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    Published on: January 10, 2011

    by Kevin Coupe

    ForeSee Results, which specializes in evaluating customer satisfaction, is out with a new study this morning looking at consumer mobile phone usage, concluding that this technology increasingly seems to be having an impact on shopper behavior, with more people than ever using them to make purchases and compare prices.

    Among the highlights:

    • “Shoppers use mobile phones to access websites and apps more than ever before with 33% of respondents reporting phone usage to access a retail website.  An additional 26% said they plan to use the retailer’s website or mobile app in the future, creating an opportunity for retailers to compete.”

    • “A total of 11% of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this holiday season, compared to only 2% at this time last year.”

    • “Most mobile shoppers use their phones to compare prices (56%).”

    • “Two thirds of mobile shoppers accessed the website of the current store they were in but almost half (46%) also used their phone to look up a competitor’s website.”

    • “There is room for improvement when it comes to mobile sites and apps, which received lower satisfaction ratings (75) than traditional websites (78).”

    “It looks like more than half of all shoppers will soon be using their mobile phones for retail purposes,” says Kevin Ertell, ForeSee’s vice president of retail strategy. “Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure, and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    That’s our Monday Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    Responding to the assassination attempt over the weekend on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) in front of a Tucson Safeway while she participated in a “Congress On Your Corner” constituent outreach event, the retailer released the following statement:

    “We share the grief and shock that everyone in Tucson and the nation are feeling following this tragic act of violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and with each of the victims and their families. Like everyone else, we are struggling to understand this tragedy and are giving all assistance we can to the law enforcement agencies that are investigating.

    “Of course, our Tucson store is closed and will remain closed while we see to the needs of our customers, our employees, law enforcement and the community of Tucson. We have sent grief counselors to the Tucson store to provide emotional support to those affected by this tragedy, and we will continue to look for ways to be of comfort to the many employees, customers and others who are devastated by what has happened.”

    As of this posting, six people were dead after the rampage, and 14 people injured, including Rep. Giffords, who was shot in the head at point-blank range; Jared L. Loughner, a man described as a “troubled 22-year-old college dropout,” has been charged on five counts, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress.
    KC's View:
    There is much we don’t know about this shooting, and it remains to be seen whether anyone will learn anything from what happened, and to what extent the toxic political discourse in this country contributed to these sad events.

    I do think that, whatever the state of mind or emotional condition of the man who committed these crimes, there is phrase for what he did. It is, to be sure, a kind of terrorism. It doesn’t matter what the rationale or motivations were; he apparently described himself as a terrorist, and the shooting has been successful in making a lot of people afraid.

    Ironic, on some sort of small scale, that last week I got a lot of grief from some MNB users because I made the observation (relevant to a different story) that not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all terrorists are Muslims. Loughner isn't a Muslim, to the best of my knowledge, and neither were people like Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, James W. Von Brunn or Andrew Joseph Stack III.

    The point is this. There is evil all around. Categorization based on ideological over-simplification does not do it - or us - justice.

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    Supervalu said Friday that Janel Haugarth, a three-decade veteran of the company who has been executive vice president, president and chief operating officer of the company’s Supply Chain Services organization, has been named executive vice president, merchandising and logistics.

    Steve Jungmann, who joined Supervalu as executive vice president, merchandising, in a year ago, reportedly will leave the company effective immediately. Jungmann had been tapped to replace Duncan Mac Naughton, who left Supervalu to join Walmart.

    In his memo to the company, Supervalu CEO Craig Herkert wrote:

    “With the creation of this new role on my executive team, we are able to consolidate the leadership of all of the company’s merchandising activities – with the exception of Save-A-Lot – under a single leader. She will have responsibility for all merchandising activities across the company’s traditional retail and independent retail businesses. She will also continue to oversee all of the company’s supply chain and logistics operations ... I believe that Janel’s new role truly signifies the kinds of synergies we can create in our business to better leverage our scale and act as one company in our relationships with the vendor community. We will have greater abilities in securing lower costs of goods, ensuring we meet customers’ needs with the right products at the right time and at the right price.”
    KC's View:
    Supervalu certainly is moving a lot of pieces around the board these days, shuffling top execs and closing stores around the country that have been deemed unproductive.

    In the end, it all comes down to whether Supervalu will operates better, more effective and efficient stores, and provide better, more effective and efficient service to its retail customers.

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    Haggen Inc. announced that it will close two of its 32 stores by mid-February - a Haggen Food & Pharmacy unit in the Beaverton, Oregon, neighborhood of Tanasbourne (and the first Haggen store to be opened in Oregon, in 1996), and a TOP Food & Drug in Everett, Washington.

    “Our company continually evaluates its stores, identifying opportunities to strengthen our overall business,” said Becky Skaggs, spokesperson for Haggen stores. “This is a decision we reluctantly make because of its impact on our employees and customers. In this highly competitive and difficult retail environment, the closure of underperforming stores allows our company and our supplier partners to focus on long-term growth.”
    KC's View:
    When Haggen hired Jim Donald, the former CEO of Starbucks, to be its new CEO back in September 2009, I wrote that one of the matters that I suspected would be on his plate would be “to get Haggen ready to eventually be sold, but that’s just a guess on my part. More and more people tell me that they suspect there will a lot of consolidation on the retail side of the food industry over the next few years, with companies like Haggen increasingly vulnerable because of competitive pressures.”

    I suspect that this is precisely what is happening here. To mix a bunch of metaphors ... you batten down the hatches, get read of the dead wood, and make what remains as productive, efficient and attractive as possible.

    Published on: January 10, 2011 reports that “the only plastic bags that will be available in Italy will soon be biodegradable versions, since a ban on plastic bags went into place Jan. 1.

    “Stores in Italy, which uses 20 billion bags a year (one-fifth of all European use), will be able to give out their remaining plastic bags, but once they're gone, they can only offer paper, biodegradable plastic or cloth bags ... News reports from European outlets are rife with concern that the country won't be able to handle such a sudden change, and they also worry the biodegradable and paper alternatives will be an annoyance if they are seen as weaker than plastic bags.”

    The story goes on: “In banning plastic bags, Italy joins the ranks of other countries and cities like Mexico City, San Francisco and other various cities in California, and elsewhere in the U.S. like Westport, Conn. and Edmonds, Wash. Others, like China, have found success in plastic bag fees. Earlier this year, Washington, D.C., saw plastic bag use drop by 85 percent one month after a five cent fee for bags went into effect. Ireland saw a similar cut in plastic bag use after a fee imposed in 2002.”
    KC's View:
    It is where the world is going. Like it or not.

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    The BBC reports that “a new generation of smart packaging - which flags up when food is going off - is being developed in Glasgow.

    “Researchers from Strathclyde University are working on indicators made from ‘intelligent plastics’ which change colour when food loses its freshness. They hope to have a commercially viable product available soon which will improve food safety and cut waste.”

    According to the story, “Freshness indicators currently used across the food industry usually take the form of labels inserted in a package but these come at a significant cost. Strathclyde researchers are looking to create a new type of indicator which is part of the wrapping itself and subsequently much cheaper.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    • In the UK, the Express reports that “losses have peaked at Tesco’s audacious US venture Fresh & Easy, says Sir Terry Leahy, clearing the way for the highly lauded chief executive to retire in March with his house fully in order.”

    The story continues: “‘We opened at an unfortunate time,’ he says. ‘It was right at the epicentre of the financial crisis.’ However, he is redoubling his effort rather
    KC's View:
    “Audacious” is one word, though not really enough of a synonym for words like “ill-timed,” “misguided,” or “insufficiently researched.” That said, I have to admire what appears to be Tesco’s persistence.

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    • The Sheboygan Press reports that Festival Foods has announced that “it will open a new grocery store this fall in Sheboygan at the old Walmart site on Taylor Drive.” According to the story, the unit will be the company's 15th
    store, all in Wisconsin.

    All are located in Wisconsin.

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that “Sara Lee Corp. is moving ahead with plans to split up its meats and coffee businesses into two separate companies after it rejected Brazilian beef processor JBS SA's takeover offer last month, people familiar with the matter said.

    “JBS hasn't ruled out its interest in buying the company, which has a market capitalization of about $11 billion, and could yet come back with a higher offer, these people said. But they cautioned that JBS, which has a market cap of about $10 billion, could have trouble securing financing for a deal.”

    • The Seattle Times reports that the so-called “stealth Starbucks” operated as “15th Avenue Coffee & Tea” instead of under the company’s name, has now been rebranded as Starbucks, leaving just one “stealth” unit in the city.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    Crain’s Chicago Business reports that “PepsiCo Inc. has named Jose Louis Prado president of its Quaker Foods & Snacks N.A. division.”

    Prado, most recently president of Gamesa-Quaker Mexico, replaces Jaya Kumar, who will continue as president of PepsiCo's global nutrition platforms.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    One MNB user wrote in to complain about a piece last week noting that published reports said that “following the announced closure of stores in its chains around the country, Supervalu said yesterday that its Jewel-Osco chain is offering its corporate employees unpaid time off between now and the end of February. The company emphasized that the program is voluntary, not mandatory, as the company looks to cut costs.”

    TRUTH: The VTO (Voluntary time off) policy was rolled out company wide per home office news on 12/20 BEFORE the recent sale of stores.

    There are NUMEROUS cost savings initiatives being implemented….whether it is a re-negotiating our cafeteria vendors, a hiring freeze, or the suspension of all non-essential travel…the belt is being tightened.  Read whatever you want into it.  Maybe an indication of things to come or as someone in our office joked, “someone (Herkert) finally looked at the check book”.

    These things probably should have been done a few years ago.

    Point taken. My apologies if I misread the timing.

    On another subject, one MNB user wrote:

    Reality is, people eat for emotional reasons, and out of habit, and unconsciously, and all the intellectual knowledge in the world doesn’t change that – unless the person makes the choice.

    Example:  My neighbor’s wife passed on at age 67, over 300 lbs – her heart finally gave out.  We didn’t know them well, had a friendly “neighborly” relationship only.  I brought him over a vegetable cheese quiche, and discovered he’d never had that in his life.  He and his wife lived on a diet of fast food.  Really.  He shared with us how they never cooked, simply picked up dinner Taco Bell, McDonalds, In and Out, daily.  Ate breakfast out, Denny’s or McDonalds too.  He had already lost a toe to diabetes (he was obese, not quite to the extent of his now deceased wife).  I mentioned a few quick simple things he could do to prevent further loss of limbs, and he said, right away:  “You know, I know all the right things to do.  I know myself.  I just won’t do them.  Thanks for the info, I’ve heard it before, but I don’t want to change”.  At least he was clear that it was his choice!

    Responding to last week’s piece about BJ’s, and my questioning why the company had not been as successful as Costco and Sam’s, one MNB user wrote:

    In terms of why BJ’s seems to be struggling compared to Sam’s or Costco, I think it can be summed up in two pieces.

    First, their competitive mind set is to compete with the supermarkets in their area – they are focused on providing better values on traditional brands and products than the grocery stores they are located near – that is the consumer they want to pursue.  As you have pointed out many times, these consumers now have so many choices that supermarkets are suffering.  So, if that is your desired consumer, you have to be pursuing them so aggressively in order to get their attention that this may not be the best competitive platform to create growth.

    Second, their merchandising – at least as it appears to me – is beyond archaic both in terms of the way they interface with vendors as well as the way they interface with the consumer.  Everything is “me too” in the stores and their approach is very East Coast/New England – too many relationships that are sacred cows that leads to stilted merchandising and product assortment that is not creative but rather more of a junk shop approach (I would say their team is more A&P like than it is Safeway like).

    So, just like any other retail form, if you are not relevant to your consumer (either current or desired) you may struggle a bit.

    BJ’s has some very talented folks – but the overall company seems to be stuck in the “We want to change – but only as long as it is exactly the same as what we are doing today” mode.”

    Another MNB user wrote:

    As it happens I have a theory on this.  In early 2006 they eliminated their Consumer Insights department that handled all the analytics and customer research.  From what I have been told since then they have done virtually no customer research.  When Herb Zakin came back as the CEO at the end of 2005 he used the phrase “We can force the customer…” during a company meeting.  It was clear he didn’t actually intend to say that because he quickly re-phrased his statement but that he would have that kind of a slip of the tongue spoke volumes to me!  It was at that moment I knew the research function at BJ’s was very likely at risk and indeed within 6 weeks it was gone.

    I commented last week that I thought it was a good thing that Pete Rose is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, which led MNB user Bill Welch to write:

    You are letting your New England bias show through.

    I disagree. This has nothing to do with a New England bias.

    Pete Rose lied about betting on baseball. He bet on baseball while managing a major league team. He accepted a banishment from baseball rather than have a report on his activities published, and then continued to lie about his gambling for years until it made economic sense to confess in a book. And he had to know that it was wrong, since the rules on gambling on baseball are posted in every MLB clubhouse in America.

    Pete Rose is getting what he deserves, IMHO, and it has nothing to do with where I live.

    Commenting on some movie notes that I passed along last friday in “OffBeat,” one MNB user wrote:

    Since all my dolls were truly alive when I was little, I have been fascinated moved by the Toy Story movies since they originated.  My dolls went to bed at night tucked into their beds w/blankets exactly up to their chins, all in their night clothes.  If a doll went outside w/me in the winter, she was duly protected by either a snowsuit or double blanket.  I had the luxury of having a mother, grandmother, and aunt, who all sewed magnificent doll clothes, so appropriate clothing for my dolls was routine business for me.  It used to drive me nuts to see friend’s dolls w/no clothes on or, God forbid, missing limbs and having ratty hair.  But I digress.

    I saw Toy Story 3 in the theatre this summer and was somewhat mortified to find tears streaming down my cheeks more than a few times but, most notably, when they all held hands going down the garbage chute to the fire and, again, when Andy and Bonnie played together in the yard; for Andy, this was the last time.

    For my 6 year-old grandchild, I bought him all 3 dvd’s for Christmas.  He had never seen any of them so watched them in order.  As he watched the hand holding scene in 3, tears just unabashedly ran down his face.  My point in writing.  I am pretty sure some children “get it”.

    The stakes were almost impossibly high for the creators of the 3rd movie, but I think you would agree that they met and exceeded the challenge.


    And another MNB user wrote:

    You actually watched The A Team on purpose??

    Call it a father’s love. My sons were watching it, and I got to spend a few hours with them.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 10, 2011

    It was Wild Card Weekend in the National Football League, and wild it was, with the underdog teams - the Jets, Packers and Seahawks - winning in three out of the four games.

    New Orleans Saints 36
    Seattle Seahawks 41

    NY Jets 17
    Indianapolis Colts 16

    Baltimore Ravens 30
    Kansas City Chiefs 7

    Green Bay Packers 21
    Philadelphia Eagles 16
    KC's View: