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    Published on: June 1, 2010

    Interesting piece in the New York Times about how some internet companies have found a way to alleviate consumer concerns about privacy issues. There’s nothing stealthy about their data collection methods - they simply offer consumers deals, bargains or even products in exchange for their information.

    According to the story, “The budgeting Web site Mint.com, for example, displays discount offers from cable companies or banks to users who reveal their personal financial data, including bank and credit card information. The clothing retailer Bluefly could send offers for sunglasses to consumers who disclose that they just bought a swimsuit. And location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla ask users to volunteer their location in return for rewards like discounts on Pepsi drinks or Starbucks coffee.

    “These early efforts are predicated on a shift in the relationship between consumer and company. Influenced by consumers’ willingness to trade data online, the sites are pushing to see how much information people will turn over.”
    KC's View:
    It seems to me that a lot of the concerns about privacy being expressed in the marketplace come as a result of company greed - a lot of people see data, they know that online consumer data is a vastly underutilized asset, and they get dollar signs in their eyes.

    The phrase that they ought to be keeping in mind is “permission marketing” - that if they ask for permission from consumers to use their data, they offer an inducement for shoppers to give that permission, and then are both discreet and relevant in their use of the data, they can transform the relationship with the shopper into something far more meaningful.

    For example, I’ve given Amazon permission to send me emails based on my shopping habits, and I find that with few exceptions, the emails are relevant to my interests even if I’m not in a shopping mode. So I am not offended. Frequently, I buy something I had no intention of buying. And the relationship with Amazon deepens and widens.

    That’s the ideal model. It ought not be specifically about making money, but about forging tangible connections.

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    Belgium-based Delhaize Group - which owns the Hannaford Bros., Food Lion and Sweetbay companies here in the US - was out late last week with its third annual Corporate Sustainability report.

    “The report presents the Group's performance, made up of initiatives from all of its operating companies in the three key areas of products, people and planet and in line with the Group's CR strategy,” the company said in a prepared statement. “It highlights results, emphasizing the Group's focus areas of promoting healthy eating, ensuring rigorous food safety, sourcing responsibly, ensuring the health and wellness of our associates, developing the talents of our associates, and reducing our impact on climate change.”

    Among the highlights:

    • “The reformulation of many private brand products to reduce salt, fat and sugar.”
    • “The strengthening of food safety programs following an external benchmarking exercise.”
    • “The development of sustainable seafood sourcing strategies for the U.S. and Belgium.”
    • “The launch of innovative programs to encourage associates to adopt a healthier lifestyle.”
    • “The reduction of store energy consumption by 2.9% from 2008 to 2009” and “the reduction of total company greenhouse gas emissions of 0.2% from 2008 to2009 (when considering the same scope).”
    KC's View:
    I was reading the other day a report from the 2010 PEN World Voices literary festival, in which it was noted that Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder suggested that the world needs a kind of “Golden Rule 2.0,” that “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is no longer enough. Gaardner said that this new Golden Rule would be a Principle of Reciprocity saying that “you shall do to the next generation what you wished the previous generation had done to you.”

    That strikes me as a pretty good guiding principle. Companies such as Delhaize are very smart when they make statements such as its Corporate Responsibility report...these have real meaning for a growing number of consumers, and they create a sense that the company has its eye on the ball.

    This may be even more important for consumers because of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, which may prove to be a defining moment for young people who may wonder about the corporate malfeasance that caused it, the governmental ineptitude that seems unable to stop it, but mostly about the addiction to oil that has created the environment in which such a thing can happen. Sustainability issues become a higher priority for a generation appalled by the confluence of events and attitudes that create the disaster that seems to be spreading inexorably both physically and psychologically.

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    The New York Times reports on how more and more, retailers are encouraging consumers to use their cell phones as loyalty cards, taking advantage of technology to track visits and purchases and garner rewards.

    According to the story, “Some start-ups, like CardStar and CardBank, store existing loyalty cards on cellphones with scannable barcodes. And companies including Motorola and a start-up called mFoundry are providing retailers with the technology to build cellphone loyalty cards.

    “Loopt is one of several start-ups — including Foursquare, Shopkick and Gowalla — that are experimenting with ways to use cellphones to bridge the digital and physical worlds and turn the tasks of everyday life, like buying coffee and running errands, into a game.”

    Sam Altman, Loopt’s CEO and co-founder, tells the Times: “People are getting more comfortable so fast. They see the upside is huge...”
    KC's View:
    Altman may have a not-to-ulterior motive in his assessment of the advantages of this technology, but I think he’s right. The more these functions converge and are seen as relevant by shoppers - especially the next generation of consumers, which has been raised on iPods and iPhones and other such innovations - the faster they are likely to be accepted and embraced. And the general rule of thumb is this - they’ll probably be accepted and embraced faster than any of us expect.

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    The New York Times reports on how some companies are fighting back against consumers using the internet and social networking sites to criticize them, filing defamation lawsuits and saying they are being unfairly criticized.

    “Some First Amendment lawyers see the case differently,” the Times writes. “They consider the lawsuit an example of the latest incarnation of a decades-old legal maneuver known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or Slapp. The label has traditionally referred to meritless defamation suits filed by businesses or government officials against citizens who speak out against them. The plaintiffs are not necessarily expecting to succeed — most do not — but rather to intimidate critics who are inclined to back down when faced with the prospect of a long, expensive court battle.”
    KC's View:
    Clearly I have a dog in this hunt.

    That said, I believe that the intimidation game is not a smart one, at least not when viewed through this prism. There may be short-term wins, but the long-term impact will be to undermine a company’s image, credibility and viability.

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    The 29-unit Sunflower Farmers Market chain has been awarded the 2010 Hot Retailers Award from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), which rewards companies said to be among the most original and innovative in the industry.

    “We are very honored to receive this award and recognition,” said Mike Gilliland, CEO of Sunflower Farmers Market. “This award is a true tribute to our grocery store concept, which we believe has brought the best of both worlds together – low price points and natural, organic foods. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the growth of our company and the enthusiasm we have seen from our customers.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    The New York Times reports that some big chains - such as Walmart’s Sam’s Club - are working to customize deals to consumer’s specific shopping habits. Sam’s, for example, “is offering a program called eValues that strives to offer bargains tailored to each member, based on that member’s buying history ... The program is available only to Sam’s Club’s ‘Plus’ members, who pay a higher yearly membership fee than do regular members. They can view the deals by e-mail, on the Sam’s Club Web site or at store kiosks.”

    According to the story, “Industry experts said they expected other retailers to move toward more individualized offers, too. Today, most retailers offer across-the-board discounts or deals aimed at categories of customers.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    • The Chicago Tribune reports that Walmart is counting on sharp price cuts - such as $1 bottles of ketchup and cases of soft drinks for under $4 - in essential food categories as it looks to regain the upper hand when it comes to a low price reputation. At the same time, as previously reported, the retailer is restoring some items that it previously eliminated in its SKU rationalization effort that was designed to streamline stores and make them more profitable...but instead sent a lot of its customers to the competition looking for products they could no longer find at Walmart.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    The New York Times reports that Kraft Foods is launching a new campaign in support of its iconic Macaroni and Cheese Dinner line...but instead of aiming it at adults who feed it to children, the usual target, the company is instead appealing to adults sense of nostalgia and suggesting that they eat it themselves.

    “To underline that message,” the Times writes, “the macaroni campaign carries the playful theme, ‘you know you love it,’ and continues in that vein with lines like ‘The most fun you can have with your stove on,’ ‘Outgrow outgrowing it,’ ‘Imported from your childhood’ and ‘Parents need warm cheesy hugs’.”
    KC's View:
    The other component in this strategy is the so-called “new normal” ... that even though the economy seems to be recovering, people continue to be careful about their spending and are eating at home more than they used to - facts that pretty much all food retailers need to factor into their thinking for the foreseeable future.

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) said late last week that “retail sales within the U.S. consumer packaged goods health and wellness industry reached almost $125 billion in 2009, representing an overall growth of 5% over the previous year. This figure includes sales across all retail and direct-to-consumer channels ... While functional/fortified foods and beverages continue to represent the largest portion of sales, this category had the smallest growth rate (only 2%) over 2008.”

    The categories rated in the NMI study include:

    • Functional/Fortified Foods & Beverages, $41 billion in sales, up two percent in 2009;
    • Vitamins, Minerals, Herbal & Dietary Supplements, $25 billion, up eight percent;
    • Organic Foods/Beverages, $25 billion, up five percent;
    • Natural Foods/Beverages, $15 billion, up five percent;
    • Natural/Organic Personal Care, $10 billion, up eight percent;
    • And Natural/Organic General Merchandise, $9 billion, up 15 percent in 2009.

    "The economic crisis has affected consumer shopping for health and wellness,” said NMI President Maryellen Molyneaux. “Many have changed what, where and how they buy. These changes are not short term but are lifestyle changes that could impact the industry into the future. Based on our research and analysis, NMI projects that the health and wellness industry will grow at a rate of approximately 3 percent to 15 percent across various categories in 2010."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    The New York Times reports on the hard times befalling salt producers: “By all appearances, this is a moment of reckoning for salt. High blood pressure is rising among adults and children. Government health experts estimate that deep cuts in salt consumption could save 150,000 lives a year,” and there are calls for such cuts from consumer groups, health professions and even governmental entities. According to the story, the salt industry “is working overtly and behind the scenes to fend off these attacks, using a shifting set of tactics that have defeated similar efforts for 30 years, records and interviews show. Industry insiders call the strategy ‘delay and divert’ and say companies have a powerful incentive to fight back: they crave salt as a low-cost way to create tastes and textures. Doing without it risks losing customers, and replacing it with more expensive ingredients risks losing profits.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    ...will be posted on Wednesday this week.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that Bashas, the financially troubled Arizona grocery chain, is delaying emergence from bankruptcy because global credit markets have made interest rates too high. The company still hopes to get out of bankruptcy by the end of July, but rather than using a loan to pay off creditors, it may need a kind of bridge loan to help it mark time until lower interest rates make financing terms more palatable.

    • The Jones Soda Co., the upscale soft drink company that has been suffering through some profitability issues in recent years, scored a big potential win last week, announcing “a deal with Walmart that authorizes Jones to retail its products in Walmart's approximately 3,800 U.S. based stores. The deal increases Jones' total retail outlet distribution by nearly 10%, and will make the product easily accessible to millions of new consumers.”

    • Miguel Gonzalez, President, Northgate Gonzalez Markets, and Jerry Whitmore, Sales Manager for Southern California, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, have been inducted into the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation Hall of Achievement, which California grocery retailers and suppliers who have contributed substantially to the advancement of the grocery industry.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    • Brookshire Grocery Co. has announced a number of executive promotions at its corporate office:

    Russ Cooper has been promoted to executive vice president-general counsel, secretary. He will also serve on the company’s ESOP committee. Cooper joined BGC in 1996 as corporate counsel.

    Greg Nordyke has been promoted to executive vice president-corporate development. He will oversee logistics, manufacturing, facility services and real estate. Nordyke is a 26-year employee.

    Kevin Albritton is now executive vice president-sales/marketing overseeing category management and marketing leadership teams. Albritton has also served as store director and district vice president during his 33-year career.

    Kenny Holt is now executive vice president-human resources in charge of HR, risk management, benefits and the new Fresh by Brookshire’s store banner. He is a 28-year employee who also served as store director and personnel training manager during his career.

    Jim Cousineau, a 17-year employee, has been promoted to senior vice president-pharmacy operations. Cousineau joined BGC as director of pharmacy operations, and he was promoted to vice president of pharmacy operations in 1996.

    John D’Anna is now senior vice president-chief information officer. He joined BGC in 1990 and has served as senior systems programmer, director-business intelligence, director-enterprise applications and vice president-IT planning/strategy.

    Lisa Glorioso has been promoted to vice president-pharmacy operations. Glorioso is a 17-year employee who also served as a pharmacist, pharmacy manager, pharmacy supervisor and director of pharmacy operations.

    Andy Newberry, who joined BGC in 2001 as an accountant, has been promoted to vice president-category management analytics. He has also served as internal auditor manager and director of pricing and analysis.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    Dennis Hopper, who acted in a wide range of movies - including Rebel Without A Cause, Cool Hand Luke, True Grit, Hoosiers, and Speed - but was perhaps best known for his direction and acting in the counter-culture classic Easy Rider, died over the weekend after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 74.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    ....will return. (There were so many stories this morning that including “Your Views” seemed to make MNB a trifle unwieldy ... and a little much to read after a holiday weekend.)
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

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    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

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    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    Consumers often ask if an extra virgin olive oil is “first cold pressed.” They view it as a special benefit.

    There appears to be a fair amount of confusion on this topic. Some very big foreign olive oil producers stamp “First Cold Press” on their labels.

    To be officially certified “extra virgin,” an olive oil must be first cold pressed. If it’s not first cold pressed, it can’t qualify as extra virgin olive oil under International Olive Council or California Olive Oil Council standards.

    All of the oil California Olive Ranch produces is certified extra virgin olive oil. It’s entirely first cold pressed. And fresher than anything else available.

    Try it today: Click here.

    You’ll be glad you did.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

    To transform an organization, leadership needs to make sure that the people who are making decisions and forging game plans are “nines” and “tens,” or people who can be nurtured and shaped into “nines” and “tens.”

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    There is no time to waste. No time like the present to define and fix your people issues.

    Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

    Now is the time to Nurture Your Greatest Competitive Advantage through Effective Recruitment, Retention, Succession, and Planning.

    Samuel J. Associates can help.


    For more information, click here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010

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    You’ve scheduled a meeting and are looking for a speaker who can energize the audience. Who can bring context to relevant headlines shaping your business, and share a unique understanding of customer dynamics. Who can offer a provocative perspective on the kind of thought leadership that can propel businesses into the next decade of the 21st century.

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    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2010



    California Olive Ranch is leading rapid growth in the olive oil category – our volume is up 675%!*

    Consumers love our great taste, and are demanding locally grown and sustainably produced products now more than ever.  Our year-round comprehensive marketing support plan includes print and online advertising, FSIs, and in-store presence.

    Click here to learn how we can jumpstart and transform your olive oil category!

    * IRI Total US Grocery for 12 wks ending Feb 2011
    KC's View: