Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes Results

Happy Friday everyone! Our most recent Scavenger Hunt has ended; so my question to you is, did you find all six fall-related images?

Just to recap: Six fall-related images (graphics) were hidden in past blog posts from this year. Once found, participants entered the title of the particular blog post in a specially created survey.

Out of the thousands of correct entries, we then randomly selected five winners.

So let’s hear it for the five Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes winners who will each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code.

  • Becky G. / ldar …
  • Christina B. / ms.rizk …
  • Jennifer H. / jlynj …
  • Raya M. / rayaf …
  • Samantha J. / Zebra …

Note: For privacy, we only used their first names and the first initial of their last name, as well as the first few letters of their email addresses. (Winners will be contacted shortly.)

Here are the blog postings where the six images were located:

Do You Know Your Stores? (Posted on February 22, 2019) Acorn
How ‘Bout A S’more! (Posted on August 9, 2019) Bucket of Apples
Got A Question? Go To The Video (Posted on June 7, 2019) Football
Millennials And Online Shopping (Posted on February 8, 2019) Pie
Spotlight On Sustainability (Posted on May 17, 2019) Pumpkin
A Brief History Of Coupons (Posted on March 22, 2019) leaf

I hope you enjoyed participating in this Scavenger Hunt!

Have a great weekend.

Best Regards,
Taylor

Keeping Cyber Secure

It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month. (The National Cyber Security Awareness Month was created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.)

With most people doing virtually everything online nowadays, it is crucial that you protect yourself from “bad actors” trying to get your personal information.

So here are some useful tips from cso.com to help you stay cyber secure:

1. Always keep your privacy settings on: Most social networking websites, including Facebook, Instagram, etc., allow users to tweak or update their privacy settings easily. You can take advantage of these features and keep your online privacy intact on social media. Also, and this is pretty much common sense, don’t tell the world your business! Don’t post personal details that might come back to haunt you.

2. Choose strong passwords: Although it might be difficult for you to remember, the trickier the password, the better! There are multiple tools available on the internet that can help you create the strongest passwords. Also, don’t forget to change your passwords every couple of months.

3. Keep your antivirus program updated: Always make sure to stay current with your Operating System’s updates and the applications that you use. They provide a vital layer of security for your system and your devices.

4. Make sure your Internet connection is secured: Try avoiding a public Wi-Fi network completely, unless you can use a VPN (virtual private network) app installed on your device.

Hopefully these tips will keep you from having any problems in the future.

And don’t forget our Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes, which ends on Monday, October 14.

To enter, go to

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCPBlog_FallSweeps

Here are some important details:

  • We’ve hidden images in past blog posts for you to find. It’s up to you to go through all of my blog postings from 2019 and look for the six fall-related images (graphics).
  • To be eligible, you must provide the exact title of the blog posting. (You may find it easier to copy and paste the exact title into the response field.) You do not need to include the date of the posting.
  • From all of the correct entries, five (5) winners will then be selected in a random drawing. Each winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code! (Please make sure to give us your contact information.)

Have a great weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes

Since it’s now officially fall, let’s celebrate the season with a Fall Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes!

As we’ve done in the past, we’ve hidden images in past blog posts for you to find.

It’s up to you to go through all of my blog postings from 2019 and look for the six fall-related images (graphics).

Shhh… here’s a hint, you’ll be looking for graphics that depict: an acorn, a bucket of apples, a football, a leaf, a pie, and a pumpkin.

When you find any of the images listed, make a note of the blog post title where you found the image. After you have found all of the images, go to the link below and follow the instructions. 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCPBlog_FallSweeps

Here are some other important details:

  • To be eligible, you must provide the exact title of the blog posting. (You may find it easier to copy and paste the exact title into the response field.) You do not need to include the date of the posting.
  • From all of the correct entries, five (5) winners will then be selected in a random drawing. Each winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code! (Please make sure to give us your contact information.)
  • The contest ends on Monday, October 14.

Please check out the rules:

http://www.ncponline.com/wbcnt/NCPBlog/Fall2019Sweepstakes.pdf

Good luck!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards (“GCs”) cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

Keeping It Fresh

Like many others, I’ve started purchasing more of my groceries online. Who doesn’t love the convenience! But if I do get anything online, it’s almost always a packaged item.

I still go to the grocery store for “fresh” foods, like bakery goods, deli, meat, produce and seafood. Interesting stat from the Nielsen Company: online grocery shoppers spend 1.5% more in-store on fresh food than the average consumer does.

According to Nielsen, deli and produce departments provide the highest sales of “fresh food” items in stores. In fact, three-fourths of deli sales come from items packaged by deli clerks, giving customers a more authentic, ready-made feel.

Meanwhile, online sales of health and beauty care items and dairy products are rising.

Where do you get your fresh food items? Let us know by leaving a comment.

As you can see, sales of fresh food continues to increase in stores.

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Scavenger Hunt News
It’s almost here! The next NCP Blog Scavenger Hunt, featuring fall-related items, will be starting next week. Remember to come back to the blog next week for details!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Grab ‘N Go ‘N Scan!

Busy, busy, busy. That’s the story of our lives. And although we want to provide healthy food choices for our families and ourselves, who has the time to prepare these goodies? I barely have time to breathe!

If you’re like me, you take some, shall we say, food prep short-cuts. That is, purchasing “grab-and-go” food.

We’re not alone: According to the Nielsen Company, deli departments, which have a lot of grab-and-go items, have had sales go from $15 billion in 2014 to $20 billion in 2018. Some of the biggest sellers in the deli department include prepared items like salads, sandwiches, wings, and meal kits. 

Further, according to Nielsen, consumers prepare just 4.6 dinners at home each week, and most aren’t interested in spending more than 30 minutes on prep time. Even among home cooks, more than half enjoy using semi-prepared ingredients on occasion to help get food on the table faster.

While some shoppers, according to Nielsen, look for something tasty, but a little indulgent, such as wings, lasagna and pizza, many others look for healthy options.

According to Nielsen data, salad dollar sales grew $193 million between November 2017 and November 2018 — up 49% from the prior-year period — while sales of smoothies increased 32% during the same period. Sales of what Nielsen calls “innovative” plant-based foods, including veggie noodles and plant-based yogurt, grew 18% over the year-long period.

What about you? Are you part of a grab-and-go household? And if so, what do you like to grab-and-go? Let us know in the comments section.

Recording Your Grab-And-Go Purchases
Record all of your household’s prepared foods purchases using the Prepared Foods listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet if you use a handheld scanner, or if you have the NCPMobile App, the Non-Barcoded Items listing in the app.

Record all food items that need no preparation before eating, such as chicken salad, sushi, etc., as well as foods that may need to be heated before you eat/serve them.

These prepared food items can be purchased at supermarkets, warehouse clubs, delicatessens, etc., and may not have a barcode. Do not use this listing to record prepared foods purchased from restaurants or fast food establishments.

NCPMobile users can also record their meal-kit purchases in the app.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Pour Me A Cup Of Joe!

Something is brewing in the coffee market! If you’re like me, you can’t live without a cup or two of coffee to get you going. (We’re certainly not alone: 64% of American adults drink coffee nearly daily, according to a 2018 National Coffee Association survey.)

Well, according to the Nielsen Company (and NCP panel members’ data), American’s consumption habits are changing, as many consumers are increasingly getting their coffee fix from chilled, on-the-go coffee options rather than energy drinks and carbonated soft drinks. 

In the ready-to-drink coffee market, within the past year 158 new ready-to-drink coffee offerings (up 14% year-over-year) have hit store shelves, with 89 new cold brews and an additional 30 iced coffee varieties brought to market, according to Nielsen.

Consumers are also enjoying fun creamer options, like white chocolate, toasted marshmallow and sticky cinnamon bun. According to Nielsen, growth in the U.S. coffee creamer market has actually outpaced that of traditional packaged coffee sales. Over the past four years (ending June 29, 2019), U.S. sales of creams and non-dairy creamers rose an average of 2.8% each year, compared with packaged coffee sales that rose an average of just 0.8% during the same time.

Finally, as we all know, it’s pumpkin spice flavor season! According to Nielsen, what “started as an innovative coffee flavor, pumpkin spice has sparked a flavor craze that now defines an entire season.” In fact, all pumpkin-flavored products put together brought in $511 million dollars in sales. That’s a lot of pumpkins!

So, what’s your favorite coffee/creamer flavor? Let us know in the comments section!

NCPulse Results!
A short time ago, Joanna from NCP asked panel members what they enjoyed most about this summer, and their favorite summer memories.

Here’s a brief summary:

  • Spending time with family
  • Sharing fun activities with grandchildren
  • Warm weather and longer days
  • Vacations
  • The availability of farm-fresh fruit and veggies

Scavenger Hunt!
Be on the lookout, in the next few weeks, for our latest scavenger hunt. More details to come very soon!

Have a great weekend, and relax with your favorite cup of coffee.

Best Regards,
Taylor

Back-To-School Shopping

Are your kids or grandkids going back to school – or have they already started? Whether your children are young or not so young, you certainly know that the back-to-school season is one of the busiest times for retailers.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average $696.70, which is up from $684.79 last year. Overall, spending is expected to total $26.2 billion, down from last year’s $27.5 billion despite the increase in per-household spending.

Meanwhile, according to the NRF, families with college students are expected to spend an average $976.78, which is up from last year’s $942.17. All told, their spending is expected to total $54.5 billion, down from last year’s record $55.3 billion.

As part of our NCPulse program, we posted a video that asked NCP panel members how much they spent or expected to spend on back-to-school shopping. Most of the respondents to our survey said they spent $100 to $200 on school supplies, and some spent up to $500 on supplies and clothing for their children. 

Now, to be specific, the NRF said that clothing and accessories will top K-12 families’ expenses at an average $239.82, followed by electronics such as computers, calculators and phones ($203.44); shoes ($135.96) and supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes ($117.49). K-12 families plan to do most of their shopping at department stores (53%), discount stores (50%), online (49%), clothing stores (45%) and office supply stores (31%).

Among K-12 shoppers, teens are expected to spend an average $36.71 of their own money, up from $30.88 10 years ago, while pre-teens should spend $26.40, up from $11.94, 10 years ago.

As for college shoppers, the NRF said they plan to spend the most on electronics ($234.69), followed by clothing and accessories ($148.54), dorm and apartment furnishings ($120.19) and food items ($98.72). They plan to do most of their shopping online (45%), followed by department stores (39%), discount stores (36%), college bookstores (32%) and office supply stores (29%).

Remember: If you do any back-to-school shopping, please record these purchases! Many of these items are sold as multipacks. Please refer to the FAQs section on ncponline.com if you have questions about recording multipacks.

Also, be on the lookout for the next NCPulse video – this one is focused on the end of summer and Labor Day.

Speaking of Labor Day, the Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday, September 2.

I hope you have a nice, relaxing weekend.

Best Regards,
Taylor

Summer Reading

I love to read. Summer’s supposed to be the time to slow down and knock off a few good books. But unfortunately, doing a million things at work and at home, it’s hard to find time to read.

But I’ve found a few ways to help me read more. So even though summer is almost over, I’d like to pass along some tips, from the odysseyonline.com:

  • Bring a book wherever you go. If you don’t want to lug around a hardcover book, upload a book on your Smartphone or tablet, if you have either. You can read a few pages here or there, whether you’re waiting in line or during a break.
  • Listen to audiobooks. Even if you don’t have some written material in your hands, listening to audiobooks still counts!
  • Don’t be afraid to put down a book you’re not enjoying. Sometimes you start reading a book, then realize it’s not what you expected. So just put it down and start another one!
  • Join a book club. Interacting with others about a particular book can really get you motivated to read.
  • Set aside a specific time to read every day. Make a commitment to read, whether it’s just for 10 minutes or for an hour. Like anything else, if you schedule the time, you’re more likely to actually do what you wanted to do.

Let us know if you have any reading tips. Or, if you’re reading a really good book this summer!

And if you do buy a book, whether from a physical store or online, please record the purchase.

One last thing: Be on the lookout for another NCP Blog Scavenger Hunt! Details to come very, very soon!

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Best Regards,
Taylor

How ‘Bout A S’more!

When I think of summer, I think of making – and EATING! – S’mores. I have many wonderful memories of sitting by a campfire or BBQ and toasting – or, more often, burning – the marshmallows, then making the S’more sandwich of graham crackers, a wedge of chocolate, and of course, the now gooey marshmallow. YUM! It was so messy and delicious!

Good news regarding S’mores – Tomorrow, Saturday, August 10, is National S’mores Day!

Bucket of Apples

Tell us how you’ll be celebrating the day in the comments section. Or you can share some S’more memories or even some unique S’more recipes.

Here are some S’more fun facts, from realsimple.com:

  • The first known s’mores recipe was published in the Girl Scouts handbook Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts in 1927. The snack was originally called “some mores.”
  • According to The S’mores Cookbook – and yes, there really is a S’mores Cookbook – Americans buy 90 million pounds of marshmallows every year. It’s estimated that, during the summer, approximately 50% of marshmallows sold are roasted for S’mores.
  • If you don’t have access to an open fire, there are still plenty of ways to make S’mores. The S’mores Cookbook explains how to make the treat on the grill, in the broiler, with a kitchen torch, in a microwave, or over a gas stove, candle, or Sterno.
  • The popularity of the original S’more has inspired American food manufacturers to create other chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker treats, including Pop-Tarts, cereal, ice cream, and even Goldfish.
  • Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented the graham cracker in 1829 in Bound Brook, NJ.
  • According to The Hershey Company, the company produces more than 373 million milk chocolate bars each year, enough to make 746 million s’mores.

There are also many different variations that can be used to make S’mores. Just check out the graphic from allrecipes.com:

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I hope you all have a tasty weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor

Online Sales Of Private Label Products Are Growing

Like many shoppers, I’m always looking for a good deal. And often private-label products (or store brands) are a very good deal. (Private-label products are those manufactured by one company for sale under another company’s brand, and are usually less expensive than a “name” brand.)

Private-label products have always been associated with physical retail stores; in fact, those products account for 17% of total “brick-and-mortar” consumer packaged goods sales.

But now, private-label products are growing in the online world, as sales of these products account for 3% of online dollar sales, up from 1.3% two years ago.

In particular, several private-label product categories, such as aluminum foil, baby wipes, trash bags, paper towels, bath tissues, facial tissues, and disposable diapers, have seen significant online sales growth.

Amazon for one, has many private-label products. My husband purchased Amazon-branded batteries not too long ago.

What about you? Do you purchase private-label products, in either physical retail stores or online? If so, how do you think they compare to name-brand products? Let us know in the comments section.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Best Regards,
Taylor