retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story the other day that took note of a Reuters report that five food writers have been issued subpoenas by Beef Products Inc. which wants to see any and all communications they may have had with ABC News regarding so-called "pink slime." The story said that "Beef Products Inc. sued the network in 2012 seeking $1.2 billion in damages for the coverage of the meat product the industry calls 'lean, finely textured beef,' which critics dubbed 'pink slime.' BPI said ABC's coverage misled consumers into believing the product was unsafe and led to the closure of three plants and roughly 700 layoffs."

Attorneys have responded to the suit by saying that ABC always said in its stories that pink slime had been declared safe to consume by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and, besides, since pink slime is actually pink and slimy, the suit is "overreaching."

Which led one MNB reader to write:

Perhaps this is business as usual…when the truth surfaces and hurts a business…then sue everybody…perhaps not to retain or regain business reputation…but to keep people from reporting on the next business-related social scam…

P.S. Just because the USDA says it’s healthy doesn’t make it so…

All true.

I did a piece recently suggesting that Zipcar is losing some of its brand equity, which prompted one MNB reader to write:

Regarding ZipCar - and the mention of another option - I am intrigued by Getaround, the car rental service similar to Airbnb. Though a completely different model, I would think these guys would be on rental car company radar like Airbnb is to the hotel industry. Getaround isn’t for most business travelers but as my kids start driving, they are going to earn money by renting out our old clunkers in the Getaround world.

Responding to the hiring of Brian Cornell to run Target, MNB reader John Franklin wrote:

As I had commented previously following Gregg Steinhafel's departure from Target and the search for his successor, I wanted to follow up. I think Brian Cornell is a solid pick. He's got retail and manufacturer background, including Club, Grocery and Specialty - great perspective for a multi-category retailer like Target, and you have to believe he picked up some valuable Walmart insights by osmosis, even though he was on the Sam's Club side. Not much buzz here in Minneapolis as yet, but my sense is that the reception will be warm. He'll want to be sure that Kathee Tesija, EVP-Merchandising, is solidly on his team, although I suspect that the Board has made very sure that Cornell passed muster with her before casting their votes. I'll be very interested to see what his first big moves are as CEO.

Another MNB reader chimed in:

Sure they got caught with their pants down…yes they are enduring the pain of their mistake, but the team members at Target should get a big boost in morale (not to mention strategy)  from Brian Cornell.  This selection shows just how impressive the decision making at Target is exactly where it needs to be.  I’m not saying that the current group isn’t motivated or doing what they need to do, but right off the top…Target’s got GAME…welcome back!!!

We reported the other day that Amazon is offering Prime members a $1 credit for Prime Video if they are willing to accept slower shipping speeds, which is seen as a way of cutting costs.

I commented:

So let me get this straight. I pay Amazon for the privilege of Prime membership, which will get me products faster, and they're willing to then pay me to get my products slower? Do I have this right? Because if this is what is happening, while it may reduce costs, I'm not sure how it makes sense from a customer service point of view. We all want things faster, not slower … and part of the reason is because Amazon helped condition us to think that way.

One MNB reader responded:

Oh my, you read my mind!  I’ve become so accustomed to Prime shipping that I hate shopping elsewhere!  5-7 days is an eternity compared to 2, and $1 credit on videos I don’t download is definitely not going to sway me.  What’s more ridiculous is the 5-7 day shipping is free with a $25 order anyway for non-Prime members.  A better idea would be to offer two levels of Prime Membership.  Keep the current one, but offer a Prime “Lite” version that offers 3-4 day shipping for a reduced price annually.  The 5-7 day option should remain free as always. I hope they don’t annoy Prime customers or ruin their business model with this malarkey.
KC's View: