Published on: September 13, 2012
This commentary is available as text and video; enjoy both, or either. Past "FaceTime" commentaries are available on the MNB YouTube Channel, which can be accessed here.
Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I'm in Florida right now; I had the opportunity this week to give a speech to the Florida Agricultural Financial Management Conference. It was an interesting gig for me, because I have no agricultural talent at all (and perhaps the brownest thumb in existence), and my wife will tell you that my financial management skills are not exactly world-class. But the folks who invited me apparently have a sense of humor, and it was an interesting opportunity to talk to an unusual audience about some of the things that I'm seeing that suggest profound change in the culture, which means that profound change needs to come to the food industry.
It is interesting to see change all around. Before coming to Florida, I was in Chicago, and one of the things I saw there was what is being billed as a "cupcake ATM." A cupcake retailer called Sprinkles has come up with what I think is an ingenious idea. In front of the Chicago store - and one in California - they've installed what essentially is a vending machine for cupcakes. it is open 24 hours a day, so if you get a midnight craving, you can satisfy it; at the same time, the retailer can put all of the stock left at the end of the day out in the machine, so there is less shrink. Or, if you get to the store and there's a big line, as there often is, you can use the vending machine as an express line.
The cupcakes are a little pricey, but that seems to be the trend right now, and there is no shortage of people to pay through the nose for a gourmet cupcake they can put in their mouths. I tried it - for research purposes, of course - and while I was impressed with the concept, I was less so with the product. But I'm assuming that this is because when I was there, all that was available was gluten-free cupcakes, and I'm reasonably certain the box the cupcake came in would have been moister and tastier.
Another new experience I had when I was in Chicago was when I went to a local Citibank to get some cash from an actual ATM. Once the transaction was done and I had my money, the machine, as it always does, asked if I wanted a receipt or not. Except this time it offered me a new option - I could have the receipt emailed to my email account. Never saw that before - and It makes a lot of sense. It saves on paper, and makes it much easier for me to track things on my laptop. I know that the Apple Store has been doing this for some time, and I think it ought to be an option that every retailer ought to offer ... among other things, it would be a great way for them to gather and track email addresses from people willing to provide them.
Finally, as I was leaving Chicago, I got the most amazing surprise at O'Hare International Airport's United Airlines terminal - I found that I somehow was qualified for the TSA Pre-Check system. (I'm thinking it is because I'm a million-mile flier on United.) It meant that I had to put my iPhone into my briefcase, put it and my duffle bag through an x-ray machine, without taking out my toiletries. I was able to then walk through the scanner with my shoes on and without taking anything out of my pockets.
It was great. It was even easier than using Clear, the private expedited security system, which I've always liked - especially here in Orlando, where the security lines are almost long and there are so many people on them who act as if they've never been in an airport before.
And it just shows that it is possible to make even the chore of getting through airport security almost delightful. I can't wait until it is everywhere.
We talk about change all the time here on MNB ... and it is nice, sometimes, to see it happening all around, in small and big ways, doing things to make life easier and less complicated.
That's what on my mind. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: