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    Published on: April 19, 2012

    This commentary is available as text or video...though we seem to be having some trouble with the video this morning. We will endeavor to get it working ASAP.

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

    There was a piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day that I think is worth quoting, because it makes an essential point about mobile commerce that every marketer needs to integrate into his or her strategic plans.

    It was an opinion piece by Ed Nash, president of Altius Management in Nashville, Tennessee...

    “Web 3.0 isn't coming—it's already here,” he writes. And he goes on:

    “Our businesses compete in a technological environment in which information is coming and going from every direction in all conceivable digital forms. Suddenly, the ability to explore a fully interactive website or a full-length video doesn't require anything more than a small hand-held device. Wireless data delivery is faster and easier than ever, and consumers want what they want right now—whether they are sitting in front of a desktop, riding on a train holding a tablet, or walking down the street, smartphone in hand.”

    Nash notes that:

    • “According to a 2011 report by comScore, fully half of the total population of the U.S. uses mobile media—an incredible 20% increase in a single year.”

    • “World-wide, there are 1.2 billion mobile Web users. In the U.S. alone, 25% of users access the Web exclusively through mobile devices, and that number is significantly higher in many other parts of the world, such as 70% in Egypt and 59% in India.”

    And the growth isn’t slowing. If anything, it is accelerating.

    Nash writes: “If your company is going to compete in a web-based world, it must be broadly accessible and elegantly intuitive - Steve Jobs taught us that. The technological landscape has changed immeasurably since I started my first business over 20 years ago. In that time, I've learned that change can be very profitable for innovators and early-adopters, or very costly if you're the last to show up to the party. For those who aren't ready for Web 3.0, get your dancing shoes on - the party is already in full swing, and you're late.”

    At my house, we recently had new shades installed. They are made of wicker, and the funniest thing keeps happening. There is this one bird that we think saw the wicker through the window and decided that it would make great material for a nest. So it keeps flying into the window, trying to get the wicker. Of course, all it does it keep hitting its head ... it doesn’t seem to learn, and it keeps trying to get to the wicker, over and over and over.

    That strikes me as a pretty good metaphor. At some point, we all have to realize that we way we used to do things isn’t getting it done anymore. We have to learn from people like Ed Nash, and find another way to achieve our goals. For retailers, mobile accessibility is critical for success ... just doing things the same old way just won’t cut it anymore.

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

    KC's View:

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    Jamie Moyer was the starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies on Monday night. Facing the San Diego Padres, he won his first game of the season, the 268th of his career, and gave up six hits and no earned runs in seven innings. His fastest pitch - he threw 89 of them - was 79 miles per hour.

    But Jamie Moyer got a lot of notice for what would have been just an average start for most other major league pitchers, because he did it at the age of 49 years and 161 days - making him the oldest person in history to pitch and win a major league baseball game.

    Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about the achievement:

    “Moyer was far from a lock to make the roster this spring after missing the 2011 season because of Tommy John surgery, but now has thrown shutouts in four decades and has a lower ERA since turning 40 (4.40) than when he was in his 20s (4.56). The father of eight, Moyer is older than eight active managers and 16 general managers. Maybe, though, he can keep going, with the odometer on his arm reset.”

    I hope so. Because Jamie Moyer is just eight years younger than I am, and with every pitch, he offers a sense of possibility. Hell, I think it is great that he’s able to walk out to the mound.

    Jamie Moyer is an Eye-Opener about the value of experience, the importance of a work ethic, and the advantages inherent in a consistent, persistent effort.

    Good for him. And good for all the aging boys and girls who see in him the dreams and aspirations of youth.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    NetworkWorld.com reports that a new survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Elon University's School of Communications indicates that “more than two-thirds of technology insiders believe that paying with smartphones will overtake cash and credit card payments by 2020 ... Respondents of the survey also said they expect consumers to experience some reluctance about mobile payments when it comes to privacy and security.

    “These concerns may slow the adoption of mobile payments, but they won't stop it, the study concluded.”
    KC's View:
    I’ll buy that. I’d guess that the 2020 projection could be off by a year or two in either direction (many of these things seem to change faster than expected). But once they figure out the whole security thing, it’ll happen.

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    The New York Times reports that new studies throws doubt on the contention by many policy makers and health advocates that so-called “urban deserts” are “bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

    According to the story, two new studies say that “such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.”

    And, the story goes on: “Some experts say these new findings raise questions about the effectiveness of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic simply by improving access to healthy foods. Despite campaigns to get Americans to exercise more and eat healthier foods, obesity rates have not budged over the past decade, according to recently released federal data.”
    KC's View:
    Huh?

    Does this mean there are no food deserts?

    I am gobsmacked. I suspect I am not the only one.

    You can read the entire Times piece here.

    I’m not an expert in such things, but the ways in which the studies were conducted seem legitimate enough.

    That said, some of the numbers don’t make sense.

    Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too.

    Really? I’ll buy fast food restaurants and convenience stores, but supermarkets? It always has been a matter of faith that it is harder to make money in low-income neighborhoods for a variety of reasons, and therefore such retailers did not want to go there.

    Maybe the definition of supermarket is more elastic than I think. Maybe these supermarkets are selling fresh foods at such high cost and low quality that these offerings are almost irrelevant. (The Times piece notes that the studies concede that they do not look at products sold and prices charged. Both of which are important.)

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    Ahold-owned Giant of Carlisle and Martins Food Markets announced that as part of their effort “to fight childhood obesity and help kids live healthier lifestyles,” they have initiated “a series of activities geared towards healthy kids this spring. In addition, the first issue of the grocers’ brand new “Kid Healthy Ideas,” a free health and wellness magazine, is now available in all stores. The 12-page, full color magazine, is designed for kids ages 8 to 12 and features health-related educational articles, games and recipes.”

    The two retailers also said that they will “be offering hands-on ‘Good Things Grow Kid Challenges’ focused on healthy lifestyles for four consecutive Saturdays in all of its stores. Children will receive a free take-away or product sample each week.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    • In the UK, Marketing Magazine reports that in addition to investing significant money in its faltering British stores, Tesco “intends to develop a sales channel for Clubcard rewards through the introduction of late-availability and limited-stock offers across categories including holidays, ticketing and clothing ... It is also working on a programme known internally as ‘Love Loyals’, with plans to launch later this year or early in 2013. It will identify and roll out 10 key member benefits aimed at retaining customer loyalty. It hopes to achieve 10% average participation.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    • Canada-based Alimentation Couche-Tard announced that it is acquiring for $2.8 billion the Norwegian fuel retailer Statoil, which will give Couche-Tard - which came into the deal with almost 6,000 stores - more than 2,000 gas stations Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltics and Russia.

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that the Coca-Cola Co. has signed a marketing deal with Spotify, the Swedish digital music service.

    According to the story, “For Spotify, the burgeoning music-streaming service that launched in the United States in July, getting access to Coca-Cola's formidable global marketing engine will come in handy as it expands its international footprint.

    Spotify operates in 13 countries, mostly in Europe, but has said it plans to launch its service in additional markets. Future launches could, for example, be promoted via Coca-Cola's beverage containers or advertising campaigns ... In return, Coca-Cola can now use Spotify's service to instantly add music to its online marketing repertoire. For instance, the drink giant can add songs to its Facebook page via Spotify without having to negotiate licenses for each tune.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    • Friendly’s Ice Cream announced that it has hired John Maguire, executive vice president/COO of Panera Bread Co., to be its new CEO.

    Charles Chapman III, Panera’s executive vice president of business development and licensing, moves into the COO job at Panera.
    KC's View:
    Can’t help but feel that Chapman got the getter deal here, since Friendly’s is just an awful retailer. Haven’t been to one for a long time, the reason being that the ones I’ve gone to generally had slow service and lousy food. (Except, of course, for the Fribble. But I can’t drink that kind of stuff anymore.)

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    • Dick Clark, who was a television pioneer with “American Bandstand,” a pop cultural mainstay with his “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” broadcasts from Times Square, a game show host, businessman and television producer responsible for more than 7,500 hours of television, died yesterday. He was 84, and since 2004 had struggled with the impact of a stroke that made it hard for him to speak, though he reportedly remained active behind the scenes.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 19, 2012

    We took note yesterday of a Politico report that Walmart plans to roll out the red carpet for the Democratic National Convention when it is held in Charlotte, North Carolina, this summer - and will give the host committee $50,000 in gift cards. According to the story, “the gift cards are considered an in-kind contribution, so they do not violate the strict Democratic National Committee rules which bar corporate cash donations ...”

    I commented: Only in the world of American politics would $50,000 in gift cards somehow be seen as more appropriate and acceptable than a check or cash.

    MNB user Mike Franklin responded:

    I’m confused…I always thought that In-kind donations are those donations that are done in goods and services rather than money (or cash).

    According to Wiki…"Cash and cash equivalents", when used in the contexts of payments and payments transactions refer to currency, coins, money orders, paper checks, and stored value products such as gift certificates and gift cards.

    Question: How many days before a DNC retraction on accepting the gift cards…I say by Friday.


    Maybe.

    But nothing ever surprises me in politics anymore.



    On another subject, MNB user Jarrett Paschel wrote:

    Philip Clarke's quote regarding the decision to extend the timetable for Fresh and Easy's profitability yet again "I was quite prepared to think it wouldn’t work, but I’m not in that place now ... We’ll be able to push it over the line.” reminds me of William H Macy's character in Fargo. Faced with every indication of outright failure and incompetency, along with similar indications of impending doom, he responds with that midwestern version of "Aw shucks...golly gee willikers, ...It's all going to work out in the end...You betcha..."

    Figured you'd appreciate the movie analogy.


    Always.




    MNB user Jorge Quirino had some thoughts about another story:

    Interesting piece on the Nielsen report but I think with time marketers will begin to understand the only thing the "Hispanic Market" has in common is the fact that they all fall under the definition of Hispanic, Latino, etc.

    Behavior is all over the place.

    I'm as "Hispanic" as the next guy but my guess is my behavior is more closely aligned to the General Market and I can say the same for a huge percentage of my Hispanic friends.

    Eventually the light will click on and businesses will begin to target people by behavior versus ethnicity.


    Agreed.




    MNB user Dave Parker addressed the postal service situation:

    The postal service “crisis” isn’t a union issue at all. In 1970, to end the political outcry every time the price of a stamp went up, Congress created the USPS out of the Postal Department. Now that it was self-supporting, the USPS increased speed of delivery while the cost of the stamp went up less than inflation from 1970 to 2006. USPS also covered 100% of its health care and retirement costs from 1970 to 2006. But in 2006 a lame duck Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which mandated that the USPS prefund 100% its retirement health care obligations for 75 years, and do it in a ten year period. Annual cost of this prefunding? About 6 billion dollars a year for a government service agency making 70 billion with no profit margin.

    The USPS was not designed to make a profit (that would amount to a tax on stamps), so of course it is now hopelessly in debt. Why did Congress do this? Well informed observers of the situation say it’s part of the war on the working class. It’s a case of union busting by imposing an artificial crisis. The USPS has set aside enough of the prefunding to date that, assuming normal interest rates, there is already enough to take care of obligations for 75 years. We the people own the USPS. The Congress we elected needs to restore this service to normalcy by lifting the ridiculous and destructive PAEA requirement now.

    This may be too much, but it’s a story that needs to be told before the USPS is really lost. Your readers can simply Google “USPS mandate to prefund retirement health care” and read the piece titled “Post office in crisis.”





    Regarding an incipient price war taking place among grocers in Southern California, I wrote that the drive to the bottom on prices isn’t a good thing, and nobody wins such battles.

    One MNB user disagreed:

    What do you mean there can be no winner in a price war? The winner gets the sale, the loser doesn’t. It’s always been that way. So instead of saying no winner, you ought to say one winner…of the fight. The winner of the war, in fact, is the enterprise that can keep customers and steadily move them up the profitability ladder and getting them to see the value, which happens by the way, to be Costco’s greatest strength.

    From another reader:

    Price wars always favor efficient (low cost)  operators but the real problem is that consumers ultimately suffer as services go away.  Bit of a catch 22, frankly.

    And, from yet another MNB user:

    And the winner is …  Winco!   History repeats itself while opening the door to the Chains losing more customers to Trader Joe’s, Stater Bros., and Winco, who will be happy to add more stores.
    KC's View: