retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Content Guy’s Note: Below is a commentary on the same subject as the video piece, but it isn’t word-for-word the same. You can look at both, or is up to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

I thought I would use this space today to answer a couple of questions that have popped up lately in emails from MNB readers.

One was why we spend so much time focusing on Tesco’s Fresh & Easy concept. A reader says in an email:

“I’m just 1 guy but I love Fresh & Easy and its concept.

“Honestly I see Walmart as a bigger “monster”  The employees appear happier than at Ralphs, Vons or Walmart and yet Safeway and Kroger are mentioned much less often in your commentary.”

My goal is not to cast any of these chains as monsters or saints - I think they’re all companies that are trying to make a profit, trying to do the right thing, sometimes making mistakes and sometimes succeeding. I don’t use any sort of quota system - I write about the stuff I find interesting on any given day, and just try to be equitable and fair-minded, even in my criticism.

I would disagree with the suggestion that I’ve been tough on Fresh & Easy. In fact, I think I’ve been fairly consistent in saying that while they’ve clearly made mistakes in the assessment of the market and in crafting a format that responds to it, Im pretty convinced that Tesco is in for the long haul - unless, of course, someone makes them an offer they can’t refuse.

Then again, I could be wrong.

Another question I got the other day is about whether I’m inconsistent in the way I approach the obesity issue. One day I’m calling for better labeling and greater transparency, and the next day I’m salivating over ice cream pizza or waxing rhapsodic over this meal or that beer or wine.

I don’t think I’ve been inconsistent, though I’m certainly capable of it.

My general position on this issue is that I believe in context and moderation. I think I ought to be able to drink a glass of wine or eat ice cream pizza if I choose. It is then my responsibility to know that I’d better compensate for that with a long bike ride or a salad next time I eat. If I don’t, it is on me. But, I also think it is industry’s responsibility to be transparent about calorie, fat and nutrition information, so I can make informed decisions.

And to take the argument one step farther, if I ignore the labels and information, don’t get any exercise, consume nothing but crap and eat myself into a heart condition and a hospital room ... well, then I ought to be paying higher health insurance rates than people who take care of themselves.

I get accused from time to time of being in favor of the nanny state, but you’ll note that in my description of this continuum, I never even mentioned government mandates. I’d prefer if this all worked out because people and companies do the right thing ... though the sad truth is that not everybody does, and sometimes to make sure the game is fair and the rules are followed, there does need to be a referee.

Finally, to the legions of people who wrote in about my trip to Barcelona - yes, this is a great gig, and yes, I am having a great time.

And I try never to forget it.

That’s what’s on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
KC's View: