Published on: November 3, 2015
We had a story yesterday about how Kmart plans to revive its "Bluelight Special" promotions, which I thought seemed completely in character - a company nearly completely irrelevant now plans to build sales by using a tool invented back in the sixties.
MNB user Tom Murphy responded:What! Kmart still has stores and people still shop there?
MNB reader Jim Caperton wrote:If my grandmother and aunt were still alive they would like it. If I remember correctly , you had to go to the store to get the blue light special. I think that is the issue today.
Exactly right on both counts.
MNB reader Jim DeJohn wrote:
I’d like to add to the discussion about Kmart bringing the “Blue Light Specials” back – they still need to get customers in the store! A blue light special to an empty store is not going to work. It’s been years since I’ve entered a Kmart…if I ever do again.
And, from another reader:So let me get the visual on this straight:
One of the four employees in the store goes to the back room and rolls out a cart with a 1970’s blue flashing police light affixed to a 10ft tall chrome pole which is attached to a car battery housed within the cart. At the direction of the “manager on duty”, they flip the switch on the blue light pole and make a PA announcement that for the next 15 minutes, Bic ball point pens are now 10% off during the blue light special. When this happens all three store patrons come running across the store to investigate this tremendous offer. I’m intrigued, however should it fail then perhaps give S&H Green Stamps a try. (Sarcasm intended.)
That would be about it.
And from yet another reader:I’m glad they’re finally bringing back the blue light special. Now I can shop at Kmart again….If I can find one.
I think we've pretty much summed up the Kmart problem here.
We had a piece the other day about how a judge's decision essentially allows even the biggest brewers to call their products "craft beers" because there is no legally binding definition of what that term means.
MNB user Rich Heiland responded:I now shop for beer with my smart phone. Faced with a line-up that looks decidedly "craft" I google labels, addresses, whatever key words I can. As soon as "brand of" or "subsidiary of" etc pop up, I move on. I realize that in some cases there corporate "craft" beers are good beers but a part of why I purchase craft beers is to support the smaller concerns that have created them. After years of being well behind the curve because of prohibitive laws around distribution Texas now is starting to have a lot of regional and local beers. I want to support them and I don't want to be fooled.
I still thing that this will end up being self-regulating, and that big companies that try to fool the consumer will pay the ultimate price - lack of trust and a diminished relevance.
Still getting emails about REI's decision to close on Black Friday and pay its people to go hiking.
MNB reader Jule S. Andrews wrote:I also have major kudos for REI and what they are doing with Black Friday. In recognition that this is a major PR opportunity, I hope REI is taking it a few steps further. I wonder if they have in-store staff engagement around it, such as “come back to work with selfies of your day outdoors,” and then use that for further public marketing on the good effects of being closed. This could pay big dividends, in many ways.
Excellent idea. Consider it passed along to the folks at REI.
On another subject that gets addressed almost daily here, MNB reader Sue DeRemer wrote:IMHO Walmart will always have difficulty competing with Amazon, due to Amazon’s technical strengths. However, here’s a possible opportunity for Walmart that cannot be duplicated by Amazon:
Most WalMart customers live in communities that are under-served in high-speed internet connections. Some possibilities: Develop and sell high-speed internet service ... Start in-store internet cafés with high-speed connections ... Provide other services that are lacking in rural communities (Library? Community center?).
Getting more people in the door would do much more for their recent softness than drones will.
Again, excellent ideas. Consider them passed along to the folks at Walmart.
Responding to a story last week about Amazon's expanding ecosystem, one MNB user wrote:The future is not banner ads. We’ll trade our privacy for entertainment. Sellers want to know what we “Like”; want, need, where we are in geo-codes and where we are in our heads.
Sellers will evolve, resembling the IBM “Watson” computer, always anticipating needs, wants, and desires. The best Sellers will have services and products appear at the right place and exactly the right time. Today’s Amazon “dash”, now thought of as innovative, will be disintermediated, made obsolete.
New socks delivered just as the old socks have first holes. New belts, shoes, air freshener, laundry detergent will all be in supply … just in time. New tires will be scheduled on your calendar at “sale” prices (personalized pricing, of course). Oh, the tire guys are not the sales agent … it’s Google or Facebook constantly making these decisions for you.
Banner ads; I think not. Too much friction in the process. Too much uncertainty relying on the consumer to make decisions.
Trade your privacy for convenience, entertainment and savings. By the time you notice a banner ad the competitive product will already be in the pantry, at your door, or on your calendar.
Today IBM Watson is too expensive for service to individuals. Computing power doubles every 18-months. As soon as 4 cycles computing power will 2*2*2*2 = 16x more powerful. 5G mobile data will be 2x faster than home broadband. Watson will be a personal assistant and likely control half of US consumer spending ($12T, I believe) … $6T via new Watson services.
This will scale quickly. Its not out of the realm of possibility that, in our lifetime, we see our first $ trillion business agent.
On the subject of McDonald's sending representatives into schools to talk about nutrition issues, one MNB user wrote:Are you kidding? This is one of the worst cases of exploiting children for the purpose of building corporate profits. Where are the parents? I'm enraged just thinking about it.
From another reader, on another subject:For the meat industry to continue to deny any cancer connection is as foolish as the sugar growers telling us to eat as much as we want, it's ok. When red meat consumption is done in moderation, it can be part of a healthy diet. But obviously, that statement scares the industry. Too bad, they lose all credibility.
The Haggen situation continues to generate email, like this one from a reader:I could not agree more with your assessment of the Haggen debacle, I couldn’t sleep at night destroying the lives of so many. Frankly, I am conservative by nature, but believe this is a classic example of the law being on the side of the wealthy. I do not want to suggest government micromanagement, but the front line workers are the victims and the private equity firm will make millions of dollars, which is their definition of success. Meanwhile, communities will suffer due to loss of stores and jobs, higher unemployment, reduced tax base, etc.
Sad, but true in our industry and it won’t stop.
Got the following email about my obit and comments regarding Fred Thompson yesterday:Kevin, I don’t quite understand what benefit or agenda you have by trolling a guy who just passed away. Seems totally uncalled for. I believe that section is called Rest In Peace, not Troll The Dead. Stay classy, dude.
I wasn't trying to be disrespectful or provoke a response ... I was just trying to offer an honest assessment of his career in as few lines as possible. Apologies if I offended anyone, but that certainly wasn't my intent.
Finally, I want to thank all the folks who sent me email commiserating about the fact that the Mets lost the World Series to the KansasCity Royals.
To be honest, this loss didn't sting all that much. Perhaps it was because the Royals clearly were the better team, and maybe it was because the Mets gave their fans a ride we never expected. I got to watch them play baseball on November 1 ... and lately, they've been playing meaningless games in early September.
Besides, it is important to keep all this stuff in context. Things happen in life that are of a lot more import than a baseball game ... and, as the great Robert B. Parker once said, "baseball is the most important thing that doesn't matter."
And ... pitchers and catchers report in about 15 weeks.
More upsetting to me than the way the Series ended was what I would argue was the complete incompetence of the Fox Sports broadcast crew ... I think Joe Buck is way overrated as a play-by-play guy, and Harold Reynolds ought to never be allowed to do color commentary on a game ever again. Their comments tended to range from the insipid to the inane, and rarely were anything closed to inspired. At one point, they actually compared Yoenis Cespedes to Willie Mays ... and while I'm grateful to Cespedes for everything he brought to the Mets this season, to compare him to one of the greatest players ever to don a uniform borders on sacrilegious.