retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to one of yesterday’s stories, MNB user Jeff Weidauer wrote:

There’s been a lot of opinion floating around that once the economy revives, brands will come roaring back. I would submit that brands never left, but for many consumers the term “brands” now includes not just national brands, but store brands as well. The paradigm has changed, for reasons beyond the recession. Consumers are looking for alternatives; they are better informed and more cynical about advertising claims (as they should be). They also trust their local store more than large manufacturers.

National brands that believe they will push out store brands just because shoppers are feeling less pinched are in for a rude awakening. Store brands are here to stay as viable alternatives for shoppers; not because  of price, but because they have built a strong connection, just like a national brand. The rules have changed. Shoppers no longer view private label as just a cheap replacement for the “real” thing, and national brands need to adjust their strategies accordingly.

MNB took note yesterday of a Consumer Reports story saying that the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) - controversial because while it has been used in food containers, especially baby cups, for years even though there is some evidence that it may be linked to a variety of cancers, diabetes and heart disease - has been found in 19 name brand foods, including canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans that were packaged in containers with BPA.

One MNB user wrote:

Let’s see if the CPG companies step up to the plate and solve this issue immediately, instead of waiting for multiple government agencies to battle a ‘turf war’ and come up with conflicting data and recommendations.  In light of all the recent food recalls, I believe consumers will stop buying products that use BPA.  CPG companies are ‘on the clock’ to solve this issue.

One does have the sense that the eventual banning of BPA is almost inevitable. And you’re right - CPG companies do have a choice. Seems to me that it makes sense to get ahead of this one.

Responding to yesterday’s story about online sales expected to be up during the end-of-year holiday season, compared to projections that brick-and-mortar sales will be stagnant at best, one MNB user wrote:

How can on-line sales be a bright spot if those sales are merely taking away from brick and mortar? This does not help the country climb out of the recession, it merely moves sales on line and additionally often reduces vital sales tax revenue that state’s need.  I have no problem with technology changing the way we shop but let us not call it a bright spot and imply that it is helping anything.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. A bright spot is a bright spot. Besides, I’m not convinced that this is an either/or situation. This represents a shift in what shoppers want and how they behave.
KC's View: