Published on: November 26, 2008
There has been some discussion of pricing on MNB
over the past few days, with jousting back and forth about who is responsible – retailers or manufacturers.
Yesterday, there was an MNB
user who maintained that “the largest single component of retail price is usually the retailer gross margin, not the food itself.”
Which led to outrage from another MNB
user:I have to wonder what the writer was smoking when he/she wrote that line? In order for the largest single component of price to be the retailer's gross margin, we'd have to have margins in excess of 50%? Get real, this is the food business.MNB
user Blair Thomen wrote:Is there anyone out there that does not want to blame the retailer? Now I see why our country is in this financial mess and recession. GREED!!!
For the record, I never blamed retailers.MNB
user Randy Bailey wrote:One thing not mentioned here is that the much of the food on sale now was grown while all of these input prices were at the apex. I am a grower and have just gotten a price increase from one of our largest customers suffering all through the summer eating these expenses. I think in time these prices will begin to go down but many should understand that the industry got caught in the curve when costs were soaring and need to recover when they go down.
I pointed out yesterday that “the manufacturer is not necessarily the bad guy,” and that these issues are hardly simple.
Which led another MNB
user to write:I wish all American consumers read your MNB each morning. Today in particular.
These comments regarding pricing might encourage people to consider that "business" is not the bad guy - after all, some of us have jobs because of businesses taking risks and staying in business. This is why I am against unions, who from my vantage point simply cause goods and services to cost more to the end user, with little benefit to the supposed "beneficiary". This is also why I am skeptical of taxing business owners who make over - the dollar amount kept changing, but it started at $250K and as little as $125K was mentioned.MNB
had a story yesterday about adulterated vs. non-adulterated food, and I concluded that the guiding principle ought to be “pleasure is important.”
Which led MNB
user Richard Lowe to argue:BUT NOT ALL THE TIME! Then we will not know it is pleasure. And is that not the attitude of most obesity? Food for Pleasure!
Food for pleasure is not the root of obesity. Food as obsession, however, is.
And while I recognize that life can't be all pleasure all the time, I think the pursuit of pleasure can be a noble one.
(Pleasure can come in a lot of forms. Hard work with tangible results, for example, can be a source of enormous pleasure. We’re not just talking hedonism here…though a little bit of hedonism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. ‘The wrong thing is the right thing, until you lose control,” as a famous poet and troubadour once sang…)
But food? Food should always be pleasure.
On the subject of legislation that could ban or limit the advertising of fast food to children as a way of addressing the obesity crisis, one MNB
user wrote:Let’s get real. It’s going to take responsible parents to raise healthy responsible children.
• Food, whatever the source, super market, fast food, or other food service, is packed with harmful chemicals as well as neurotoxins such as artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, HFCS and MSG.
• Exercise, actual not WII generated, needs to be part of the parents’ and childrens’ day.
• Socialization, i.e., face to face, contact with other people to become socially responsible, rather than hours upon hours of false socialization on the Internet. (Internet is good within limits)
• Parental help with self concept and self awareness – whether through environmental spiritualism or natural spiritualism
Eliminating ads for fast food may or may not need to be done, but the items above do need to be priority #1 for all parents…even if it means sacrificing their personal time.MNB
user David Carlson had some thoughts about Michael Sansolo’s Tuesday column about why “Seinfeld” remains relevant to viewers and soap operas are in trouble.Michael - I think you've missed the key point in your article and it's a point KC continually harps on (in a good way).
“Seinfeld” isn't reaching a new generation of viewing because of its marketing efforts, it's reaching them because it's still relevant. The marketing follows the trend, it rarely creates the trend - but that's another topic.
"Reaching out to them in new ways" even with "new energy and unusual marketing" without first making yourself relevant with the right products, services and formats won't get you loyal customers among the younger generation.
Supermarkets have to figure out how to make themselves relevant to younger shoppers - then market themselves more creatively.
To which Michael responds:I agree it's absolutely relevant because of the nature of the show. But the marketing effort gives the new generation a reason to check out a show that stopped production so long ago. The parallel is simple: you need both a good message and a good product. “Seinfeld” has both.
Last week, in my MNB
Radio rant, I spoke about a variety of products that, it seemed to me, were virtually irrelevant to young consumers. I included among them paper calendars, wristwatches, phone books, CDs, and soon, DVDs and maybe even paper books and magazines. It isn’t that young people won’t want to know what day it is, what time it is, or won’t need phone numbers, music, news and literature…just that there will be new technologies delivering them.
There were a couple of lines that apparently annoyed some folks:
• A note here to any parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles thinking of buying calendars for…well, anyone under the age of 65. Don't do it, unless the person being given the gift is Amish. Do it, and you immediately label yourself an old fogey.
• So next time you check your watch to see what time it is, consult a calendar hanging on the wall to see if you have any plans, and then look in the Yellow Pages to order a pizza that you can eat while watching a DVD, keep one thing in mind. You are standing on the precipice of obsolescence.
Careful. Don’t fall.MNB
user Steven Ritchey wrote:Every year for Christmas, one of the things I get from my girlfriend is a calendar of some sort. AND I USE IT. So, enough with the blanket observation about what people do and don’t use. Of course I know it was probably meant in jest. But, still one of the biggest mistakes made in our business is the thought process that because I don’t use it, others don’t either.
user wrote:Just a quick note to let you know that I look forward to receiving a pretty calendar for the wall each year. Usually it’s photos of France (holy cow, now what do I do? I LIVE here!), but it’s sometimes a photo calendar of favorite pics from last year’s vacation, or pictures of Monet paintings.
It hangs in the kitchen, the nerve center of my house, where we can all check and add to it on a daily basis. When I’m fixing dinner or stumbling through the kitchen bleary-eyed in the morning, it’s always on, and never crashes, and waiting your turn to use it is far shorter than waiting for someone to level up their character in the latest MMORPG.
At the end of the year, it’s a great outline from which to write the dreaded Christmas letter, then it’s put away like a shorthand scrapbook of what we did that year.
I wear a wristwatch, and I watch DVDs. I read a paper newspaper for years, until I moved to a place where reading the newspaper means sitting with my dictionary by my side, as I’m a long way from fluent, and struggling to translate all the details of the stories (I get the bigger points – I’m not completely illiterate in my new language!) just doesn’t mix that well with hanging out at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee.
But yet I know what MMORPG means, and I read MNB – and I’m younger than you. Don’t throw us all out as geezers just because we like to use the old-school stuff.MNB
user Deborah Rekedal wrote:I have to disagree 100% with your opinion on paper calendars. I think you might get a few e-mails from people disagreeing with your thoughts that they are only for the Amish or old fogeys, I am neither! Over 1/2 our office as responded "yes" to my e-mail asking if they needed a 2009 calendar! Personally I am a spatial thinker and when I want to know when something is "happening" I like to see the whole month on a piece of paper in front of me. I like to see the previous month and the next month too! I am not saying I am not a slave to my Outlook calendar and Blackberry, I use them too, I just like to have a full sized calendar hanging at my desk and one in the home office, and can't forget the magnetic one for the fridge...I guess I make up for the calendars The Content Family doesn't buy!
user wrote:One way we’ve still been using paper calendars around the holidays, and incorporating technology as well, is downloading a bunch of our family pictures to a website that lets us build our own calendar , with everyone’s birthday’s and anniversaries included, to send as gifts to aunt’s, uncles and grandparents. Of course to your point of their being outdated, the grandparents love them, while the aunt’s and uncle’s give an appreciative, complimentary response, with a touch of “Thanks, that’s cute, what else you got” vibe (you’ve got to love the holidays).
No offense, but methinks you are all missing my point.
I’m not talking about us. I’m talking about our kids.
My daughter is a ninth grade and goes to a school where the first thing every student does each morning is open up and turn on his or her laptop and download announcements, messages, calendar changes, homework assignments, test schedules, etc…
Go figure. It is an efficient way of communicating information, and actually leaves the teachers time to actually teach.
That’s not to say that paper calendars will completely vanish. They’ll be around, used by older people and a quaint reminder of times gone by.
My point is a simple one – that we need to recognize the changes taking place around us and figure out ways for our businesses to embrace them…or risk irrelevance.
I was taken to task above, with an MNB
user saying, “enough with the blanket observation about what people do and don’t use. Of course I know it was probably meant in jest. But, still one of the biggest mistakes made in our business is the thought process that because I don’t use it, others don’t either.”
First of all, I’m trying to be light-hearted about the points I am making…but I’m not kidding. I’m deadly serious about the broader point.
Second, as I pointed out in the original piece, I use a wristwatch, CDs and DVDs. I would argue that one of the biggest mistakes made in either business (or government or culture, for that matter) is to assume that because things are a certain way, they always will be that way.
(It may even be a fair point to suggest that the CEOs of the big three US automobile companies are guilty of this sin. See where it has gotten them – in front of Congressional committees, begging for money, and the subjects of deserved public ridicule.)
To this point, MNB
user W. Patrick McSweeney wrote:Does this mean I should also hang up my buggy whip?
Yes. Unless you are Amish.