Category Archives: Consumerism

Coca-Cola UK Introduces Attached Bottle Caps

Everyone is familiar with the content feeling of walking through smooth, silky sand at the beach only to be suddenly irked by stepping on something hard and painful. While it may sometimes be a seashell, often we stomp on all sorts of litter, frequently bottle caps.

As part of Coca-Cola’s “World Without Waste” initiative, the company’s UK branch has begun manufacturing new models of its plastic bottles. The new design features an attached cap, making it easier to recycle the whole piece and eliminate tossing the caps. The global initiative’s main mission is to collect and recycle one can or bottle for every one that they sell by 2030. It also aims to produce cans and bottles made of 50% recyclable material by 2030 and to offer 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.

Jon Woods, Coca-Cola Great Britain’s general manager, explained the new bottle design: “This is a small change that we hope will have a big impact, ensuring that when consumers recycle our bottles, no cap gets left behind.”

In addition to the pollution problem the loose caps pose, it is also an image concern for companies like Coke. The population notices the shorelines and landfills overflowing with these items, associating the trash with the company and negatively impacting their brand’s reputation. New regulations by the EU also require companies to attach the caps to some plastic bottles by the end of 2024.

While some environmentalists believe Coca-Cola should switch from plastic to reusable containers, the shift the UK spur is making in its bottle design is surely a step in the right direction.

Transitioning to Lab-Made Diamonds

The weather is warming up and the sun is finally shining. As engagement season approaches, there is generally a rise in sales in the diamond industry. With the increasing popularity of factory-made diamonds, however, authentic diamond sales have been slowing down.

Independent diamond industry analyst, Edahn Golan, explains that the number of engagement rings with a lab-made diamond sold in March increased by 63% compared to last year, while the amount of traditional engagement rings featuring a natural diamond decreased by 25%. Data from February showed an even larger increase in purchases of rings with manufactured diamonds, at 80% more than the previous year. Golan cautions, “The big fear in the natural diamonds industry is that consumers will start accepting lab-grown diamonds in engagement rings.” He continues, “Too late. It’s actually happening.”

Why the switch to man-made diamonds?

The most apparent reason is cost. With a one-carat round lab-made diamond retailing at $2,318, it’s equivalent natural stone would average at $8.740 – a difference of over 70%. This disparity enables couples to purchase larger stones without worry about compromising on clarify or perfection.

Aside from cost, manufactured diamonds are becoming more popular as the population learns more about them. Negative association connected to child labor in African diamond mines and “blood diamonds” used to finance conflict in war-torn areas leaves a bad taste to many. According to The Knot wedding planning website, the younger population is more conscientious about the background of natural diamonds and the ethical issues related. A lab-made diamond offers an appealing solution.

Large jewelry companies are accommodating these new concerns and the market trends. Zales and Kay Jewelers are producing more man-made bridal options. Pandora, the world’s largest jewelry company, made a drastic move last year, announcing the company’s plans to stop using natural diamonds altogether, and shift to manufactured diamonds only.

If the statistics from the past few months are telling, it seems that demand for manufactured diamonds will only continue to increase. As long as budget and ethics remain priorities for consumers, more jewelry companies are bound to follow the path some major ones have already taken.

Nutritional Labels Found to Stump Shoppers

The good news is most American consumers want to eat healthy; the bad news is companies are not making that easy. In a recent study conducted by Attest, research showed that 60% of 2,000 surveyed shoppers are committed to living healthy lifestyles. They aim to buy nutritious products but 52% of the participants were concerned about the steep prices of foods said to contain special, healthy ingredients.

The survey also showed that food labels are highly misunderstood by consumers. Participants were asked to identify which of six different cereal bars was the healthiest choice. Only 9% chose the correct one, while 13% actually indicated the least healthy of the six options. Marketing slogans, such as “whole grain,” “100 calories,” or “naturally favored,” contributed to the confusion that the participants felt.

Jeremy King, founder and CEO of Attest, remarked that the results should be seen as a call to action for the food and beverage industry to reevaluate their marketing and labeling practices. King concluded: “This data shows that identifying real, healthy products appears to be a serious difficulty for American shoppers, as packaging messages simply aren’t accessible enough for consumers. With six-in-ten consumers actively looking to buy healthy food and beverage products, addressing this issue will be of significant benefit to the industry.”

When asked what would be most helpful in gaining clarity, shoppers agreed that packaging labels with straightforward nutritional information was a priority. Some added that coupons may entice people to try a product for the first time. Others wanted to see a stamp of approval from certified health officials on the product labels.

A Reason to Raise Your Spirits

Beam Suntory, one of the largest producers of distilled beverages in the world, has been working to shift its image to higher-end spirits. Its popular Knob Creek bourbon has sported a new look for the past three years, with an updated label design that has brought back its nine-year age statement, and a new line of 12-year and 15-year versions of the whisky. While prices once ranged from $25 to $50 per bottle, prices are now anywhere from $36 to $200. Following the company’s conscious efforts to step into the higher-end market, international sales reportedly rose 11% in 2021.

CEO Albert Baladi said in an interview: “Two years ago, in 2020, we weren’t as affected as a lot of companies, so the bounce back isn’t as strong as some of the other numbers that you’re still seeing, but still I think double-digits against 2019 is quite powerful.” Baladi continued to explain that the spirits industry generally does well even in times of economic crisis, and that raising prices encourages the company to continue upgrading its beverages. An advantage has been that customers are less sensitive to price hikes made to counterbalance inflation, as they’re pleased to pay more for higher-end drinks.

Ready to tap into another beverage line, Beam Suntory has announced plans to expand its ready-to-drink cocktail line and has partnered with Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer. Although unexpected, this trendy market line has proven lucrative and ranked as the fasting growing of any spirit category, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Beam Suntory’s premixed brands Sauza and Truly Vodka will be released this spring.

Apple Stores Coming Back After Corona Lockdown

Apple Inc., the mega consumer-tech company, will be reopening 25 of its stores in the United States during the week of May 18. This is a continuation of a re-opening process that is beginning slowly at Apple, and all over the country, to bring commerce back and get the economy back in gear. As of mid-May, Apple has re-opened about 20% of its stores worldwide.

The innovative company closed all its stores outside of Greater China in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic that was wreaking havoc throughout the world.

“Our commitment is to reopen our stores when we are confident the environment is safe,” wrote Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of retail, on the company’s website.

Although the stores will re-open, they will not go back to business the way it was before the pandemic started. Stores will limit the number of customers in at any one time; social distancing—maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters between customers—will be enforced, and some stores will have only curbside or storefront pickup.

Apple openings began last week with five stores in the US. Customers and employees were required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked before entering the stores.
The company has 271 stores in the United States and 239 outside the US. It was reported that Apple will also open 10 stores in Italy, beginning on May 19.