retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to our story last week about a new format being created and tested in Las Vegas by the new owners of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, MNB reader Scott Nelson wrote:

I was in one of the Las Vegas stores this week and the transformation is amazing.  I think it is what the concept should have been from the start.  I ordered one of the artisan sandwiches  and it was very good.   The store to me looks like a Whole Foods convenience store with Trader Joe’s pricing.

Regarding our recent story about Girl Scout cookies now being available online, and how the shift is being described as away of helping teach kids about online marketing, one MNB user wrote:

I raised three Girl Scouts and I am somewhat familiar with cookie sales. Even been the “coordinator” for an specific area. As the program is today I do not see where the girls learn anything other than how much pull their parents have at their place of employment. There is no way for an individual girl to get to any of the incentives (which may not be the correct reason to sell cookies anyway) without their parents doing a significant amount of the work, in some cases all.

Certainly some would cite the safety of going door to door and I would simply say, why would you send them alone?

Maybe this will bring it back to a real learning experience for the kids as I do not believe that is what it is today.

I still think that most of these kids are going to know more about the online experience than the vast majority of scout leaders … which is a lesson for a lot of businesses about how and where to mine the talent necessary to make them successful for the digital age.

Another MNB reader had a comment about our story saying that Hershey is looking to replace high-fructose corn syrup in some of its products with sugar:

Chocolate flavored syrup was recently on my shopping list.  Choices were Hershey or Nestle.  The Nestle label features "No High-Fructose Corn Syrup", and in fine print on the back, "Product of Canada".

Sugar prices in the U.S. are higher than in Canada due to import controls etc.  As part of the switch from HFCS (made from corn) to sugar I wonder if Hershey will have to shift manufacturing to Canada (or elsewhere) to remain competitive.  More jobs lost.

And on another subject, an MNB user wrote:

Your reader’s point that Martha Stewart IS her brand was a good point in respect to her magazine (I have no idea if she still has a television show).  However, I believe her merchandising efforts are well poised to carry on indefinitely.  I don’t believe that she personally designs the pots and pans, utensils, towels and bed linens that bear her name any more than Vera Wang engineers the mattresses on which her name (inexplicably, at least to me) appear.

It’s quite possible that future consumers of Martha Stewart merchandise will not even realize that there was ever a actual person named Martha Stewart.  How many of us are aware that Ettore Boiardi (Chef Boyardee) or Duncan Hines were real people—celebrity chefs of their day.  But, regardless of the state of print journalism, I think the actual Martha Stewart Living magazine will—when the time comes—die when she does. Without her appearance in the pages, it would lack any meaningful differentiation from its competitors (both print and non-traditional delivery methods).  The Martha Stewart reader/subscriber buys is looking for her personal (whether actual or implied) endorsement of the style and recipes contained within.

KC's View: