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    Published on: October 11, 2017

    by Kevin Coupe

    Never underestimate the persuasive power of a retail dietitian.

    I certainly did, in part because I’ve never encountered one in my decades of grocery shopping in the New York metropolitan area. In my mind, a registered dietitian was a rather stern figure with a long list of what not to eat.

    But reviewing successful campaigns from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) 2017 National Family Meals Month (NFMM) program, it became clear that a store dietitian can play a valuable role in creating meaningful dialogue and a relationship with the consumer – online and on site.

    While still tallying participation numbers and social media metrics, the folks at FMI said this year’s effort was the best and most celebrated since its inception in 2015. NFMM is aimed at encouraging households to add one more meal together each week, citing well-founded research that children who regularly share meals with their family achieve higher grades and self-esteem, healthier eating habits and weight, and less risky behavior.

    The campaigns that gained the most traction utilized omnichannel marketing strategies, ands showcased their dietitians as a relatable resource, face and voice of the brand.

    At Festival Foods in Wisconsin, the three registered dietitians who cover the state have ditched that title in favor of “Mealtime Mentors” and have a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, with how-to recipe videos. They upped their game in September, partnering with the statewide TV show “The Better Half,” which features the wives of players on the Green Bay Packers.

    Given the Packers’ immense popularity in the state, it was a win-win. Each “mealtime mentors” turned over her Instagram to a Packer wife for a “day in the life” and personal family meal strategies. A 30-minute Facebook Live event featuring nutritionist Lauren Tulig and Heaven Daniels, wife of Green Bay defensive tackle Mike Daniels, has already garnered more than 6,700 views. Festival had introduced the concept with a Facebook Live event earlier in September, and encouraged shoppers to participate, send in questions and tips in advance and win gift cards. Instead of being a one-way video, it emphasized a healthy brand-consumer relationship and easy, affordable meals for busy families.

    Wegman’s Krystle Register was another registered dietitian who was on local television emphasizing the importance of family meals. Register, a busy working mother of two, is all about offering simple strategies for success, even saying it was okay rely on prepared foods when need be to get a meal on the table.

    She said for Wegmans, promoting health and wellness is a year-round effort through in-store and online promotions, its chefs and nutritionists, store brands and Menu Magazine. She summed up the importance of the family meal perfectly: “It’s a time to listen, learn, connect and nourish.”

    This makes me wish that my local Food Emporium had featured a supportive store or regional dietitian when I was juggling work, two kids, sports and after-school activities and trying to rustle up a somewhat healthy dinner. It would’ve been nice to have a steady diet of useful information.

    Comments? As always, send them to me at kate@morningnewsbeat.com .
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    by Kevin Coupe

    Just a few days ago, there was a story about how MNB students no longer have their eyes on Wall Street, but these days prefer the idea of working for Amazon.

    Which is why I found it interesting yesterday when I saw a Bloomberg story about how Walmart is on a recruitment tour of more than a dozen top colleges, pitching the company to Ivy Leaguers as a great place to work.

    It is all part of Walmart’s broader strategy of thinking, acting and now hiring like a tech company, not an old world and stodgy retailer. “ To that end,” the story says, “Wal-Mart overhauled its campus recruiting program this year to lure more applicants from top-flight colleges: students who typically juggle offers from Google and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.” Walmart clearly believes that its ownership of Jet, as well as brands such as Bonobos, ModCloth and Moosejaw, not to mention the fact that it has operations not just in Arkansas, but also in New York and San Francisco, will prove to be a lure.

    “Historically,” the story says, “Wal-Mart found most of its entry-level executives at state schools within a day’s drive from its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.” But that may be changing … and it is an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    USA Today reports that Walmart is saying it will offer click-and-collect services at 1,000 more stores in the US next year, with Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S., saying that he believes the company is well-positioned to do battle with Amazon. The new stores will bring to more than 2,000 the number of Walmart stores offering click-and-collect, or roughly half the fleet.

    “If you could offer fresh produce ...  with the very best prices, with a really good experience whether it be pick up or delivery, then you have a good  chance to build a long standing relationship that you can then leverage to sell the rest of general merchandise,’' Lore told an investors meeting this week. ”I think we have an advantage. We have assets to leverage in that area and so we’re going to  . . . lean in pretty hard.’’

    Walmart is predicting that it can increase its e-commerce sales by 40 percent next year. It also reportedly is planning a website redesign that will be rolled out during the first quarter of 2018.

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart plans to open fewer bricks-and-mortar stores next year than it has in any year during the past quarter century, “attempting to free up cash for e-commerce and store improvements in an increasingly competitive retail environment.”

    According to the story, Walmart has “outlined plans to lower expenses as a percentage of sales from 21%, where it stands this fiscal year. Wal-Mart has started using zero-based budgeting in some corporate units and has made cost cuts as mundane as printing receipts on smaller strips of paper - a change that has saved $7 million so far this year.”
    KC's View:
    Walmart is making all the right moves … expanding its click-and-collect capabilities … driving as much funding as it reasonably can to e-commerce … while understanding that it has a unique set of advantages that can come into play in its battle against Amazon.

    All this means that everybody else better get with it.

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    CNBC reports that Amazon “is in advanced talks to forge a partnership with Phrame, a maker of smart license plates that allow items to be delivered to a car's trunk, according to a person with knowledge of the potential deal. Phrame's product fits around a license plate and contains a secure box that holds the keys to the car. Users unlock the box with their smartphone, and can grant access to others — such as delivery drivers — remotely.

    “At the same time, Amazon is developing a smart doorbell device that would give delivery drivers one-time access to a person's home to drop off items, said two people familiar with the matter.”

    The CNBC story goes on to say that “the new initiatives are part of Amazon's effort to go beyond convenience and fix problems associated with unattended delivery.
    KC's View:
    The interesting thing about this story is that neither of these initiatives are completely original. Amazon has been testing delivering to cars in Germany through a partnership with DHL and Audi, and the doorbell thingie sounds similar to a concept that Walmart announced last week.

    That’s not to suggest that either idea isn’t worth doing. I just thought it was interesting.

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    Bloomberg reports that efforts to put together an offer to save Sears Canada fort extinction have failed, and the company now plans to liquidate its 150 stores remaining stores and shut the company down, with a loss of some 12,000 jobs.

    Sears Canada has been doing business for more than six decades, but, the story notes, has been “unable to fend off the march to online shopping … Sears Canada has struggled to provide a consistent, appealing brand to its customers across all of its channels, including its website, social media and physical stores, he said. The company has reported nine years of sales declines and years of losses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

    The story also points out that the liquidation “is a blow for billionaire Eddie Lampert, its biggest shareholder, who partially spun off the company from Sears Holdings Corp. in 2012. The windup raises questions about whether Sears Holdings may also falter.”
    KC's View:
    For most of us, I’m sorry to point out, that question hass been asked and answered. Sears is running on fumes in the US, surviving only because Lampert keeps pumping cash into it. But it is still a dead company walking.

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    The Wall Street Journal has an interview with Jeff Wilkie, the second most important Jeff at Amazon, who has been with the company for 18 years. Wilkie now “is in charge of integrating Amazon’s new subsidiary, Whole Foods Market Inc. and its roughly 87,000 employees. He also is part of the leadership team working on the company’s search for a second North American headquarters.”

    The goal of the Whole Foods deal, he says, os “to learn about how physical stores work. They know a lot about food, produce—supply chains at a very large national scale. We’re going to learn with them how we can efficiently—and in a high-quality way—deliver groceries to our customers.”

    You can read the entire story click here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    GeoMarketing reports that Panera Bread has begun accepting orders via the Google Assistant voice assistant technology.

    According to the story, “Panera Bread is one of the first national restaurant chains to begin offering voice-activated ordering and payment through Google Assistant.
    The voice-activated ordering is currently available in Panera’s hometown of St. Louis and (naturally enough) at its six locations in the Silicon Valley area. A full rollout of voice ordering is expected to come to all of Panera’s 2,000-plus U.S. locations by the end of the year, the company says.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    • The New York Times reports that German meal kit company HelloFresh has announced its intention to raise as much as $352 million through an initial public offering (IPO); the company had planned to go public two years ago, but delayed it because of market conditions.

    The Times notes that “the announcement came just months after a rival meal kit company, Blue Apron, was forced to slash the price for its own offering in June. Blue Apron cut its valuation a few days after Amazon unveiled a deal to buy Whole Foods Market for $13.4 billion, a transaction that could upend the retail industry. Blue Apron’s shares were trading on Tuesday at about half the value of its $10 offering price.”


    • The BBC reports that thousands of employees at the Morrisons supermarket chain “are suing the company after their personal details were posted on the internet.”

    The incident dates back to 2014, when a company employee stole the data for almost 10,000 other employees. He subsequently received an eight-year prison sentence, but now the employees are seeking compensation for the "upset and distress" caused.

    Morrisons has denied liability.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 11, 2017

    …will return.
    KC's View: