Online Grocery-Delivery Services

For many years people have been buying books, clothing, and housewares online. Why not groceries? The grocery industry in the United States generates more than $600 billion in sales. Nearly everyone shops for groceries and an overwhelming majority shop for groceries at least once a week. Online grocery-shopping services offer the consumer convenience, but many times this convenience comes at a price. Because the consumer is paying someone else to shop for them, in order to pay these employees companies may charge higher prices for the groceries themselves and charge for shipping or delivery. Also, the consumer has to trust that the online grocery-shopping service employees will select the best produce, meat, and other perishable items and deliver them to their door in a timely manner and in good condition.

Despite many of the drawbacks, consumers are spending billions shopping online for groceries. Today’s market size is the total amount consumers in the United States spent online for groceries in 2016, a more than 160% increase in spending over 2015. Also included are projected sales figures for 2025.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2016 and 2025
Market size: $42 billion and more than $100 billion respectively
Sources: Trejos, Nancy, “Hotels Find Alternatives to Room Service,” USA TODAY for the Lansing State Journal, August 14, 2017, page 5B; Kestenbaum, Richard, “Why Online Grocers are So Unsuccessful and What Amazon is Doing About It,” Forbes, January 16, 2017 available online here.
Original source: Morgan Stanley
Image source: JoyintheCommonplace, “List-plan-phone-to-do-list-1474674,” Pixabay, June 23, 2016 available online here. Original image has been modified.

Craft Beer in Michigan

From 2012 to 2016, the number of craft breweries in the United States more than doubled from 2,420 to 5,234. In 2016, sales of craft beer made up 22%—$23.5 billion—of the overall beer market.

Today’s market size shows the number of craft breweries in Michigan and the number of gallons of beer they produced in 2016.

Geographic reference: Michigan
Year: 2016
Market size: 205 craft breweries produced 769,897 gallons of craft beer
Sources: Dillon Davis, “Standing Tall,” Lansing State Journal, April 23, 2017, page 3P; “Number of Breweries,” 2017 available online here.
Original source: Brewers Association
Image source: Tookapic, “Beer-glass-drink-beverage-alcohol-932320,” Pixabay, September 28, 2015 available online here.

International Data Flow

The World Wide Web. A decentralized network of data stored on servers all around the world. But many countries—China, Russia, Germany, and Belgium, to name a few—are enacting laws requiring multinational companies to store and process country-specific data on local servers. According to the source, relaxing such restrictions has become a priority of President Donald Trump’s administration as they negotiate trade agreements, including the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA.

Proponents of these laws say that having their users’ data stored locally aids in cyber security. Opponents say that storing data on local servers is more expensive, especially for small to medium sized companies. High tech companies worry about having their source codes stolen. Some companies worry that governments or political groups will use the data stored on these servers for illegitimate reasons. And many argue that limiting data flow also limits job growth and innovation. According to Nigel Cory, a trade policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, “data needs to flow to create value.”

Today’s market size is the estimated value of data flowing through international borders in 2014, according to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2014
Market size: $2.8 trillion
Sources: Yu, Roger, “More Firms Push Back on Foreign Data Rule,” USA TODAY for the Lansing State Journal, August 13, 2017, page 4B
Original source: Manyika, James, et. al., Digital Globalization: The New Era of Global Flows, McKinsey Global Insitute, February 2016 available online here.
Image source: Geralt, “Binary-hands-keyboard-tap-enter-2372131,” Pixabay, June 2017 available online here.

“Legal” Marijuana Market

Although the Federal government considers possession of marijuana illegal and classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, one that has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, all but eleven of the 50 states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana at the state level. As of the end of 2016, twenty-four states have legalized some form of medical marijuana and eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. While the legalization of marijuana for recreational use is a new phenomenon—Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize this activity in 2012—decriminalization at the state level began in 1973 and California was the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Despite legalizing this drug, some states and municipalities are struggling with how to regulate this new industry. In Michigan, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2008, the governor didn’t sign legislation to regulate the industry until September 2016. Under the new regulations, the House Fiscal Agency estimates that annual medical marijuana sales will total $771 million, generating $21.3 million in state tax revenue. Michigan has 244,125 registered medical marijuana users and 40,702 registered caregivers.

Today’s market size shows the amount of revenue generated from legal medicinal and recreational marijuana sales in the United States in 2016 and projected sales for 2021.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2016 and 2021
Market size: $6.8 billion and $21.6 billion respectively
Sources: Kathleen Gray and Paul Egan, “Medical Pot Laws Creating a Frenzy,” Lansing State Journal, March 26, 2017, pages 1A, 15A and 17A; “Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction,” Wikipedia, available online here; “Timeline of Cannabis Laws in the United States,” Wikipedia, available online here; “Drug Schedules,” United States Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Department of Justice, available online here.
Original source: Arcview Market Research
Image source: Rexmedlen, “Cannabis-hemp-marijuana-1382955,” Pixabay, May 12, 2016 available online here.

College Football Guarantee Games

College football guarantee games are mostly non-conference games arranged by contract among opponent schools, in most cases many years in advance. These contracts involve payment to one or both of the schools involved. While these types of games have been in existence for many years, payments have skyrocketed in the past decade and a half from several hundred thousand dollars per contract to several million dollars per contract.

In some cases, larger schools hand-pick their opponents, sometimes smaller schools that they’re presumably likely to beat, while paying the smaller schools an amount more than the revenue the smaller schools are likely to earn by ticket and merchandise sales. In other cases, matchups are chosen based on the strength of both teams, thereby giving their schedule a presumed advantage with the College Football Playoff selection committee. A matchup between two strong teams may also generate more revenue from fans and higher ratings from television broadcasts.

Today’s market size is the estimated amount of money exchanged during the regular 2017 college football season for guarantee games involving teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). In 2017 there were more than 200 guarantee game contracts with teams in the FBS.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2017
Market size: More than $150 million
Source: Berkowitz, Steve, “Guarantee Games Grow in Stature,” USA TODAY for the Lansing State Journal, August 30, 2017, page 5C.
Original source: USA TODAY Sports
Image source: Skeeze, “Football-american-scrimmage-line-557206,” Pixabay, December 9, 2014 available online here.


Several decades ago thrifting—shopping at used merchandise stores—was associated with poverty. More recently while some continue to shop at used merchandise stores to save money, many see thrifting as a lifestyle choice, a way to find inexpensive, unique pieces for their wardrobe or to find pieces to repurpose for do-it-yourself projects. The younger generation, especially, has embraced thrifting. Perhaps as a reflection of that, the 2012 Macklemore song “Thrift Shop” became a hit. The official music video on YouTube, as of May 2017, had more than 1 billion views and more than 5 million likes.

The total revenue of used merchandise stores in the United States is today’s market size.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2017
Market size: $17 billion
Source: Princess Gabbara, “How Thrifting Became Chic,” Lansing State Journal, May 7, 2017, pages 1D, 5D; Ryan Lewis, “Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop Feat. Wanz (Official Video),” YouTube, August 29, 2012 available online here.
Original source: Dun & Bradstreet
Image source: PublicDomainPictures, “second-hand-sign-thrift-shop-20113,” Pixabay, March 1, 2012 available online here.


According to a July 2016 article in The Wall Street Journal, audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in publishing. From 2014 to 2015, sales increased 20.7 percent and unit sales grew 24.1 percent.

Several factors may have contributed to this increase in sales. First, there are more ways consumers can listen to audiobooks: mobile devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets; in-car devices, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; and in-home devices, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. Second, obtaining audiobooks has become easier. Libraries offer digital downloads of audiobooks as do subscription audiobook services and services such as Apple iTunes and Google Play which allow instant access to whatever the consumer wants to read at that moment. Also, according to Ian Small, CEO of, the popularity of podcasting has influenced the millennial generation’s new-found interest in audiobooks.

Today’s market size is the total sales of audiobooks in 2015, 90.4 percent of which is made up of adult titles, with a bit more than three-quarters of that being adult fiction.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2015
Market size: $1.77 billion
Sources: Bacon, Beth, “Trending Up: What’s Fueling and Feeding the Audiobook Boom?” DBW, April 11, 2017, available online here; Maloney, Jennifer, “The Fastest-Growing Format in Publishing: Audiobooks,” The Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2016, available online here.
Original source: Audio Publishing Association

Back-to-College Spending

According to the National Center for Education Statistics fall college enrollment in 2010 was 21.0 million. Enrollment declined to 20.2 million in 2014 but is projected to increase to 20.9 million in 2017. Today’s market size shows the total amount spent on back-to-college items by students and their families in 2010, 2014 and 2017. The figure for 2017 is projected. In 2017, back-to-college shoppers plan on spending the most on electronics ($12.8 billion), followed by clothing ($8.0 billion) and snacks and other food items ($7.5 billion). Spending on dorm and apartment furnishings came in fourth at $5.9 billion. Spending on school supplies ranked seventh at $3.9 billion.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010, 2014 and 2017 projected
Market size: $45.88 billion, $48.48 billion and $54.18 billion respectively
Sources: Smith, Ana Serafin, “Back-to-School and Back-to-College Spending to Reach $83.6 Billion,” National Retail Federation Press Release, July 13, 2017 available online here; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, “Table 303.10. Total Fall Enrollment in Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions, by Attendance Status, Sex of Student, and Control of Institution: Selected Years, 1947 through 2025,” Digest of Education Statistics: 2015, December 2016 available online here.
Original source: Prosper Insights & Analytics

Back-to-School Spending

School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful, barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate, “I Love You, Joe”
When we were a couple o’ kids
— Chorus of the popular American song School Days written by Will Cobb and Gus Edwards in 1907

While reading, writing, and arithmetic are still part of the curriculum, back-to-school supplies have changed quite a bit over the past century or more. Slates have been replaced by notebooks, laptops, and tablets, supplies that are on many a child’s back-to-school shopping list this year along with clothing, shoes, calculators, folders, pencils, backpacks, and lunchboxes.

Today’s market size shows the amount spent on back-to-school items for children in kindergarten through 12th grade in 2007, 2016 and 2017. Figures for 2017 are projected. While parents and guardians do most of the back-to-school spending, the National Retail Federation found that preteens and teenagers plan on spending more of their own money on school supplies in 2017 than they have in the past.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2007, 2016 and 2017 projected
Market size: $18.48 billion, 27.38 billion and 29.58 billion respectively
Sources: Smith, Ana Serafin, “Back-to-School and Back-to-College Spending to Reach $83.6 Billion,” National Retail Federation Press Release, July 13, 2017 available online here; “School Days (1907 song),” Wikipedia, December 2016 available online here.

Public Transportation in the Lansing, Michigan Area

The Capital Area Transit Authority (CATA) is the largest public transit provider in the tri-county area around Lansing, Michigan. The tri-county area consists of Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties. CATA has been operating public transportation in the mid-Michigan area since 1972 and has been twice named the best transit system of its size in North America by the American Public Transportation Association.

Ridership grew steadily during the 1970s, before leveling off during the 1980s and most of the 1990s. During the 1980s and 1990s, the number of rides fluctuated around 3-4 million annually. In 1999, CATA took over the Michigan State University bus service. Since then ridership has increased nearly 3-fold. In contrast, the population of the tri-county area grew by 22.6% from 1970 to 2010.

In 2013, CATA set a fourth consecutive yearly record for number of rides. By 2014, however, ridership was down overall despite seeing increased ridership on its Michigan State University routes and increased requests for its paratransit services. In the fourth quarter of 2014, gasoline prices fell which could account for the decreased ridership. Gasoline prices remained low in 2016. Bus ridership both nationally and locally continued to decline in 2016. According to the American Public Transporation Association, nationally bus ridership dropped by almost 3 percent in 2016. CATA saw a ridership decline of 4.6 percent overall that same year. However, CATA saw ridership on its Michigan State University and some of its Redi-Ride and paratransit routes increase by double-digits in 2016.

Today’s market size represents the number of rides annually on CATA vehicles in 1972 and 2016.

Geographic reference: Lansing, Michigan area
Year: 1972 and 2016
Market size: Less than 1 million rides and 10.9 million rides respectively
Sources: “Ridership Mirrors National Trend”, CATA 2017 Community Report, June 2017, page 4; “National Trend Leaves Its Mark on Ridership,” CATA 2016 Community Report, June 2016, page 3; “Ridership Trends Vary by Service Type”, CATA 2015 Community Report: Where Public Transportation Goes Community Grows, June 2015, page 3; “Passenger Trips Reflect Stable Demand”, CATA 2014 Community Report: Moving You Forward With Pride, June 2014, page 3; “Growth in Ridership Remains Strong”, CATA 2013 Community Report: Moving You Toward Your Dreams, June 2013, page 4; “Riding High with Record Ridership,” CATA 2012 Community Report 40th Anniversary Edition: Greater Lansing on the Move, August 2012; “CATA Demand Grows with Community Need,” CATA 2011 Community Report: Greater Lansing on the Move, August 2011; Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, “Tri-County Regional Growth: Choices for Our Future,” Draft Report, August 2002 available online here; “Ingham County, Michigan” available online here; “Clinton County, Michigan” available online here; and “Eaton County, Michigan” available online here.

Hot Dogs

The hot dog is a staple at sporting events, picnics, carnivals, and backyard barbecues. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans consume about 20 billion hot dogs per year. That equates to about 70 hot dogs per person per year, fewer than half of which were bought at retail stores.

Today’s market size is the total retail sales of hot dogs in the United States in 2016.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2016
Market size: $2.4 billion
Source: “Consumption Stats,” available online here; “Hot Dog Fast Facts,” available online here.
Original source: National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, The Neilsen Company

Recyclable Materials

Recycling is beneficial for the environment. It keeps materials out of landfills and helps to reduce the need for harvesting materials from the natural environment. When cities first started recycling programs the assumption was that the cost of the collection and sorting of the materials would be covered by the proceeds of the sale of those materials. In recent years this has not been the case. The value of some materials has dropped dramatically while the cost of recovering them has risen.

Reclaimed paper, a once valuable commodity that was in high demand by the newspaper industry, is one of these materials. As print newspaper circulation dropped dramatically, so did the need for reclaimed paper. Reclaimed plastics is another of these materials. As oil prices remain low, it’s less expensive for manufacturers to make products from new plastic than it is for them to use reclaimed plastic. Since much of the reclaimed materials in the United States are sent overseas, recent legislative action by some countries limiting the amount of imported reclaimed materials has also negatively affected the market making it more difficult to sell such materials.

Today’s market size is the value of a ton of mixed recyclable material for 2011, 2015 and an estimated value for 2017.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2011 and 2015
Market size: $180, $80, and just shy of $100 per ton of mixed recyclable material respectively.
Source: Paul Singer, “Recycling Market in a Heap of Trouble,” USA Today for the Lansing State Journal, April 21, 2017, page B1.

Wineries in Michigan

Michigan ranks fifth in the United States in wine production. Most wine grapes are grown in Van Buren, Berrien, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse counties, all within 25 miles of the Lake Michigan coast. The top 3 wines produced are Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Because several other types of fruit are grown in the state, many wineries make wine from fruit other than grapes, such as with cherries or apples.

Geographic reference: Michigan
Year: 2017
Market size: 127 wineries producing 2.4 million gallons of wine annually
Source: Bob Gross, “Wine and Spirits Industries Booming,” Lansing State Journal, April 23, 2017, page 7P.
Original source: Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council

Recreational Vehicles

Low gas prices, favorable interest rates, and a renewed interest in the outdoors are fueling record sales of recreational vehicles (RVs). In addition, more people in their 20s and 30s are interested in buying RVs. Trailers, which make up 87% of the RVs sold, appeal more to Millenials who prefer something less expensive for weekend trips. Baby Boomers, in contrast, prefer buying motorhomes in order to spend most of their retirement years traveling. In 2016, a record number of RVs were shipped, more than 430,000. Manufacturers expect a 3.6% increase in shipments in 2017.

Today’s market size is the estimated total retail value of all RVs that will be sold in the United States in 2017.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2017
Market size: $18.5 billion (estimated)
Source: Diana Kruzman, “Millennials Fuel Growth in RV Sales,” USA Today for the Lansing State Journal, May 26, 2017, page B4.
Original source: Recreational Vehicle Industry Association

Plus-Size Clothing

Plus-size clothing are generally found in specialty clothing stores or out-of-the-way places in mainstream clothing stores. In 2017, some retailers are experimenting with combining the non-plus-size clothing and the plus-size clothing on the same racks in the same section of their stores. According to Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, “[p]art of what they’re trying to do is recognize we live more in a size 12 or 14 or 16 world than we do a size 4 (one)…In a hypermarket store…where you’re selling both clothing and groceries and furniture and electronics and liquor, they want to be very careful not to turn someone off… If you are making that woman feel awkward about shopping for clothing, maybe she won’t buy her dishwasher soap or wine there, also.”

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2013 and 2016
Market size: $17.4 billion and $20.4 billion respectively
Source: Zlati Meyer, “Meijer to Mix Misses, Plus Sizes,” Lansing State Journal, November 6, 2016, page 26A.
Original source: NPD Group

Wireless Speakers Enabled by Personal Assistants

Amazon Echo and Google Home are two versions of wireless speakers that do more than play music. They are also voice-activated personal assistants. Some of their capabilities include adjusting a smart thermostat, turning lights on or off, arranging a ride through Uber, and delivering the news, sports, and weather. As prices have come down for these devices, in some cases retailing for less than $50, popularity has risen.

Today’s market size is the value of the market for voice-activated wireless speakers/personal assistants in 2015 and the projected value of the market in 2020 according to Gartner. The value of the market is expected to increase more than 5-fold in this 5-year period.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2015 and projection for 2020
Market size: $360 million and a projected $2.1 billion respectively
Source: Ed Baig, “Google Home Plays Catch-Up to Echo, with Promise,” USA Today for the Lansing State Journal, November 6, 2016, page 6B
Original source: Gartner.

American Craft Beer Market in Belgium

Belgians who drink beer love their locally-made beer. In years past, many Belgians considered American beer inferior, but this attitude may be changing. American craft beers are now appearing in Belgian supermarkets and in bars. A craft beer brewed by Seattle’s Schooner EXACT brewery won the top award at the Brussels Beer Challenge in 2015. American beers also won several other gold medals, 5 more than Belgian beers did, that same year.

Today’s market size shows the amount of craft beer exported to Belgium by American brewers in 2015. In comparison, the United States imported 50 million gallons of Belgian beer that year.

Geographic reference: Belgium
Year: 2015
Market size: 160,000 gallons
Source: Thompson, Linda A., “U.S. Suds No Longer Duds,” Lansing State Journal, August 7, 2016, page 4B.

Dental Floss Market

Dental floss was invented in the early 19th century by dentist Levi Spear Parmly and patented in 1874. For decades parents in the United States have taught their children to floss their teeth daily. The Federal government has recommended daily flossing since 1979 as part of a surgeon general’s report. Later, the recommendation was part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are updated every five years. The American Dental Association, which has recommended flossing since 1908, states on its website that “flossing may … help prevent gum disease and cavities”. A Department of Health and Human Services statement reiterates that flossing is “an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.”

Things changed a bit in 2015 when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans omitted daily flossing as a recommendation due to inconsistent and unreliable evidence that flossing provided any benefit. According to the source, most existing studies on the efficacy of flossing used outdated methods and tested few people for short periods of time. By law, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans must be based on scientific evidence.

Today’s market size represents the estimated global market for dental floss in 2017, half of that market is in the United States.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2017
Market size: $2 billion
Sources: “Little Proof Flossing Really Helps, Study Shows,” Lansing State Journal, August 8, 2016 available online here. “Flossing,” Mouth Healthy, 2016 available online here. Manchir, Michelle, “Government, ADA Recognize Importance of Flossing,” ADA News, August 2, 2016 available online here.
Original source:

Sneaker Resale Market

When one hears the word collectibles one may think of antiques, figurines, baseball cards or comic books. But something many of us wear on a daily basis has also become a collectible: sneakers. Rare sneakers are now being sold through social media and at trade shows. In some cases, shoes bought at retail for $200 four years ago are now listed at close to nine times that. In some cases, sneakerheads—as buyers and sellers of rare sneakers are called—are paying more than $5,000 a pair for the most coveted styles.

In the United States, about 9 million pairs of sneakers are resold each year. Today’s market size shows the estimated value of the sneaker resale market in the United States in 2016.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2016
Market size: $1.2 billion
Source: Diamond, Michael L., “Teen Finds Fortune, Heartbreak in Sneakers,” Lansing State Journal, August 28, 2016, page 6B.

Alternative-Fuel Vehicles

When one thinks of alternative fuels for vehicles, one might think of diesel, ethanol, or even compressed natural gas, but recently vehicles running on propane have entered the market. According to Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for Roush CleanTech, a manufacturer of engines that run on propane, propane is “… cleaner than gasoline and diesel. We have a lot of it (in the U.S.) and … it’s easy to integrate into a Ford truck or school bus.” In fact, all three major school bus manufacturers in the United States offer propane-powered school buses to school districts.

Today’s market size is the number of propane-powered vehicles on the road. In comparison, we also include the number of vehicles on the road powered by compressed natural gas.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2016
Market size: More than 143,000 propane-powered vehicles
Market size: Approximately 153,000 compressed natural gas powered vehicles
Source: Snavely, Brent, “Alternative-Fuel Buses Carry Roush,” Lansing State Journal, January 8, 2017, page 18A
Original source: Roush CleanTech and Natural Gas Vehicles for America