retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Great email from MNB reader John Rand about the claims that manufacturers make:

As a somewhat-more-than-disinterested observer, I have been in several recent discussions about what we in the industry call “claims”…and it occurs to me, reading your summary today about the dichotomy of trust and purchase behavior, that we need to change the discussion at its foundation.

It can’t be “claims” anymore. It has to be “provens.”

The first vaguely commercial thing I think we taught our children was to be critical listeners and readers – to hear the emptiness of so many claims, to catch the quick-as-lightning-don’t-blink disclaimers, to be a healthy skeptic. Caveat Emptor I believe.

In a mobile- wired –internet- connected- indexed- searchable world – the first claim you make that is false or even questionable is the last time I will ever believe you.
Don’t bother me with claims. Give me provens.

Got the following email from an MNB user:

There is one point that I feel you missed when you last talked about the decline of McDonald’s (I agree with much of your assessment).

McDonald’s value was always focused on a consistent (and later fast) food experience. I am now finding that solution in my grocery aisle, with items that are not branded as McDonald’s. As other successful brands have expanded into the grocery aisles (Starbucks, PF Chang’s, etc.) the McDonald’s brand has depreciated because they are not a part of this solution. There is also this: what item does McDonald’s have on its menu, that I (as a working mom) would be willing to put on my table, even if they had it in my grocery aisle? Keep in mind, I have Burgerville in my neighborhood which has on the menu: smoked salmon hazelnut salad, rogue blue cheese salad, halibut fish and chips…need I continue?

In any case, this goes back to the many points you have made about companies who sit on the sidelines, no longer being in the game. McDonald’s has tried to stay in the game by changing their narrative at their locations (new menus), but they are missing the point—the narrative is no longer 100% held by a restaurant’s location experience. Instead, it is about making the customer’s overall experience, in every part of their lives, even better.

And from another reader:

I thought about your comment “but has anyone thought about making the freakin' hamburgers taste better?” and realized that it may not be one of the best options. I worked in product development for many years, our main business of custom blends meant that most of the time I was matching products that already existed. Many times my toughest challenge was to “dumb” down the product I had created. My product might beat our competition on taste, appearance, and performance and still not meet the expectations of the customer because what the customer wanted was what they were already buying (for less money of course). McDonald’s core customer (a shrinking base from reports) might not want “a better tasting hamburger” and it is much harder to bring new customers through the doors than to please those already standing in line.

I feel for McDonald’s as they are treading a very fine line. How do you entice new customers through the door without offending those already there? I am guessing that to get you to visit a McDonald’s it would take a herculean marketing campaign because your perception is based on years of past experience and mediocre to bad food. They need to figure out how not to push the current customer out the door and down the street to Sonic or Wendy’s who essentially sell very similar offerings. I am not sure what it will take, it may be as simple or as complicated as going back to the basics upon which the company was founded, inexpensive burgers, fries and shakes with good service that is the same no matter which McDonald’s you visit.

And another:

It is not about making the hamburgers taste better. That could help.  But it should be about getting back to basics – go back to marketing to the children.  When your darling daughter was a child (they always are our babies) how many times did you go to McDonalds? – Buy a Happy Meal, buy yourself a burger meal & have her play in the “ball pit” in the Playland for 30+ minutes while you answered e-mails etc..  The Playlands are being removed – replaced by McCafe’s????

My daughter never asked to go to Burger King or Wendy’s – it was because McDonalds marketed themselves to children & the parents followed.  They need to get back to their grass roots (basics).

We avoided those ball pits like the plague ... largely because we thought that plague was actually what our kids would get there.

Got a couple of nice email about my time with The Christophers and what I learned there about the importance of the workplace. One MNB user wrote:

Great story. Thanks for sharing.
Makes me realize I should spend a few minutes thinking about the people who helped me get to where I am today.

And another:

Really enjoyed reading about The Christophers and how your life was affected by them.…. It can be an eye opener( pun intended) when we realize something that has guided us or made us the person we are today… one of my favorite sayings is about how blowing out another person’s candle is not going to make you any brighter…. 


However, another MNB user had an observation based on the video version:

Mrs. Content Guy is not going to let you come home after seeing a pool and palm trees in your video.

The good news is that she let me in the door.

But in what must be act of karma, I've come down with a horrible cold ... everything hurts. Probably serves me right.
KC's View: