retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: December 21, 2005

    Here’s a perfect lead story for a Christmas week…

    A contest run by an Australian magazine and entered by more than 2,700 people from 41 countries has come up with a new name for kangaroo meat that is designed to make it more palatable to consumers:

    Australus.

    The magazine concluded that “australus” sounded more dignified – as opposed to cute - and would get people to eat more kangaroo meat.

    Among the losing suggestions: "kangarly," "maroo," and "kangasaurus."

    The Associated Press reports that the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, which sponsored the contest, actually has no intention of changing the meat’s name.
    KC's View:
    Some of this stuff we just couldn’t make up.

    However, this is the right time of year to float an idea like this, because it seems only natural that australus would be the traditional meat served on Festivus.

    (We actually like “kangasaurus” – sounds like something they’d eat on “The Flintstones.”)

    Published on: December 21, 2005

    MSNBC reports on the newest or maybe the oldest – marketing trend:

    “From Walt Disney Co. to Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. to Burger King Corp., corporations are resurrecting decades-old mascots, logos and slogans in a bid to cash in on consumer nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ and the craze for anything classic, vintage or retro,” MSNBC writes, noting that in the past year alone, “Anheuser-Busch launched a series of retro Budweiser cans, Yum Brands Inc. unit KFC revitalized the name ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken,’ and General Mills Inc. brought back the Jolly Green Giant from a decade-long hibernation.”

    And there are plenty of other marketers following this trend, with companies as diverse as Kellogg’s, Playboy, and Levi Strauss looking to old marketing themes to generate some new buzz.

    KC's View:
    It was just a week ago that we reported on how Bayer Consumer Care has recreated its famous 1972 “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” Alka-Seltzer ad. The big difference: this time, it stars Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame.

    Since we filed that report, we’ve actually seen the commercial, and it works – mostly because Boyle and Roberts have so much audience goodwill because of their longtime sitcom roles. (It’s nice to have them on TV…it feels comfortable.)

    But watching that commercial also gave us the same feeling the MSNBC story did. Are these retro approaches being launched because retro is cool? Or because nobody today has very good ideas? Do we respond to these commercials because we remember who we were when we first saw them? Or because they make us feel good about the product being sold.

    Just curious. We’re not sure what the answer is.

    When we think about good television commercials these days, we tend to immediately think of the Capital One “Hun” ads that keep changing and evolving in different directions – they’re funny, they make the point, and the agency keeps finding new directions in which to take it. Plus, when you think of Huns, you think of Capital One…which is a pretty good achievement. (Plus, they alternate the ads with the less funny David Spade commercials…but the counterpoint seems to work.)

    Or, we think of the Geico commercials, which keep finding new and surprising ways to say “I just saved a lot of money on car insurance”…so much so that this line has become a kind of catchphrase.

    Published on: December 21, 2005

    The Chicago Tribune reports this morning that Kraft Foods is saying that while it has created a reformulated Oreo cookie that is healthier because it has no trans fats, consumers cannot expect to see it in stores anytime soon.

    The reason? All the old-style Oreos have to be sold first. Which could take weeks or months.

    Federal regulations say that manufacturers have to list the trans fats in their products as of January 1, 2006, but also allow for delays if existing stocks need to be sold off. Once the new year begins, only no-trans-fat Oreos will be manufactured…but they won’t be in stores for some time.

    Kraft estimates that it has spent more than 30,000 people-hours and carried out 125 plant trials in a bid to develop a redesigned Oreo that has no trans fats but maintains the cookie’s traditional taste. And the company estimates that it has spent more than 100,000 man-hours reformulating its entire portfolio to be compliant with federal trans fat regulations.
    KC's View:
    Our 11-year-old daughter examines the back of every package to see if it contains trans fats. She’s not sure what they are, exactly, but she knows that they’re bad for you.

    This tells us that the trans fat message is getting through. We think that companies will only be able to delay so long before they get into the game.

    Loopholes will only take you so far. And may eventually put you into a different kind of hole.

    Published on: December 21, 2005

    Nash Finch Company announced that a class action lawsuit has been filed against it and some of its executive officers, challenging the company’s decision to acquire two Roundy’s warehouses earlier this year.

    The complaint alleges that the company and its executives violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by issuing false statements so as to artificially inflate the price of Nash Finch common stock. Nash Finch denies the charges and says it will “vigorously defend” itself.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 21, 2005

    • Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart CIO, has gone on record that the retailer will be increasingly unwilling to work with manufacturers that do not adopt its approach in the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to tag shipments.

    More than 100 manufacturers started tagging last January, with another 200 scheduled to begin tagging shipments next month. Wal-Mart has deployed the technology at 117 of its warehouses and 500 of its stores, and reportedly plans to double the RFID-capable store count by the end of next year.

    "We've started communicating to some of the suppliers who have been reluctant – which is a nice way of saying it – to say, 'We can't invest any more time in you',” said Dillman.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 21, 2005

    • Bi-Lo/Bruno’s has promoted Kevin McDougall, the company’s vp/general counsel, to the position of senior vice president/general counsel/secretary.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 21, 2005

    One MNB user had a comment about the possibility that Giant Eagle might make a play for Marsh Supermarkets and go public in the process (something that we weren’t nuts about because we hate it when analysts and shareholders become more important customers than actual customers):

    Good company. Giant Eagle has performed at a noteworthy rate for decades and I can't help but believe that a good part of the investment needed: read - risk taking - was accomplished because the Board of Directors (owners) said it was the right thing to do for the long term.

    Agreed.




    Go figure…even more email about the dollar coin story. (To recap, the government is planning to bring out yet another dollar coin…and the broad consensus among MNB users seems to be that it is a good idea…but only if the government also gets rid of the dollar bill. Replacing paper dollars with coins would save the government a half-billion dollars a year, according to estimates.)

    MNB user Alan Burris wrote:

    You and the commentators have been looking at this issue narrowly from only the perspective of government and cash drawers. There are good reasons why coins are unpopular besides resistance to change.

    From the consumers perspective, coins are a bad idea because they are heavier, bulkier, wear holes in pockets, and for men, require moving coins from one pocket to another when changing pants. I never carry change. When I receive change, it goes at the end of the day into a cup on the dresser, and annually into the change counter at the supermarket for a credit slip. The $500 million the government could save by our inconvenience and expense would just disappear into another political rat hole. And remember that the reason dollar bills are becoming worthless is that government has inflated away the value by 95 cents in my lifetime.


    Gosh…to be so cynical about the government. We’re shocked.

    We did have another thought about the dollar coins, by the way – that they would be just one more thing we’d have to take out of our pockets when going through airport security.

    Just a thought.

    MNB user (and vending guru) Paul Schlossberg wrote:

    The vending industry would benefit from a successful dollar coin rollout. Coin acceptance and change making is faster and easier. But better than that, vending needs to move to cashless transactions - that, however, is a subject for another time.

    There has been consumer research with a conclusion something like this "Even though the penny is useless, over 60% of Americans do not want to see it eliminated."

    The new dollar coins will be good for the Treasury. Collectors will buy
    mint sets. Look at what happened with the state quarters.


    The biggest impact we’ve seen from the state quarters is that Mrs. Content Guy keeps going through our pockets looking for Wisconsin, or some other state quarter she hasn’t found yet.

    MNB user Ted File wrote:

    We grew up with the good old silver dollars in Montana. On weekends I would walk out of the bank with sometimes 3 bags of the silver.....Man, were they ever heavy. But people wanted the silver coin....even though they drilled holes in the pockets, (except my Lees or Levi’s) Coins are for MEN among MEN....We never knew how much money was in the pocket with the paper stuff, but we always knew when it was silver.

    One of the results of the discussion about dollar coins was that we changed our mind about the idea. Our first reaction was that it was a dumb idea, but we were convinced by the avalanche of email that a dollar coin made sense if it replaced the dollar bill.

    More than a few MNB users seemed to think this was a noteworthy admission.

    MNB user Liz Schlegel wrote:

    Praise be to the columnist who can change his mind! That's a rare gift!

    Changed my mind, too, by the way. You have great readers!


    We do indeed.

    MNB user Gary Cohen wrote:

    And this is why you and your newsletter are so popular and well read – you are willing to listen to the other side and make a change in executive decision in less than 24 hours…good job.

    Aw, shucks…

    And MNB user Verlin P. Youd wrote:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and some of the resulting feedback from readers regarding the new one-dollar coin. Most importantly, thanks for again showing us a real life example of the benefits of your daily news and commentary – it gives us the chance to be exposed to content and commentary that can result in a person rationally changing their point of view. By the way, having lived in Canada and become accustomed to “loonies” and “toonies” I believe that the US could quickly adapt…

    Y’know, maybe we just ought to switch to the Euro and make everybody’s life simpler…

    Just kidding.

    One of the funny things about this discussion is the fact that we got two emails that had much the same sentiment…and it reminded us of why we love the MNB community so much.

    One MNB user wrote:

    Why do we even have dollar bills anymore? Who will this inconvenience if they are eliminated? Maybe there is an "Adult Entertainers" lobby in Washington keeping the dollar bills in circulation. Though I would think they would be happy that the smallest remaining bill would be a fiver. I don't think I will take that thought any further…

    We’d be willing to wager that there certainly is an Adult Entertainers lobby in Washington…

    And another MNB user wrote:

    I had no opinion one way or the other about dollar coins until the worst thought popped in my head: some poor stripper being thumped in the forehead with a dollar coin... or worse, seeing one wearing a change belt as a g-string…

    That’s what we like.

    Analysis with attitude.
    KC's View: