’s the key to the decluttering revolution—that sense of calm and control within the turbulence that characterizes our current society.

“I am the opposite of a neat freak — I’ve always been a messy person,” Collins says. “But even I just feel a sense of calm when there’s not stuff piled in every corner of my house.”

Research contact: @Marie Kondo