Published on: March 5, 2020
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Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
So we've had a number of stories about the coronavirus over the past week or so. I don't think MNB has been obsessed by it, and I think we've played it appropriately - especially considering the fact that so many industry conferences are being postponed or cancelled, and that there clearly are going to be implications for the supply chain and the economy, which is likely to affect so many MNB readers.
But I keep getting emails and running into people who suggest that this is much ado about nothing, that it essentially is a creation of a media elite with a political motive, and that it really isn't any worse than the flu, which kills a lot more people each year - it has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent, compared to this coronavirus, which is estimated to have a mortality rate of between two and three percent at this point.
Forgive me, but I cannot help myself.
This is not about politics. This is about science. This is about respected scientists who think that this coronavirus could end up being a major problem for a lot of people - especially the elderly and medically compromised.
There is a huge, huge difference between 0.1 percent and two percent. Call me crazy, but I think it is worth talking about and putting resources against on a global scale.
I've talked to and been to a number of retailers, and one of the things I've seen is that folks who normally do a lot of sampling aren't doing that for the time being. That's smart.
But I think they actually can go a step further. I have an idea about that.
Instead of just stopping sampling programs, they ought to post signs that say something like:
You may notice that we're not doing the kind of sampling we normally do. It's not because we don't want you to taste our food. We do. But in view of all the concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak, we're pulling back on those programs, and will bring them back as soon as makes sense.
In the meantime, know that we are doing everything we can to bring you the safest food, to keep our people healthy and safe, and make sure that we have all the products you need and want. If you have any questions, just let us know … because your concerns are our concerns.
And then, maybe they ought to offer a supply of disposable gloves that people could use while they shop, in addition to wipes that allow them to clean off their shopping carts.
This is opportunistic in the best possible way - you're letting your shoppers know something incredibly important, and you're being transparent about it.
I hope that the coronavirus end up not being as bad for people's health and the global economy as some are predicting.
But let me suggest that if it isn't - if two or three or four months from now we are all saying that it seemed to be much ado about very little - it may well be because the media focused so much on it. Because the media helped educate the population about how to protect itself. Because the media reminded people to wash their hands frequently, to cough into their elbows, to be careful about what they touch and who they interact with.
I say this recognizing that there will be some members of the MNB community who will disagree with me. To be fair, I have a dog in this hunt - I am a member of the media, albeit a tiny niche of the media. But I think that for the most part, the mainstream media is doing exactly what it is supposed to do - reporting what the experts are saying and providing context so that consumers know what they are supposed to do.
Sorry. But I just can't help myself.
That's what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
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