A. Elizabeth Sloan

Gourmet and specialty foods are going mainstream in supermarkets, restaurants, and large mass merchandisers. McDonald’s offers an Asian salad, sports arenas sell organic hot dogs, and Wal-Mart’s new supercenter in Plano, Tex., features high-priced wines, gourmet cheeses, sushi, and natural pet food—and the company plans to add 400 organic SKUs, too.

Flowering tea from Numi Tea, Inc. slowly blossoms into breathtaking shapes when steeped. Freshly picked white, green, and black tea leaves are flattened while damp and sewn with cotton thread into elaborate designs, which are then shaped into balls, mushrooms, or cones. The teas then go through drying, oxidation, and firing processes.Harris (2005) reports that 96% of Americans buy premium goods in categories that are important to them, and few segments get more personal attention …

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