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    Published on: February 6, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    There is an old joke: Marriage is a great institution. Then again, who wants to live in an institution.

    The answer, apparently, is fewer people than ever.

    Slate.com reports on the second annual Singles in America study, which reveals that “among those singles 21 and older, 27 percent said they didn't want to get hitched while roughly another 40 percent were uncertain whether they did. A little more than one-third (34.5 percent) said they knew for sure they wanted to get hitched.”

    The survey also found that, according to the survey, “that the top five deal-breakers in order of importance are having a disheveled or unclean appearance (67 percent), being lazy (66 percent), being too needy (63 percent), lacking a sense of humor (54 percent), and - woe to long-distance relationships -- living more than three hours apart (49 percent).”

    It is a shift priorities that marketers - especially those who traditionally have catered to married couples and families - need to be consider as they move forward.

    In other words, they have to keep they Eyes Open.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    Fascinating story in USA Today about how UPS and FedEx are trying to grow their bottom line by investing in what are called “adjacent” businesses - enterprises that are not specifically about shipping, but that make shipping easier for their customers.

    For example, UPS - which is ahead of FedEx in this area - has a facility that is part of its Louisville, Kentucky, hub where UPS employees assemble and configure Sprint mobile phones prior to shipping them. The move cuts shipping times,reduces Sprint’s warehouse costs by 30 percent, and is part of UPS’s broader strategy of helping clients address supply chain issues. In that same building, USA Today writes, UPS maintains a “freezer that stays at minus 103 degrees fahrenheit. Inside, there is a product from Advanced Biohealing, which is based in La Jolla, Calif. It's a skin-replacement therapy, and UPS cares for it and ships it” because the products is extremely time-sensitive.

    UPS officials tell the paper that it has logistics deals with more than 500 companies, and that revenue from these deals is in the $6 billion range, and growing.

    As FedEx tries to catch up to the UPS model, USA Today writes, it “has a facility dedicated to maintaining and fixing its own electronic equipment. Now, it's opening it up to fix machines from outside companies.”
    KC's View:
    his strikes me as interesting, because it points to ways in which retailers can grow their businesses in unorthodox and yet relevant ways. Are there opportunities out there to help customers accomplish things in their lives that retailers are missing ... that they can turn into revenue generators and loyalty engines? I suspect there are. Lots of them. (One example - food retailers that also have cooking schools.)

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    The Chicago Tribune reports about Dave Carroll, the Canadian folksinger who leapt to fame a few years ago when, after a bad customer service experience while flying, he wrote a song called “United Breaks Guitars” and put it up on YouTube. More than 11 million people have seen it since it was posted in mid-2009, and it has become an anthem for people upset about declining customer service levels (and a cautionary note for any product or service supplier about how consumers can strike back in the new economy).

    Now, the Tribune writes, Carroll is teaming with a venture capitalist and a website designer for a site called Gripevine.com, which aims to be “the first online social media platform for consumer-complaint resolution."

    Carroll tells the Tribune that “the site doesn't want to be a complaint board or brand-bashing site but a place where companies can get documented complaints from consumers and try to resolve them.”

    This is Carroll’s second attempt at developing a customer complaint website; the first did not work, he says, because he tried to do it alone and simply did not have the tools and skill set to make it work.
    KC's View:
    he story notes that Carroll has a book coming out in May, entitled "United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media.” I look forward to reading it, because the subject is compelling ... the complete shift in the balance of power to consumers.

    BTW...if you’ve never seen “United Breaks Guitars,” you should check it out here.

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided not to ban orange juice imports, despite the fact that there remain concerns about the presence of the fungicide carbendazim in juice brought into the country.

    According to the story, “The fungicide, carbendazim, was federally approved for use on oranges as recently as 2009 and is considered safe for dozens of other U.S. crops, including apricots, bananas, cherries, grapes, peaches and pears. The Environmental Protection Agency also approved its use on apples and allows for small amounts of it in apple juice. Regulators halted orange-juice imports for testing last month because the approval had expired and no one sought to have the fungicide reapproved for use in oranges.

    “The latest FDA results showed that of 86 shipments tested, 46 were negative for carbendazim. Twenty tested positive, meaning they contained more than 10 parts per billion of the fungicide. Another 20 results are pending. Shipments with amounts above 10 parts per billion are being denied entry into the U.S.”
    KC's View:
    I’m sorry. I can’t read stories about this subject without thinking about how the strings are almost certainly being pulled by Randolph and Mortimer Duke. And that there’s probably a bet - for a buck - at the heart of all the controversy.

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    In New Jersey, the Daily Record reports that Kings has unveiled a remodeled supermarket in Bedminster that includes “a wood-fired Marra Forni brick oven that pumps out gourmet pizzas in 90 seconds, a cheese section with about 400 selections and a coffee bar that could rival the nearby Starbucks.”

    According to the story, “The Bedminster reopening marks the first in what executives said would be a companywide rebranding of its upscale gourmet brand with the new motto, ‘Where Inspiration Strikes’.”

    “We want you to be inspired by the moments in this store where the fresh ingredients, the rarest finds and your passion for cooking all come together and create the perfect meal,” says Judy Spires, Kings’ CEO.
    KC's View:
    It’s been years since I’ve been in a Kings store, but I cannot help but root for the company to make a comeback. There was a time when Kings was the class of the field, when people came from all over the country to see what they were up to when it came to prepared and fresh foods. But toughening competition and, I suspect, misguided ownership led to a diminution of the brand.

    I hope they make it back all the way.

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    Bloomberg reports that PepsiCo “is trying to recruit former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive Brian Cornell for a significant job with the soda and snacks company.”

    Cornell announced that he was leaving Walmart last month, saying that he wanted to relocated to the Northeast for family reasons. PepsiCo’s headquarters is in Purchase, New York, about 40 minutes north of Manhattan.

    According to the Bloomberg report, the hiring is not yet certain, but if it happens Cornell would report directly to CEO Indra Nooyi and “would be equivalent in status to a division CEO.”

    Bloomberg reports that Cornell’s “experience at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer and PepsiCo’s biggest customer, could help PepsiCo maximize the power of its vast snacks and drinks portfolio with retailers. The company’s flagship soft drinks, including Pepsi-Cola and Diet Pepsi, have lost share to Coca-Cola Co., whose stock also outperformed PepsiCo last year.”

    In addition, the story notes, in addition to Cornell’s past roles at both Michaels Stores and Safeway, “at PepsiCo, from 1991 until 2004, he held positions at Tropicana and in the foodservice division before becoming a senior sales vice president for Pepsi-Cola North America.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    • The Lakeland Ledger reports that a documentary film about the life and career of Publix founder George W. Jenkins has gone into production. The movie, tentatively titled “Mr. George,” is being funded by the Jenkins family, has the cooperation of Publix executives, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

    • The Chicago Tribune reports that beer manufacturers are fighting back from declining sales, “introducing craft beers and other spins on the classic beverage in a bid to recapture straying customers ... That brew's 6% alcohol content reflects Americans' growing thirst for drinks with more kick and perceived sophistication. Sales of both wine and hard liquor such as vodka, bourbon and whiskey are up 4% or more over the last year, helped in part by images in popular media.”

    Other than enthusiasm for mixed drinks, the story says, “perhaps the biggest threat to mainstream brands is from craft or "micro" breweries that turn out beer honed by individual or a small group of brew masters in relatively small batches. It's beer's tie to the artisanal and slow-food movements, and it's increasingly popular.

    “Of the 25 craft brewers that sell more than 100,000 barrels a year, each saw sales increase last year. Brewer D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. of Pottsville, Pa., was up 16.9%, and Samuel Adams owner Boston Beer Co. scored an estimated 8% increase in shipments.

    “Even the major companies are starting to turn out craft brews. Popular brand Blue Moon is made by MillerCoors, and at several Barney's Beanery locations it now outsells two of the company's mainstream labels, Miller Lite and Coors Light.”

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that McDonald’s “is reaching critical mass on a nearly decade-long, multibillion-dollar global renovation and rebuilding project it's betting will boost sales, traffic and brand perception. Restaurants undergoing simultaneous interior and exterior remodels are expected to see a 6% to 7% increase in same-store sales upon reopening, no matter where they are located.”

    According to the story, “In the U.S., bright red, double mansard roofs are being swapped for a single yellow arch outside; inside, two- and four-top tables are being swapped for long, wide community tables, tall bar tables and more modern booths.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    Ben Gazzara, who may have had his biggest popular success with the TV series “Run For Your Life” in the mid-sixties, but who also was an enormous Broadway success in the original productions of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” and “A Hatful of Rain,” and had a long career as a character actor, especially in three John Cassavetes films, died Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 81.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    ...will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 6, 2012

    In last night’s Super Bowl, the New York Giants parlayed an exciting, late fourth quarter drive into a 21-17 defeat of the New England Patriots.
    KC's View:
    Great game. Exciting from beginning to end. And as a native New Yorker and a high school classmate of Giants owner John Mara (to be clear I have not seen him since graduation in June 1972), I was thrilled to see the Giants win.

    As for other Super Bowl-related stuff, some brief and random notes...

    • Hated the Madonna halftime show. Hated it. (And this does not seem to be generational. I did a fast poll of two twentysomethings during the game, and they hated her, too - they thought she was too “older generation.” On the other hand, one of them loved the Black Eyed Peas last year, and the other one hated them. And one of them - my son, obviously a young man of discerning taste - said he would have preferred Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen. Go figure.)

    • The commercial for “The Voice” proved one thing definitively. Betty White makes everything better. Everything.

    • The Clint Eastwood commercial was an interesting litmus test. Obama supporters I talked to seemed to think it could have been a commercial for his re-election campaign, and Republicans said they thought it was essentially an argument for why the US needs a new quarterback.

    • Loved the Chevy Armageddon commercial. And the Doritos commercial about the dog that killed the cat. And the Fiat commercial with that hot Italian supermodel. And the Seinfeld Acura commercial. And the Dannon yogurt commercial with John Stamos.