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    Published on: January 18, 2012

    by Michael Sansolo

    Every now and again you see news items that suggest big trends, especially for the food industry, which deals with every demographic group’s needs, desires and realities. The Washington Post story about older people staying in the workforce longer, a story Kevin highlighted last week, strikes me as one of those moments.

    The reality is that the two largest generational groups ever produced in the United States - the Baby Boom and their echo also known as Gen Y and Millennials - are heading for a collision in the job market, the supermarket and everywhere else. And businesses had better start thinking about how to cope with this situation as both marketers and employers.

    As the Post story detailed, Boomers are staying on the job well past usual retirement age for a combination of reasons. Many find themselves reaching age 62 or 65 with limited resources because of diminished value in their homes and 401k accounts thanks to the economy. Minus the pension plans of past generations, many Boomers have no choice but to continue working, while others simply feel too young to retire. One consequences of this is that younger workers are struggling to enter the workplace because of the economy and because aging Boomers aren’t getting out of the way.

    But that’s really only part of the story. We Boomers are a special generation, at least in our own estimation. Our massive numbers overwhelmed everything we faced in life from the maternity wings where we arrived through school, housing and more. We were the generation that insisted on attention, that told our parents we didn’t trust anyone over 30 and tried to shatter every societal and historical norm we could find.

    So how shocking is it that we won’t age the way other generations did. I’m probably pretty typical of this: I’m old enough to belong to AARP and get special discounts at IHOP. Yet I’m a regular Facebook user, download Lady Gaga songs, watch “Family Guy” and basically reject any notion that I am aging ... even though I can pull a muscle brushing my teeth.

    Here’s the thing: most marketing is geared at the younger generation. Whether it’s for movies, cars, beer, clothes or whatever, youth rules. Only now that could be a critical mistake. The reality is that there are a lot of Boomers and Millennials; population estimates are 77 million of the former and 80 million of the latter. Millennials may be coming into their traditional family rearing age and therefore find themselves in need of more goods and services, but Boomers - like the generation before them - have more resources to spend. Essentially, no business will succeed without attracting both. In fact, we might see companies that creatively attract both winning big in years to come. Consider the possibilities...

    Marketing will have to find ways to skew both young and old. Sure some products or services will have a perfect niche with one group or the other, but retailers and basic food product manufacturers will have to walk a fine line to appeal to both. This may explain why Ad Age recently reported on a group of 60-something ad executives who are starting their own firm. They could find themselves heavily in demand soon.

    Likewise, as employers we might need to find creative ways to deal with aging, and with Boomers who still want to work and Millennials who need jobs to get on with their lives. It may be a time to rethink job sharing or how to best use mentoring to build bonds between the generations so that skills and institutional strengths can pass from one to the other.

    One Boomer once sang: The Times They are A Changin’.

    And a Millennial wrote: Waiting on the World to Change.

    Business thinking had better change with both of them.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    An organization called Millennial Branding is out with a new study that addresses the professional priorities and goals for Gen-Y, noting that “only 7% of Gen-Y works for a Fortune 500 company because startups are dominating the workforce for this demographic in today’s economy. If large corporations want to remain competitive, they need to aggressively recruit Gen-Y workers. Gen-Y will form 75% of the workforce by 2025 ... and are actively shaping corporate culture and expectations. Big corporations can’t afford to be left behind.”

    Indeed, “‘Owner’ is the fifth most popular job title for Gen-Y because they are an entrepreneurial generation. Even though most of their companies won’t succeed, they are demonstrating an unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit. Companies need to allow Gen-Yers to operate entrepreneurially within the corporation by giving them control over their time, activities and budgets as much as possible.”

    The study also says that “the travel and hospitality industry hires the most Gen-Y candidates now because young people are having trouble getting internships and jobs so they turn to bartending and waitressing jobs,” and that “the US Military is the largest Gen-Y employer overall and Deloitte is the largest corporate employer. Companies such as Walmart and Starbucks ranked high and should focus on training their in-store workers to become corporate employees when they graduate.”

    The disconnect between how Gen-Y thinks and the realities of the current job market also is illustrated in other findings from the report. It reveals that they largely are using the technology for personal rather than professional purposes ... though they also are “friending” an average of 16 co-workers.

    And, the study reveals:

    • “64% of Gen-Y fails to list their employer on their profiles.”

    • “80% of Gen-Y list at least one school entry on their Facebook profiles, while only 36% list a job entry. They define themselves by their colleges instead of their workplaces.”

    • “They spend an average of just over 2 years at their first job. They are job hopping multiple times in their careers.”

    The most important and eye-opening takeaway is that if they want to be relevant to this generation, they need to offer entrepreneurial opportunities, the ability to shape culture and expectations, and an sense that they are invested in the companies where they work, and that those companies are investing in them ... not just paying them a living wage.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    The seventh annual NRF Foundation/American Express Customers’ Choice survey is out, revealing that is rated as the retailer offering the best customer service in the US.

    Rounding out the top ten, in order, are LL Bean, Zappos (which is owned by Amazon),, QVC, Kohl’s, Lands’ End, JC Penney, Newegg, and Nordstrom.

    “Today’s consumer has high expectations when it comes to their shopping experience, whether in-store or online,” said NRF Foundation Executive Director Kathy Mance. “The top retailers on this list found effective ways to win over shoppers not only with low prices, but also stellar customer service and value-added features such as unique mobile applications, free shipping and unforgettable in-store experiences.”
    KC's View:
    I only do business with the top three on the list, and number 10 ... but I have no reason to argue with these rankings. I do find it interesting that neither Starbucks nor Apple are on the list ... but that may have more to do with my biases and shopping patterns than any real shift in consumer attitudes.

    It also needs to be noted that crowns can be lost and kingdoms can be toppled. See our next editorial story...

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “ Inc. was accused in a lawsuit by a customer of its unit of violating federal consumer credit laws by failing to protect her personal information after the company said hackers stole account numbers and other data.”

    The lawsuit follows the revelation this week that some 24 million Zappos customers had their personal information compromised when hackers broke into the retailer’s network and compromised its data.
    KC's View:
    Interesting this is all happening at a time when Amazon and Zappos are so highly rated for their customer service. I’m less concerned about the specific lawsuit - there will be plenty of those, I’m sure - than I am about how Amazon and Zappos deal with this situation. I could be one of those shoppers, and they need to reassure me that they are working to protect me and my interests.

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    Reuters reports that Walmart has gone to court to try to block an effort by woman to refile a gender discrimination lawsuit against the company, saying that their efforts are at odds with last year’s US Supreme Court decision that dismantled a class action suit on behalf of up to 1.5 million current and former employees.

    According to the story, “The Wal-Mart workers filed a reformulated lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court in October, saying they were confining their allegations to California. The lawsuit is part of a strategy to bring more narrowly tailored class actions.

    “But in a motion to dismiss filed late on Monday, Wal-Mart said the smaller proposed class action actually seeks to cover all women who were employed at any Walmart in any region that included a California store. Read literally, that would include most states west of the Mississippi River, Wal-Mart argued.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    The Wall Street Journal reports on the success of Starbucks’ prepaid card program, noting that “the Starbucks Card sees more transaction volume than any card of its kind. According to detailed data on the company's website separate from its financial statements, $2.2 billion was loaded onto Starbucks Cards in the year through September 2011, up 151% from the same period of 2006. That is triple the rate of growth across the entire in-store gift-card market, in which an estimated $89.7 billion was added in 2011.”

    The story also notes something extraordinary - that purchases made on the card represent about 18 percent of total company revenue, and 27 percent of domestic retail revenue.
    KC's View:
    One of the things driving the success of the Starbucks card, I think, is the ease of use of its smartphone app. I can’t tell you how often I see people using their smartphones to pay for their lattes ... and how often I think to myself that I wish I could pay for everything as easily.

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    Environmental Leader reports that Tesco has opened its fourth zero-carbon store, in Dublin, Ireland; the other three are in England and Wales.

    According to the story, all the zero-carbon stores “include features to reduce energy use, and all transfer to the grid an amount of renewable energy equal to their consumption.” The Dublin store “includes lights that dim according to the level of natural daylight, and rainwater collection for flushing staff toilets.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    A new report from the University of Texas at Austin suggests that “feeding preschoolers smaller portions of the main dish at lunchtime means they'll eat more fruit and vegetables on the side and fewer total calories,” Reuters reports.

    The study essentially says that kids are likely to finish off the main dish, no matter what size it is, and that parents can address obesity concerns by decreasing the size of those dishes and using fruits and vegetables as a replacement.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    The Los Angeles Times has a story suggesting that there could be legitimate environmental questions raised about the one-cup coffee maker trend, which has been popularized by Keurig and other companies.

    “The K-cup coffee and tea cartridges are difficult to recycle because they are made of three materials: a plastic cup, which is lined with a heat-sealed paper filter, plus a polyethylene-coated aluminum foil top,” the Times writes. “Keurig says the packaging keeps coffee fresh, but the cartridges are not biodegradable.”

    It is estimated that some nine billion of the cartridges have been sold.

    On its website, Keurig writes: “As the single-cup coffee market and our Keurig brewing systems grow in popularity, we understand that the impact of the K-Cup portion pack waste stream is one of our most significant environmental challenges ... “Finding a more environmentally friendly approach to this packaging challenge is a big priority for us ... We are working on a few different fronts to improve the environmental characteristics of the K-Cup system.”
    KC's View:
    I don’t have a one-cup coffee maker, mostly because I drink way too much coffee in the morning to make it economical. But this story - pointing out something that I’d never thought about before - is enough to get me to swear off the concept just on principle.

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    • The Boston Globe reports that Ocean Spray Cranberries and PepsiCo “have formed a strategic alliance in Latin America that will give PepsiCo exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute a portfolio of cranberry- and blueberry-based beverages through its Latin America Beverages division. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.”

    Advertising Age reports that Pennsylvania-based Yuengling & Son has become “the largest U.S.-owned brewer that makes all its beer in the states.” It has passed Boston Beer Co. to gain that position, and also has gotten to the point where it is now eighth in the US in terms of market share.

    The story notes that Yuengling “is in the midst of a growth spurt, now selling in Washington, D.C., and 14 states, mostly in the Southeast and on the East Coast. The brewer's Ohio launch is seen as one of the most successful beer expansions in years. The excitement is palpable in markets like Cincinnati, with Yuengling grabbing tap handles at top restaurants and bars, and drinkers are heard talking up the beer to friends.”

    • The Chicago Tribune reports that PepsiCo is returning to a previous policy of only using Florida oranges in its Tropicana orange juice; the company did so until 2007, at which point it started using alternative sources.

    The story notes that this decision was made “several months ago, before low levels of fungicide were found in oranges from Brazil.”

    • The Chicago Sun Times reports that Kraft Foods plans to eliminate some 1,600 jobs within the next year, including about 40 percent of its North American sales operations. The move is part of Kraft’s move to split into two companies.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 18, 2012

    ...will return.
    KC's View: