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Consumer Confidential: Starbucks goes solo, Lego booms, Nook soars

August 30, 2011 | 10:22 am

Starpic Here's your tell-it-to-the-Marines Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Starbucks thinks single-serve coffee will be a growing part of our busy future. The company says Starbucks coffee in pods designed for Keurig coffee makers will be available at grocery stores and specialty retailers beginning in November. Many coffee companies have started to concentrate on the single-serve coffee pods that are brewed at home because it's a fast-growing business. Starbucks hopes to build its K-cup deal into a business worth more than $1 billion. The Keurig coffee system is made and sold by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The companies announced their partnership in March. The Starbucks packages of K-cups will come in 10-pod, 16-pod and 54-pod packs in flavors such as Breakfast Blend, Pike Place Roast, House Blend, Sumatra and French Roast.

-- Hard economic times worldwide mean boom times in Lego Land. The Danish toy maker says its first-half profit rose a hefty 32% as its new products, such as Lego Ninjago, sold above expectations and it continued to gain market share. Lego says that besides its Ninjago line, new sets like Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter were also selling better than expected. Classic products like Lego City and Lego Star Wars are also generating strong revenues. Lego says it saw double-digit sales growth in all its markets of more than 130 countries during the first half of 2011 (except in Japan, which suffered during the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami). And I can see why: This is a just plain cool toy.

-- Don't write off bookstores just yet. Barnes & Noble says it narrowed its net loss in its fiscal first quarter as sales of its Nook e-book reader and e-books helped offset lower sales of physical book. The company also sounded a positive note about the holidays, saying traffic will benefit from the fact that its chief rival, Borders Group, will be shuttered by then. Traditional booksellers like Barnes & Noble are facing tough competition from online retailers and discount stores. But the company has invested heavily in its e-book reader to combat this, a strategy that seems to be gaining traction.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Starbucks sees frothy days ahead for single-serve coffee. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press