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    Published on: August 16, 2012

    This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past "FaceTime" videos, visit the MorningNewsBeat Channel on YouTube.

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

    The first thing you need to know is that Michael Sansolo and I are enormous Tony Kornheiser fans. Mr. Tony, as he is known to the legions of people who follow him, is the former Washington Post sports columnist who has found a second career with a local radio program in Washington, DC, and as co-host of "Pardon the Interruption" on ESPN. He used to be a writer; now, Mr. Tony says, he yodels for a living, and makes no apologies for it. He also is an unapologetic neophyte when it comes to technology - he doesn't have a smart phone or an iPad, he refers to computers as "Google machines," and he makes no bones about the fact that when he buys a new TV, he needs someone to come in and set it up for him. That's who he is, but it also is part of the shtick.

    I tell you all this because I heard Mr. Tony say something very smart about technology the other day, and I wanted to share it with you.

    When I go for long drives, I like to listen to podcasts of Mr. Tony's radio show that I download from iTunes. They're entertaining, funny and they can make a long ride go a lot faster. However, they're always posted a day after the original broadcast; Michael can listen to him live because he lives near DC, but I don't have that option. I don't particularly mind; in fact, the podcasts I was listening to the other day were from late June, and I was trying catch up. (Thank goodness he takes the summer off...I have until Labor Day to finish listening to shows about the NBA finals and how Lebron James may turn out yet again to be a choking dog, which has a whole other level of entertainment value at this point.)

    However, Mr. Tony is caught up in a running battle with management over the podcasts. He thinks they should be run the same day, and believes - correctly, I think - that a lot of people would be willing to pay to get them in a timely fashion. But management doesn't want to do that, because it is judged on how many people listen to the program in DC between 10 am and 12 noon, Monday through Friday.

    It was in talking about this battle with management that Mr. Tony, who verges on being a Luddite, made a salient point about technology. He said this:

    The management of the radio station is fighting the last war. Today, whether it is TV or movies or radio programs, people want to watch or listen to them on their own schedules, not on someone else's. Smart management does not make the podcast audience wait, but rather tries to figure out how to monetize the podcast ... especially because the podcast audience is a lot bigger than the traditional radio audience. it's global, not local. And it is highly committed to the product.

    Management, he suggested, is hemmed in by old notions of how radio programs ought to be broadcast. I'd old, Mr. Tony said. I understand what that's like. But I also know that we don't want to be caught up in playing by old rules, even if we don't completely understand the new rules.

    Bingo.

    That is an enormously perceptive thing to say.

    Mr. Tony suggested that the radio station management needed to get a bunch of 20-30 year olds in a room, and find out what they think about podcasting availability, monetization, and technology-related questions. He pointed out that at newspapers all over America, nobody really did that when the internet started encroaching on traditional news sources, and now newspapers are dying out.

    Again, bingo. That's exactly what every management team should do. Not only are these 20-30 year olds the customers of the future, but they may be the customers of the present. Attention must be paid.

    One does not have to be a technology wiz to be able to appreciate the fundamental changes that are affecting every industry. One just has to know that these changes are taking place, and then be willing to adjust and change. To fight the next war, not the last one.

    Bingo.

    This commentary, by the way, allows me to sign off in a way that I've always wanted to:

    If you're out on your bike tonight, do wear white...

    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: August 16, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    William Shatner is going where he's gone before. But that's a good thing.

    Six months after his "Negotiator" character - familiar to viewers after years of appearances in Priceline television commercials - was "killed off" in an ad where he perished in a bus crash while simultaneously saving tourists massive amounts of money in airline, hotel and rental car expenses, Shatner is back.

    There had been hints in newer Priceline commercials that the character would return. But the new ads, airing this week, make it clear that the Negotiator has at least as many lives as James Tiberius Kirk, mercifully more lives than TJ Hooker, and not nearly as many lives as William Shatner's career.

    Not sure about you, but when I saw this I could not help but smile when I saw this.

    Best line: "I'll always have it."

    He's right. He will.
    KC's View:

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    The New York Times this morning reports that Johnson & Johnson has pledged "to remove a host of potentially harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde, from its line of consumer products by the end of 2015, becoming the first major consumer products company to make such a widespread commitment."

    In addition to formaldehyde, which has been identified as a carcinogen, the story says "the company also plans to phase out other ingredients that have been linked to health problems, including phthalates, which have a variety of uses, like lessening the stiffening effects of hair spray; several fragrance ingredients; and triclosan, an antibacterial substance used in soaps. Johnson & Johnson will remove all parabens, a type of preservative, from baby products and some other parabens from its adult products."

    The Times notes that the decision can be traced back to 2009, when "the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition that includes the Environmental Working Group, analyzed the contents of dozens of products for children and found that many items contained two substances of particular concern: formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane. Consumers won’t find either listed on the back of their shampoos or lotions because neither is technically an ingredient."

    The coalition says that it is pleased by Johnson & Johnson's decision, and that it will continue to press other companies to follow in its footsteps; transparency about ingredients, it says, will help Johnson & Johnson get a differential advantage in the marketplace.
    KC's View:
    One of the points made in the Times piece is that J&J is taking a bit of a risk here, since this move will require reformulating some products with enormous consumer acceptance.

    Well, that's true. But I'd like to say, as someone who has used Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo on all of his children - and who, in fact, has used it on my own hair every morning for the past 35 years or so - I'm really okay with reformulating it to get rid of the formaldehyde. (This is probably more personal information that you need to know, but there it is.)

    Hell, I didn't even know it was there. As soon as I read this story, I went to fetch my bottle of baby shampoo out of the shower so I could scrutinize the ingredients. And the Times is right - it isn't listed. Though it hardly matters, since the typeface is so damned small I could barely read it anyway...

    Good decision by J&J. Even though such ingredients probably haven't done much harm over the years, we live in a world where you can get rid of them. So you might as well.

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    Bristol Farms yesterday reopened what it is calling a "new look" store in Newport Beach, California, offering a number of new departments, including an artisan-style pizza oven, hot wok Asian Fusion station, made-to-order sandwich station, and bulk food, plus expanded selections of wine and beer, and an expanded soup bar and coffee bar.

    “The improved Newport Beach store features a well thought out designed décor package that celebrates and highlights the Newport Beach community in an old fashioned mercantile manner that is unique to any grocery store,” says Kevin Davis, Bristol Farms' CEO, adding that the store's development places even greater emphasis on fresh food departments.
    KC's View:
    Glad to see that Bristol Farms is growing and improving ...

    It has been about a year and a half since Supervalu sold the chain to a partnership made up of Davis, the company’s longtime president/CEO, the division’s management team, and Endeavour Capital, an investment firm experienced in grocery and retail businesses.

    Independence is one thing. But you have to build on that with investment in the business and innovation at store level. Which is what Bristol Farms seems to be doing.

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    In the UK, the Daily Mail reports on a new technology called Facedeals, which uses a camera mounted in retail stores to take pictures of entering shoppers and then upload those photos to Facebook, identifying them using facial recognition software. And then, the story says, the system is designed to offer those customers special deals via Facebook, which the inventors believe will incentivize people to sign up for the system.

    The story notes that the facial recognition software is designed not to be employed on people who have not given their permission to do so; it also notes that Facebook as a corporate entity is not part of the development process.
    KC's View:
    I'd like to say right now that a) I will never sign up for this service, and b) I have very little confidence that they're only going to use the facial recognition software on people who give them permission to do so. This thing is just ripe for exploitation and abuse.

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    • The Financial Times reports that Tesco saw a UK sales turnaround during the month of July, with sales up 5.1 percent for the period - a higher growth rate than any other UK chain.

    The growth comes just six months after the company issued the first profit warning in its history because of concerns about stagnant growth; experts say that Tesco's performance improved largely because of an aggressive promotion strategy.

    • The New York Times reports that state of New York yesterday hosted a first-ever "Yogurt Summit, presided over by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

    According to the story, "Cuomo has been a vocal champion of the yogurt industry, in part because it has emerged as an unexpected and rare growth sector in economically struggling areas of upstate New York, and in part because it has become a reliable magnet for positive publicity. The industry has been growing because of the exploding popularity of Greek-style yogurt, which requires significantly more milk to produce than does regular yogurt, and which has benefited from a proximity to New York’s dairy farms."

    The Times notes that there were so many people and so much yogurt that there was an unintended consequence - they ran out of spoons.

    • The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that Delhaize-owned Bottom Dollar Food is scheduled to open two new stores in the Pittsburgh market today, including one that is right next door to a new Valu King store scheduled to be opened later this year by Giant Eagle.

    According to the story, "the new locations will bring the total number of locations for North Carolina-based Bottom Dollar to 13 in the region after it opened 11 stores within two months earlier this year."

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that Starbucks plans to open a new factory in Rancho Cucamonga, California, next year "that the company said would quadruple the production and distribution capacity of its Evolution Fresh juice business.

    The story notes that "Starbucks moved into the $3.4-billion cold-crafted juice category in November when it bought Evolution Fresh for $30 million," and currently operates two Evolution Fresh stores in Washington State, with another slated to open this fall in San Francisco.

    • The Miami Herald reports that Aldi plans to step up its presence in Florida, and by the end of the year hopes to be operating at least 56 stores across the state, "including new ones in Kissimmee, Orlando and West Palm Beach."

    • The Dallas Morning News reports that 7-Eleven "has signed an agreement to purchase retail and wholesale assets from San Antonio-based Tetco Inc. The deal includes at least 180 stores that will be rebranded as 7-Elevens and a wholesale gasoline supply network of about 550 customers."

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It is expected to be closed by November.
    KC's View:

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that a Southern California restaurant called Eva has come up with a unique marketing gimmick designed to deal with the annoying practice of talking/texting emailing on cell phones during a meal - if you give up your cell phone when taking your table and don't retrieve it until after you've paid the check, you get a five percent discount off your meal.

    “For us, it’s really not about people disrupting other guests. Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again,” says owner Mark Gold. “It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we’re trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company.”

    Gold says that roughly half his patrons have taken him up on the offer.
    KC's View:
    The same story says that there is a new game that has become popular along the same lines. It is called "Phone Stack," and it goes like this. If a bunch of people get together in a restaurant for a meal, they all pile their cell phones up in the middle of the table. First person to grab his or her phone - for any reason - during the meal has to pick up the check.

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    Fast Company had an interesting story the other day about the importance of a company "mantra," which is defined as "a Sanskrit term, meaning 'sacred utterance' or 'sacred thought,' depending on the dictionary. Traditionally concentration aids given by Hindu gurus to devotees, mantras are words or phrases repeated to facilitate transformation. In business, a mantra is akin to a motto, albeit more fundamental to a company's internal purpose than simply a marketing slogan. It's concise, repeatable, and core to a company's existence ... Unlike mission statements, mantras are pivot-proof. They transcend current target markets and quarterly quotas."

    Or, to put it another way: "Make it short, sweet, and swallowable," says author Guy Kawasaki.

    Examples cited in the story:

    "Think different." (Apple)

    "Don't be evil." (Google)

    "Make something you love." (Huge, a digital agency)

    "Style to the people." (Stylecaster, a fashion website)

    A mantra, the story suggests, is necessary because it is "the guiding star, not the operating manual." And every company needs a guiding star.

    This has me thinking. While MNB always has been built around the phrase, "news in context, analysis with attitude," it sounds like the folks at Fast Company would define that as a mission statement. Not a mantra.

    Which makes me think it is time for a contest...

    Come up with an original mantra for MNB, and if you create the winner, you get an MNB goodie box, which includes a t-shirt with that mantra printed on it, an autographed copy of "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies," and an MNB canvas shopping bag and an MNB canvas wine bag.

    We already have well over 150 entries, but the contest will remain open for a couple of weeks. One suggestion ... remember that the mantra is for MNB, which is not a retailer. (Some of the suggestions received to this point would be wonderful retail mantras, but are not really about what MNB does.)

    Let the games continue...
    KC's View:

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    MNB yesterday took note of a Reuters report about how Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), ranking member of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), ranking member of the House Energy Committee, have sent a letter to Walmart CEO saying that "they have obtained new internal records that may point to evidence of tax evasion and money laundering" in addition to the bribery allegations that have been made about Walmart's Mexico operations.

    One MNB user responded:

    I’m no WMT defender by any stretch, and having dealt with them in Mexico (and having directly dealt with many of the individuals named in all the bribery allegations) I sure hate to say anything that can be construed as defense for guys and a company that can well handle it on their own, but….

    …you don’t really think Cummings and Waxman are motivated by purity of thought and intention, do you?   Cummings and Waxman?   I’ll bet you there’s a union favor being repaid there.  Having met them two once or twice over the years, and knowing Eduardo Solórzano Morales (president and CEO of Walmart Latin America) very well, all I can tell you is they all probably deserve one another, and we would all be better off if people like them did not have leadership positions, in government or business.

    When it comes to institutional credibility, I’m going to go out on a limb and just say that both Congress and Wal-Mex are looking up at the rest of us.  And the rest of us have plenty of work to do out here.  We have to earn it every day….


    Fair enough.

    Though I suppose that it is possible that even if the Congressmen's motives are far from pure, Walmart could still have deeper problems with some of its actions than we know.  (I've been saying that from the beginning.)  But your point is a good one, and I'm with you on the whole subject of institutional credibility.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    Have just never been able to understand what all the agonizing is about.  Bribery is an institutionalized cost-of-doing-business in Mexico.  It's a little tricky to impose American laws on foreign governments, leaving American companies the only victims to all this self-righteousness.  Whatever happened to that "when in Rome, do as the Romans" stuff?

    The Roman Empire crumbled. So much for doing what the Romans do.

    I would also argue that one man's self-righteousness is another man's ethical imperative.

    You say you cannot understand what all the fuss is about. I say that I cannot understand why one would not make a fuss about this. Especially when it may just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of questionable financial dealings by a company that sometimes can itself be guilty of self-righteousness.

    It is certainly worth making a fuss.




    Regarding improvement to their customer service cultures made by both Home Depot and Lowe's, MNB user Steve Sullivan wrote:

    The other day I was in Lowes, buying some wood panel and having it cut to size.  As I was standing there, there arose a cacophony of hammering and laughing.  Looking around the corner, I found a workshop class for children.  Here was about 20 kids, banging away like crazy on their project.  All looked like they were having a good time doing it.  Do you think that they will be Lowes customers down the line?  Customer service.  Something for the parents, something for the kids.

    And then I went and had a pretzel dog and big ole icy lemonade from the Auntie Anne’s booth in the store.  Just the break I needed between shopping and going home to finish my project.


    Speaks volumes.

    MNB user Jim Hendrickson chimed in:

    Agreed, like we talked about in the FILC class in Portland, we are not reinventing the wheel here.  You can see that we are returning back to 'service', and this is a good thing.  An employee who can spend more time with customers can turn more dollars with 'add on' sales and more so what the customer originally would have intended to buy.

    I think I should note here, since he mentioned it in his email, that Jim was one of the people in the CPG/retail marketing class that I team-taught last month at Portland State University. And I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to start getting emails like this from members of the class, keeping alive one of the best experiences of my life.




    Commenting on a story the other day about how Baby Boomers still lag behind younger people when it comes to everyday use of the Internet, I wrote:

    I have to admit that I am a little surprised by these numbers. Maybe it is just the people I hang with, but I am trying to think if I know anybody - anybody - in any age group that does not go online on any given day. (Other than, let's say, people my dad's age. But even that is becoming harder to find.)

    I know some people my age who don't use social networks, and even a few people who don't like to shop online. But not spending anytime online for at least a little bit each day? Hard to imagine.


    One MNB user responded:

    It's not surprising at all that Boomers lag behind in internet activity.

    The mistake many marketers make is to think that a Boomer is a certain kind of person with shared experiences and value systems, when in fact it is simply an arbitrary age distinction--at least the way most marketers define it.

    Most stats show that 20% of US households have no access to the internet at home or via mobile. That alone is bound to skew older because it is likely that the children from those houses, if any, can jump onto the internet with friends or at school.

    But the best thing we can all do is to think of the vast diversity that surrounds us--both ethnically & geographically, as well as via education, income, etc. The reality is that the kinds of people most of us in this business hang around with are representative of about 3% of the US population.  This is not to suggest that folks who are poor or foreign born or living in rural communities don't use the internet, it's just that when you get beyond a cadre of people with smartphones and middle class jobs, things aren't always like we might suspect.


    Another reader wrote:

    I do think, as in many things for all of us, your impression is based on the company you keep. 

    Although included in the greater Cincinnati metro area, the county I live in is a rural community where some people don’t even have internet access at home—they use the computers at the public library to go on line. Often because they can’t afford another monthly fee, or even to buy a computer. Others with access are still on dial up, which offers a barrier to downloading and streaming content. These people go for days without going online.  I am as addicted as you, on line throughout the day and on my smartphone when away from a computer, but I am not typical for my age group in my community. Heck, my husband doesn’t even begin to match my usage. He still lives without a smart phone.


    MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:

    The numbers don’t surprise me at all.  I do some shopping online, but for some things I prefer brick and mortar stores.  My girlfriend does next to no shopping online.  I use Facebook a little bit, she doesn’t do it at all.  Neither of us has an iPad or smart phone though my next cell phone probably will be one.  I still use a PC at home.  That’s why I keep making the point, not everyone is part of the digital revolution, there’s still a lot of us that aren’t totally on board with it yet.

    I think one of the biggest mistakes any marketer can make is to assume other peoples shopping habits are just like theirs.  I used to see it every day when out selling displays or new items to store managers.  Making this mistake can mean lost sales, and can mean, are  you ready for it, loss of relevance to part of your potential customer base.  I’m about the same age as you, so in another 30 to 40 years, my generation will be gone, and most business will probably be conducted online, or through the next generation of data transmission whatever form that takes.  So by all means, a retailer needs to be part of the digital age and meet the younger customer where they are, but at the same time, don’t forget those who aren’t on that particular  train yet and who probably won’t be anytime soon.


    Speak for yourself. In another 30-40 years, I'm planning to be just be starting on my next 30-40 years.

    From yet another reader, a different perspective:

    I was at a birthday party for my 88 year old “grampa” on the 4th of July.  In every conversation I weaseled into,  someone was referencing something they saw on Facebook.  The average age was retirement age – many older.

    Grampa friended me on Facebook awhile ago, and I had to go through all my back posts and delete any with the “F” word in them J  And to further tarnish my “rep”,  all those retirees friended me too!  Now the average age of my FRIENDS list is creeping up.
     
    (I’m late 40s...)


    Good for them.




    Finally, in my Eye-Opener yesterday about how it was the late Gary Carter who apparently came up with the phrase "f-bomb," I wrote:

    Carter died last year of cancer at age 57. It now appears that he will be remembered forever by Mets fans, by visitors to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and by anyone who peruses the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

    One MNB user thought I left something out:

    In addition to Mets fan, visitors to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the users of the dictionary, The Kid will always be remembered by Expos fans.

    Good point. My apologies. It should be noted that on his Hall of Fame plaque, Gary Cater is wearing the hat of the Montreal Expos.
    KC's View:

    Published on: August 16, 2012

    "King" Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners yesterday threw a 1-0 perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the first in the team's history and the 23rd in baseball history.
    KC's View:
    We were lucky enough to see King Felix pitch a gem against the Texas Rangers during our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, and let me tell you, he is one special baseball player. They revere him there - not just because he's so good, but because rather than play out his contract and get big money from another team (almost inevitably the Yankees) as a free agent, he loves Seattle enough that he signed a contract extension and will be with the always-struggling Mariners through the 2014 season.