retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There was an interesting piece in the Boston Globe about the impact of posting calorie counts on restaurant menu boards.

According to the story, “Researchers at Stanford University were able to persuade Starbucks to hand over data on every transaction at their stores in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia around the time that New York City implemented its calorie-posting law. The researchers also obtained transaction data for a large sample of Starbucks cardholders during the same period and conducted in-store surveys in Seattle and elsewhere, around the time that Seattle implemented its own calorie-posting law.

“In New York City - as compared to Boston and Philadelphia where no such law went into effect - food purchases, but not beverage purchases, contained significantly fewer calories after the law went into effect, and even fewer calories for people who had previously consumed the most calories ... Although one might expect the law to hurt business by reducing demand, the data showed no effect on Starbucks, and, in fact, Starbucks stores close to Dunkin’ Donuts actually gained some sales, perhaps because some customers of the latter were put off by the calorie content of doughnuts. Moreover, there was an increase in the average price per item purchased, suggesting that profitability increased, too.”
KC's View:
Demonstrating that transparency does not have to be a negative, especially if retailers offer a range of options. These days, these are two important components of any marketing plan that is going to be relevant to the current climate - you have to provide options up and down the nutrition scale, and you have to be transparent.