Published on: October 29, 2015
On the subject of growing consumer preferences for "local," one MNB user wrote:My view is, when asked, a consumer will tout their willingness to pay more for “local” when in reality “more” is subjective and often it’s simply wanting to look open minded when answering the question when in reality it’s about cost. Much like a retailer proclaiming their interest in innovation, but unwilling to pay more for that innovation.
From another reader:You mean like one of our local competitors who label their salad bar fixings as ‘local’ because the warehouse they get them from is local?
Local-washing. It’s a thing.
Regarding the marketing of A&P's "intellectual property" and private brands, one MNB user wrote:You’re kidding me…the intellect left A&P years ago!
From MNB reader Robert Dyer:The only A&P brand that had any strength was Eight o'Clock coffee, which they sold off to Tata Global Beverages in 2006.
Responding to Michael Sansolo's column about the importance of both having a plan and being able to pivot when circumstances change, one MNB user wrote:Your message is an important one and cannot be stated too many times. I see retailers and brands struggling to evaluate, rationalize and execute the necessary changes to their offerings fast enough to keep up the the speed of consumer options and changing preferences. In my view, there is a need for a C-level executive that exclusively focuses on rapid short term evaluation and deployment of fundamental changes to the business, all in the context of knowing, (as you state), that no one has an absolutely clear view of where all of this might be going. Unprecedented challenging times!
We reported this week about Walmart asking for permission to test delivery drones, a plan that seemed modeled on similar plans at Amazon, one MNB user wrote:Re: the latest Wal-Mart follower move, Amazon remains a step ahead; I think Wal-Mart’s getting desperate, b/c they realize they’re in a multiple-front squeeze play.
Wal-Marts face more & more rapidly shifting fast-fashion trends, a game at which H&M, Uniqlo, Zara, etc are superior to their slow moving predecessor clothing chains.
Wal-Mart Supercenters in CPG/Food items face a more focused (post-Canada) Target, a proven effective Costco, and superbly managed dollar stores, some of whose (less selection-focused) customers they must win over, given their latest ‘reduced sku’ approach (let’s mercifully forget their dreaded 'Project Impact’).
WalMart Supercenters are unlikely to be able to remove freshness or selection-focused customers/occasions from skilled Grocers (Wegmans, Kroger et al). WalMart has yet to aggressively pursue the Grocery chain’s newfound money pool - $margin from ReadyToEat prepared meals (even though, IMO, WalMart could have killer negotiating strength with the big FastFood brands).
WalMart’s core competence remains mid-sized towns & suburbia; they’ve not cracked urban or small town opportunities w/ Neighborhood Markets, though NM may be a future purchase pickup point. This is how I predict Loblaws will use Shoppers Drug* Marts (*don't let the name mislead; they’ve got fridge & freezer sections, sell fresh bread, etc). SDM’s are small footprint outlets with fast In&Out parking lots &/or close to transit, plus they’re located in (gap-filling) urban core & small towns, which allows more consumers a convenient pickup option.
Why can’t Neighborhood Markets fill that role for Wal-Mart? Why doesn’t WalMart refocus on urban, easy pickup, online?
Cheaper outlets to build & staff; seems a win-win-win; conquer small markets, urban markets AND take a bite out of Amazon.
Reason seems to be just plain old inertia; IMO, large-format WaMart outlets may be headed for a Sears-like future.
Drones won’t fix that- and mass air delivery of goods is probably a long way off.
Also regarding Walmart, MNB reader Mark Heckman wrote:With e-commerce gaining share of customer at a much more rapid pace, building new bricks and mortar stores for most any retailer today has too be a careful consideration. For Walmart, the Neighborhood Market concept has been a marginal performer given the often saturated market conditions of food retailers. Therefore, I am not surprised in this news. In my mind, e-commerce and perishables are good investment for Walmart, but these initiatives are not even a close second in terms of the return on investment they would see if they crack the code on inventory management, sku variety, and out-of-stocks. If Walmart doesn’t see significant improvement in how they manage inventory, they will have many tough investor calls to come.
We continue to get email about the meat-may-cause-cancer story.
MNB reader Jeff Folloder wrote:I'm writing this from the perspective of a cancer survivor in remission and a passionate, educated patient advocate. We are learning that cancer is not a black and white issue. It is almost always a shades of gray journey with no two journeys being identical. The days of one size fits all cancer treatment are waning and personalized, custom-tailored treatments are enjoying ever greater success. Because of the shades of gray. It's not leukemia... It's 1000's of variations of leukemia. And 1000's (or more) genetic variations on those different leukemia types. Same for breast cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma... Each person is different and each person responds to different influences in different ways.
Sadly, that is not a convenient sound bite that engages the public and electrifies discussion. The consumption of red meat may, indeed, increase the possibility of cancer occurrence in those who may be predisposed to that sensitivity. Not everyone. Not all the time. In plain terms, it might be a risk factor for some and is worthy of consideration. My oncologist encourages me to embrace life and strive for the highest quality of life I can have. That means enjoying things in moderation, including red meat, alcohol, crème brûlée, and a host of many other things. I do enjoy them. And I do exercise and try to avoid the sun exposure. And I always remember that being in the news or on the net does not make it necessarily true.
MNB reader Chuck Jolley wrote:Full disclosure: I’m president of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. Now, about the Who/IARC report: Classifying processed meats, which might cause several thousand cases of cancer per year, with smoking, which does cause a million+ deaths per year, placed their report in the overly-sensationalistic column for me. IARC also went against their long-standing practice of only issuing these reports when they have 100% consensus among their board members. They spent 7 days of active discussion to reach a ‘bare’ majority. It sounded to me like they needed to take more time to really delve into the data.
Responding to Kate McMahon's column about the disappointing transition from Food Emporium to Acme in her Connecticut town, MNB user Bryan Nichols wrote:I don’t know what experience you have in the retail industry, but you can’t remodel a store in three weeks under the best of circumstances even if money is no object. I have probably been involved in 500 new or updated stores, and to do it right can take many months.
The facility is secondary to proper merchandising and customer service.
To be clear, Kate was not being literal when she suggested that instead of being closed for three days, Acme should have closed the store for three weeks. And she wasn't even calling for a full-blown remodel ... Kate was saying that maybe they should have spent more time to change the antiquated lighting and fix the dilapidated floor and has a moldy smell that hasn't gone away.
I think she's absolutely right.
You're not wrong to say that proper merchandising and customer service can be a game changer ... but it is hard to even get customers to experience those things if the store doesn't present itself as actually being a modern supermarket. Just putting up a new sign doesn't cut it. Or, as a friend of mine who happens to be one of the smartest retailers I've ever met likes to say, "Good enough is never good enough."
And finally, on another subject, one MNB user wrote:Kudos to REI and their management team for closing Black Friday. I just ordered REI Gift Cards – via AMEX (trade in the points) to shop at REI!!!!
Thank you REI management for putting your employees and customers first!