retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got a lot of email the other day responding to the story about Facebook losing some users.

MNB user Brian Cook wrote:

Funny story….so I ask my son, Saige (17), how come I haven’t seen him on Facebook recently. He said that he barely goes on anymore, so I obviously had to know why. He goes on to tell me that he and his friends would use FB mostly for sharing pictures so they have now moved on to Instagram.

Seems our future consumers of America like new things. At least, they are looking for certain things and quick to jump ship when they find it. If this is any indication of produce buying decisions innovation/staying tuned to what’s next will be keys to success.

Of course, Instagram is owned by Facebook.

Another MNB user wrote:

As a father of two teenage daughters, no surprise that Facebook numbers dropped.
Teens have deserted Facebook as they go to other instant chat and picture share services like Instagram and Tumblr.

These other apps do not have the "permanence" and public and "parental snooping" implications like Facebook.

From another reader:

Facebook is a place my wife puts up the family pics and I will on rare occasion go to look at her pics and therefore other pics that I do not really care to see. Not being a tech savvy person and NOT interested enough to take the time to "figure" out Facebook's  operational system I finally turned everyone off so I would stop getting notifications via email on everything every one was doing too many times a per day.

Therefore I rarely find myself anywhere near Facebook. Linked in I use occasionally and it is great to contact or review status of former contacts without having to sort through a "gazillion" things I don't want to see. Why would anyone use Facebook for a search engine? I am now retired and have plenty of time but not Facebook time. I really don't know any productive people who spend a lot of time on Facebook but I bet some people find a way to make a good living on it. Just not for me.

MNB user Mark Raddant wrote:

It would be interesting to know the demographics of the users who either quit or reduced their frequency of use of Facebook.  My bet is when kids, who drove the growth, realized their parents began using FaceBook, it became less interesting.  And when marketers began driving the process, it quit being cool for the most part.  I use FaceBook more than my kids (14-30) do anymore, and I use it less than I used to as well.  You are correct, between narcissism and floods of ads, it’s just not that much fun anymore.

And from still another reader:

Count me among the people who no longer use Facebook.

I originally set up a profile as a way to follow our teenaged sons and track their usage of the website and the appropriateness of their posts.   In the beginning, it was kind of fun to “find” people that I hadn’t seen or heard from in years and learn what they had been doing in the time period since we had last seen one another.   At the same time, I could sense unease on the part of my spouse as she perceived that I had too much interest in getting in touch with childhood friends and wasn’t paying my fair share of attention to her.   In addition, I became frustrated with the restrictions that my employer placed on my personal Facebook profile and account usage…to the extent that they would not even let me acknowledge where I worked, nor discuss my employment in any way.     Add to that the choices of some of my “friends” to either use their posts as a constant stream of useless drivel (“I did eight loads of laundry today”) or as a rabid political platform of one type or another, and it became easy to say that spending time on Facebook wasn’t the best use of my day.

Most of all, after I deleted my Facebook profile no one outside of my immediate family said anything about no longer being able to reach me…….which tells me that I wasn’t leaving a lasting impression on anyone else either. 

Because of Facebook’s lack of consideration for its users in an attempt to make money, it has become nothing short of creepy.

Another MNB user chimed in:

The announcement that Facebook was going to sell the photos you posted on Instagram was a huge turnoff.  Today they announced Search Graph where you can search for information that your network has shared.  I think people in general are starting to wake up and realize that the information that they were sharing on Facebook can and may come back to haunt them later in life.  We don’t truly know what can be done with the data we share.
I am very close to becoming one of those people that disconnects….

And from another reader:

As a fellow old guy and occasional FB user, I've alerted my friends that when they eat a jelly sandwich, they should alert me by snail mail to make sure I don't miss their status update.

Surprisingly, I have yet to receive such a letter, and the volume of narcissistic jelly sandwich updates on FB has significantly declined (except for the woman with three fur ball  lapdogs, who reports their every move).

There has been some anecdotal evidence lately that Amazon may be losing some business because of the requirement in some states that it collect sales taxes, which led MNB user Steve Mowcomber to write:

I’m not surprised that Best Buy, Target or Wal-Mart would see on-line sales increases in states where Amazon loses its pricing advantage due to sales tax collection.  If the price is the same, I would always purchase on-line products from a retailer that has brick and mortar near me simply for the logistical advantages IF a return or exchange is necessary down the road.  The brick and mortar experience may be overrated on the purchase side, but it can’t be underappreciated on the return/exchange side.

Regarding the ongoing debate about e-tailers collecting sales taxes for online purchases, MNB user Leo Martineau wrote:

I think we all know that it is only a matter of time before all e-retailers are required to pay sales tax, including the little guys but I believe in the philosophy that one person’s disadvantage is another person’s advantage.  Yes the e-retailers will need to process all of the paperwork to each of the states and that will be an extra burden on the little guys, possibly putting them at a disadvantage.  But I can see a company like Intuit or one of their competitors coming up with another Quickbooks type application to simplify or possibly automate the process, giving them an opportunity for a new market.

We had a story recently about a report saying that the FDA had warned two egg producers that they were not doing enough to prevent pests and wildlife from entering barns housing laying hens, which amounts to a violation of rules designed to prevent salmonella outbreaks. I was disgusted, but one MNB user wrote:

Somethings I find outrageous and this may be one of them. Chickens are wild animals, they live in barns, chicken coops and structures of this sort.  Does anyone really care that some insects and other wild animals (birds), find their way in!?!  I would think that insects are plentiful in all wild life/food animal habitats, and would they be very evident in the eggs laid by “free range” chickens.  Asking/making farmers of egg laying chickens to keep these out of their egg laying areas is like asking bears not to go in the woods!


I thought the reason we had things like chicken coops was to prevent this kind of stuff.

On another subject, an MNB user wrote:

Regarding your story on the return of Dunkin Donuts to California and the resultant competition with supermarkets, I think you miss a key point: we are entering an omni channel retail era. Shoppers will want to buy the brands that they like whenever and wherever they choose.
Supermarkets cannot afford to not stock popular brands, not can they take the approach that they can get shoppers to buy only what they prefer to sell them.
Any supermarket operator who thinks branded manufacturers are not actively developing their direct to shopper capabilities has their head in the sand. It will be a reality within the next several years because it is the next natural evolutionary step in the shopper experience…just as home delivery will emerge as a major new component of the shopper value proposition because shoppers will want it and demand it!
The shopper is ultimately in charge and will purchase goods when, where and how they prefer to. Retailers who think they can force shoppers to buy their own brands or deny them access to national brands they really prefer will become universal donors of market share.

But from another reader:

I just want you to know that your one person jihad against selling products that compete with retailers is appreciated!

If you were to evaluate the coffee category, you would find that it is one of the weakest center store categories as measured by percent of sales in the grocery and supercenter channels.  While candy, gum and nuts have a logical strength in the convenience store channel, the coffee migration is primarily purchases of bagged coffees at coffee shops!  Almost ¾ of a billion in revenue is lost each year!

I expected to get some grief on this one, as an MNB user wrote:

On the story that a reader praised the experience of a Disney Cruise you wrote:
“I have to be honest here. Being on a Disney Cruise is my idea of one of the circles of hell.”
Having taken one of the Disney Cruises as a precursor to visiting Disney World, it was a fantastic experience. As you frequently point out the challenge for retailers to continue to work on their “in-store experience”, Disney delivers big time on their cruises. Now, I would say that you may be more apt to enjoy if you are with kids/grandkids as it is geared for families, but if you would enjoy the theme park, you would enjoy the cruise. The attention to detail and “on-ship experience” was second to none!

Just not my thing. Been on one cruise, and it will be a long time before I go on another. (I chronicled it here.)

And finally, responding to my note Friday about the third anniversary of the passing of Robert B. Parker, MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:

What I loved most about Parkers writing was his wit, and his ways of describing things.  In  Pale Kings and Princes, he described a rattan chair by saying, “it was ugly, but it was uncomfortable”.
I also appreciated that  his characters, Spenser, Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall always tried to do the right thing, even when it was more difficult, even when no one else was looking.  They may not have always known what the right thing was, but always attempted to understand It and do it.

KC's View: