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    Published on: November 4, 2014

    by Kevin Coupe

    Election Day is today, and here's a poll number that should worry every retailer.

    The annual Gallup Crime Poll is out, the it reveals that 69 percent of respondents say that they "frequently or occasionally worry" about "having the credit card information you have used at stores stolen by computer hackers," with 62 percent saying that they "frequently or occasionally worry" about "having your computer or smartphone hacked and the information stolen by unauthorized persons."

    Compare that to 45 percent who worry about their homes being burglarized, 42 percent who worry about having their cars stolen or broken into, 31 percent who worry about having a school-aged child harmed while at school, 31 percent who worry about being mugged, and 28 percent who worry about being a victim of terrorism.

    Now, there are certain demographic trends that mark these numbers. For example, "Upper-income Americans, those whose household incomes are $75,000 or more a year, are more likely than lower-income Americans to worry frequently or occasionally about hacking of their credit card information, 85% to 50%. Americans between the ages of 30 and 64 worry about this more than younger and older Americans do."

    But the numbers suggest that the headlines and stories about data breaches at places like Target and Home Depot have begun to have an impact on consumers' mindsets.

    And that's an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    BikiniMarketing has an interesting story about Taylor Swift, and the marketing strategies she and her team have used to generate sales for her new album, "1989," which is expected to have sold more than a million copies in the US alone during its first week. ("Sold" is the operative word here, since yesterday it was announced that her entire catalog, including the new album, has been pulled off Spotify, the free music streaming service.)

    The story makes the point that Swift's team has been extraordinary at creating media coverage, employing social media, building alliances (like with Subway and Coca-Cola), and showing appreciation to her customers - all in the service of promoting the album's content, which has generally gotten good reviews.

    There are, the story suggests, numerous marketing lessons that can be found in the Taylor Swift strategy - and you can read them here.
    KC's View:
    There were a number of MNB readers who turned me on to this story, which is a good thing, because I'm not normally a reader of BikiniMarketing. Just goes to show you how important it is sometimes to get outside your comfort zone.

    As for Taylor Swift … I remain enormously impressed. As I have been since I took my daughter to one of her concerts at Madison Square Garden, which was fantastic - though I have to admit that I was one of maybe 12 guys in the audience, and quite possibly the oldest person in attendance.

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    Good piece in Advertising Age about the importance and challenges of creating subscription relationships with consumers, an approach being embraced by an increasing number of companies. At the head of the pack: Amazon.

    "When it comes to subscription relationships, nobody beats Amazon," the story says. " When the company unveiled Kindle Unlimited -- a book-subscription service -- earlier this summer, it added its ninth subscription service. The announcement was interpreted as a book-industry event by most, but it was more than that. Amazon knows that the future of both digital and physical products and services requires tethering a customer to you with a stronger bond than a brand alone can permit.

    "That's where subscription comes in. In Amazon's case, the subscription everyone thinks about is Amazon Prime, clearly the most important consumer-facing subscription the company offers. But beyond Prime there are eight other offerings that have subscription-like properties: FreeTime, Prime Instant Video, Prime Music, Amazon Mom, Cloud Drive, Audible Membership, and the aptly named Subscribe & Save."

    However, Ad Age writes, there are three basic questions that companies have to ask themselves before going down the subscription road: 1) Does your customer need this frequently?, 2) Can the experience be made more emotionally engaging?, and 3) Will your solution be more convenient than the alternatives?

    You can read the entire story here.
    KC's View:
    Subscriptions, if one can make them work, are great ways of creating sustainable connections with shoppers that can transcend the competition. I think they are one of Amazon's best weapons, and I remain amazed that more bricks-and-mortar retailers have not employed the concept.

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    In the UK, the Telegraph reports that faced with a criminal probe into accounting irregularities at Tesco, not to mention investor discontent with the state of affairs at the company, company CEO Dave Lewis reportedly is considering the sale of a stake in its banking arm, as well as the sale of "several other prized assets including its Asian operations."

    One other option being considered - "a sale of Dunnhumby, the division behind Tesco’s Clubcard scheme. It is understood that Tesco has been encouraged to look at disposing of Dunnhumby following a flurry of private equity interest."

    According to the story, "A sale of Tesco’s failed Blinkbox video streaming service is under way, with potential bidders sought out in recent days. The company has hired Lepe Partners, a City advisory firm, to handle the sale. However, retail figures believe Blinkbox is unlikely to fetch much money, if any at all, given that it is heavily lossmaking and could end up being closed down instead."

    Tesco has disclosed that the early booking of revenue and delayed recognition of costs resulted in an overstatement of profit projections by more than $400 million (US), which has led to the stepping down of eight executives and the resignation of the company's chairman as both internal and governmental investigations proceed.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    • Yesterday marked the launch of Thrive Market, an online membership-driven shopping service that seems to be focused on healthy living and the easy sorting of products according to dietary needs (such as raw, paleo, gluten-free). Thrive currently is carrying 2500 SKUs, and is charging a $59.95 annual membership fee.

    The company says that its goals are to carry "only the highest quality healthy and natural products … always at prices 25-50% below retail," and to be "always committed to sustainability and social justice." The social justice component seems important to the broader mission; on the website, the company says that "we believe that purpose in business is every bit as important as profits. For us, that purpose is to make healthy living easy and accessible for every American family. That's why we offer these products at fair prices. It's also why we've committed to donating a free Thrive membership to a low-income family for every paid membership on the site - forever. "
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 4, 2014

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

    • C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and The Grocers Supply Company, Inc. said yesterday that "C&S has agreed to acquire the wholesale distribution and supply business of Grocers Supply. The acquisition will include Grocers Supply’s warehouse and distribution operations in the Houston, Dallas, and Rio Grande Valley areas along with its approximately 1,800 employees, but will not include any of Grocers Supply’s retail operations. The transaction is expected to close before year-end and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals."

    • The Grand Rapids Press reports that SpartanNash's Family Fare concept, which has 60 stores in Michigan, also is working outside the state - the company "has spent $21 million building or remodeling seven Family Fare Supermarkets in Dickinson, in western North Dakota, and in the Fargo Moorhead region that stretches across the North Dakota-Minnesota border."

    Meredith Gremel, director of corporate affairs at SpartanNash, says that when Spartan Stores merged with Nash Finch, one of the goals was to analyze the various banners to see what was working and what might work better. Six of the out-of-state stores were former SunMart Foods or Econofood grocery stores that came with Nash Finch, but conversions to Family Fare brand have proven to be successful.

    • The Kroger Co. said yesterday that its associates working at Fry's Food Stores and Smith's Food and Drug in Arizona and represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have ratified a new labor agreement.

    • Sears Holdings has announced that its Sears stores will open at 6 pm on Thanksgiving night, while its Kmart stores will continue "a 23-year tradition as a destination for early-bird shopping and last-minute entertaining needs on Thanksgiving, will open for 42 hours straight, from 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving to midnight on Black Friday."

    Meanwhile, JC Penney said yesterday that it will open at 5 pm on Thanksgiving, noting that this will be an hour earlier than Macy's, Sears and Kohl's, and three hours earlier than it did last year.

    There seems to me that there is little question about where this all is heading - everybody is going to be open all-day on Thanksgiving, continuing the American tradition of commercializing every possible holiday. (And if you didn't see Chris Rock's rant on this subject on last week's "Saturday Night Live," you should check it out.)
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Walmart has "re-appointed Scott Price as its Asia chief, five months after he moved to the company’s U.S. headquarters to take up a new role."

    Price was brought back to the US as executive vice president, and was replaced in Asia by the company's China president, Greg Foran, who two months later became CEO of the retailer’s U.S. division. Price now becomes president./CEO of Walmart's Asia operations, though he remains headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas.

    • The Austin Business Journal reports that online grocery delivery Greenling Inc. has replaced founding CEO Mason Arnold with Bill Tolany, a former Whole Foods executive who held numerous positions there, including senior director of marketing and integrated media.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    • Tom Magliozzi, who with his younger brother Ray hosted "Car Talk" on National Public Radio (NPR), has passed away of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77.

    The Magliozzi brothers - who called themselves Click and Clack, though they were unclear about who was who, started the show in Boston back in the mid-eighties, and moved it to NPR in 1987, ending original production in 2012, though the show lives on in repeats. At its peak, the show had an audience of more than four million listeners - the biggest audience of any NPR entertainment program.

    The New York Times obit said this morning that "the weekly hourlong 'Car Talk,' which was broadcast for more than 30 years, was ostensibly about mechanical problems with cars, but the format was mainly an excuse for the brothers … to banter with callers about the mysteries of life, as viewed through an automotive prism: Why does a car suddenly stop working? Should I give this clunker one more chance? Why won’t my husband pay for a mechanic to fix our car?"

    In a statement posted on the show's website, Ray Magliozzi wrote, "We can be happy that he lived the life he wanted to live; goofing off a lot, talking to you guys every week, and primarily, laughing his ass off."
    KC's View:
    I know nothing about cars, except that I like them with soft tops. I drove two Miatas for about 20 years, and only recently have upgraded - I'm now driving a 2014 Mustang convertible. (Must be an age thing. My daughter says I got my first Miata when I turned 40, my first Mustang when I turned 60, and when I turn 80, she's gonna get me a wheelchair.)

    But I digress.

    Even though I know almost nothing about cars, and don't even know how to change the oil, I have to say that I loved it when I'd be out on the car on a Saturday morning, and "Car Talk" would come on. I'd even try to extend whatever errands I was running, just so I could listen - because the Magliozzi were true originals. Funny, corny, and, actually, really smart. And they demonstrated how two people with passion can take pretty much any subject and make it interesting, even to people who know nothing about it. That's an important lesson … for all of us.

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    …will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    In Monday Night Football, the Indianapolis Colts defeated the NY Giants 40-24.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 4, 2014

    by Michael Sansolo

    Frankly I don’t understand the current obsession with zombies. It’s as if we didn’t have enough real things to worry about that we need a non-stop fascination with the dead rising up to eat the living.

    And while that scenario in itself would seem to present great material for a column on cross merchandising in the food industry, it’s not at all the lesson I want to highlight today. Instead I want to look at the joys of living.

    Among zombie movies the only two I really enjoy watching at all (no less in re-runs) are Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. The former is too quirky and silly to be described and the latter has everything I want in a movie—surprising humor, a dose of lessons and simple rules, in this case, for survival.

    In other words it sounds like just a summary of the books Kevin and I have written: movies and rules.

    Zombieland’s 32nd rule is the best: Enjoy the little things. It’s a simple message, but one that contains the lesson we should value each and every day.

    During this past weekend I attended two small celebrations that got me thinking of the little things. One was a memorial service to former colleague, Glenn Snyder, and the second was a gathering of friends to salute the Content Guy’s 60th birthday. (Kevin’s actual birthday is today. I'd just like to point out that I'm substantially younger than he is. Eleven months. Which, in my mind, is substantial.)

    But here’s the thing. As I reflected on both events I realized what I cherish about these two friends has nothing to do with writing skills. Rather it’s that Glenn usually made me laugh and Kevin promises to do the same for years to come.

    So why does that matter to you and your business? It’s simple: we all enjoy the little things and that goes for our customers, associates, families and, well, everybody.

    Great businesses are those that find a way to please us with those little things. It’s why the little bit of extra customer service always makes us pause. Likewise, it could be the special price break, getting a good spot in the parking lot or simply anything that makes our day a little brighter.

    Similarly, little things like recognition can go a long way with associates. It’s the little things always.

    We need remember it for the most lasting of reasons because when we make other people feel better we actually feel good ourselves and, go figure, we grow business at the same time.

    When I wrote my new book, "Business Rules!," I had no trouble deciding which rule would go in the introduction. No one would ever consider me religious, but I opted for the Golden Rule because how we treat others, how we make their days easier or special, will always come back around.

    So take a pause today and think about what you’d want people saying at your memorial service or birthday party in years to come. I’m betting if you find a way to honor Zombieland's 32nd rule - enjoy the little things - you’ll be much happier with what people have to say.

    And you’ll enjoy the journey a whole lot more…unless you run into a zombie.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
    KC's View: