business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we reported on the CIES “Top Of Mind” survey, which revealed retailer and manufacturer priorities. We questioned the notion that retailers see developing their brand as number eight…since it seems to us that developing a credible and reliable brand image is the key to being competitive.

One MNB user agreed:

“Kevin, I couldn't agree more. Retailer as a brand now 8th! Brand should be at the top. Done correctly it can answer to priorities 1-3.”

The top three, by the way, were “Customer loyalty and retention,” “Food safety / security,” and “Formats, services, assortment.”

In a story about a wheat industry conference in which the subject of genetically modified wheat is a major topic of discussion, we reported that “Monsanto has agreed not to introduce GMO wheat until the industry is ready.”

One member of the MNB community responded:

“They may have agreed to not introduce it, but I very much doubt they aren't still pushing it. Surprising they haven't learned, even when great parts of Europe are no refusing American grain because they are GMOs.”

And MNB user B. Cosgrave added:

“Nay, No, Never - at least not until the long-term effects of GMO crops on our environment and bio-diversity not to mention human health are fully investigated and understood. We thought nothing of adding anti-biotics to animal feed, now we know its negative knock down effect on the human body, we should learn from our mistakes. Nature is a wonderful complex structure which I suspect if fully understood would provide the answers/solutions to our global dietary needs.”

What is the future of Kmart? One MNB user had a definite opinion:

“‘Store of the Future’ or ‘Store of the Neighborhood’ notwithstanding, Kmart will be ‘Store of the Past’ if they don't wake up to the realization that employees are stakeholders. Maybe it will happen with the swing toward greater local control but a lot will depend on what that "local control" looks like to the employees. Could energize them and cause a massive stakeholder buy-in to the ‘new’ format or could pound them straight through the ground if mishandled.”

On the subject of Kmart’s internal investigation, which revealed that previous management had been “grossly derelict” in the performance of their duties, MNB user Debbie Davids wrote:

“Don’t you get sick of K-Mart pointing fingers at everyone else, but not taking charge of getting their stores back on track? Between that and being between the sheets with Martha Stewart, it makes you wish they would just throw in the towel. In addition, as for that bit about competing with Wal-Mart, they never could! You would think they would have realized that years ago and found their own niche in the discount store market whatever that might have been. ‘Grossly derelict’ indeed.”

We’re still cringing at the line about “being between the sheets with Martha Stewart…”

We’ve discussed Wal-Mart’s consideration of a plan that would make it a wholesaler to independent supermarkets around the country, and even joked that maybe it ought to just buy Fleming and be done with it. (We were joking. Really.)

MNB user Richard Pace writes:

“Wal-Mart already has a wholesale operation. McLane's in Texas, which caters to convenience stores…it wouldn’t take much to up it to full service. Bye bye, Fleming.

“Fleming screwed up in Texas big time, and I wonder if in the rest of the country it has messed up, overcharging, bad service, late deliveries, etc…”

We wrote an essay earlier this week asking if supermarkets were doing enough to exploit and celebrate events like the Super Bowl; while many of you agreed with our reasoning, MNB user Bob McMath offered another perspective:

“While we haven't been there for going on two years, I can guarantee that Wegman's in Upper New York State did some fantastic things for Super Bowl Sunday -- and for other events that can conjure up some specialty promotions. They always do, and this is just one of the reasons it is so successful as a chain. I know lots of competitors know about them, but they don't think to see how they do these things, and thus don't do them when the time rolls around each year.”

We wrote yesterday that Coca-Cola will launch a new energy-themed
soft drink in Ireland, and joked that they already had one – Guinness.

One MNB user, however, took the subject a little more seriously than we did:

“I was there in May (yes, during the World Cup…that was an accident) and energy drinks are bigger there than here. Lucozade
is most ubiquitous…

“They certainly have a market, but they also have a ton of well-entrenched competition.”

And finally, yet another comment on the Miller Lite “mud wrestling” commercial debate:

“Aren't there any men out there who are bothered by ad agencies typifying you? Not that the Miller ad is by any means the first that uses the lowest common denominator and pins it to the collective American male's chest.

“What bugs me isn't the Miller ad exclusively, it's the mindset that produces and is produced by popular media and advertising.

“Sure, it was a successful ad. The lowest common denominator is often the cheapest laugh, the easiest solution and the biggest moneymaker.”

Don’t think less of us for this, but if we can get MNB to the point where it provides easy solutions and is the biggest moneymaker, and it requires us to always go for the cheap laugh…well, it is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.
KC's View: