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    Published on: December 6, 2005

    Business 2.0 has a terrific piece featuring business and life advice from 49 thought leaders – advice that these visionaries say “they swear by more than any other.”

    Some of the best:

    “There can’t be two yous.” - Warren Buffett

    “Don’t be interesting. Be interested.” - Jim Collins

    “Treat your customers like they own you. Because they do.” - Mark Cuban

    “There’s something bad in everything good and something good in everything bad.” - Michael Lewis

    “At the height of your success, ‘break’ your business.” - Ed Zander

    "Never write when you can talk. Never talk when you can nod. And never put anything in an e-mail." - Elliot Spitzer

    You can read the story, the quotes and the explanations at:
    http://money.cnn.com/2005/11/28/news/newsmakers/goldenrule_biz20_1205/index.htm/
    KC's View:
    There were two connected quotes that we wanted to point out with some elaboration.

    Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, says that “conventional wisdom is always wrong.” Which we think is correct most of the time. Even when it isn’t though, it is fair to say that conventional wisdom is always conventional…and being conventional never got anyone anything.

    Geraldine Laybourne, chairman/CEO of Oxygen Media, says that her most important commandment is “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s success.” She goes on: “I always have an eye on the competition, but it's not to do what they're doing. It's to see where the holes are. I've built businesses by looking at conventional wisdom and going exactly the opposite way.”

    Don’t be conventional. Look for the holes.

    Words to live by.

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    ACNielsen has completed a study suggesting that American consumers are the among the least committed shoppers in the world to the purchase of organic products. Asked about their purchasing of organic alternatives from 11 food and beverage categories, between six and 15 percent of US consumers said they purchase such products regularly – far less than in any other country included in the study. There were a total of 38 countries included in the study, in Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America, and in South Africa.

    Interestingly, no such disparity exists when it comes to so-called "Functional Foods" - products fortified with added vitamins or supplements and promoting specific health benefits. Unlike organic products, US consumers are much more closely aligned with the global averages for functional foods purchasing. In fact, in 5 of the 10 categories included in the survey, a greater percentage of U.S. consumers said they regularly purchase such products than the global averages.

    For glass-half-empty people, this means that organics simply don’t enjoy the same sort of cachet in the US as elsewhere, and are unlikely to in the foreseeable future. For glass-half-full folks, it simply means that organics have plenty of room to grow…as they inevitably will.

    Maybe.

    But regardless of whether your glass is half-full or half-empty, shoppers’ lack of commitment to organic products seems to be largely a matter of price. For those who never buy organic food or beverage products, which includes 40 to 72 percent of US consumers, depending on the category, the main deterrent seems to be how much these products cost.

    "How mainstream organic products become, to a significant degree, depends on what happens with their prices," says Tom Markert, ACNielsen’s chief marketing officer. "But I'm not expecting large price cuts. Even as production increases and the number of categories that include organic offerings expands, marketers may very well opt to maintain organics' upscale positioning."

    Across all regions, according to the study, the main reason for purchasing organic food and beverages is that consumers believe such products are healthier for them. The secondary reason cited by consumers in all regions except Europe is the perceived health benefits for the shoppers' children. In Europe, more people cited benefits for the environment as their secondary reason to purchase organics.

    According Markert, one of the reasons that US consumers may have fewer qualms about functional foods than organics is that "the functional foods distinction is beginning to blur, as manufacturers enhance more and more products with additional health benefits. As that trend continues, an increasing number of consumers are likely to become functional foods buyers without even realizing it."

    Which certainly isn’t the case when it comes to organics.

    The 28 markets studied included Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, and the US.
    KC's View:
    Our first reaction when reading about this study was that it is amazing that the US – where more people have a greater amount of disposable income than in most of the other markets studied – also has more people that don’t want to spend extra money for organic products.

    But then we thought about it some more, and figure that maybe this has more to do with the fact that Americans simply may have greater confidence in the mainstream food supply.

    Still, we’d probably fall into the glass-half-full category. With reservations.

    By the way, we take all this glass-half-full stuff seriously. Even the glassware we use reflects it – we got these wonderfully sturdy Pallino Glasses, made in Italy, from Sur La Table, that have a line around the middle of the glass, with the words “ottimista” above the line and “pessimista” below the line.

    Very cool.

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    The bankruptcy judge overseeing Winn-Dixie’s financial affairs has approved more than $23 million worth of fees and expenses to be paid to law firms and consultants working to help the company recover from its financial morass.

    The judge also reportedly appointed a fee examiner to keep track of future fees charged to the company.
    KC's View:
    The examiner also will be paid a fee, no doubt.

    Look, we don’t begrudge people getting paid for the work they do.

    But what this stuff seems to ignore is that any chance of Winn-Dixie surviving in the long run depends on the stores actually becoming compelling places to go shopping…which will at least partially depend on store personnel having a real and surpassing commitment to the company and the customer.

    How much of that $23 million is going to the checkout people and department managers who can really make a difference. Very little, we suspect.

    In fact, the percentage of money being invested in store personnel may correlate directly to Winn-Dixie’s chances of surviving long term.

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    Advertising Age reports this morning that Tyson Foods has begun posting free downloadable prayer booklets on its website that include mealtime words of thanks appropriate to a number of faiths.

    According to Ad Age, the move is keyed to the company’s desire to create a connection with the 95 percent of Americans who either believe in some sort of deity or have some sort of relationship with an organized religion; unlike years past, when such a move would have been considered inappropriate, polls now show that Americans accept or even embrace such initiatives.

    “People are not just buying our products, they’re buying us and they’re spending more and more time looking on the Internet and elsewhere to find out, ‘what does this company stand for,’” Bob Corscadden, Tyson’s chief marketing officer, tells Ad Age.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that “a growing body of brain research shows how shopping activates key areas of the brain, boosting our mood and making us feel better -- at least for a little while. Peering into a decorated holiday window or finding a hard-to-find toy appears to tap into the brain's reward center, triggering the release of brain chemicals that give you a ‘shopping high.’ Understanding the way your brain responds to shopping can help you make sense of the highs and lows of holiday shopping, avoid buyer's remorse and lower your risk for overspending.”

    According to the WSJ, “Much of the joy of holiday shopping can be traced to the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine plays a crucial role in our mental and physical health. The brains of people with Parkinson's disease, for instance, contain almost no dopamine. Dopamine also plays a role in drug use and other addictive behaviors. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and it's released when we experience something new, exciting or challenging. And for many people, shopping is all those things.”
    KC's View:
    When we were standing on that long line last weekend, we didn’t feel like we were getting a charge from dopamine.

    Just like a dope.

    So we came home, started a fire in the fireplace, poured ourselves a glass of wine, turned on the computer, started up some Christmas music on iTunes, clicked onto Amazon.com and started shopping.

    That’s when our dopamine kicked in.

    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    A new study from the Mayo Clinic suggests that moderate alcohol consumption – people who enjoy one or two alcoholic drinks each day – actually may lower the risk that those people may avoid obesity, compared to people who either don’t drink at all or are heavy drinkers.

    According to the research, moderate drinkers are more than 50 percent less likely to be obese than non-drinkers. And, people who have four or more alcoholic drinks each day are 46 percent more likely to be obese than moderate drinkers.

    The findings were published in BMC Public Health.

    Researchers cautioned that obese non-drinkers shouldn’t start drinking as a weight loss program, since alcohol is high in calories. And they said that it is unclear why moderate drinking would lessen the likelihood of obesity – though the lesser chance of obesity could explain why moderate drinkers also are less likely to suffer from heart disease.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    Delhaize has announced that it plans to open 25 new Food Lion supermarkets next year, while looking for Washington, DC-area locations for its Bloom and Bottom Dollar format. The company also said that its Hannaford Bros. chain will continue looking for acquisition targets in the northeastern US…its Kash n’ Karry chain will continue the conversion process to Sweetbay…and its Food Lion chain will enter the Greenville-Spartanburg, SC, market with 10 stores next year.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    The Chicago Tribune reports that some brewers, distillers and vintners are hoping that the federal government will allow them – but not require them – to provide nutritional facts on their product packaging.

    The consumers are saying they want more information whether it is on their bottle of chardonnay, their six-pack of beer or their bottle of Scotch," Gary Galanis, a spokesman for Diageo North America, tells the Tribune.

    However, this is both a new effort and hardly an unanimous one.

    For years, alcohol manufacturers have fought to avoid the same requirements foisted on just about every other food and beverage supplier. But that has changed as the competition has gotten more intense and consumer tastes have evolved.

    The Tribune writes, “Since 1999, beer sales have fallen 3.1 percent, while hard liquor sales grew 3 percent in the same period. That costs beermakers hundreds of millions in the more than $50 billion U.S. alcoholic beverage market.

    “Distillers see a competitive advantage and now want to share their stats with drinkers in hopes of continuing their momentum.

    “It may help liquor sales, especially among some dieters, if consumers knew that a 1.5-ounce shot of Jim Beam bourbon has 100 calories and no carbohydrates. Comparatively, a 12-ounce Budweiser contains 146 calories and 11 grams of carbs.”

    But brewers, according to the Tribune, “accuse the hard liquor industry of using labeling to camouflage efforts to impose standard drink sizes on the industry.

    “Pete Marino, a spokesman for Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co., said there is a difference between a 12-ounce glass of 5 percent beer and a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor.

    "’A liquid gallon of beers comes out to 10 beers. A liquid gallon of liquor comes out to 895 drinks. Clearly they are not the same,’ he said.”

    Consumer groups seem to be in favor of greater labeling and standardization. "Consumers should not have to guess about the alcohol strength, serving size, number of servings per container, calories or ingredients of alcoholic beverages," George Hacker, director of the alcohol policies project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, tells the Tribune.

    However, analysts seem to believe that it is unlikely that the federal government will make any regulatory changes anytime soon.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied a request by General Mills that it be allowed to label its cereal and bread products as either “a good source” or an “excellent source” of whole grains. The decision was made not because General Mills’ products don’t have whole grains, but because FDA wants to think about what exactly “whole grains” should include.

    All of General Mills’ cereals contain whole grains and are labeled prominently as having them; on the back of a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, for example, it says very clearly that it “is a good source of whole grain.”

    The WSJ notes that “it's not clear whether General Mills and others will have to pull such words, and the FDA didn't order the company to do so. An FDA spokeswoman said yesterday that decisions will be made case by case,” and only once it has decided what “whole grains” should include.
    KC's View:
    Our tax dollars at work. Regulations are being made even before the government knows exactly what it’s doing.

    Then again, why should this be any different.

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    Crain’s Chicago Business reports that even as Wal-Mart and Target battle it out during the current holiday season with discounts and bargains designed to lure end-of-year shoppers, Sears “has been offering less generous discounts. The deal Sears played up most prominently in its post-Thanksgiving circular was a $10 gift card to the first 200 customers in each store.

    “Some observers interpret the strategy as another sign that Sears Chairman Edward Lampert is throwing in the towel on retail” and/or “aiming to preserve profits rather than compete aggressively on price with rivals.” And analysts seem to believe that if Sears is going to make any money during the holiday season – a time when Sears traditionally has done roughly a third of its annual sales – it will be by selling off assets, not selling merchandise.
    KC's View:
    Gee, there’s a surprise.

    The problem isn’t that Sears isn’t competing on price. It is that Sears isn’t competing.

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    • The Kroger Co. said Monday that 6,800 union workers from 88 stores in Dallas ratified a new, four-year labor agreement that will provide for wage increases, continue the health care benefit plan, and still allow the grocery chain to be more competitive on labor costs with other retailers in the area. Details were not released.


    • Sears Holdings Corp. offered Monday to buy all the outstanding shares of Sears Canada Inc. it doesn't already own – or about 47 percent of the company - for about $835.4-million in cash.

    • Paul Foley, country director for Aldi in the UK, tells The Grocer that the company believes it can build a network of as many as 1500 stores in the British Isles.


    • Harris Teeter reportedly will open its first store in Maryland next year – a recently closed Food Lion in Darnestown.


    • Coca-Cola reportedly is introducing three ready-to-drink Cinnabon coffee drinks- Cinnamon Vanilla Latte, Caramel Nut Latte and Espresso & Cream - in convenience stores, grocery stores and restaurants across the Southeast. The canned drinks are designed to help compete with PepsiCo’s partnership with Starbucks.
    KC's View:
    Which would be a good idea if Cinnabon actually made a decent cup of coffee.

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has announced its annual call for entries in the Store Manager Superior Service Awards, a yearly program recognizing store managers for their extraordinary achievements in customer and community service.

    Store managers or their associates are invited to send in stories that demonstrate how the manager has gone above and beyond the ordinary to support their customers or communities. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, and impact on store growth, customer satisfaction and community relations.

    “Supermarkets strive to meet the needs of their customers by designing programs that enhance their communities and bring convenience to their lives,” said Tim Hammonds, FMI president and CEO. “Store managers deserve much of the credit for this success, by using personal knowledge of their customers to individualize programs and initiate new ones that best serve their local neighborhoods.”

    Three grand prize winners will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize at the 2006 FMI Show in Chicago, IL. All 18 finalists, including the three grand prize winners, will receive two tickets to the FMI Show, three nights of hotel accommodations in Chicago and a certificate of achievement.

    All in-store managers in the food, mass merchandise and convenience store industries are eligible to enter after one year of employment at the same store.

    Entries will be divided into three categories based on company size. Category A will consist of retailers with 1-49 stores, Category B will include retailers with 50-199 stores and Category C will include retailers with 200 or more stores. Judges will select six finalists from each category and one grand prize winner from each category.

    Call Rachel Alberts at 202-220-0665 or email: ralberts@fmi.org .
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    • A&P has named Jennifer MacLeod, the former VP-marketing and public relations for Co-op Atlantic in Canada, to be its new senior vice president, marketing and communications.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    There was some discussion yesterday in this space about whether or not manufacturers should provide leadership and education, or simply follow consumer demand.

    We got the following email, responding to that discussion, from an MNB user:

    The comment from one reader about how the industry doesn't have to educate consumers, just play to their needs, is exactly how we get in trouble. Whole Foods doesn't play to their needs--they lead. So does Wal-Mart to an extent. All the breakaway companies create the need and educate the shopper on why they need it. After all, I don't recall anyone asking for an iPod, Google or a Toyota Prius either.

    Excellent point.

    If companies are going to differentiate themselves from the competition – or, in the words of Geraldine Laybourne, “look for holes” in the competition’s business model and then fill them – they’ve got to provide leadership, and even (to paraphrase James Tiberius Kirk) go whether other companies have not gone before.

    The risks are greater, sure. But so are the rewards.

    Besides, companies that want to thrive in 2006 and beyond really have no choice. The only other option is irrelevance.

    Another MNB user, Linda Ballew-Johnson, had a similar reaction:

    Since when is a food manufacturer developing products that consumers demand? The reverse is true. They develop products with the hope that consumers will (with education or exposure) demand them. I don't think the difference is semantics.

    And I think the difference is what makes the manufacturers responsible for nutrition and health. Every time 'they' change the playing field, they should have a responsibility to report and educate on the impact of the change as it relates to my health and nutrition. For example, suppose a manufacturer was trying to control costs and developed a least cost method of altering the recipe or formula that would take into account the pricing of ingredients and their relationship to some critical product feature - like taste. If the price of ingredient A skyrocketed - and ingredient B was substituted for A, the manufacturer can make a label change in the ingredients and go on their merry way. But if I have a food allergy or intolerance to ingredient B and have been buying this product because it did not have any of ingredient B, the manufacturer owes me a warning that the product is now different. As you can imagine - I could go on and on......





    We also had an email yesterday about the acidity in coffee, which was in reference to a piece we had about two cups of coffee helping memory. Another MNB user observed:

    Don't stop drinking coffee worrying about the acid. Coffee typically has a pH of about 5. The normal stomach is essentially a vat of hydrochloric acid with a pH of around 2. A pH of 2 is 1,000 times more acidic than a pH of 5.

    We’re starting to get a headache. The same headache we used to get in Brother Grondin’s chemistry class.




    Writing about Larry Zigerelli’s decision to resign as president of Meijer Inc. after only seven months in the job so he could return to the east coast and be nearer his pre-teen children in the aftermath of a divorce, MNB user Ted File made a point we all should pay attention to:

    Larry is a great guy, gentleman and father. We should all hold him in high respect for this difficult decision.....His priority was his family and this indicates his need to be close to his children.

    Together we wish him the very best as he moves forward.





    Interesting report about Wal-Mart from an MNB user:

    The local Wal-Marts here (which aren't too far from Bentonville) now have fairly large signs posted at each door that say 'Wal-Mart and its associates want to wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS' (that is emphasized!). I've seen this at 2 of the 8 Supercenters we have here.

    The change of heart still doesn't give me a warm and toasty feeling.


    We feel sympathy for Wal-Mart and all companies trying to walk the difficult line that separates people of different religions, ethnicities and beliefs. It isn’t easy.



    A number of people wrote in to object to a story we had in which an author said that men shop in electronics stores the same way they peruse porn shops. Most of the people who objected to the characterization were men…but one female MNB user had a different read on the subject:

    The male behavior in a technical shopping experience likened to men in a porn shop draws a wonderfully funny picture for me. I am sad that everyone today seem to be looking for a reason to be offended. I thought it was funny and picturesque. While I haven't seen men in a porn shop, I have seen them in an electronics shop - and I guarantee you, they are very different shoppers than I. I have no electronics gene, but I am definitely interested in new technology. I just need some 'splainin' - I don't usually come in knowing what item I need - I just know what I need help doing.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2005

    In Monday Night Football action, the Seattle Seahawks pretty much destroyed/obliterated/crushed the Philadelphia Eagles 42-0.
    KC's View: