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    Published on: May 22, 2012

    "Big Data" - Part 5 of a 12-Part Series

    This morning, MNB continues a series of videos culled from a presentation that I did at the recent Food Marketing Institute (FMI) 2012 Show in Dallas. The session, entitled "From Amazon to Zipcar: Innovations from the E-Revolution," featured an extended conversation with Tom Furphy, CEO of Consumer Equity Partners and the guy who helped get into the grocery business.

    Today: How e-commerce technology can track not just transactions, but all the steps leading up to transactions, providing retailers and manufacturers with a deeper level of intelligence about strategies and tactics that work.

    This series is made possible by MyWeb Grocer, the leading provider of digital grocery and CPG solutions.

    For more information about how you can fight an efficient and effective battle in the e-revolution, email MyWebGrocer by clicking here, or call  (888) 662-2284.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    by Michael Sansolo

    If you are like me, you absorb news today with a lot of mixed feelings. Try as I might, I don’t have answers for the world of problems out there, whether it’s the protesters in Syria or the political goings on in the US. But some issues scream out opportunity…at least as I see it.

    Two stories got me thinking that way last week. The first was the major, yet unsurprising news that for the first time minority groups made up the majority of life births in the US. No doubt some will hate that bit of news, but the reality is that the change has been foreseen for years. It speaks to the US as a country of opportunity that continues to draw newcomers to our shores.

    For the food industry, that means opportunity to find new products, services and family eating occasions to turn these burgeoning shopper groups into loyal consumers. We know from past history that many of the growing population segments, mainly Hispanics and Asians, come from cultures that treasure mealtime. For supermarkets, that’s great news - provided we do everything possible to keep those shoppers eating home cooked meals. It won’t be easy, but with cleaver merchandising and good outreach to the community as both shoppers and associates it can be accomplished.

    But there’s an even easier target in sight, provided again that we move with creativity. Kevin ran a story last week about the appalling lack of knowledge twentysomethings have about the banking system. This ignorance at times leads to costly decisions when it comes to paying for or even fueling up their cars. Michelle Singletary regularly writes a fabulous column in the Washington Post on this exact topic as she offers up simple strategies for better money management.

    No doubt many of us read Kevin’s column last week and asked why parents don’t teach these things anymore. So here again, let’s reflect back on all complex news stories that never seem to lead to any logical answers. I really wish parents taught their kids about money, just as I wish they taught more about all kinds of things. Yet who am I to know why things go the way they do. I just look for business opportunity.

    So pause for a second and think of Kevin’s article on money ignorance and simply change the subject to food. We all know that most of America’s kids these days grow up woefully ignorant about how to properly shop, cook and eat. Nutrition and food safety can be easily managed if you have the correct information, but sadly, many don’t know where to begin. It doesn’t happen at home and home economics classes have largely become a thing of the past.

    All of that spells opportunity. It won’t be easy, but if supermarkets can start offering outreach on cooking, shopping and eating strategies perhaps we can help young Americans do all of that better and healthier, plus create loyal shoppers in the process. That’s a classic win-win-win.

    We know it can be done. Think of the classes Home Depot regular offers on simple do-it-yourself projects. Or the sessions run by the geniuses at Apple on topics such as how to use your iPhone. In both bases knowledge produces better and more satisfied shoppers. It’s so easy to see how simple classes on shopping, cooking and eating could do the same.

    So, yes, I wish the news were different. I wish that parents had the know-how and time to teach their children about how to prepare better meals, maintain food safety and all that jazz, just as I wish parents had the ability and desire to teach a range of issues these days. But somehow the world isn’t working that way.

    Don’t get mad. Get busy.

    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: May 22, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    The Los Angeles Times reports on how "restaurants are mining their employees' iPods, consulting with DJs and increasingly turning to companies that create tailor-made playlists and position themselves as 'music sommeliers' or, to coin audio-branding-speak, creators of a restaurant's 'sonic identity'."

    While the notion of "sonic identities" sounds like a clever marketing hook crafted by a consultant, the concept actually makes a lot of sense - that our purchasing behavior is influenced not just by what we see and smell, but also what we hear and touch. Whenever possible, marketers looking to create a differential advantage for themselves need to engage all people's senses ... and that includes paying attention to the music that people hear.

    Maybe that even means having different music in the produce department than in the meat department, and in the frozen food department. Maybe different music should play in the morning than during the 4-7 primetime shopping hours. (Maybe "everything being equal" is a phrase we should banish from our vocabularies. Nothing is equal. Get used to it.)

    This isn't an entirely new concept. About six months ago, I did a FaceTime commentary about a story I'd heard on NPR about how certain kinds of music go with specific kinds of wine. you can check it out here.

    So here's your homework assignment. Go into your store. Go into different departments, and do more than look around. Listen. Smell. Touch.

    Come to your senses.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    In addition to its publicity problems related to its chief counsel telling what some think was a sexist and inappropriate joke at the company's annual meeting, Safeway also is dealing with another contretemps related to its decision to suspend for one month an employee who hit a customer.

    The customer, in question, was kicking his pregnant girlfriend, and the employee - Ryan Young - is described by as some as a hero who stepped into prevent domestic violence.

    According to the story, "Safeway spokeswoman Teena Massingill said Young was not suspended without pay for coming to the woman's aid, but for other unspecific actions during the confrontation that were caught on a store surveillance video. The company is reviewing the footage as part of an investigation, and the union that represents Safeway workers said it is working to resolve Young's case."

    Local police have praised Young's actions, and the Safeway store is being picketed by some outraged shoppers. The customer in question, Quyen Van Tran, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and has been sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to attend a 52-week domestic violence class.
    KC's View:
    I want to be really clear about this. Really, really clear. I can only wish that if I saw such a thing happening that I would have the courage to step in. That takes guts and character.

    I suppose that there are some ways in which Ryan's reactions could have been excessive. Though the police don't seem to think so.

    Bottom line - any person who commits that kind of domestic violence deserves to have his ass kicked.

    That clear enough?

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    A new report from Catalina suggests that "only a tiny fraction of shoppers" - 1.5 percent - "determine the success of new Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) product launches."

    According to the study, the report "shows that on average, just 1.5 percent, or 1 in 67 shoppers, accounted for 80 percent of volume during a 12-month window following their introduction.

    "The study, which examined 25 of the top product launches of 2010, also found that for line extensions, 63 percent of sales came from existing brand buyers, of which almost half of those sales cannibalized existing brand purchases."
    KC's View:
    Sound sort of like the television ratings system, which I've always believed consists of seven families in Omaha keeping track of what they watch.

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    Reuters reports that Tesco CEO Philip Clarke said yesterday that he will not accept a contractually guaranteed bonus that is the equivalent of $588,000.

    Clarke said that he "wasn't satisfied with the performance in the UK," and therefore would not take the bonus. "I'm confident that we're tackling the right issues," he added.
    KC's View:
    Good for him.

    it isn't like they are going to have to throw a benefit for Clarke, but sometimes it is important to make the right statement.

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    Interesting piece in the San Jose Mercury News about how, "in a hypercompetitive retail environment, more national stores and some local chains are emphasizing that many of their employees are bilingual and can help customers whose first language is not English ... Home Depot, Sears, Kmart, Pleasanton-based Safeway and local chains like Hayward-based Airport Home Appliance, are among stores that recruit bilingual employees."

    According to the story, "Such efforts, which also include signs and advertising in non-English languages, are more prominent in states like California that have diverse populations compared with other parts of the country, she said. More than one-third of California's population is of Hispanic or Latino origin, according to 2010 census figures. An additional 13 percent are Asian. Statewide, 43 percent of residents speak a language other than English in the home, compared with 20 percent nationally."
    KC's View:
    I'm sure that some folks will turn this into a political issue, but I think it all comes down to a statement made by Safeway's Teena Massingill to the paper...

    "We are constantly interviewing and hiring for store positions. In that process, we stay alert to the importance of providing language interpretation for our customers. Being bilingual makes an applicant a stronger candidate. It is important to be able to communicate with our customers in a language that is most comfortable for them. It is a part of how we do business."

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the Obama administration is coming under pressure from food companies and consumer groups that want - wait for it - to issue new food safety regulations that were mandated as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law a year and a half ago.

    The problem is that, as usually happens, the new regulations have been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is seen by some as "dithering" in an election year. However, OMB officials say that elections have nothing to do with it, that the complexity of the rules make it important to take the time to get it right.

    As the story notes,"Under the new law, the FDA would shift its focus from responding to food contamination outbreaks to preventing the adulteration of items in the food chain at the source. The agency also intends to hire more field inspectors to examine high-risk items such as leafy greens, fruit and imported food."
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    • The Oregonian reports that Walmart will open its first west coast Neighborhood Market in West Linn, Oregon, this Friday. Walmart also reportedly plans to open Neighborhood Markets in Gresham, Lake Oswego, Oak Grove and Oregon City.

    Here's an important line from the story that speaks to Walmart's strategic priorities: "The store will offer the popular 'Site-to-Store' service, which allows customers to ship online orders for free from the Wal-Mart website to the market for pick-up."

    The first Walmart Neighborhood Market was opened in 1998; there are currently close to 200 in the company's fleet.

    Reuters reports that "U.S. lawmakers investigating Wal-Mart Stores Inc for alleged bribery in Mexico are frustrated by the lack of cooperation they have received from the company, a committee staffer familiar with the investigation said.

    "Attorneys for Wal-Mart briefed the committee earlier on Monday about the company's anti-corruption compliance program, the person said ... But Wal-Mart has not committed to briefing the panel on the substantive allegations raised by a New York Times report, a key request of the committee, said the staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

    Walmart has said that it plans to cooperate with any investigation, though the story implies that it could be holding out hope that changes in Washington as a result of the November elections could work in its favor.
    KC's View:
    I hope for Walmart's sake that its executives have learned the lesson that it is always the cover-up that will get you. because if they haven't, there are an awful lot of sharks that will smell blood in the water.

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    ...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

    • The Boston Herald reports that "grocery stores in Massachusetts would no longer be required to put price tags on each item and could instead deploy price scanners for consumers to use, under long-stalled legislation that quietly cleared the House this month.

    "If the bill becomes law, Massachusetts would become the last state in the nation eliminate individual price tag requirement for grocery and food stores. The supermarket industry has fought for years to stop tagging each item; consumer groups say the move is bad for shoppers trying to compare prices."

    Consumer groups should get over it and maybe start fighting 21st century battles that actually matter.

    • The New York Times reports that an administrative law judge has ruled that Pom Wonderful has engaged in deceptive advertising when it claimed - with too little scientific support and evidence - that its pomegranate juice reduces the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and impotence.

    The judge, ruling on a complaint filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), issued a cease-and-desist order than will remain in effect for two decades.

    Pom Wonderful is said to be considering its options, which range from an appeal to simply adjusting its ad claims.

    I know pomegranate is supposed to be really good for you. But I hate the taste of it ... so now I feel less guilty about that, knowing that it may not prevent a wide variety of ills.

    • The Associated Press reports that "on Wednesday, Kraft shareholders will decide whether to approve the name for the company's business that sells global snack brands such as Oreos, Fig Newton and Cadbury." That name is ""Mondelez," described as "an interpretation of a mash-up of the Latin words for 'world' and 'delicious'."

    The name was created for the spin-off of Kraft's global snack business, and has been the subject of some mockery since it was announced back in March. (Perhaps the funniest observation was that if you mispronounce the word, it sounds like the Russian word for oral sex. Though, to be fair, consultants said this was a low-risk probability.)

    Here's something I've never understood. Why didn't they choose "Nabisco"?
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    • In the UK, Walmart-owned Asda Group has named Andrew Moore, managing director of its George division, to also be its new Chief Merchandising Officer. He succeeds Charles Redfield, who is leaving Asda at the end of the month.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 22, 2012

    Got the following email from an MNB user regarding the joke made by Safeway's chief counsel at the company's recent annual meeting...

    I have been reading the comments on the stupid joke with total amazement. If the punchline had Colin Powell or a prominent Hispanic man, Robert Gordon would have been fired. Why is it okay to continue to use women as the punching bag?

    You're right. It's not.

    This isn't about political correctness. It isn't about people not having a sense of humor. it is about basic decency and common sense.

    Regarding the fact that for the first time in US history, there were more non-white babies born than white babies, MNB user Steve Sullivan wrote:

    So, doesn’t that mean WE are ALL minorities now?

    MNB user Mike Franklin wrote:

    Losing the WASP grip on America can only be a good thing…even for WASPs.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    While I agree that this is an important statistic and something that all marketers need to stay be aware of, I disagree that it is such a major shift in the trajectory of the country.  One hundred years ago my grandfather and great grand parents came to this country as immigrants from Italy following others from Ireland, Germany, Poland and other parts of Europe.  The establishment was wary of them and it took a generation or two before they became established in the country.  It wasn’t that long ago, that “ethnic” meant Italian or Hungarian.  Today, it refers to Hispanic, Dominican, Asians and multitudes of others.  Most of us today, would admit that the children and grandchildren of those immigrants are a critical part of the American fabric that makes us such a great country.

    The demographic shifts that we are experiencing are not very different from the shifts that we have been experiencing for the past 100 years, will be the strength of this country over the next 50 years, and in 20-40 years we will be talking about another wave of people that are coming to the US because of the freedom and opportunity that we offer.

    Let freedom ring.
    KC's View: