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  Monday, 29 Jul 2013 | 12:22 PM ET

Brewery toasts 125 years with a gift for drinkers

Posted By: Tom Rotunno
Source: F.X. Matt Brewing Co.

Think of it as a baker's dozen, craft-brewing style.

F.X. Matt Brewing, the eighth-largest craft brewer in the United States, is celebrating its 125th anniversary by giving customers a gift that beer drinkers can often only dream about: free beer.

The brewery, now in its fourth generation of family ownership, is giving consumers 13 beers for the price of 12, adding a can of its new Legacy IPA into variety packs of the Saranac brand.

"As a family, the legacy that we have is beer. We've passed it down from generation to generation," said Fred Matt, president and chief operating officer. "So we thought, let's share this gift as a kind of thank you to all those loyal customers who've helped us get to 125 years."

Given its ability to survive decade after decade, F.X. Matt has a unique perspective on the current craft beer boom. According to the latest figures, more than 2,500 breweries are in operation, with 1,000 more planned.

»Read more
  Monday, 22 Jul 2013 | 6:29 PM ET

Not so child-friendly? Taco Bell axing kids' meals

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Taco Bell says it will stop serving kids' meals and toys, which weren't really boosting sales anyway.

The chain said that it will start removing the options this month at select restaurants, and it anticipates that no U.S. restaurants will have them by next January. Taco Bell has traditionally gone after younger men who want to load up on fast-food cheaply.

In a press release set to be issued Tuesday, Taco Bell hails itself as the first national fast-food chain to get rid of kids' meals and toys.

»Read more
  Saturday, 20 Jul 2013 | 1:48 PM ET

Heineken: This round (trip ticket) is on us

Posted By: Tom Rotunno
Getty Images

Heineken wants to buy air travelers a free round—but this freebie comes with catch.

In an unusual marketing campaign, the global beer brand isn't buying beer drinkers a round on the house, it's looking to send travelers on a round-trip journey to places they've likely never been before.

To help make that happen, Heineken set up a departure board in Terminal 8 at JFK airport last week and offering passengers the chance to take a trip to exotic destinations around the world.

The catch? You don't get to choose your destination and you have to depart right at that moment.

Calling it "Departure Roulette," Heineken officials spent the week at JFK looking for adventurous souls willing to cancel their planned itineraries for the chance to jet off to an unknown destination.

Travelers willing to take their chances hit a button on a game-show style board to reveal the destination they'd be heading.

The marketing stunt was designed to promote Henineken's "Dropped" campaign, an online series in which four men are sent to remote destinations around the world and the challenges they face when they arrive are filmed.

So did anyone take the plunge? Take a look:

»Read more
  Saturday, 20 Jul 2013 | 11:00 AM ET

Hamburglar, Colonel retire as fast food grows up

Posted By: Martha C. White, NBC News contributor
Getty Images

Oh, where are the brand mascots of yesteryear? The Quisps, the Hamburglars, the Colonels who tweaked our fancy and tickled our tastebuds?

It seems like almost every day, the brand images many Americans grew up with are being shelved.

The latest victim could be the string-tie wearing symbol of KFC, Colonel Sanders. Although he got a face-lift back in 2006, the Colonel Sanders logo edged closer to retirement this week as the KFC brand rolled out a new restaurant concept, KFC eleven, without the Colonel's goateed visage accompanying it.

(Read more: Cap'n Crunch eyes down 'mutinous rumblings')

Analysts say it is part of a broader trend of fast-food chains abandoning the mascots that once defined them. As they embrace a healthier, more upscale image, cartoons and kitsch don't have the selling power they once did.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 16 Jul 2013 | 3:57 PM ET

RadioShack revival? CEO says it's what he's after

Posted By: Courtney Reagan
RadioShack CEO reveals game plan
CNBC's Courtney Reagan talks with Joe Magnacca, RadioShack CEO, about his company's turnaround strategy from the new concept store in New York.

Ninety-three years is a long time to stay relevant and remain competitive.

That's the challenge facing RadioShack. The retailer's 4,300 stores look dated and overstuffed with merchandise. But CEO Joe Magnacca said he is staging an interventionleading a transformation of the consumer electronics retailer.

Despite recent market speculation, Magnacca said it's not an effort to build up the company for a sale, but rather to regain lost sales and traffic.

"I was brought in to help transform this business and the team that I'm putting in place is focused on rebuilding RadioShack," Magnacca told CNBC. "We're in a great space relative to technology. It's a brand that really in the past has kind of lost its way."

»Read more
  Tuesday, 16 Jul 2013 | 6:00 AM ET

Cool products for hot women

Posted By: Katie Little
Source: Brookstone

Having trouble in bed?

To ease temperature-related complaints, mattress sellers and manufacturers have launched several new products after noticing that couples and hot flash-suffering women were having restless nights. These high-tech products, which include mattresses and mattress toppers, help sleepers control the temperature of their beds—a crucial component of a good night's rest.

"The main complaint is that usually one of the two is fine and one isn't, and that makes it very difficult for a couple to get a balance in the bedroom," said Pete Bils, vice president of sleep innovation and clinical research for Sleep Number, a unit of Select Comfort. "Usually one is too hot, and the other could be too cold."

»Read more
  Monday, 15 Jul 2013 | 12:56 PM ET

Big test for JC Penney: Back-to-school season

Posted By: Courtney Reagan
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The back-to-school season will be the biggest test for CEO Mike Ullman since he returned to J.C. Penney in early April.

While few analysts are betting the struggling department store chain will be one of the major winners for the season this year, many think it may finally start to show signs of life.

The big question is whether or not its fiscal third quarter will be the first time the retailer brings home a positive same-store sales report card since second-quarter 2011.

»Read more
  Monday, 15 Jul 2013 | 5:33 AM ET

Attention shoppers: You are being tracked

Posted By: Stephanie Clifford and Quentin Hardy
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Like dozens of other brick-and-mortar retailers, Nordstrom wanted to learn more about its customers — how many came through the doors, how many were repeat visitors — the kind of information that e-commerce sites like Amazon have in spades. So last fall the company started testing new technology that allowed it to track customers' movements by following the Wi-Fi signals from their smartphones.

But when Nordstrom posted a sign telling customers it was tracking them, shoppers were unnerved.

"We did hear some complaints," said Tara Darrow, a spokeswoman for the store. Nordstrom ended the experiment in May, she said, in part because of the comments.

Nordstrom's experiment is part of a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers' behavior and moods, using video surveillance and signals from their cellphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in the candy aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it.

(Read more: Best Buy offers $200 for old iPads)

»Read more
  Monday, 15 Jul 2013 | 7:54 AM ET

Ford, Amazon, Subway top list of buzziest brands

Posted By: Amy Langfield
Getty Images

Ford, Amazon, Subway and the History Channel are the "buzziest" brands in the United States, according to the latest bi-annual list from YouGov's BrandIndex.

The U.S. survey is based on interviews with 20,000 people each week and measures a brand's buzz, which includes whether people have heard anything positive or negative about the brand in the media or through word of mouth. The company issues a new list every six months.

»Read more
  Saturday, 13 Jul 2013 | 3:00 PM ET

Coors kick-starts entrepreneur's cold invention

Posted By: Tom Rotunno
Source: Chill Puck

As summer heat grips much of the nation, a budding entrepreneur is offering beer drinkers a new way to help keep their beer cold through the very last sip.

"I was at an outdoor barbecue and saw people dumping out the last few sips of beer and I thought to myself, how do I change this?" said Curt Peters, the creator of the Chill Puck.

Billed as "the next generation ice pack," the Chill Puck is a hockey-puck-like disc that is molded to fit the bottom of standard-sized beer cans. Consumers keep it the in the freezer and attach it when they are ready to use. The Chill Puck is designed to stay cold for more than an hour at room temperature.

Like many hopeful entrepreneurs, Peters turned to Kickstarter.com to fund his start up. The original goal was $7,500, but the project got off to a lukewarm start when it launched.

»Read more

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  • From the products to the pitches to the people who buy them, we are a Consumer Nation. This blog focuses on all things consumer, taking the pulse of the attitudes that shape purchasing decisions, and providing insights that will help keep marketers, entrepreneurs and investors up-to-date on where trends are heading.

 

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