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: October 8, 2009

    Now available on iTunes…

    To hear Kevin Coupe’s weekly radio commentary, click on the “MNB Radio” icon on the left hand side of the home page, or just go to:

    http://www.morningnewsbeat.com/Radio/Radio_Listen_S.las



    Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.


    Do what I do for a living, and one gets bombarded with press releases, announcements, white papers and editorial suggestions on an almost daily basis. A great deal of the stuff, to be honest, makes it perfectly clear that the people sending it have never read MorningNewsBeat and have no idea what I do for a living. Some if it is interesting, if not particularly useful. But every once in a while I get a press release that actually is worth sharing.

    Into this small pile goes one that I got the other day from a consultancy called Brand Keys, which focuses on some key insights for marketers to use as we careen toward 2010 – insights that they feel, and I agree, could make the difference between success and failure. And I’d like to share some of them with you…

    • “Value is the new black.” The idea here is that pretty much all consumer spending will be pegged to shoppers who have a compelling reason to buy…and that authenticity in meeting those reasons will be the differential advantage.

    • “Brands increasingly will be a surrogate for value.” This makes sense, especially in view of yesterday’s New York Times story about how traditional brands with a history of strong consumer connections are getting a lot of marketing push these days – there is a reassurance of value that consumers find comforting. Of course, this can also apply to retailer brands…especially in cases where the retailer has been aggressive about making those connections to the shopper.

    • “Consumer expectations are growing.” I think this is true, and matches up with something that we talk about a lot here on MorningNewsBeat – that consumer aspirations have not gone away just because the economy tanked. Brands that figure out these aspirations – and unmet expectations – and then work to deliver on them will be the ones that have a leg up in the long run.

    Finally, perhaps the hardest thing that brands will have to do in 2010 is understand that “buzz” is an antiquated concept, and that “engagement” is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That doesn’t just mean consumer engagement with the brand, however, though this clearly is important. It also means engagement with each other, and with the wide variety of media and communications vehicles that are at their fingertips 24 hours a day.

    So these are the marching orders. In order for a brand to succeed next year and beyond, brands only have to be authentic, be able to meet unmet and even unstated consumer needs and aspirations, and engage shoppers and enable a kind of national conversation about the brand that will extend beyond the simple purchase and use of the product.

    How hard can that be? Sounds like 2010 is going to be a piece of cake for brand marketers.

    Right.

    For MNB radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    Forbes reports that Kroger CEO David B. Dillon says that while the labor situation in Colorado is “in a state of uncertainty” at the moment, he remains confident that eventually the two sides will work out their differences in negotiations. Kroger has successfully negotiated new labor deals in Ohio and New Mexico this year, and Dillon seems to believe that history will repeat itself.

    While negotiations between Kroger’s King Soopers division – as well as Safeway and Albertsons – and local labor unions have been ongoing for some six months, unionized workers at Safeway and King Soopers have voted to reject the latest – and supposedly final - contract offers made by the two chains, and asked that the two sides return to the bargaining table. At the same time, Safeway employees re-authorized a strike against the supermarket chain, though no date or deadline has yet been set.

    Dillon says that “Colorado is a big one for us; it's an important one … My guess is it will still be a little while before we reach any sort of resolution."
    KC's View:
    As long as they keep talking and there are no labor actions, then it will mean that sanity reigns.

    But if you want to see the best reason not to go on strike, check out the long USA Today piece this morning about the economic, social and even psychological impact of unemployment on people across the country. It is scary.

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    The Center for the Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is out with a list of the top 10 riskiest foods, based foodborne illness outbreaks linked to foods regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – and as HealthDay News notes, “the list includes some of the healthiest and most popular foods consumed by Americans.”

    The list is topped by leafy greens, and followed up by eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts and berries.

    HealthDay News writes that “along with salmonella and E. coli, other pathogens causing outbreaks associated with these foods include Campylobacter, Scombrotoxin, Norovirus and Vibrio. The report noted that foodborne illness outbreaks are becoming more common in the United States because of a complex, globalized food system, outdated food safety laws, and the rise of large-scale production and processing.”
    KC's View:
    Uh-oh. With the exception of cheese and sprouts, this list represents a decent percentage of my diet.

    I like to think that one can sort of ameliorate the risks through proper washing and/or cooking…and, in some cases, by pairing them with the right foods and beverages. For example, if you pair oysters with beer, my assumption has always been that the alcohol will cut down the contamination risks.

    After all, as the great poet/troubadour sings, Give me oysters and beer, for dinner every day of the year, and I’ll feel fine…

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    Following up on the reporting of its financial results earlier this week, which were at the upper end of what analysts expected, the Financial Times reports that Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy described the company as having gone “through an extraordinary period and we are in pretty good shape.”

    While there has been reporting that Tesco’s rivals – including Sainsbury, William Morrison Supermarkets, and Walmart-owned Asda Group – have been nibbling way at its UK market share, Leahy believes that Tesco’s growth has “converged with the wider industry,” and that further erosion probably won’t take place.

    Leahy pointed to the relaunch of Tesco’s Clubcard loyalty program – which has added one million members to Tesco’s list – as being a boon to the company’s efforts.

    And, Leahy defended the company’s US Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets operation, which has underperformed to the extent where some have questioned its viability.

    “If you look at the stores on the coast, about half the stores, they are progressing well, getting into the turn-over ranges that we want, even though the economy there has been pretty depressed,” Leahy tells FT, adding, “This happened to us in the recession of the early 90s in the UK. We opened a lot of stores particularly in the north of England that did very badly, but as soon as recovery started, they did incredibly well.”
    KC's View:
    Naysayers be damned. For the moment, at least, Tesco isn’t considering an exist strategy from the US.

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that “after five marketing campaigns in almost as many years, hamburger chain Wendy's on Friday is launching a high-stakes ad blitz aimed at reviving its brand by stressing freshness and quality.”

    The goal of the nation’s third-ranked fast feeder is to ramp up sales in an economic environment that has not been friendly to the chain – continuing price breaks and value offerings have eroded sales and margins, and has hurt its ability to define itself.
    KC's View:
    Purely by coincidence, we actually had Wendy’s for dinner last night. I got home later than expected from a trip, Mrs. Content Guy and I had to go to Parents Night at our daughter’s school, and we didn’t have time to cook anything. We gave our daughter the choice, and she chose Wendy’s. She had chicken nuggets, my wife had a burger, and I had a chicken sandwich. We split a couple of orders of fries.

    And it was all awful. The burger was the worst - small and warmed over and tasting anything but fresh. The chicken sandwich was chewy and tasteless – not a good combination. And the fries tasted like they had been cooked a week ago.

    Now, I’m not a fast food fan, so it isn’t like I have high expectations. But this was so far below expectations – and even so far below the brand promise – that it will be a long time before we ever hit Wendy’s again. Granted, this could have been an isolated case…but that doesn’t matter. Because it was our bad experience, and it hurts the brand.

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    The Seattle Times reports that the mood is upbeat at Costco after the company reported better financial results than expected. Membership is up, and CFO Richard Galanti told analysts yesterday that “we asked ourselves the question as we entered the crappy economy a year ago, would people spend more to be able to spend more, and the answer is yes. I think they see it as a savings.”

    The sense seems to be that if Costco has been able to survive economic hard times, it will be well positioned if the recession ends and the nation sees an economic uptick.
    KC's View:
    My position is that I like any executive who uses frank words like “crappy” during official conversations. It doesn’t sound canned or rehearsed. It does sound frank.

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    Bloomberg reports that Starbucks is suing Paul Twohig, the company’s former senior vice president for its southeast US territory, for having taken a job with Dunkin’ Donuts as brand operations officer.

    According to the suit, Twohig had two stints with Starbucks – serving as Panera Bread COO in between – and returned to the coffee company in 2004 but signed a non-compete agreement that supposedly would last for 18 months after a departure from the company. The suit says that Twohig asked to be released from the agreement and that Starbucks refused…which led the company to sue.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that Target Corp. plans to open 25 new stores this Sunday, including five full-grocery SuperTarget locations and 21 general merchandise stores. Another new store is slated to open on November 15.

    In addition, Target announced a 50 percent off sale on a range of popular toys, saying that the discounts will remain in place through the end of the year as a way of attracting shoppers for the end-of-year holiday season … not to mention allowing it to be a viable competitor to Walmart.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    Reuters Health reports that a new study out of the University of Helsinki suggests that contrary to previous reports, coffee may not protect the aging brain from decline, dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

    And, the story reports, “As expected, heart disease, diabetes and dissatisfaction with life were significantly associated with lower cognitive performance.”
    KC's View:
    I’m sorry….what were you saying?

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    • Winn-Dixie Stores said yesterday that it is partnering with Excentus to expand the fuelperks! program in 51 of its stored in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The program allows its shoppers to earn discounts at area gas stations for every $50 they spend using the Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card, and is similar to programs being offered at Bi-Lo, Giant Eagle, Roundy’s and Ukrop’s.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    …will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 8, 2009

    The MLB League Divisional Series have begun…

    Colorado Rockies 1
    Philadelphia Phillies 5 (taking a 1-0 lead in the best of five series)

    St. Louis Cardinals 3
    Los Angeles Dodgers 5 (taking a 1-0 lead in the best of five series)

    Minnesota Twins 2
    New York Yankees 7 (taking a 1-0 lead in the best of five series)
    KC's View: