WBEZ | wealth http://www.wbez.org/tags/wealth Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Dollar stores are a target for food companies http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-09-08/dollar-stores-are-target-food-companies-112863 <p><p>Food manufacturers have been grappling with Americans&#39; changing preferences. Fresh foods are in, processed foods ... not so much.&nbsp;So it&#39;s no surprise food companies might be very interested in outlets where processed food still thrives and sales are rising: dollar stores.</p><p>According to the consulting firm Kantar Retail, dollar stores are an $80 billion business with tens of thousands of locations.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s got a 6.5 percent compound annual growth rate from the end of the decade, which is well above the 4 percent growth rate the conventional grocery store channel is running,&rdquo; says John Rand, senior vice president of retail insights at Kantar.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cereals.jpg" style="height: 405px; width: 540px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="As food companies deal with American consumers’ shifting preference away from processed food to fresh foods, they’re still getting decent sales at dollar stores with their smaller, cheaper products. (Marketplace/Annie Baxter)" /></p><p>Dollar stores typically offer less expensive and smaller versions of core household items. (Despite the name, not all products are priced at $1, but they&rsquo;re still cheap). Rand says the food products at dollar stores tend to be what experts call &ldquo;center of store&rdquo; items &mdash; the non-perishables that are the hallmark of processed food companies.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a channel that&#39;s been growing in itself and growing for General Mills,&rdquo; says Rick Krichmar, senior manager in Shopper Insights at the food giant General Mills, which enjoyed 8 percent growth in the dollar and drug store channel in 2014.</p><p>Even as General Mills responds to consumers&rsquo; growing health obsessions by cutting artificial flavors and colors from Lucky Charms and offering organic products under its Annie&rsquo;s banner, Krichmar says there&rsquo;s still a market for items like Hamburger Helper and Chex Mix at dollar stores. Consumers who buy the smaller, discount store versions of those brands tend to be older people and those with limited incomes.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.marketplace.org/sites/default/files/rick.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 405px; width: 540px;" title="Rick Krichmar is a senior manager Shopper Insights at the food giant General Mills, in suburban Minneapolis. Krichmar says sales of General Mills items at dollar stores grew 8 percent in 2014, and it’s an important market for the company’s future. (Marketplace/ Annie Baxter)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p>&ldquo;While we see a lot of metrics of the economy improving from depths of recession from 2008, we know lots of people have employment but those jobs pay much less,&rdquo; Krichmar says. &ldquo;And the future growth of the population &mdash; a large part of that is going to be the lower income household.&rdquo;</p><p>Dollar store shopper Shirley Senske sees her own household stuck in neutral. She&rsquo;s a school bus driver and mother of five, and she regularly shops at a Dollar General store in a Minneapolis suburb. She says she and her husband earn so little as to count among the working poor.</p><p>&quot;Your paycheck is gone when you get it because you know you&#39;ve got to pay rent,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Senske knows she might pay more per ounce for the smaller-sized stuff at dollar stores. But she can&#39;t always afford the giant stock-up sizes.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes it&#39;s cheaper to buy the little things, and then save up and get the big items,&quot; she says. &quot;It&#39;s a matter of what you can afford that month.&rdquo;</p><div><div><div><div><p>But some analysts question whether food companies can afford to make the smaller dollar store products Senske wants.</p></div></div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Can the production lines handle it, and can you get a decent margin on it?&rdquo; asks Edward Jones stock analyst Brian Yarbrough.</p><p>Yarbrough says those are questions that big food companies will have to figure out. Nevertheless, as Walmart loses grocery shoppers to dollar stores, Yarbrough says it makes sense for food companies to go where the growth is.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/wealth-poverty/dollar-stores-are-target-food-companies"><em>Marketplace</em></a></p></p> Tue, 08 Sep 2015 14:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-09-08/dollar-stores-are-target-food-companies-112863 Luxury brands court Chinese students http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/luxury-brands-court-chinese-students-111127 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CHINESE STUDENT1 (lavinia).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a recent blustery night, stylish Chinese college students lined the aisles of the Bloomingdale&rsquo;s department store in downtown Chicago. They were sipping cucumber cocktails and checking out the latest fashions modeled by and for Chinese students.</p><p>They&rsquo;d been invited by the high-end retailer in an effort to connect with a new generation of U.S. college student from Mainland China.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason they want to reach us is very simple because we are going to buy their product,&rdquo; said party attendee Kim, a marketing major at DePaul University.</p><p>Kim is one of the 274,000 Chinese students attending college in the States. That number has tripled in the last six years, cementing China as the biggest source of international students to the U.S. for several years running.</p><p>But these are not the thrifty Chinese grad students of yesteryear. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chinese students (who are now about half graduate students and half undergrads) spent $8 billion in the U.S. in 2013 alone.</p><p>&ldquo;These are the elites of the Chinese population,&rdquo; said Peggy Blumenthal, a senior counselor at the Institute for International Education. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re mostly from cities and used to spending for big brands and used to having a new car and a new watch.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The spending power of these students hasn&rsquo;t been lost on U.S. government officials.</p><p>Earlier this month, the state department relaxed rules on visas for Chinese students, expanding them to five years. As Secretary of State John Kerry was handing out the first batch, he told one Kansas University grad returning to the states to remember to &ldquo;spend a lot of money.&rdquo;</p><p>Wen Huang is a Chicago based writer and China watcher who came to Springfield Illinois as a Chinese grad student 24 years ago. And as he recalls it, things were very different then.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I came here with $76 in my pocket, which was the case with lots of Chinese students who came in the 1990s and 80s,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We would shop at Venture. That was like a Walmart place. We never had money to buy name brand stuff but we felt that everything that was made in America was name brand. On weekends we&rsquo;d treat ourselves to Old Country Buffet and then go shopping at Venture.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Most students at that time came on scholarships, but the Chinese undergrads flooding American colleges today are supported largely by family money.</p><p>&ldquo;They are the children of either government officials or the children of entrepreneurs who have amassed a huge fortune during China&rsquo;s economic boom over the last 7 or 8 years,&rdquo; Huang said.</p><p>Others come from middle class families who have channeled much of their resources into the future of their single child.</p><p>Chinese-American college student Solomon Wiener is majoring in East Asian Studies at Dennison University. Although he has traveled to China, he is still amazed by the spending power of this new wave of Chinese students.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;I drive a Lexus but my friend from China drives a Ferrari,&rdquo; he noted before hitting the runway in a sleek gray Hugo Boss suit. &ldquo;There is just a lot of cash coming from China and the kids are just able to afford these brands.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Chicago-based publisher John Robinson recently launched a new digital magazine Mandarin Campus in addition to his flagship magazine Mandarin Quarterly. He co-sponsored the Bloomingdale&rsquo;s event.</p><p>&ldquo;Mandarin Campus was born out of brands&rsquo; increasing interest in this lucrative demographic that&rsquo;s the Chinese university student,&rdquo; said Robinson who spent several years in China and speaks fluent Mandarin. &ldquo;The editorial focus is a little younger, a little more rock-and-roll than say Mandarin Quarterly, which is targeting sort of early-to-mid-career professionals.&rdquo;</p><p>The stories in these two magazines focus on business and career advice, fashion, and dining and lifestyle issues. Much of the content would be at home in Chicago magazine, if Chicago were written entirely in Chinese. The magazines are aimed at helping readers fashionably navigate mainstream Chicago (and San Francisco and New York where Quarterly is also published). But, they are also about marketing these high-end brands.</p><p>&ldquo;Brands like Omega, Burberry, Cartier, Tiffany, Bloomingdale&rsquo;s and Saks have all reached out to our business and asked for our support in their efforts to effectively engage Chinese,&rdquo; Robinson said.</p><p>Lavina, a Chinese marketing major at Loyola, served as one of the evening&rsquo;s models, sporting fashions from Theory and Burberry. Like a lot of the students at the party, she lives downtown and shops along the Magnificent Mile.&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of clothes I like to wear and the place I like to go shopping is at Bloomingdale&rsquo;s,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a very loyal customer because I live three blocks away, so it&rsquo;s very near and convenient.&rdquo;</p><p>The shifting financial dynamics of China have allowed the surge in enrollment at U.S. universities.&nbsp; But what&rsquo;s behind the new openness to parties and fashion that were never a part of student life for someone like Wen Huang?<br />&ldquo;The current education system is different in mainland China,&rdquo; said DePaul marketing major Caroline. &ldquo;We are more open to the foreign cultures like American and European cultures.&nbsp; We get more and more information about them and so when we came here we learned there are parties and different things we have to attend. We are starting to get used to that environment, and it is making us change.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the continued double-digit growth in Chinese enrollment last year, Huang predicted it will start tapering off soon.</p><p>He cited the slowing Chinese economy and the recent anti-corruption campaign under Chinese president Xi Jinping that has put the country&rsquo;s rich and powerful under a microscope.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now they are under close scrutiny,&rdquo; Huang said. &ldquo;And sending your children abroad is becoming an easy target for investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>So does that mean Coach, Tiffany, Bloomingdale&rsquo;s and Burberry are wasting their time courting the young Chinese consumer? Huang said no<ldquo;i a="" as="" because="" buy="" buying="" cheaper="" china="" designer="" have="" he="" higher="" in="" lot="" much="" of="" only="" p="" pay="" s="" said.="" see="" still="" students="" t="" than="" the="" they="" thing="" think="" to="" will="" you=""></ldquo;i></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/luxury-brands-court-chinese-students-111127 Happiness pays http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/happiness-pays-104422 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/happiness%20money%20flickr%20materials%20aart.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Happiness can pay, according to researchers. (Flickr/Materials aart)" /></div><p>According to a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, financial success is not necessarily determined by education, IQ, family background or a strong sense of self. After studying the profiles of over 10,000 Americans ages 16, 18, 22 and 29 they determined that a personal sense of happiness and optimism were the key determinants to financial success in life.</p><p>The report maintains that people who express more positive emotions and a greater sense of life satisfaction earn ten percent more in salaries than their respective peers in their age group. Deeply unhappy individuals on the other hand, earn 30 percent less. The study went on to report that happier teens were &ldquo;more likely to get a college degree, to get hired and promoted, and to be optimistic, extraverted, and less neurotic.&rdquo;</p><p>As a veteran of more than 40 years in a college classroom, I&rsquo;m not at all surprised by the National Academy&rsquo;s findings. It&rsquo;s been my experience that my best students were the ones who were happy in their private lives, and happy for the opportunity to be in school. I&rsquo;ve found that happy students were excited to learn, excited to be exposed to new knowledge, new challenges, new opportunities. Their optimism makes them eager learners, and although they want to achieve high grades, they are unafraid of failure or the hard work necessary to succeed.</p><p>Sure, raw brain power does matter. Sure, good study habits help. Absolutely, personal standards and family expectations motivate individual student performance and success. But, the bottom line for me is this: Give me a room full of students who feel good about life in general and understood the importance of humor and laughter, and I&rsquo;d be willing to take on any challenge with them.</p><p>Ironically, of course, there is an important philosophical lesson to be learned from this psychological study. That is to say: Money can&rsquo;t buy you happiness. But it turns out that happiness can get you more money!</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/happiness-pays-104422