Coca-Cola (KO) plans to put a soda machine in your home, to pour Coke and other sodas in individual portions similar to the now ubiquitous K-cup machines that make your coffee. Coca-Cola recently said it is buying a 10% stake in the inventor of the Keurig Cup, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), for $1.25 billion.
It’s an example of a bigger consumer trend driving key stocks. Make no mistake about it, the U.S. consumer “wants more of what they want when they want it” – and catering to those highly individual needs is separating winners from losers in many market segments, notably food and restaurants.
That’s what I call “iWorld.” What exactly is “iWorld?”
iWorld is a clear, investible trend creating winners and losers in traditional market segments, such as carbonated beverages.
You want meat from cows raised without antibiotics, you can buy it at Whole Foods (WFM).
Your teenagers chastise you for throwing out soda bottles, and you know half the seltzer they drink goes flat. The dollars added up so you now own a SodaStream (SODA).
You want your burrito made just a certain way, and your spouse wants it as a bowl, skip the white carbs, and you can do this, and watch it being prepared, fresh at Chipotle (CMG).
You want the spinach salad with extra egg, no bacon, you get this, also fresh, at Panera (PNRA), while your spouse gets his fettuccine prepared al dente.
And you expect this since you have been getting customized lattes at Starbucks (SBUX) for a decade.
This trend is already hitting companies and stocks and Wall Street continues to misread the signals.
In the past couple of weeks, Chipotle and Panera’s earnings easily surprised the Street; these companies are big winners in the fast casual segment.
Analysts think this is because of increasing incomes among young professionals.
People want fresh food; they want it made fast and well; they want it made to order.
Still skeptical about “I want what I want when I want it?”
Take a look at these “iWorld” food company and stock prices over the last five years.
Does this mean the run is over? Hardly.
This is a secular change in how individuals perceive and choose products and services.
The iPad or iPhone can be configured to be a veritable personal assistant; breast cancer treatments can be gene-specific; you can order a New York Giants football jersey with your daughter’s name on it and have it delivered in two days.
Let’s get more specific, for the trend is not just about food, it is about food and other preferences.
The explosion in sports as entertainment has propelled many new businesses, including Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW). This is the analysts’ view at least, and in part it is true.
But if you multiply the number of beers on the menu with the various permutations of wings and sauces and sides, and eight or 10 big-screen television, there are more than one million choices for a meal with a drink and a game at BWW. Call it iWorld Extreme.
Target the right market segment
What does this mean for investors?
You need to focus on the companies in any market segment that offers a product or service that best serves the dominant or emerging individual preference.
In food, it is fresh food, healthy food, easy to order and quickly prepared food . This includes grocers like privately held Wegman’s and of course Whole Foods Market. Some Whole Foods stores have in more than 120 items in their salad bars and prepared-food sections.
The recent downturn in the market has created a window of opportunity on “I want what I want” stocks like Whole Foods Market, Panera and Cheesecake Factory.
And, “get what you want when you want it.”