retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB user George Morrow:

Walmart is in their current situation because they lost sight of who they are and what they are.  I sat in the Big meeting three years ago when they were going to rejuvenate their Great Value products and "renew" their business.  I looked at their new labeling and said that is what Ralphs did twenty years ago and I thought "that is not going to work.”

I supplied them for eight years with good products in poly bags and a heck of a profit margin and was replaced by my competitor with a more expensive product in a box which did nothing but raise the retails and lower the margins and increase store inventory.  Walmart has lost sight of what got them there in the first place and they have been loading up on smart young people who have a "better way to do things" without having the experience of what gets customers into the stores,.  This is why they have taken such a hit for the last couple of years and they need to get back to what got them there.

Kevin, I have no axe to grind, for the ten years I dealt with Walmart I was treated with respect and courtesy and totally enjoyed my dealings with them, they were, despite many bad comments, a pleasure to do business with.  I have no doubt they will fix their problems and be the juggernaut they have been but for what it is worth, I remember the vp of Kmart, in 1992, telling me that no one could beat them.  Same as I remember A&P having over 3,000 stores in the early 1970's!!!  Walmart is too smart to fail but they need to focus on what got them there not what all these young MBA's think will take them to the future.

We had a story the other day about a Maine school district that wants to give all its kindergartners iPads, which led one MNB user to write:

The iPad has been an invaluable learning aid for my grandson.  His development has been remarkable since picking up the iPad in K5.  His teachers identify Apps that compliment their curriculum and help to achieve the objectives set out in his Individual Development Plan.  You see he was born with Down Syndrome and with the help of a lot of great educators, therapists and technology he is at grade level in the first grade.  Incidentally, not only has he benefited cognitively the iPad has been very helpful in the development of his fine motor skills.  I think every school system needs to embrace technology for the development of our children.

Regarding private brand growth, MNB user Deb Bullock wrote:

I am writing re: your article about Retailers own-label. While my company does not provide private label products we certainly compete against them. My issue is with your comment about consumers not being able to distinguish between some P/L and branded items and the pricing differential. When a manufacturer chooses to produce P/L they may be changing formulation from a product they already manufacture, and even if they are the tweaks are probably not costly. Add in labels and you’re done. Costs for P/L can remain low. So who is driving the consumers to the category with media (TV/Radio), FSIs, on line coupons, blogs, PR?? Certainly not the retailers unless it’s being funded by the manufacturer. How about new product innovation? Nope, don’t see the retailers doing that either. There is a big reason for the pricing differences between P/L and branded product in many categories. Manufacturers/Marketers take all the risks, do all the research, innovate, build production facilities, and market products to consumers. This all costs money. Big difference.
KC's View: