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    Published on: April 20, 2011

    by Kate McMahon

    Step aside, “Real Housewives” of reality TV fame. Make way for the “Real Women of Philadelphia,” currently spreading the gospel of Philly Cream Cheese on their own YouTube channel.

    Now in its second season, the online-only show is hosted by down home-cooking diva, author and TV personality Paula Deen. Philadelphia Cream Cheese launched the “RWoP” recipe contest series last year to promote the iconic brand as a versatile cooking ingredient, not just a spread (or as they say in New York, a “schmear”) for a bagel.

    One click on the show confirms that the days of neighbors trading recipe cards or community “bake-offs” have been replaced by uploaded videos of “real women” channeling their inner Julia Child in front of a camera. Or as Paula drawls in her welcome, “So glad to see y’all on the other end of that computer.”

    The campaign exemplifies how social networking has helped a product invented back in 1880 (by a dairy farmer in upstate New York, not Philly) reinvent itself and become more relevant 130 years later.

    “RWoP” Season 2, which began April 4, asks home cooks to create short, entertaining videos to showcase their original recipes using Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and its new product Cooking Crème, a refrigerated “spoonable crème” available in four flavors.

    The contest categories include appetizer, side dish, main dish and dessert. (This week’s contest, for the entrée, mandates use of the Cooking Crème.) Four finalists in each category will be chosen and flown to Paula’s hometown Savannah, GA for a live cook-off June 30 streamed on The final four will win $25,000 each and other cooking appearances and perks.

    The first “RWoP” drew more than 5,000 video submissions, and more than 40,000 users registered on the site to view the clips and participate in online chats and recipe swaps. Philly cream cheese sales revenues, which had been flat for years, were up 5.6% over the previous 12 month period.

    What separates “RWoP” from the multitude of recipe sites and cooking blogs out there is the sense of “community” among the members – a term that is reiterated throughout the site and companion social networking outlets such as FaceBook and Twitter.

    In fact, the folks at Philadelphia set out to have “a conversation with our consumers” rather than just talking at them or developing recipes. Said brand manager Adam Butler: "We were absolutely overwhelmed and thoroughly excited by the tremendous response, engagement, and authenticity of the community we saw in last year's competition.”

    Though I am typically skeptical of such effusive proclamations, there is a real energy and excitement on the site. In addition to recipes, the members share advice, shopping hints and shout-outs of appreciation and encouragement. The videos are entertaining, and the recipes far more appealing and eclectic than what I would have expected from cream cheese. And I was immediately inspired to pick up a container of the Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Crème to try the Chicken Primavera Pasta recipe for dinner.

    And there you have it. That is why the social networking campaign works. (Though my teenager daughters can rest assured I will be testing recipes at home, and not submitting videos online, with the Cooking Crème. Whew.)

    Comments? Send me an email at .
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    The New York Times reports that Catalina Marketing is expanding into the online coupon space, “introducing Coupon Network by Catalina, to be found online at Advertisers with offers on the Web site include pantry mainstays like Campbell Soup, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever. There are also some unexpected offers on, among them savings on toys from the Fisher-Price division of Mattel and light bulbs from General Electric.

    “Coupon Network is an addition to the decades-old businesses that Catalina calls shopper driven marketing, intended to help advertisers more efficiently and effectively reach target audiences. Catalina estimates that it distributes more than $6.5 billion in coupons to shoppers each year through its printers at store checkout counters.”

    The story notes that the online coupon business is being driven by an economy that has given coupon usage in general a bump, and by the pervasiveness of the internet as a tool in people’s lives. “Although online coupons account for only 1 percent of all coupons distributed, they account for about 10 percent of all coupons redeemed, said Susan Gear, group vice president for digital at Catalina.”

    The Times writes that for several years “Catalina had been considering an entry into the online coupon realm, joining Web sites like,,, and The idea gathered momentum after Catalina took technological steps in the last couple of years that included offering coupons by mobile e-mail, handling Target’s coupons section on its Web site and acquiring E-centives, an Internet coupon company.”
    KC's View:
    Makes sense. It may not happen overnight, but the simple reality is that the era of the paper coupon and the FSI is coming to a close. For Catalina to remain relevant and profitable, it needs to make a big bet on new media.

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    In the UK, the Guardian reports that despite the fact that its Fresh & Easy US division lost $303 million over the past year, Tesco is saying that it has no intention of pulling out.

    According to the story, new CEO Philip Clarke said this week that “customers love the Fresh & Easy format; its troubles should be blamed on recession in California, not mistaken ambition in Cheshunt; and profits will arrive eventually, meaning 2013.”

    The Financial Times reports the story this way:

    “Retailing rock star Sir Terry Leahy cooked up grandiose plans for a US convenience chain with up to 10,000 outlets in 2004. Mr Clarke could exercise the incomer’s prerogative of discarding his predecessor’s pet project, which has grown slowly to comprise just less than 200 stores. He could forget the slow-growing US, whose sidewalks are washed clean by the tears of British executives who fail there. He could focus instead on eastern Europe and on fast-growing Asia, where trading profits rose 30 per cent to £570m last year.

    “But that would require ruthlessness, a C-suite prerequisite Mr Clarke has yet to exhibit. Tesco has invested about £800m in the chain and has even pursued the vertical integration that it has eschewed in the UK by venturing into food manufacturing. This has supposedly paved the way to profitability with just 300 stores, rather than the 400 originally planned. The group has learnt from such early mis-readings of US consumer preferences as offering fruit and veg wrapped in plastic. Like-for-like sales are growing at a fair lick – 9.4 per cent last year, compared with a sales flatliner in the UK. There could be a genuine niche for a US convenience chain led by fresh, mainstream food.”
    KC's View:
    First of all, you have to appreciate a business story that refers to US sidewalks as having been “washed clean by the tears of British executives who fail there.”
    I love the sound of erudition in the morning...

    Tesco’s got issues to deal with. UK sales are flatter than the company would like, though it is getting a big boost from its international operations (other than those in the US). But the company is growing, which gives Tesco a little room to breathe, and maybe even pray a bit that the California economy turns around enough for Fresh & Easy to capture the public’s imagination.

    One thing seems to remain true. People who like Fresh & Easy seem to love it. People who don’t like it seem to really hate it. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what this means for Fresh & Easy’s future.

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    by Kevin Coupe

    The Chicago Tribune reports on a class of people called the “mal-employed,” described as “a term coined in the '70s for college graduates who could not find jobs that require a degree. Instead, they settle for low-skilled jobs.”

    Here’s how the Trib frames the story:

    “Even in rosier economic times, people with college degrees sometimes can't find jobs in their fields. But their numbers and the trend show no sign of easing during the slow and bumpy recovery from the recession.

    “Nationwide, about 1.94 million graduates under age 30 were mal-employed between September and January, according data compiled by Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

    “Sum said mal-employment has significantly increased in the past decade, making it the biggest challenge facing college graduates today. In 2000, Sum said, about 75 percent of college graduates held a job that required a college degree. Today that's closer to 60 percent.

    “Though the economy is growing and new jobs are being created, Sum said, those graduating in June are not likely to see major improvements. About 1.7 million students are projected to graduate this spring with a bachelor's degree and 687,000 with a master's, according to the U.S. Department of Education.”

    What this means is that there is an enormous pool of motivated, educated people out there that retailers and manufacturers can access, people who might have been unavailable or uninterested in better times. These are people who might bring a new sensibility to industries seeking to find greater and/or renewed relevance to the consuming public, and who, if properly incentivized and motivated, could help retailers and manufacturers reshape themselves for a fast-evolving times.

    Go get ‘em.

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

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    Colloquy is out with a new study, entitled “2011 Forecast of U.S. Consumer Loyalty Program Points Value,” saying that “Americans accumulate approximately $48 billion in rewards points and miles annually,” and that of this amount, at least one-third - or $16 million in value - go unredeemed.

    “Put in perspective,” the report says, “the average household that is active in loyalty programs earns $622 a year, but does not redeem $205 of those rewards. That’s enough to buy an airline ticket, purchase a week’s worth of groceries or even a smart phone.”

    “American consumers are leaving significant dollars on the table every year,” said Kelly Hlavinka, Managing Partner at Colloquy. “This report should alert savvy consumers to a great opportunity to stretch household budgets, and to do so by simply consolidating their loyalty rewards participation with their favorite brands, making it easy to accumulate and redeem them faster than ever imagined.”

    Other key findings:

    • The financial services sector is the biggest provider of rewards at $18 billion a year.

    • The travel and hospitality sector is the second-largest industry in terms of rewards at $17 billion a year.

    • The retail industry, although it makes up 40% of all loyalty program memberships, issues the smallest value in rewards at $12 billion a year.

    • The number of loyalty memberships in the U.S. is 2.1 billion, exceeding 2 billion for first time, up from 1.8 billion in the 2009 report.

    • The average household has signed up for 18.4 programs, compared with 14.1 programs in 2009.

    • Despite the increase in overall membership, the average number of programs in which households actively participate is just 8.4.

    • Overall membership of 2.1 billion represents a 16% increase compared to the 2009 report, but a slowdown from 2007 to 2009 when memberships rose 34%.
    KC's View:
    I hate loyalty programs that make me work for the rewards. Hate them. (This is the place where I would normally castigate CVS. But I’m feeling generous this morning.)

    I think that companies creating seamless programs - I spend, I earn rewards, and then am able to access and use those rewards easily - will be able to use this as a differential advantage.

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Taco Bell plans to launch a new ad campaign today that will “play off” the voluntary withdrawal of a lawsuit that charged the fast feeder with not having enough beef in its meat taco filling to actually call it beef.

    Taco Bell said that no money was paid to the plaintiffs, and that it is not changing its claims, though the plaintiffs implied in their public statements that Taco Bell was making certain adjustments. The notes that Taco Bell hopes to turn “the negative attention into a reassuring message about the quality of its food.”

    One of the new ads ran in the New York Post, saying in the headline: “Would It Kill You To Say You’re Sorry?”
    KC's View:
    From a marketing perspective, it may be a bit of a risk to remind people of the lawsuit, even though it has been dropped. But I guess that the reasoning is that the lawsuit will be in the back of many people’s minds, so they might as well confront it. Which I agree with.

    Denial is never a good idea.

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    The Associated Press reports that Dish Network, which is acquiring bankrupt Blockbuster for about $228 million, has agreed to assume some 500 of the retailer’s leases as it takes control of the company.

    While the story notes that this means that Blockbuster - which has been largely eclipsed by Netflix and iTunes on one side and Redbox on the other - will continue to have a physical presence, there also is the suggestion that it will be severely curtailed. Blockbuster already has closed a number of stores, but currently operates about 1,700 stores around the country - a lot more than the 500 that Dish Network is committing to operate.
    KC's View:
    Hard to imagine that Dish Network is going to get $228 million in value from Blockbuster. But I love a mystery, and look forward to see what the company has in mind. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be some sort of disruptive product that will change the face of the entertainment distribution business yet again.

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    • The Chicago Sun Times reports that Walgreen plans to install 30 electric vehicle recharging stations at stores in the Chicago area, which will represent roughly 10 percent of the charging facilities that will be available to consumers at various locations in the region.

    • Target has signed the lease that will allow it to open a store of just under 100,000 square feet in the Metreon shopping center in downtown San Francisco, part of the company’s new urban strategy. Target’s interest in the location - which has had a troubled retail past - has been known for some time, but the lease signing makes it official.

    Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Kraft is “pouring millions of dollars” into the development and marketing of healthier versions of its Oscar Mayer Lunchables brand, responding to complaints that it traditionally has represented an approach to food that has helped to create childhood obesity issues in the US.

    “But while health advocates give the brand credit for evolving,<“ Crain’s writes, “they say Lunchables is still not doing enough. The fruit versions range from 280 calories to 440 calories and 8 grams to 12 grams of fat, while other versions on store shelves have even higher fat contents, like a pepperoni pizza variety with 20 fat grams and a list of ingredients 402 words long. (A Big Mac, for comparison, has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat.)”

    • The Associated Press reports that McDonald’s highly touted National Hiring Day yesterday received “a strong response from job seekers. Thousands showed up at restaurants nationwide to apply for jobs mixing shakes and serving Happy Meals. The company planned to hire 50,000 new workers in one day, boosting its staff by about 7 percent.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    Yesterday, MNB featured a couple of stories about cause-related marketing, which prompted one of our readers to send us a study from IHL Group saying that “there is a very strong correlation of potential influence between a company's visible involvement in charitable activities and their consumer's store and product choice.”

    Among the findings: “65% of consumers say they are influenced if there is a charitable tie-in from one store to another or one brand to another, yet only 28% know if the retailers they shop are actively involved in charitable giving.”

    In addition, the study found that “53% under age 35 will buy perceived inferior products if tied to charity,” and that “when consumers buy to support charity, they tend to buy more (as they assume more goes to charity).”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 20, 2011

    Grete Waitz, the Norwegian runner who won nine New York City Marathons and the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, died yesterday after a six-year battle with cancer. She was 57.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 20, 2011

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

    I agree the Boston Marathon record finish was an extraordinary accomplishment. Good running weather (about 45 degrees and overcast) no doubt played a role. However, the real winner of the race was Dick Hoyt & son Rick. It was very moving to see Dick pushing his Son in his wheelchair. Dick’s story has been well chronicled by “60 Minutes” & other news agencies, but to see them in person was more gratifying than watching the Marathon winner who passed by long before Dick & Rick did. Dick & Rick received a well-deserved standing ovation from everyone where I was standing.

    There is a special place in heaven for a guy who’s willing to sacrifice his own interests for the benefit of his Son. In my mind, Dick Hoyt was the winner of the 2011 Boston Marathon.

    I got criticized yesterday for praising and mentioning too much here on MNB, which led one MNB user to write:

    I just have to chime in on the comment for Amazon.  Amazon has changed my shopping experience.  I have bought things on Amazon in less than 5 minutes while sitting at work, waiting for a meeting to begin. It saves me an unbelievable amount of time, they just make it easy on me.  I recently moved and was shopping around for some things for my baby that in my last town, would have been relatively easy to find.  I shopped one mass merchandising store here, was frustrated when I didn’t find it, and then realized I could easily solve my problem by using Amazon (and I made that purchase while traveling for work meetings). So I agree, I wish I had stock in Amazon as well.  But I also don’t blame you for mentioning them often. Though we are in a world that embraces fast paced technology, I’m always delighted with my Amazon shopping experience.  And I find myself wanting to talk about things that delight me!

    Another MNB user chimed in:

    Full disclosure, I do not own Amazon stock either, I should for the same reason as you mentioned.  However, I admire them and use them. Here is an example.   It is tax season and I was busy shredding all my old forms and miscellaneous receipts that I finally can get rid of.  It is an annual thing for me, and I get great pleasure from it.  But the shredder finally ground to a halt and after some slight smoke I took it apart and found that it was missing about 25% of its shredding teeth and a portion of the housing was melting.  It served me well for a long time so it was time to buy a new one.  It would have been a simple trip down the road and pick one up but, I didn't need it right now and if I put it off I would have forgot (yes a me problem, but a problem nonetheless).

    So, I signed into my Amazon account, found one that makes confetti out of paper (a bit of an upgrade from the other one I killed), had good reviews, and cost under $60.  I have prime shipping so that is all prepaid.  It took me under 10 minutes from my desk to order and it will be at my house tomorrow (I already got the confirmation, I ordered it Monday, today is Tuesday).  I will be out of town today and tomorrow and when I arrive home, my new shredder will be there (yes, that is how I feel, it will be there, they said it would, and after years of dealing with them I know it will be).  That's the point.  A shredder is not some glamorous item that I want to spend my time physically shopping for, but if I don't have one by this weekend I will have a stack of papers that I neither recycle as is and I do not want to store them for next year.  The shredder will be there, I will shred and then spend the extra time sipping a nice malbec or barbera, my new favorites.  Please send recommendations (for wine, not shredders)..... Thanks for giving us a place to discuss....

    My pleasure...

    Our piece yesterday about cause-related marketing prompted the following email:

    The problem with Cause related Marketing is on average 40% of the population is either turned on or turned off by the political nature of the cause.  As my Father, (83 Year old retired independent retailer) used to say… we need to sell to everyone.

    You assume that all causes are political in nature. Which isn’t true. There are plenty of causes out there that most reasonable people would find to be completely acceptable. (There are always a few unreasonable people out there, but I don’t worry about them.)

    Paul Newman’s charitable work stands as an iconic example of what is possible.

    Michael Sansolo wrote yesterday about the importance of seeing markets through fresh eyes, and he used his daughter Sarah - a single woman living on her own, and one who would love it if a company would sell half-loaves of bread - as an example.

    MNB user Rhonda Reed responded:

    I know your article is referring to bread but not bread specific. However everything cannot have decisions made at a 50,000 foot level. For example the bread issue can be easily resolved at store level, but other packaging options (mainly center store) would need to be initiated by the manufacturers which I do see them doing. Understandably a manufacturer is not going to invest too much in trading down a consumer. I am sure that they are well aware that for every single customer not buying a item because of pack size that other single customers will buy and either find a way to preserve the freshness or just throw the excess out.

    I am married with a 2 year old and we are always throwing bread out because we do not eat it that often. What retailers can do at store level is sell bread by the slice in the bakery dept. My local grocer always has bread reduced for quick sell. So if they offered bread by the slice, then they might have better rotation resulting in less dating issues. In fact if I were a store owner and I understood my customer base I would already be doing this. Hopefully even with chains their corporate headquarters give them enough leeway to make these decision based on their market needs.

    I actually have a question here. Am I the only one who puts bread in the refrigerator to make it last longer?

    Wait a minute. Apparently not. From another MNB user:

    While I agree w/Michael, in general, that there is too little in a grocery store for single households, there are way too many ways to have good sandwiches w/what is available today.  Firstly, bread probably freezes better than anything in the freezer aside from ice cubes.  And it comes out tasting fine; you just need to insure you seal the wrapped bread in a Ziploc or some such to give it an extra moisture barrier.  You don’t even need to thaw it each day; you can make the sandwich w/frozen slices.  By lunchtime, the sandwich is ready to eat.

    Our Giant Eagle has a sign by its artisan breads that they will gladly slice any loaf in half and sell it that way.  You can also buy individual sandwich rolls in the bins by the bagels.  And, hey, bagels make great sandwiches.  I, personally, use the Flat Out brand of wraps.  They are whole grain in many varieties.  They come 6 to a pack and store in their plastic bag in the fridge.  The new thin “mini buns” come 8 to a package and also store in the fridge.  Neither of these dry out.  Pitas can be bought in bags of about 5 and stay fresh in or out-of the fridge.  In addition to all of these providing a fresh taste at lunch, they also make the lunch “sandwich” a lot more interesting.  In other words, look beyond the 1pound loaf of bread in the bread aisle.

    But wait a minute....another precinct heard from:

    Perhaps the reason that your daughter is unable to buy a loaf of bread smaller than 16 oz (1 Lb) is that it is against the law.  I know that some years ago many (if not most) states had laws dictating the permitted package sizes of many basic commodities such as bread, sugar, flour , milk, butter etc.   These laws have gradually been repealed but I would not be surprised to find that there still are bread package size restrictions in several states.  The reality is that such state laws often serve to discourage a company that distributes their products in multiple states from marketing different package sizes even in states that would permit those because they have to be able to go to market across state lines.

    For example, a supermarket chain that does business in several states is not going to handle a product that is not lawful in one of the states where they have stores.  While I have not recently researched package size restrictions applicable to bread, I know that there are at least two states, Pennsylvania and Mississippi, that still had such restrictions on butter.  That forces marketers of imported butter to have separate runs of 8 oz and 1 Lb packages for sale in the U.S. as  the 250g (8.8 oz) and 500g (17.6 oz) packages of butter they sell in the rest of the world cannot be sold in the U.S.  because it is not practical to keep it out of just two of the fifty states.  This lunacy is not limited to the states.  Federal law prohibits the consumer sale of margarine in packages larger than 16 oz.

    MNB user Connie Montgomery wrote:

    Working for Mrs Baird's Baking in Texas, a subsidiary of Bimbo Bakeries USA; please allow me to let your daughter know help is on the way for her bread.  In Texas we are about to launch a 1/2 loaf of bread under Mrs Baird's label.  Since we have so many labels, I am not sure what label will come out in your area, but be on the look out for an Arnold, Brownberry, Oroweat, Stroehmann, or Freihofer brands coming your way.  Maybe even Sara Lee!
    KC's View: