Published on: May 4, 2017
Yesterday, an MNB reader agreed with our position that Wegmans is showing tangible leadership by engaging in menu labeling despite the delay in federal rules mandating such labels.
Which prompted Wegmans' own Jane Andrews to write:We appreciate your insights on menu labeling as well as those of a reader who is also our customer. Wegmans is a mission-driven company: to help folks enjoy healthier better lives through food. A seemingly simple step of showing calories on products can nudge people to make informed choices. Though not exactly rocket science, providing nutrition info takes discipline in execution with thousands of our in-store produced products. Difficult, but the right thing to do. We’re so glad that customers notice.
Wegmans has earned its reputation by never leaving any doubt in the shoppers' mind that it is an advocate for the consumer, not a sales agent for suppliers. More retailers ought to take note, and do the enlightened thing.
Of course, not everyone agrees. I used that line about being "enlightened" yesterday, agreeing with my reader, which prompted the following email:How very elitist of you and your reader. People who disagree with your opinion are less enlightened? It’s your government?
Wrong on both counts. Sure, there are some on both sides of the aisle who are unenlightened, but most of us are very well informed and we know our history. It’s not your government, it’s all of our government. Our founding fathers, in their wisdom established our government to allow for opposing views, often extremely opposite views, to be discussed and debated, so solutions can be reached. They didn’t say it would be easy and it was never intended that our government be full of centrists. Reread the stories about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, for an example.
I plead guilty. I think people who disagree with me on some issues are less enlightened than I am.
I also presume that they think I am less enlightened than they are.
Isn't this the nature of disagreement? And civil discourse? And people who learn to compromise for the sake of progress ... being enlightened enough to know that we can't always have it our way? (BTW...I think I've made clear that while I am in favor of menu labeling laws, this is not a make-it-or-break-it issue for me. If the consensus is that companies like Wegmans should do it on their own in order to have a competitive advantage, then I'm okay with that. I just think it makes Wegmans more enlightened.)
One other thing. I'm not sure I understand your position on whose government it is. I just know that we get the government we deserve.
Incidentally, I took swing at this issue from another direction yesterday, and wrote:In general, I think, the government has no interest in being on the side of the people, unless the people happen to be part of a larger business entity that uses lobbying money and campaign contributions to invest in the best government money can buy.
Which prompted MNB reader Ken Wagar to write:I believe you are absolutely correct about this and also believe it is so clear that there should be no argument that in fact this statement is not true.
BTW...I also got this email from MNB reader Jason Ravitz:Wakefern/Shoprite will be compliant on May 5th, 2017, as planned - it is the right thing to do for our consumers.
Exactly. And good for you.
This email, from MNB fave Glen Terbeek, gets to the heart of what we fervently believe here:I believe that every company today should have a CDO, Chief Disrupter Officer. This person would continually look at their business and their industry just like outside attackers are looking at it. This CDO organization would consider technology opportunities as well as business practices that are out of alignment with today’s and future marketplace realities and economics, etc and lead the appropriate change.
So many large and successful companies are so focused on incrementally improving their current way of doing business they don’t look at it like disrupters do. Their organizations, measurements, substantial investments, and short term results focus won’t let them think about being different; they only think about being better at what they have been doing. Case in point, why do large companies pay big premiums for start ups, (i e Walmart, Jet) when they should be taking the lead themselves? How did Amazon become a significant powerhouse in the established consumer products market? They started with a clean sheet and ask the basic question “why are they doing business that way in today’s world?” What will the shoppers want?
In my opinion the CDO is a full time job that challenges how things are done across the whole organization starting with the customers. Most disruption is cross functional, which basically prohibits the current functionally designed organization to develop breakthrough solutions.
The choice is "Disrupt yourself, or be Disrupted!” Who is leading Disruption in your company?
We had a story yesterday about Congress considering legislation that would allow private companies to offer employees the right to take comp time instead of overtime pay when they work extra hours, which I totally agree with.
One MNB reader responded:About 25 years ago, at a Fortune 50 company, our headquarters HR department announced that comp time would not be allowed. This rule (which no one followed) was an established precedent, but from now on it was to be "enforced."
The edict was released in October. We met with our administrative team. In prior years, in the late fall, they set up a shopping rotation. Everyone got one or two afternoons off to shop. When we advised them of the new directive, they said that they would rather have comp time versus overtime pay.
We went with their wishes. For many people, time is a more valuable commodity than money.
Addressing the Washington Post
story we featured that questioned organic milk standards, MNB reader John Baragar wrote:You had a story several months back about single source and grass fed beef. I mentioned that we get our beef directly from a local farm because I simply don’t trust a large chain store’s supply chain. When the market becomes big enough for any product like this, large producers will find a way to produce it cheaper and under the letter of the law but not really in the spirit. It looks like that has played out here. Not sure if they are complying with the organic standards or not (my guess is that they probably are in most cases), but they are clearly not producing what people think they are paying twice the cost for – the chemistry of the product clearly shows this. Their goal is to do the minimum to qualify as Organic not produce the type of milk that their consumers think they are buying. It’s sad and a shame, but entirely predictable.
I said the other day, when writing about Target shutting down a lot of its innovation-oriented initiatives, that such moves seem to be the exact opposite of what Amazon would do, and that Target likely will end up being at a competitive disadvantage as a result. Leading MNB reader Bill Kadlec to write:I wonder about the Amazon to Target comparison. We never hear about a lot of the experiments Amazon does and shuts down. Unfortunately with Target, it is all news . . . at least the company makes it news. I don't think shutting down this particular project is, in itself, a problem. But, the simultaneous departure of the Chief Innovation Offices, that's a big red flag. Fail fast seems to have become evident in this venture. But, what else are they doing? This isn't your father's market where you can wait for someone else to make the innovation and then copy it. Innovation IS the market.
I think you answered your own question when you said that "we never hear about a lot of the experiments Amazon does and shuts down."
First of all, that's not exactly true ... and the Amazon Fire smartphone may be the best example of an innovation that got a lot of publicity, failed quickly and loudly, and then was pulled from the market. What Amazon learned from the failed experiment has fueled a lot of the development work done with the Echo/Alexa system, which is why it is important to take risks and try new things.
Target won't even have the chance to fail if it pulls the plug on these innovation initiatives. It isn't just one ... it seems to be an entire structure, developed with MIT to peer into the future and find new ways to come to market.
What's the line from the lottery ad? You can't win if you don't play.
On another subject, from MNB reader Gregg Raffensperger:I agree it is good that Ahold/Delhaize is going to start “branding” Peapod. Long overdue. With their current internal issues and lack of competitive pricing, it will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.
Like you said, If they “manage to Main Street and not to Wall Street” they might be able to do it.
Got this email from an MNB reader:Just thought I'd let you know how my thought process has led me to conclude the difference between Amazon, Wegmans, a few others, and Everybody Else. The email you posted on the word "purvey" made me think of when I was back in the military and the base had a gun club (no really, that was not a pun) where we would spend several hours a week shooting skeet. My first experience with a Remington 1100 and Tylenol, but I digress.
Anyway, the trick to doing well is to "lead" the clay pigeon by the appropriate distance. Not unlike "purveying" where it will be when the pellets get there. I'm sure you see the retail correlation there, BUT... an even more accurate and telling depiction is, the folks who picked up on this and learned to do it almost by reflex, were the ones who scored the best. Many others just lost interested and stopped going to the range. To quote a favorite of mine, Linda Ellerbee, "And so it goes."
So to United and all the rest, I say overbooking is NOT the same as purveying the best travel experience.
To the Banks, I say at some point, people will decide they've been screwed enough, and the convenience is not worth the price.
To the Calorie label folks, I say, virtually all stores/restaurants have a website, put the data there and let the people that want to know, go there. For the handful that don't have a website, I'm sure there is some young geeky techno-wizard willing to start FindItHere.com.
America can do great things, if the government will walk along side, to keep a level playing field, rather than jump in front with stumbling blocks, and try to pick winners & losers.
Picking winners and losers is MY job. Along with every other consumer in the country.
Yesterday, MNB reported on and offered a look at a new Heineken ad that, I think, does a much better job of addressing social, political and cultural issues than, say the Pepsi ad that recently got so much criticism for being tone-deaf and manipulative.
Which prompted MNB reader Chris Esposito to write:While I do not care for the beer, I think this is a great commercial.
Agreed on both counts. Though, as the late, great Robert B. Parker once wrote, "The worst beer I ever had was wonderful."