It’s the end of the year and all of the marketers and trend forecasters have weighed in on their 2016 flavor, food & beverage trend predictions. Here is a comprehensive list I compiled of trend predictions for what food & beverages we’ll be eating in 2016…
Some of the trends are on-going and the evolution of an earlier food or beverage prediction. I’m most excited about African and Cuban cuisine and their culinary influences. I foresee unique flavor profiles in new consumer packaged foods & beverages inspired by these multicultural, ethnic cuisines.
I like to think of myself as a positive person who is thankful and appreciative. Spending a good bulk of my time researching and writing about new consumer packaged goods and services, I find good customer service hard to find. When I have a good customer experience I write a letter or make a phone call to the company to commend a person or business for doing something well. More often than not, people are more apt to criticize and complain. However, I recently had an infuriating, bad customer experience with Staples in the Bronx that I feel compelled to share. It only took Staples less than 15 minutes to lose me as a loyal customer.
I own a small consulting business and I have been a loyal Staples customer for the last 10 years at the Staples, 5680 Broadway and West 234th Street, Bronx, NY 10463 location. On Tuesday, June 4, 2015, I parked in the Staples parking lot located on West 234 and Broadway. I went into Staples and made a purchase at 11:24 am. I put my Staples purchase in my car trunk and then crossed the street to pick up a few groceries. At 11:37 am (13 minutes later) I left the grocery store to find my car on a J&S Tow truck about to be towed. Flabbergasted I approached the tow truck operator and a person I later found out to be a Staples parking lot “spotter.” I asked what was wrong and why were they towing my car. I explained I had just made an earlier purchase at Staples. The spotter told me to read the signs and explained that this private parking lot will tow the cars of Staples’ customers at their own expense if individuals leave their car parked after making a purchase. Unsure if this was legal, I called the police. Unfortunately, the police explained they could do nothing because it is a private parking lot and legal in New York. I had to go to the bank to get $136.00 in cash to pay J&S Towing to release my car. Please note, having this practice of parking lot “spotters” in other states is illegal.
After paying for the release of my car, I went back to the Staples store and spoke with the Staples manager, asking to be reimbursed for my $136.00 I paid in cash to get my car off the tow. Unable to help me, she gave me the Staples Corporate phone number for the Office of the President, 800-338-0252.
I was infuriated to learn that Staples has a contract with J&S Towing Inc. who pays the “spotter” to watch people leave the Staples parking lot without their cars and to immediately contact J&S Towing (who are nearby) to tow their cars. I had noticed the spotter in the parking lot wearing a bright yellow safety vest and we made eye contact as I left the Staples parking lot. Instead of informing me of the parking lot rules and letting me know I would be towed, he watched me leave and then had my car intentionally towed. This practice is deceitful, totally unjust, and completely appalling. To purposely report cars of honest customers who are unaware of this policy is unethical and a bad business practice. Staples should be ashamed. As I left the parking lot I saw another Staples victim car on the tow truck.
When I called the Office of the President at the Staples Corporate headquarters on June 4, 2015, I explained my situation and dissatisfaction and asked to be reimbursed $136.00. I was heard, but the blanket response was “Staples is not responsible for the towing of my car and I would not be reimbursed.” I probed more to find out that Staples leases the space in the Bronx location from a private landlord. The Office of the President continued to explain that the parking lot watcher and the J&S Towing Inc. are not employees of Staples, but of the private landlord. I discovered that Metropolitan Realty Associates is the private landlord who owns the Riverdale Crossing and its parking lot. I explained that the parking lot is shared by multiple businesses. The signs clearly read “Staples” and regardless of whether the spotter or towing company is employed by Staples or the landlord, this is unethical and a bad business practice associated with Staples. By not taking responsibility or stopping this money making practice, Staples supports and encourages this scam. Not satisfied with the response I received, I reported Staples to the Better Business Bureau as well as NY Department of Consumer Affairs. As you can see from my BBB correspondence with Staples, not only does Staples not take responsibility for the company’s bad business practice, they then have the nerve to suggest I “direct my concerns” to J&S Towing.
Upon research, I found that Riverdale Press cited this practice has been going on since 2008 or before in “Towed from a Lot Law May be On Your Side” 11/6/08 article. I also discovered the Riverdale Press “Staples: No more towing from this infamous lot” 8/27/09 article, which interestingly showed that a “Staples” spokesperson stated the company had stopped this practice. It’s odd and conflicting that a Staples spokesperson is quoted if Staples is not responsible for the parking lot rules. Timing is everything and on June 18, 2015 the Riverdale Press “Predatory towing pervades Broadway” article prominently featured Staples on Broadway was up to it again and the company has not changed their poor business practice.
I am sure I am not the first or last unhappy customer to report this. Staples lost a loyal customer in less than 15 minutes. All it takes is one bad customer experience. The fact that Staples takes no responsibility, puts the onus on J&S Towing and then doesn’t even try to correct the situation that the company is fully aware of is inexcusable. I will not shop at Staples on Broadway again or any other Staples locations in the future.
If you have been a victim or know someone who has been a victim of Staples’ parking lot scam, I’d like to hear from you.
In May 2013 I presented Olfactive Trends Quick Peek at Sniffapalooza’s Spring Fling and mentioned “Flash” as the newest naming convention in fine fragrance. September is quickly approaching and you can now get your hands on many of the recent launches inspired by the word.
Olfactive Studio’s Flash Back scent is described as “a memory in motion and in action” while Cacharel’s Amor Amor In A Flash is “the feeling of love at first sight: magnetic, addictive, electric… a moment of never-ending intensity.” Jimmy Choo’s second scent Flash, is the newest player and is a “solar” floral that is “about the thrill of the red carpet, the fun of the nightclub, the glamour of dressing up.”
In flavors, the closest interpretation is Oddka Vodka’s Electricity flavor, which Pernod Ricard states is “a tongue-tickling blend that tastes of fire bolt.” Inspired by the Flash scent, Belvedere Vodka and Jimmy Choo partnered to create a Kuala Lumpur cocktail-fragrance crawl with fun cocktail names such as “Parading on a catwalk” and “Jimmy’s shoe.” The most far fetched recent introduction is Cornetto’s fluorescent ice cream across the pond.
Keep your eyes peeled for more “flash” inspired consumer packaged goods launches. I wonder what will ignite the next catalyst for inspiration. Any thoughts?
Fresh fruit is popular during the spring and summer months and is inspiring new fragrance and flavor introductions. Cherry and watermelon are the in vogue fruits of the season.
In fine fragrance, as a spring limited edition, Escada launched Cherry in the Air and is described as “an initial burst of cherry and raspberry is tempered by hints of marshmallow, coconut orchid, and sandalwood — moving from fruity to sweet to warm.” British perfume house Floris released Cherry Blossom made with bergamot, orange, pink pepper, cherry blossom, osmanthus, rose, peony, juicy cherry, sandalwood and musk.
The flavored vodka craze continues. Grey Goose introduced Cherry Noir, which is crafted with “100% natural essence of the finest ripe black cherries” and Absolut launched Craft Bitter Cherry, which is described as “a subtle hint of sweetness and bright, authentic cherry flavor [that] is countered by notes of bitter, dark chocolate.” It is one of three flavors, which are sold exclusively to bartenders in limited quantities. Cherry has even tapped beer. Old Dominion released Cherry Blossom Lager as its spring seasonal brew available in March and according to the company “is conditioned on a bed of 300 pounds of Michigan cherries for 48 hours.”
Watermelon is popping up in men’s fine fragrances. Lacoste’s latest addition Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Noir highlights a “living watermelon” accord while Tommy Bahama for Him opens with “a revitalizing burst of juicy watermelon.” Limited edition Annayake Love for Him uses bergamot, grapefruit, bitter orange and watermelon top notes while Calvin Klein’s CK One Summer 2013 limited edition features citrus, waterfall, watermelon, cucumber, water lily, musk and moss accords.
Pucker Vodka unveiled Watermelon Wow as the newest flavor and “combines the luscious flavor of watermelon with the invigorating aroma of candied fruit and melon for a unique sensory experience” while Salty Watermelon joins the UV Vodka range. Watermelon is even trickling down into non-alcoholic beverages, specifically water. Fruitwater offers Watermelon Punch and Fruit2O offers Natural Watermelon.
Watch as these juicy fruits continue to inspire new summer products and emerge in consumer packaged goods.
Perfumers and marketers continually look for inspiration and new ingredients. Following the trend to spicy and woody scents, saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, is making a comeback, particularly in fine fragrance. There have been quite a few new launches that highlight the luxury ingredient such as Byredo Black Saffron, which I mentioned in my Black is Still Black post, and Byredo Bullion.
Rose an already popular flower in fragrance, seems to be the trendy combination of choice. The Fragrance Kitchen introduced fifteen exclusive fragrances, two of which feature saffron – War of the Roses and Scent In A Bottle. Grossmith London recently launched the Black Label Collection and Saffron Rose is one of four scents, which is described as a “wonderfully rich and opulent scent.”
In flavors, saffron has long been used in cooking and gives food the golden yellow-orange hue. Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boite Biscuits & Spices uses saffron in six of his forty-one different blends – N.19 Salvador, N.20 Dali, N.21 Moruno, N.25 Escabeche, N.30 Mousa and N.33 Mishmish. Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea is a new line of five Greek, saffron-based herbal teas. The flavors are Greek Herbal Tea with thyme, rosemary and saffron; Greek Green Tea with ginger, licorice and saffron; Greek Herbal Tea with honey, orange and saffron; Greek Herbal Tea with mint, lemongrass and saffron; and Greek Herbal Tea with cinnamon, cloves and saffron. Saffron has even trickled into vodka. Saffron Vodka by Sub Rosa Spirits is distilled with eight spices – “toasted cumin, lemony coriander, a hint of ginger, and just a touch of heat and the aromatics of saffron.”
Keep your eyes peeled as saffron emerges in new flavor and fragrance products. Have you noticed any new products with saffron? Tried any new dishes from chefs using saffron in unexpected places?
When you ask my kids, “What’s mommy’s favorite color?” without hesitation they will answer “black.” Perhaps growing up in NYC is where I learned to love black. My entire wardrobe is black. However, when I was growing up as a child, they didn’t make black clothes for babies or children. It was considered taboo. Today my daugther’s wardrobe consists of a variety of fashionable black clothes from head to toe. Sadly but fittingly, when my father passed away a year and a half ago, my daughter wore a silky black blouse, black skirt, black tights and black patent leather shoes to the funeral. When asked by a guest, did I buy this outfit specifically for the occasion, I replied “no, fortunately we had it.”
While on the subject of fashion…the LBD never goes out of style and is constantly being reinvented through new materials and designs. Tonight I had dinner with my family in Ridge Hill (new shopping center in Yonkers) and I happened to pass a White House / Black Market shop. I hate shopping, but was familiar with the store (my close friend raves about it), so I went in. I have to admit the “black” attracted me to the store. To my surprise, they had some very nice clothes. The materials, textures, and designs were classic yet contemporary and well tailored. The concept was simple, the clothes were merchandised well and the staff was friendly. The store offers black and white clothes and each season they focus on an accent color such as red, wine, and now metallic gold / silver for the holidays. I walked away with a new black and white patterned dress and the store gained a new customer. I think I’ll be back.
Moving to packaging…when I was in art school at Washington University in St. Louis (many years ago) we had an advertising project to design a new dog food package for Purina. Purina invited us to present our concepts. At the time, I designed a sleek black package. This was unheard of – food wasn’t ever packaged in black, not even dog food. Flash forward. Here are just a few examples of current black dog food packages …Walmart Pure Balance, Merrick Grain Free and ProBiotic Live.
Black is now a standard packaging color in beauty care products. About seven years ago I remember when black was the “it” package color and naming convention in men’s fine fragrance with the likes of Polo Black and Double Black, Kenneth Cole Black and Vintage Black, and Kiton Black.
The English word black isn’t good enough and the newest buzzword is “Noir” (black in French). A few new honorable mentions are Chanel Coco Noir, which the company describes as “nocturnal Baroque – a celebration of Gabrielle Chanel’s use of black and Venice’s influence on her designs and her life,” Tom Ford Noir and Agent Provocateur Pétale Noir.