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    Published on: June 1, 2012

    "Questions & Answers" - Part 12 of a 12-Part Series

    Today, in our final chapter: Tom Furphy & Kevin Coupe answer audience questions about ... what Amazon's acquisition of Zappos tells us about its culture ... the likelihood of a private brand play by the e-tailer ... and what traditional retailers need to do to get in the game.

    This morning, MNB concludes 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.

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

    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    It is the end of the week and we all need a laugh ... and so we'd like to refer you to last night's edition of "The Daily Show," in which host Jon Stewart decided to weigh in on the effort by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of jumbo soft drinks within the city limits, a move linked to his desire to reduce New York's obesity rates.

    It is fair to say that Stewart nailed it. As usual.

    Check it out here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    Today is Walmart's annual shareholder meeting in Arkansas, so let's just stipulate that there will be the usual combination of cheerleading and high profile entertainment acts (this year, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith), as well as some unrest because of concerns about the mexican bribery scandal - and its cover up - in which the company and its top executives have been implicated.

    But there is another Walmart-related story to which attention should be paid...

    Reuters reports that Walmart plans to "launch a monthly mail subscription service called 'Goodies' that will allow customers to sample new foods not found in stores run by the world's biggest retailer ... Once a month, subscribers will get a surprise box of items that will include artisanal foods," the company said.

    According to the story, the initiative "comes as Wal-Mart samples its customers' appetite for a wider variety of food while it experiments with grocery delivery in the San Francisco Bay area and parts of Chicago ... At first, Wal-Mart will select the products sent to subscribers, though over time companies may be able to pay to have their products included in the Goodies boxes."

    The company has not yet said what the service will cost.

    In other Walmart news...

    • Walmart has decided to pull out of the American Legislative Council (ALEC), a conservative advocacy group made up mostly of corporations and Republican lawmakers and lobbyists, that has been the subject of criticism lately because of its support of so-called "Stand Your Ground" gun laws and voter identification laws that some say would disenfranchise poor and minority citizens.

    According to the Reuters story, Walmart said it was suspending its membership in ALEC, which it joined in 1993, joining "other groups that have backed away from supporting ALEC," including Coca-Cola Co, Kraft Foods Inc, McDonald's Corp, Procter & Gamble Co and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
    KC's View:

    Not to say "I told you so," but I'd like to point out that on the sixth edition of our recent MNB TV series, which you can watch by clicking on the screen at left, we talked specifically about how the "Goodies" model could be used by traditional retailers ... and we did it before Walmart announced its initiative.

    This speaks volumes about where Walmart sees itself heading in terms of food marketing and e-commerce.

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    The Los Angeles Times reports that Facebook may be losing its cool as it becomes more associated with moms than their kids.

    According to the story, "With more than 900 million users, Facebook remains the most popular online hangout. But some young people are turning their attention elsewhere. They are checking out new mobile apps, hanging out on Tumblr and Twitter, and sending plain-old text messages from their phones. Their goal is to hook up with smaller circles of friends and share their thoughts and feelings away from the prying eyes of Mom and Dad.

    "It's a very grown-up challenge for Facebook, which needs kids to continue to dominate social networking."

    The story goes on to say that "8 of 10 teens who are online use social networking sites — and more than 93% of those users have a Facebook account, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Millions more kids under the legal Facebook age of 13 fib about their age to use the service.

    "Still, older people are the ones driving much of Facebook's growth. Users age 50 to 64 made up nearly a quarter of Facebook's audience in March, according to research firm Nielsen. The only social network with a higher percentage of older users was professional networking service LinkedIn."

    And, the story says, "A recent study from Nielsen found that nearly 3 of 4 U.S. mothers who went online from a home computer visited Facebook in March. Only 8.3% visited Tumblr, and 14% visited Twitter."
    KC's View:
    Staying innovative and relevant may be a harder problem for Facebook than overcoming all the problems related to its IPO. That's all Wall Street stuff ... where the company's real value is determined is in the hearts and minds of its users.

    Published on: June 1, 2012, comScore and The Partnering Group are out with what they call the 2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study, which reveals that the visuals-oriented social media site Pinterest has become a "player" in the retail business, "with online U.S. consumers reporting that they already follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on the site, compared to the average 6.9 retailers they follow on Facebook and the 8.5 retailers they track via Twitter. Overall, almost two out of five (38%) online consumers follow retailers through one or more social networking sites."

    Other notes from the study:

    • "The survey found company blogs, YouTube and Facebook command the majority of consumers’ social activity.  In particular, seven in 10 (70%) of those who follow a retailer’s blog click through to the website, and though sometimes overlooked in the overall social media mix, more than two-thirds (68%) of consumers use YouTube to browse and research a retail company."

    • "When it comes to what spurs consumers to follow retailers on social media platforms, the study found that finding good deals is still the leading reason, but that deals and promotions have lost a little bit of their luster. This year, 51 percent say they follow a retailer to get information on deals and coupons, down from 58 percent who said so last year. Four in 10 (43%) say they are looking for product information and 36 percent want to post/read comments about merchandise or services. Additionally, three in 10 consumers who follow retailers via social media say they are actively looking for information about events (34%), current trends and ideas (31%), or photos and videos (30%), such as “how-to’s” and styling ideas, as well as expert opinions (27%)."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    Retail Week reports that in the UK, William Morrison Supermarkets plans to launch an online shopping service during the second half of 2013.

    The company has been resisting the online business because of concerns that it might not be profitable, though it took a minority stake in pure-play e-tailer FreshDirect last year as a way of gaining intelligence about e-commerce.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2012

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

    • The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) announced that Richard Jurgens, Chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee, Inc. and Dean Pappas, CEO of Clement Pappas and Company, Inc. have been selected to receive the 2011 GMA Hall of Achievement Awards.

    • Lund Food Holdings, Inc. announced that it will open its newest Lunds store on June 14 on the corner of 12th Street and Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

    The new 20,000-square-foot store will feature a selection of foods produced locally and sourced from around the world, including dry-aged beef, sustainable seafood and, it said, "an impressive selection of prepared foods."

    “We know many of those in downtown Minneapolis have been waiting a long time for the opportunity to shop at a full-service grocery store without having to leave the area. That wait will soon be over,” said Tres Lund, chairman and CEO of Lund Food Holdings, Inc. “Whether you live, work, or play in the downtown area, we hope you’ll take time to visit us.”

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that a new Cornell University study suggests that superheroes have more impact on kids' eating habits than parents.

    In the study, the Journal writes, "Twenty-two children, ages 6 to 12, at a summer camp were asked if they wanted apple fries or French fries during several consecutive weekly lunches. 45 percent of the children selected apple fries after being shown pictures of superheroes, compared to the 9 percent who chose apple fries without seeing superhero prompts."

    I'm no expert on such things, but can a study of 22 kids really prove anything? Wouldn't it depend on who the 22 kids are, what their reading/TV watching habits are? Or even who their parents are?

    • The Chicago Tribune reports that McDonald's has unveiled a 10-year plan "to phase out the use of gestational crates in its U.S. supply chain ... By 2017, McDonald's said it will purchase pork only from suppliers that 'share its commitment to phase out gestation stalls.' The company will be working with producers to develop systems that trace pork and verify that sows were not confined, and assess ways to move farmers to other practices."

    According to the story, the decision "comes three months after a promise to assess the situation in concert with its pork suppliers.

    "Sow confinement has been standard agricultural practice for decades, based on the reasoning that the pregnant animals become aggressive around food.  Animal rights activists have argued that the practice is unnecessary, unsanitary and cruel."

    • In Wisconsin, Maurer Foods' Freshmobile initiative, which seeks to bring fresh foods to those in food deserts where such products are not readily available, has received a $30,000 grant from the Madison Community Foundation.

    According to the company, the Freshmobile, "a refrigerated trailer that will resemble a mini grocery store and pulled by a truck, will take to the road in mid-June. Five neighborhoods in Madison have been designated on the Freshmobile location list and will be the first served by the program."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    • Starbucks Coffee Company announced it has appointed community leader Blair Taylor as chief community officer. Taylor currently serves as President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, and he will begin his new job in July.

    According to the company, "Taylor will report to Schultz and be a member of Starbucks Senior Leadership Team. In this newly created position, he will lead the company's Community, Government Relations, Diversity and Global Responsibility teams. He will also serve as a member of the Starbucks Foundation Board of Directors."

    Taylor is described as "a visionary leader and coalition builder with nearly 25 years of public- and private-sector experience, including deep expertise in education, urban development, business and community empowerment. His previous experience includes working at both PepsiCo and IBM, where he held numerous brand marketing, strategy, and executive sales positions."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    The New York Times has an obituary for Jack Twyman, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, who died Wednesday night at age 78 from complications related to blood cancer. From 1972 to 1996, the Times writes, "Twyman was chairman and chief executive of Super Food Services, a food wholesaler based in Dayton, Ohio. During the 1980s, he quintupled its earnings."
    KC's View:
    The Jack Twyman story was totally unfamiliar to me until now. Here's what the Times had to say about him...

    "Twyman’s greatest fame came from simply helping out a friend. After his Cincinnati Royals teammate Maurice Stokes had a paralyzing brain injury in the final regular-season game of the 1958 season, Twyman learned he was nearly destitute.

    "So he became Stokes’s legal guardian. He helped him get workers’ compensation; raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for medical care, partly through organizing an annual charity game of basketball superstars; and helped him learn to communicate by blinking his eyes to denote individual letters.

    And for decades Twyman pressed the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., to induct Stokes, a power forward who once grabbed 38 rebounds in a game. When the Hall of Fame finally did so, in 2004, 21 years after Twyman’s admission, Twyman accepted the award for his friend."

    Sounds like a remarkable man.

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    ...will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 1, 2012

    Two different styles of moviemaking are in display in cinemas these days, providing audiences with a choice between extravaganza and simple drama.

    I had low expectations for Men in Black 3, which comes 15 years after the terrific original and a decade after the awful sequel. It just didn't seem likely that the whole thing could work, that the talents involved were too old, had moved on, or were just doing it for a paycheck.

    To be clear, the third chapter in the series isn't nearly as good as the first movie. Then again, it couldn't be; Men in Black had the advantage of being an original, able to delight and surprise audiences. It is hard to do that twice.

    That said, MiB3 ends up gaining comedic traction and also manages to offer a little genuine human emotion, partly because of a plot twist and partly because of a lovely supporting performance by Michael Stuhlbarg as an alien who can see all possible futures, and who, in the end, is the most human thing in the movie.

    But if you;re not in the mood for MiB3, you could do a lot worse than The best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which stars a virtual Who's Who of British acting talent as a group of retirees who, for a variety of reasons, move to India to spend their golden years. Little is how they expected it, and they react in a variety of ways - some dramatic, some comedic.

    I have to admit that I found the movie to be a little predictable, but I enjoyed it - maybe because I'm closer to the age of the actors than I would like to admit. (Mrs. Content Guy and I were among the youngest people in the theater.) But if you have to spend two hours at a movie, it might as well be with Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Tim Wilkinson and Maggie Smith.

    Here are a couple of trailers that I think you might enjoy, for movies that are coming out later this year...

    Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, which looks great.

    Les Miserables, which features Anne Hathaway singing one of the musical's most memorable numbers. (I've been humming it since I first saw the trailer earlier this week...)

    Hopefully, this means that it is going to be a good end of the year for movies.

    I have two wines to recommend to you this week, both compliments of my son, Brian, who works for the same wine merchant that runs the MNB Wine Club.

    • 2011 Maysara Roseena Pinot Noir Rose, which is one of the rare rose wines that I really like - not too sweet, and beautifully refreshing.

    • 2006 Vilmart & Cie. Grand Cellier d'Or, a sparkling wine that is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, and is just wonderful.

    We drank the latter, by the way, last night to celebrate Brian's 23rd birthday ... he's a great guy who makes me proud.

    That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

    Fins Up!
    KC's View: