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    Published on: December 10, 2010

    by Kevin Coupe

    It is a reflection of how the world of communication has changed.

    Dow Jones reports that Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said the other day that the number of people using her company’s email service has declined - because a lot of young people are using Facebook to communicate with each other. It seems that just as people moved from sending mail to talking on the phone to sending email to sending text messages, now they want to communicate with each other by writing on their Facebook walls.

    According to the story, “Yahoo is under increasing pressure from Facebook, which has surpassed 500 million users worldwide and is rapidly become the de facto home page for a growing number of Internet users. Facebook's key social features include the Wall, a space on every user's profile page that allows friends to post messages for the user to see.

    “The social network recently unveiled a new messaging system that combines email, instant messenger and text messages, a move many observers believed is aimed at pulling users away from Google's and Yahoo's email services.”

    Yahoo remains the nation’s largest email service with almost 95 million unique visitors in September, double the number who used Google’s Gmail during that period.

    Yet another indicator of how the world is changing - a Pew Research Center study that says about eight percent of American adults are using Twitter - with two percent of US adults using Twitter every day.

    To target the consumer of the future, retailers and manufacturers need to keep these trends in mind ... and also try to figure out what the next trend will be.

    To do otherwise is to be working with your eyes closed.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Walmart has identified a site for its first neighborhood Market grocery store in the city of Chicago - a “30,000 square feet in a three-level retail center in the Lakeview neighborhood” that would be “Wal-Mart's first in an affluent neighborhood in the city. It also would be among the several dozen outlets Wal-Mart has said it plans to open in Chicago over the next five years after emerging from a bruising battle with local unions and Chicago aldermen over employee wages.”

    The retailer reportedly is negotiating for a number of locations around the city.

    Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun Times reports that Target is in final negotiations to take over much of the retail space available in the former Carson Pirie Scott store at 1 S. State Street, a Chicago landmark building in the Loop.
    KC's View:
    Interesting that in Chicago, at least in these cases, that Walmart is going smaller and more local, while Target seems to be sticking with its big store strategy. The thing is, both companies could be proven to be right - the stores are in different locations, catering to different customers. It’ll be a fascinating juxtaposition.

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    Forbes reports that “Procter & Gamble Co., whose sponsorship and production of daytime TV dramas helped coin the term "soap operas," has pulled the plug after 77 years. Instead, the maker of Tide detergent, Ivory soap and Olay skincare is following its customers online with a big push on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.”

    According to the story, “Marketing experts say the biggest companies were generally slow to adapt to the rapid rise of social networks, but that beverage rivals Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsico Inc., and P&G and fellow consumer products makers Unilever PLC and Johnson & Johnson are among those quickly making up for lost time.

    “In recent months, P&G began selling Pampers diapers on Facebook, offering an iPhone application for Always feminine products that allows women to track menstrual cycles and ask experts questions, and using social media to turn a campaign for the venerable Old Spice brand into a pop-culture icon.”

    The Old Spice experience has been particularly instructive, with P&G saying that using social networks allowed it to track exposures. The commercials garnered 1.8 billion online impressions, more than 140 million views on YouTube, and a 2,700 percent increase in Twitter followers of the brand. And the company says that Old Spice sales are up by double digits - which means there is an ROI for the new model.
    KC's View:
    Making the same point as in our “Eye-Opener,” above.

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    Advertising Age reports on the likely fallout when the Starbucks-Kraft divorce terms are finalized, and the inevitable result, the story suggests, will be heightened coffee competition in the nation’s grocery aisles.

    The two companies are involved in a bitter dispute, begun when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that he was ending his company’s 12-year relationship with Kraft, accusing the CPG giant of failing to adequately represent its interests. There are reports that Starbucks offered a $750 million settlement, but that Kraft is holding out for more, possibly as much as $1 billion or more. And Kraft has gone to court to stop Starbucks from acting unilaterally.

    According to the story, Starbucks “has already signaled its intent to aggressively expand its grocery offerings, possibly including in the fast-growing single-cup market, where it could compete directly with Kraft's Tassimo line ... Kraft, meantime, must decide if it wants to stay in the premium-ground-coffee space, either by partnering with a new upscale coffee brand or by expanding its Maxwell House brand to include more premium lines.

    “Both moves would put the food giant in direct competition with Starbucks.”

    The general consensus seems to be that there is more of an upside in a divorce for Starbucks than for Kraft, and there is an expectation that Starbucks is likely to expand the product lines it offers through grocery stores. One likely new product - a version of its popular oatmeal.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    A federal judge has thrown out singer/songwriter Carly Simon’s second attempt to sue Starbucks, saying, essentially, that she has no case.

    Simon sued the coffee company for unspecified damages related to the failure of her last CD, “This Kind Of Love,” in 2008. The album was produced by Starbucks’ Hear Music division, which had turned albums by artists such as Ray Charles into hits. However, shortly after Simon signed her deal with Hear Music, the company reduced its involvement in the music business as it dealt with the erosion of its core business because of economic challenges created by the recession; Simon’s suit charged that not only did the company not pay her an agreed-upon advance, but Starbucks didn’t even initially stock the CD at all of its stores and when it finally did, it was at a discount price that Simon says stigmatized the album.

    Her first attempt was tossed out by a Los Angeles judge, but she amended her complaint, made it more specific, and tried again.
    KC's View:
    Not specific or amended enough, apparently.

    Maybe she can get a song out of it. “CoffeeHouse Blues,” perhaps?

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    USA Today reports that almost six of 10 mobile phone users say they are using their smart phones for their holiday shopping, utilizing them to save money and gather information about the products in which they are interested.

    “With smartphones, shoppers can compare prices, store loyalty and gift cards, make wish lists and get discounts at their favorite stores,” the paper writes. “But retailers also risk alienating customers if the apps and mobile websites fail to deliver. More than half of customers surveyed say they won't return to a mobile site if they've had a poor experience, according to a study by Gomez, Compuware's unit that studies website performance.

    “And performance expectations are high: Nearly 60% of people anticipate mobile sites will run as smoothly as or better than sites they visit on their computers, the Gomez study showed.”
    KC's View:
    It strikes me as a pretty good rule of thumb that especially when catering to an ADD generation that wants instant gratification and demonstrates little patience, retailers should work on the premise that a) expectations are high among consumers, and b) tolerance for incompetence is low.

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    • In western New York, the Democrat and Chronicle reports on the opening of The Food Bar at Pittsford, the newest restaurant opened by Wegmans, replacing its old Tastings, the upscale restaurant that used to be adjacent to the store.

    “In approach,” the paper says, “the Food Bar is poles apart from Tastings, which featured, among other entrees, a five-course tasting menu. The Food Bar is going for speed and quality. It is the Rochester region’s latest entry in the restaurant industry’s newest wave, called fast casual.”

    • The New York Times reports that the McNeil Consumer Healthcare division of Johnson & Johnson has issued a nationwide recall of all lots - or more than 13 million packages - of soft chewable Rolaids, “ after reports of consumers finding metal and wood particles in the products.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    • Supervalu announced yesterday that Sherry Smith, the company’s interim CFO, will be dropping the “interim” from her title, and has been appointed CFO/executive vice president of the company.

    Smith became interim CFO last July after the resignation of Pamela Knous.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    ...will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    In Thursday Night Football, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 30-28.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 10, 2010

    The other day, I heard William Bennett, the author, radio host, gambler and former US Secretary of Education, say on “Morning Joe” that he thinks the best American movie ever made is “Independence Day.”

    He was on the show to promote his book, “The American Patriot’s Almanac,” which features a chapter on movies that reflect the American experience; but that’s not what he said on “Morning Joe.” He said, very clearly, that “Independence Day” is his idea of the great American movie.

    Now, I’m okay if he wants to say that “Independence Day” is his favorite movie. And, if he wants to say that “Independence Day” is a “great” movie, I’m even okay with that, although I would suggest that he’s devaluing the definition of the word “great”; this is, after all, a matter of taste, and as my sainted father-in-law used to say, “Where taste is concerned there is no dispute.”

    But the “great American movie”? Give me a break.

    I would argue that “Independence Day” isn’t even close to being the best Jeff Goldblum movie ever made. He was, after all, in “Annie Hall” and “The Right Stuff,” not to mention “Nashville,” “The Big Chill” and “Jurassic Park.” I would even argue that “Independence Day” isn’t even the best Jeff Goldblum movie featuring alien invaders ever made - he was in the Philip Kaufmann version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” which is a much better piece of work.

    The great American movie? The general consensus, I guess, would identify “Citizen Kane” as the winner...though there would be some who would hold out for “Casablanca.” I probably would side with the group that believes “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” represent the best work of a single American filmmaker. There’s lots of room for debate ... but I worry about the fact that the guy who once was responsible for the American educational system would suggest that “Independence Day” is anywhere close to being of the quality of these classics.

    It is, however, an interesting exercise ... especially to the co-author of a book entitled “The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.” (Now available on both in print form and for Kindle...and soon to be available on iBooks. Did I mention that it makes a perfect Christmas present?)

    Here’s my off-the-top-of-my-head list ....without benefit of even alphabetical order...of 50 American movies that I certainly think are better than “Independence Day.” (And I think, with the possible exception of one of them, that each of these movies reflects something very specific about the American experience.) It is a highly personal list ... it reflects all of my biases, both in terms of era and genre, and I concede from the start that there are tons of great movies left out. But it would be my guess that these American movies will be remembered far longer than “Independence Day,” and maybe even longer than William Bennett.

    All The President’s Men
    Annie Hall
    Bonnie & Clyde
    Broadcast News
    Bull Durham
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    Citizen Kane
    Cool Hand Luke
    Dr. Strangelove
    ET: The Extra Terrestrial
    Good Fellas
    High Noon
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Kaufman version)
    Night Moves
    North by Northwest
    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Some Like It Hot
    Star Wars
    Taxi Driver
    The Big Sleep
    The Candidate
    The Conversation
    The French Connection
    The Godfather
    The Godfather, Part II
    The Graduate
    The Grapes of Wrath
    The Last Picture Show
    The Maltese Falcon
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    The Right Stuff
    The Searchers
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    The Wizard of Oz
    To Kill A Mockingbird
    Young Frankenstein

    My sister Amy came up with a great idea to clear up all the controversy about airport security.
    What the TSA needs to do is come up with a box that everybody has to walk through before getting on the plane. Once you are in, the box is closed for 15 which point, technology will ignite any explosive device on your person.

    And that’s it.

    They wheel the used box away, replace it with another, and say to the assembled crowd, “Next!”

    I think this is an idea with legs.

    Love & Other Drugs is a mess of a movie that is saved by its terrifically cast actors, especially Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, who provide a modern definition of film chemistry.

    Gyllenhaal plays a traveling pharmaceutical salesman (evoking George Clooney in Up In The Air) who delights in one-night-stands, and Hathaway is a young woman suffering from early onset Parkinson’s disease; they find in each other an ideal mate, since neither wants an emotional commitment ... but life, of course, is never that simple.

    They are utterly winning in their roles. The problem is that there are moments when the movie is a “disease of the week” drama, other moments when it is a romantic comedy, other times when it is a hard-R-rated comedy, and still others when it is a satire about the relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. The pieces of the puzzle don’t always mesh, which can be jarring ... but we walked out of the movie having enjoyed it thoroughly.

    I was so glad this week to see the Men of A Certain Age has returned for its second season. Maybe it is because I happen to be a man of a certain age, but I find this comedy/drama - which stars Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher as three fiftysomething guys thrying to figure out their place in the world, to reconcile their hopes and dreams with their various realities. The great thing about “Men” is that it rarely engages in navel-gazing - the show has wonderful dialogue, but the drama and comedy come from character. Great stuff.

    I have two wonderful French red wines to recommend this week - the 2009 Brouilly from Chateau Moulin Favre (no relation to the aging NFL quarterback), and the 2008 Cotes du Rhone from La Cabotte. Both are yummy (to use my favorite technical term for wine), and wonderful with grilled meats or just sipping by the fireplace.

    That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend...and I’ll see you Monday.

    KC's View: