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    Published on: May 24, 2012

    "The Shop Online, Pay-By-Cash Opportunity" - Part 7 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 Amazon.com get into the grocery business.

    Today: What we can learn from Walmart's recent announcement that it will allow people to shop online and then pay for their purchases in-store with cash, and then have products delivered to their homes, an initiative that is designed to appeal to the nation's unbanked population.

    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 24, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    There is a great little piece in Food Safety News that looks at the work of Kendall Erskine, assistant professor of the department of psychological science at Loyola University in New orleans, whop says that "people with a taste for organics are more likely to be insufferable."

    Essentially, Erskine's study "depicts people with organic-food diets as being more judgmental and/or judgmental," the story says, suggesting that when put to the test, people who eat organic foods "put their judgmental thoughts above the needs of others."

    According to Food Safety News, "Such foods also leave their adherents with the notion that organic food and people who eat them are more superior," or what is termed a 'holier-than-than-thou' sense of superiority."

    However, as the story notes, "It is not clear from his research whether people who eat organic foods might be bad-tempered before they choose to eat organic food or if their foul moods are the result of it."

    Someone once told me that there is nobody as Catholic as a converted Catholic; I think that's largely true of people who convert to anything, whether it be a religion, political persuasion, or lifestyle choice. So that's probably the case here.

    That said, I think it is important not to paint with too broad a brush. I have relatives who have become vegans but who have a sense of humor about it and would never think twice about criticizing someone else's choices. And, I have relatives who have made the same choices, and who are not, shall we say, quite as tolerant. So not everybody is the same.

    Still, it is an Eye-Opener. If for no other reason, the study reminds us that people who are holier-than-thou often really are holier-than-nobody.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    The Monterey Herald reports that Safeway has reinstated Ryan Young, a Northern California meat clerk who was suspended after he intervened in a domestic dispute taking place in the company's Del Rey Oaks store. Young stepped in when he saw a customer beating his pregnant girlfriend, and while police arrested the man and praised him for intervening, Safeway suspended him because it was concerned about "his actions after the initial interaction."

    Safeway says that Young will receive lost pay and benefits and will be back at work "soon," albeit at another Safeway store in the region.
    KC's View:
    Safeway clearly hopes that this decision will make this particular nightmare go away - the issue was getting national attention, with some people picketing the company and others calling for a boycott of the chain.

    As has been pointed out here on MNB by some of our readers, it is possible that Safeway felt compelled to suspend Ryan because of concerns about precedent. But the company may have been a little tone-deaf, since it seemed clear that Ryan was acting with character and courage, and trying to prevent an act of violence and cowardice.

    As I said the other day in this space, I hope that, faced with the same situation, I would behave as well.

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    The NPD Group is out with a new study saying that "with the growing penetration of smartphones, mobile phone applications are quickly becoming the go-to source for countless daily tasks, including finding grocery deals ... research also finds that tech-savvy consumers are using the Internet and social media to hunt down recipes, shop for food, and connect with their favorite food brands."

    Some of the study's findings:

    • "Coupon apps are used by about 25 million Americans each month, and this happens most frequently in households with children. The foods these app couponing families consume more often skew towards kid friendly staples like eggs, cold cereal, bacon, sausages, macaroni and cheese, soup, and fruit juice."

    • "More than half of U.S. consumers are aware of Groupon, the localized deal-of-the-day website, and about one in five consumers receives emails regularly from the service ... roughly the same proportion claims to read through the emails at least monthly — equating to more than 60 million U.S. consumers."

    • "Food shopping online is not yet a mainstream behavior, according to NPD, but about seven percent of consumers say they go to Amazon.com at least every two or three months to look for food or beverage products that they may be interested in purchasing. While that number might sound low, it is well above other sites, such as Alice.com and Peapod.com."
    KC's View:
    This is only the beginning. The Holy Grail will be when someone figures out how to create an almost seamless marriage between what people want to find online and how retailers and manufacturers can target those people even more effectively. You can just tell that we're headed in that direction ... technology that can provide frictionless replenishment while at the same time catering to needs and desires that have yet to be acted upon.

    Man, that'll be something.

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is out with its 2012 "Consumer Perceptions of Food Technology & Sustainability" survey, which says that "Americans remain highly supportive of existing federal rules for labeling foods produced through biotechnology and very few cite biotechnology as an information need on the food label."

    According to the survey, "Satisfaction with current food labels remains high, despite extensive coverage of biotech labeling and modern food production issues in traditional and social media. Seventy-six percent of consumers could not think of any additional information (other than what is already required) that they wish to see on food labels. Of the 24 percent who wanted more information, 36 percent wanted information related to nutritional content; 19 percent wanted more information about ingredients; and 18 percent wanted more food safety related information, such as possible allergens. Only three percent of the 24 percent subset (or about five people and less than one percent of all surveyed) wanted more information about biotechnology. In addition, eighty-seven percent of Americans say they have not taken any action out of concern about biotechnology."
    KC's View:
    I have to be a little careful about this one, because I don;t want to be so locked into my own point of view - that companies need to be more transparent, providing more information, that there is no such thing as "enough," especially when it comes to GMOs - that I discount these findings.

    In some ways, I don;t think consumers always know what they need or want, because they're not really aware of context or consequences. One really good GMO-related food scare, and I'll bet you could change these numbers pretty quickly.

    I understand the arguments against. But I continue to believe in my heart that technology and culture are leading us to a place where transparency will be unavoidable and, at the same time, will be a differential competitive advantage to those who embrace it.

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) announced that it is "withholding its support for the election of nine Wal-Mart directors" pending what it calls "a thorough and independent investigation into the bribery allegations" made against Walmart's Mexico division.

    As the story notes, "CalPERS' announcement came a day after its smaller cousin, the California State Teachers' Retirement System, said it is opposing the election of all 16 Wal-Mart directors. CalSTRS cited reasons similar to CalPERS' for its actions."

    The moves come in response to an April New York Times story that provided an inside look at Walmart’s Mexico division, suggesting that its fast growth was fueled by bribes, and that top management was more concerned with details not being revealed and investigations not being allowed to move forward than it was with stopping the systematic corruption and adhering to US law that forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials. Both current CEO Mike Duke and former CEO Lee Scott, among other senior executives, were implicated in the story and identified as both knowing about and covering up the bribery.
    KC's View:
    I suspect that Walmart will do everything it can to stage manage its upcoming annual meeting so that dissidents don't get too much attention, and that the Mexico situation is pushed aside with legal bromides such as "we're doing everything we can to cooperate but we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation."

    But I still think there is at least a strong possibility that this is just the beginning of this scandal. As they said in All The President's Men ... follow the money/.

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    Reuters reports that carrefour CEO Lars Olofsson retired from the company yesterday, allowing the COO, Georges Plassat, to move into the CEO job faster than originally expected. He originally was supposed to get the job on June 18.

    The story says that "Plassat, who has a record of company restructuring and a reputation as a ruthless cost-cutter," is charged with reversing "years of underperformance in Carrefour's European markets, notably in France." Reuters notes that as COO, Plassat already has "begun reorganizing the company, letting go of some top managers and setting a course for job cuts in the face of shrinking European economy."
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    • MyWebGrocer has announced the launch of a new Facebook Circular App, which allows retailers to share their weekly ad circulars with the 179 million Americans who use Facebook each month. The Facebook Circular App provides another point of contact for retailers to reach tech savvy consumers and share, socialize and promote their weekly sale items.  This solution builds upon MyWebGrocer’s suite of products that allow retailers to digitally distribute their circulars online, through mobile applications, and now socially on Facebook.

    Among the early retailer partners using the app - Weis Markets, Brookshire’s and Piggly Wiggly Midwest.
    KC's View:
    It hasn't exactly been a great week for Facebook, which has gotten battered on Wall Street. But that doesn't mean it is any less relevant in people's lives right now - something like three-quarters of the US population uses it as part of their digital lives. So, it seems to be that, as always, it is important to point out that Wall Street is not always reflective of Main Street.

    As always, in the interest of full disclosure, it is important to note that MyWebGrocer is a longtime and valued MNB sponsor.

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    • Pittsburgh-based multi-format food and fuel retailer Giant Eagle Inc. is scheduled to open the company’s second Giant Eagle Express, a new 14,500 square-foot neighborhood grocery store, in Indiana today.

    “Our new Indiana Giant Eagle Express features all of the fresh food offerings customers expect from Giant Eagle, in a contemporary, neighborhood grocery format,” said Vice President of Giant Eagle Express Dave Daniel. “Since the 2007 introduction of our first Giant Eagle Express in the Pittsburgh area, customers found the ability to get fresh and high quality meal solutions in a fast and friendly manner.”

    • Kraft Foods shareholders yesterday overwhelmingly approved Mondelez International as the new name for the snack foods company that is being spun off from Kraft later this year.

    As the New York Times story notes, "the name is meant to evoke the global ambitions of the new snack business, which will take on the titan Frito-Lay, and pique the palate as well with its nod to the words for 'world' and 'delicious' in a variety of romance languages."

    • The Associated Press reports that Jon Moeller, CFO at Procter & Gamble, said yesterday that "the company will not accelerate its expansion as it seeks to resume building its market share and improve its operating results." The story notes that while P&G, like a number of other companies, "has sought growth in emerging markets like Latin America and India as sales slowed in developed markets ... high costs and issues like supply chain shortages, coupled with costs related to expanding, have led to disappointing results and shrinking market share for P&G, which lowered its fiscal-year guidance in April."

    "In retrospect we may have overextended ourselves a bit with the pace of our portfolio and geographic expansions," Moeller tells AP. "Had we anticipated the commodity cost increases and markets contractions in developed markets that we ultimately experienced, we might have chosen a slightly slower pace."
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 24, 2012

    ...will return.
    KC's View: