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    IRI Offers Tracks Consumer Hurricane Preparedness, Response

    CHICAGO -- With the official start of the 2006 hurricane season -- predicted to be very active -- just weeks away, Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) has released insights from an exhaustive analysis of CPG product demand before and after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, summarized in a four-part "Times & Trends" series.

    CHICAGO -- With the official start of the 2006 hurricane season -- predicted to be very active -- just weeks away, Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) has released insights from an exhaustive analysis of CPG product demand before and after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, summarized in a four-part "Times & Trends" series.

    "As leaders in the CPG and retail industries, we must be aggressive about helping consumers not only react, but more importantly, prepare for nature's disasters," noted IRI president and c.e.o. Scott W. Klein. "We learned from Hurricane Katrina that market demand does follow a fairly predictable cycle. Let's use this knowledge and start planning for the 'unplanned,' so that we can help consumers be ready for this year's hurricane season."

    The study found that consumers in affected Gulf Coast markets stocked up on a number of "survival" products the week before Katrina hit. Sales soared among protein-rich shelf-stable foods, such as canned meat, canned seafood, and dried meat snacks, and beverages, including water, aseptic juices, and powdered milk. Alternative cooking sources, among them charcoal and charcoal lighter fluid, and products required in power outages, such as batteries, flashlights, and candles were also hot purchases.

    While these products are consistent with the American Red Cross guidelines for preparedness, there were some product categories included within the Red Cross guidelines that actually saw a decline in sales the week before the hurricane, as shoppers focused mainly on basic survival. These categories included first-aid treatment and accessories, and personal care products such as deodorant, soap, shampoo, bleach, detergent, and baby care.

    The study suggests that consumers preparing for a hurricane include products needed for basic comfort as well as those required for basic survival, and to plan for an extended period of displacement -- weeks instead of days -- which may be necessary.

    Fluctuations in consumer demand followed a four-to-five week cycle starting a week before Hurricane Katrina across most CPG categories affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Demand was affected not just in the hurricane-affected regions, but also in surrounding areas, which took in displaced families and individuals, and also across the United States as consumers made product purchases for donation to hurricane victims.

    The IRI study urges CPG retailers and manufacturers in the most heavily affected categories to apply this learning in their hurricane demand-planning strategies and educational initiatives, including in-store informational brochures, signage, and classes, in addition to reminders in advertisements to help shoppers prepare.

    "This study highlights the need for agile supply chains, driven by real-time demand data," said Klein. "It is imperative that CPG manufacturers and retailers are prepared to address huge short-term demand swings as well as rapid shifts in geographic demand as people are displaced."

    Findings of the "Times & Trends" special report "Impact of Hurricane Katrina" are based on an extensive analysis of store sales data from the IRI InfoScan Reviews tracking service. The four-part report series was originally published in September/October 2005. "Report Four: One Month After" summarized the full study findings. For an in-depth view of the reports, visit http://us.infores.com/page/news/times_and_trends.

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