Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Way To (not) Go?

Another snippet from the trade mag gave me a bit of concern, it was an article headed by "Retailers must embrace m-commerce". This was more to do with helping save the high street stores from closing, rather than the 'big-boys', but it eventually will embrace all types of retail establishments, including the dreaded supermarkets.

Research has found that 47% of people said the likelihood of them visiting a store increased after receiving a text message/offer, and "one in four were driven to purchase the advertised product".
With the launch next year of near-field communications and mobile 'wallets', the role of the mobile in shopping is only going to increase....so "lets start engaging customers with something new and exciting, I have no doubt they'll bite".
Doesn't this just prove what I've been saying all along...they throw us some bait and keep reeling us in. And we can't stop nibbling can we? Well, maybe we can once we know what is happening.

Am hoping that many of you will agree with me that there is no end to the way the stores will try to separate us from our money. With the smaller high-street stores possibly it is a good way to stay afloat, but how many of the younger generation (who always seem to have their mobiles clamped to their ears or feverishly receiving and making texts) will be 'persuaded' to spend. Perhaps not so bad if it's their own earnings, but nowadays it seems the 'Bank of Parent' is the one they rely on to provide heir dosh.

Indeed, can remember my late teenage years when all I wanted to buy was clothes (and earrings and lipstick, and shoes, and handbags....). Despite my mother urging me to put a least a little of my (then very generous) pocket money into the bank, I never did. Always spent it all on unnecessaries. So when it comes to wasting money, have to admit to 'been there, done that..." so can understand the way the 'trade' target those most likely to part with their cash. Took me many years and four children to make me come to my senses, and now I'm completely the opposite (my mother would now be proud of me), spending hardly any money at all on myself, and not a lot on others either (other than food of course) for a really good gift does not need to be expensive, just 'right for the job'.

Watched the final 'Superscrimpers' last night, again disappointed that there was not more about food. The charity shop purchases made a lot of sense (other than it was fancy clothes being bought to wear when 'having a good time', rather than buying 'household furnishings' and 'day to day' clothes (which have more use) and also the cleaning products (although I knew these already, and many many years ago gave a tip about using the nets (that fruit come in), to collect and use as pan scrubbers. But as I keep saying, there is nothing new when it comes to today's 'thrift', it's just that only us oldies remember them. So probably a good idea to keep reminding the younger generations (and have to say at the age I am now, there are several 'younger' generations that have arrived during my lifetime).
In a way this programme IS designed for the younger folk (or at least no older than 40), for the rest of us 'wrinklies' DO know all the hints and tips they explain (other than perhaps car mechanics), and even though we complain 'there is nothing new shown', and feel there is nothing left to offer that we don't already know about, this is not true when it comes to the younger viewers. It is surprising (and very sad) how in a couple of generations so many hints, tips and skill can be lost. So perhaps we should not be so critical, just sit back and instead feel smu because WE know, but at the same time share our knowledge so it is not lost forever..

Returning to the trade mag, there was a feature on 'store loyalty', and the usual 'research' showed there are three types of customers: the 'promoters' - loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others; the 'passives' - satisfied but unenthusiastic who are vulnerable to competitive offerings; and 'detractors' - unhappy customers who can damage a brand and impede growth through negative word of mouth.
Without going into the why's and wherefore's (this takes several pages), readers of this blog may be interested to know that Waitrose came out on top. Reasons given were 'good quality', 'good service' and 'good price for good quality'. Yet, in the weekly 'cheapest shopping basket', Waitrose is almost always the most expensive. So obviously cheapest prices are not the whole reason for customers to continually favour a store.

Second highest is Aldi, again offering 'good price for good quality', 'good customer service' and convenient and easy to use.
Third is Asda. 'The most trusted when it comes to representing prices and offers' (according to the poll). The number one reason for loyalty amongst Asda shoppers is 'low prices', but only 11% say the retailer offers good quality for the price.
Fourth comes Sainsbury's with only 5 points above the industry average. 'Good product quality' being the main reason for shoppers recommendations. 'Good offers/rewards' being the second.
Fifth is Lidl, and although Aldi is beating Lidl in the loyalty contest, Lidl still has more loyal followers than some of Britain's biggest supermarkets. 'Low prices' being the main attraction.

Was surprised at the Morrison's 'mention'. Myself like this store (Tesco comes tops with my personal loyalty, M come second, which shows that I probably am not shopping at the right store, but there you go), Eleven per cent say that Morrison's 'offer good quality at a good price', also the same percentage give 'ease of access' as a plus. However 7% say this supermarket is average and (horrors) 3% say they don't trust it. But then there are many people around who never trust anything or anyone at all.

Tesco is neck and neck with Asda on good prices, but fell well below its rival on 'low prices', with only 9% of shoppers saying this was the key factor that would make them recommend the store.
Perhaps this is the reason why Tesco have suddenly introduced another 'price drop'.

Marks and Spencer (aka M & S) has the highest number of 'detractors', saying this is at odds with its own research. It has the highest score for 'good service'
The Co-op is at the bottom of the list with the lowest number of 'promoters'. It is said that 22% give 'convenience' as the main reason, but as this has no bearing on loyalty, this keeps them bottom of the table.

Interestingly it is not always the lowest priced stores that get our custom. Trust comes into it too and M & S with 22% of shoppers rating this store as 'being the most trusted', does not compare well with Ocado (29%), the Co-op (31%), all three being at the low end of 'trustworthyness'. At the opposite (top) end, is Asda (67%), followed by Sainsbury's (55%) and Aldi (54%).

The above facts are possibly more of interest to retailers than customers who tend to be loyal to a store for many reasons. We have to choose which way to go - the store with the lowest prices but not always the best quality, or pay a higher price and trust the store. Or is it that the one closest to where we live gets our patronage as it saves fuel costs driving there and back?

Messing about with prices is another no-no when it comes to loyalty points, and myself wish there was a store (and there probably is) where prices remain much the same month by month. Unfortunately the top stores do tend to give short-term offers, so if we don't shop every week we then miss out on some good ones. Trouble is if we DO shop every week then we are likely to spend more (in total over the month) that we might if we did one big shop each month. Which is why offers are often short-term (the more we step into the store, the more we spend).
Myself have to battle with deciding to choose which week to shop (with Tesco online) to give me the best savings. As long as I stick with what is needed, the 'wants' can wait for another time when they will (hopefully) be 'on offer'. My statements prove this, as very few of the same 'long-shelf-life' products are ordered each time, only the 'fresh' remain the same (and these can vary if there is a different butter/cheese/eggs at at lower price, or there is a bargain pack of fruit/veg).
This way all the 'able to be stored for months' products are bought only when 'on offer', and this really does help to keep my budget within bounds AND also spend less.

One final comment re the 'loyalty' consumer - this from Aldi where a representative says "Lidl's growing at about 10%, while we're (Aldi) at 40% to 50%. That's because we're doing things differently. Not only are we convenient, we cover 95% of our customer's need and we're benchmarking against the leading brands on quality. Then you get to the till and your trolley is 20% to 30% cheaper. That's why our customers are quite evangelical."

At the moment my loyalties lie with Tesco, probably because I've been a very regular customer for many years, they are also good with plying me with money-vouchers if I've not been purchasing from them for some time. But this doesn't stop me feeling that Aldi might be worth a try. Hopefully will make a visit to our local branch soon and can then report back with my findings. It'll almost be like role-playing 'mystery shopper'. Could be fun.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to write out a shopping list before I change my shopping 'venue', then can compare products/prices against those shown on the Tesco on-line site. Yet (and there has to be a 'yet' or 'but') do know that those 6 jacket spuds for 30p from Morrison's certainly were cheaper than the four for 50p advertised on a recent Aldi leaflet. What it always comes down to is that wherever we shop - when it comes to best prices 'we will always win some, lose some.'

There are those who will happily trudge from store to store buying only the cheapest products, even though it may take hours of their time. Myself feel that by spending a few more pennies and staying in one store, we then have a lot more time to cook at home, saving possibly more money 'at home' than when in a store. Buying on-line saves me LOADS of shopping time, so perhaps I should follow my own advice and buy only basics and make these work for their money. But then what else do I do but cook in the cheapest way possible?Pe

This brings me to recipe time, and today am offering a rather different cake, this time made using peanut butter. Odd it may seem, but then as peanuts are 'nuts', and many nuts are used when baking, also fats in some form (the oil in peanuts turns it into 'butter') then this recipe doesn't really move the goalposts as far as they seem. As peanuts are high in protein, then possibly this cake is also 'good for us'.
The other name for peanuts being 'groundnuts' , and when B makes a hog of himself whenever he eats my baking, cannot resist calling this cake:
Groundhog Cake: serves 12
7 oz (200g) butter
5 tblsp smooth peanut butter
4 large eggs
7 oz (200g) caster sugar
5 fl oz (150ml) natural yogurt
7 oz (200g) self-raising flour, sifted
4 oz (100g) milk chocolate
knob of butter
2 oz (50g) roasted peanuts, chopped (opt)
1 tblsp icing sugar (opt)
few drops water
Put the butter, and 3 tblsp of the peanut butter (the remaining 2 tblsp used as filling), eggs, sugar and yogurt into a bowl and beat (pref with electric beaters) until smooth and creamy. Fold in the flour and divide between two lined sandwich tins. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 30 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through.
Meanwhile (if using nuts as a final garnish) put the roasted, chopped peanuts into a bowl with the icing sugar and a bare half tsp water and mix/toss together to coat the nuts. Spread these onto a non-stick (or lined) baking sheet then when the cake are removed from the oven raise the heat to 200C, and roast the nuts for 1o minutes until golden and caramelised, then tip onto a lightly oiled plate.
Leave the cooked cakes to cool in their tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cake airer, then, when completely cold sandwich together with the remaining 2 tblsp peanut butter.
Cover with an 'icing' made by melting the chocolate and butter together, then scatter the caramelised chopped peanuts on top.

Next recipe comes under my 'cheapie' range. Not so cheap if we buy everything from scratch, but as it can make use of chicken scraps picked from a cooked carcase, ham scraps after slicing home-cooked ham, and carrots (never expensive) and a potato (cheap when on offer) plus a few frozen 'greens', it is only the butter and double cream/creme fraiche that could be classed as 'expensive', and even then not if we make our own creme fraiche. Instead of the cream, we could use left-over (or freshly made) cheese sauce to bind the meats together. Think with all the economy so far we can allow ourselves the luxury of butter to add flavour to the spud and carrot.
Although this doesn't give large servings as-is, certainly enough when served with other veggies or a side salad. If you wish to make larger portions, just increase the quantities of everything.
Chicken Pie with Carrot 'thatch': serves 4
1 large carrot
1 large potato
2 tblsp butter, melted
quarter to half a pint of cooked ham, chopped or scraps
half a pint of cooked chicken, chopped (more if poss)
3 tblsp frozen peas, defrosted
4 tblsp double cream/creme fraiche (see above)
Put the whole carrot and potato into a pan with water and boil for 5 minutes, then drain and refresh with cold water. Drain again, peel and grate both into a bowl and add the melted butter and mix together.
Put the cooked chicken and ham pieces into a pie dish with the peas and cream, stirring together then level the surface. Cover with the grated spud and carrot mixture and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20 minutes or until heated through and the topping has become crusty and golden. Serve hot.

Here is another dish that makes good use of chicken scraps. If we are lucky enough to have all the spices given, then we can make this as shown, otherwise use a tablespoon of curry paste.
Chicken Pilaf: serves 4
2 tsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 cardamom pods, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
7 oz (200g) long-grain rice (pref basmati)
1 pint (600ml) hot vegetable or chicken stock
half a pint of cooked chicken, shredded
salt and pepper
handful of toasted nuts (almonds, peanuts or cashew)
2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander (opt)
cranberry sauce (for serving)
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened,. Stir in the garlic and spices and fry for a further minute, then add the rice and stir-fry for 2 minutes before adding the stock. Reduce heat to the simmer and cook (stir often) for about 20 minutes until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Fold in the chicken and seasoning to taste, then cook on until the chicken is thoroughly heated. Serve in a heated dish (or directly from pan to table), scattering the nuts and coriander on top. Each individual serving should have a spoon of cranberry sauce dolloped on top.

As ever, thanks for comments. Woozy has now gone on holiday so may miss my reply to her comment where she had obviously logged on before I completed yesterday's posting (I had begun to type in the title when the page then clicked back to a fresh start and it didn't let me know that I'd inadvertently published it before I'd even begun), so I just retyped the title and carried on. Apologies to those who had logged on too soon and thought I'd lost the plot.

Thanks for the info re conical sieves (on eBay) Campfire. Will wait to see if Lakeland include them in the summer catalogue before I seek one elsewhere (my loyalty extends to Lakeland as well as Tesco!).
And yes, do I remember Kunzle cakes!!! My mother absolutely LOVED them, so I was lucky if was allowed a taste. They were very special and am surprised they haven't made a come-back. Not sure about the Lactic cheese. The name rings a bell, so probably have eaten it at some time, but as with anything scrumptious, it is the Kunzle Cakes that stay longest in my memory.

Not sure if it is the same Swiss company Catriona that now owns Kit-Kat, but the Swiss flag also appears against Nescafe, Felix, Bakers (Nestle Purina brand of dog food), Rowntree's, Aero, Quality Street, Onken Biopot, MilkyBar, and Winalot.
I can find only one Canadian company listed - this for McCain (chips etc), but 44 US companies (although to be fair not all products began in this country.
There are several 'twinned' countries that own a certain brand. The US and (I think) France (that part of their flag shown as vertical bands of blue/white/red) share the profits from Jaffa Cakes, Mini Cheddars, Jacob's Crackers, and a joint US/Canada company own Cadbury Biscuits.
We share with companies from other countries. But does it really matter? Most of the products are still made in Britain, so this means British people are employed. Unfortunately it is the other countries 'fat cats' that line their pockets with the profits.

Am not at all in a cooking mood at the moment, so put the pastry back in to the freezer until I feel more like using it. With B 'eating out' yesterday, made myself nothing more than jacket potato with canned tuna for lunch (after a breakfast of brown bread and cheese), and for supper had only a couple of apples. Was SURE I had saved a large navel orange for me, but it wasn't there, so maybe I ate it or B ate it. There is nothing worse than looking forward to eating something then find you haven't got it after all.

Not sure about whether I'll be blogging tomorrow or not. It all depends on what time I rise for with Norma the Hair coming at 9.00 then around noon (or shortly after) will be taking a trip to the hospital for a diabetic 'eye-check' (apparently they put drops in the eye which then causes blurring lasting for many hours), will not later be able to see the comp screen clearly enough to type (or even watch TV for that matter). If my eyesight has cleared enough for me to type early Thursday, then I will, otherwise may have to take another day off from writing my blog.
So you'll understand if tomorrow (Wed) and the following day (Thurs) there are no postings, but worth logging on for who knows - I might rise early tomorrow, and by Thurs my sight might be back. Only time can tell.
So - it remains now for me to say 'see you when I see you' and hope that between now and then you all enjoy your day(s), and keep sending me comments for I'll eventually be able to get to read them. TTFN.