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    Published on: November 18, 2020

    The goal of "The Innovation Conversation" is to explore some facet of the fast-changing, technology-driven retail landscape and how it affects businesses and consumers. It is, we think, fertile territory ... and one that Tom Furphy - a former Amazon executive, the originator of Amazon Fresh, and currently CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners (CEP), a venture capital and venture development firm in Seattle, WA, that works with many top retailers and manufacturers - is uniquely positioned to address.

    Tom and Kevin do a deep dive into Amazon's announcement yesterday that it is launching two new pharmacy offerings.  There's Amazon Pharmacy, which acts as a pharmacy that delivers.  And there's an initiative that gives Prime members access to savings on medications when paying at 50,000 other participating pharmacies nationwide - most of which are direct competitors such as Walmart, Kroger, CVS, and Walgreen.  What are Amazon's long-term intentions?  Have its competitors let the fox in the hen house?  Has Amazon, with the help of its competition,  just made it even more irresponsible not to be a Prime member?  Tom and Kevin offer perspective and context on this major new Amazon move.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    by Michael Sansolo

    In a year of massive unpredictability, we finally can say that we probably know what’s coming next.

    Covid cases are skyrocketing around the world and certainly in the United States. Unlike what we saw in February and March, this time it isn’t just happening in New York and other large cities. Now it is everywhere.

    Based on what happened when this story was new, we can expect another spate of enforced lockdowns throughout the country. That in turn will lead to the population cocooning at home, which means increased demand for all manner of supermarket products from baking goods to cleaning supplies.

    Sadly, that also probably means lots of panic shopping and kinks in the supply chain. Honestly, eight or nine months were hardly enough time to stock up to avoid the empty shelves and endless news reports we saw in March. So, brace yourself. The storm is coming again.

    Hopefully, though, we’ve all learned from what happened in March. Already we see retailers attempting to slow the storm by limiting purchases of key items before panic shopping begins.

    Despite the limits on what anyone can do, it’s instructive to review in detail what happened earlier this year to hopefully mitigate the situation now. For example, Fast Company magazine recently featured two articles focused on the challenges and subsequent strategies key companies employed in February and March. The articles delve into what happened at both General Mills and Clorox.

    As an executive at General Mills explains, the root of the problem for food items was the population kept consuming the usual number of calories, but suddenly it was all for food-at-home in a system that was geared for about half those calories and meals to be eaten out. The article explains how that sudden shift created a nightmarish mix of both shortages and gluts, with few ways to create a new balance.

    Needless to say, the article about Clorox focuses on how that company coped with the sudden staggering desire for products that simply could not be produced quickly enough or in sufficient quantities. Both stories are compelling reads.

    But there’s one problem. Even if every consumer read those articles and understood the limitations in the supply chain, it likely wouldn’t impact behaviors enough to avert what is likely coming.

    That means the challenge you all face is how to mitigate the storm as best as possible. There is no magic bullet here, but at least now we all have some experience to relay on.

    Inside companies, and certainly in partnership with trading partners, you need to examine how best to approach the coming month recognizing supply chain realities. And then communicate everything to shoppers. That starts with creating sensible limits on the purchases of key items, but it goes well beyond. Think of an article that appeared here on MNB yesterday about stores instituting timed reservations to limit crowd size in stores.

    It’s also time to use your website to feature articles helping shoppers learn what products can be substituted for those that might be in short supply. Feature recipes that can be created from widely available products to help shoppers create their own strategies.  Want some inspiration?   Check out this New York Times piece about how the Barefoot Contessa herself is creating quarantine recipes.

    So many stores (and certainly employees) performed magnificently at the start of the pandemic to help shoppers through a stunning situation. But the same pandemic fatigue that is hampering health care efforts is likely to explode in the aisles of your store. (Heck, we even see it in the e-mails here at MNB.)

    Let’s remember that forewarned means forearmed. Consider yourself warned.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com.

    His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

    And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    by Kevin Coupe

    Talking about the importance of being able to read the room.

    The New York Times reports on how a Taiwanese chain, RT-Mart, "set off a furor" this past week when it decided to add descriptions to various sizes of women's clothing, ranging from small to XXL.

    The terms RT-Mart used:  “Slim.” “Beautiful.” “Rotten.” “Extra Rotten.” “Rotten to the Core.”

    The story says that when the descriptions hit social media, anger erupted throughout China, where there seem to be growing awareness of body shaming and unreasonably held body aesthetics.  Though apparently, not nearly enough.

    The company apologized and removed the descriptions.  No word if someone got fired as a result.  And the Times story, at least, does not suggest that there were the kinds of internal examination of the kind of corporate culture that would allow an employee to even consider such descriptions, much less implement them.

    Hard to know if it is too little, too late.

    But it certainly is an Eye-Opener.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    Walmart yesterday said that its US third quarter e-commerce sales were up 79 percent and that same-store sales were up 6.4 percent.   Bloomberg reports that while "transactions fell 14% during the quarter ended Oct. 31 at Walmart’s U.S. division, the average purchase surged 24% - meaning customers are consistently buying more every time they place an order."

    Bloomberg also notes that "it’s what executives didn’t say that left Wall Street uneasy.  The world’s largest retailer wouldn’t provide a full-year forecast and executives offered only generalities on its much-touted subscription service, Walmart+, despite repeated attempts from analysts on a conference call to get more."

    “We’re excited about the results, but it’s really early on,” said John Furner, head of Walmart U.S. “We’re still learning.”

    Q3 total net income rose to $5.14 billion from $3.29 billion a year earlier.  Total revenue grew by 5.2% to $134.7 billion from $128.0 billion a year earlier.

    KC's View:

    Walmart doesn't need me to say this, but I think it'll be just fine when it comes to both store and e-commerce sales … it has made enormous strides in the past few months.

    I remain, however, a little skeptical about Walmart+ … it seems to have taken a long time to get it rolling, and even now there seems to be less there than meets the eye.  It almost feels like Walmart feels it needs to have such an program, but doesn't have a rationale beyond that.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    The Conference Board and Nielsen are out with a new survey saying that "over 20% of respondents report having reduced or abandoned their use of a brand or company due to data privacy concerns. Moreover, 19% report having switched to or selected a competitor company for its better data policies."  At the same time, "44% of consumers globally would be willing to forego customized content—such as personalized messages, offers and experiences—in exchange for not having their personal data collected.

    "US consumers are especially reticent: Over 57% would give up customization for greater privacy."

    KC's View:

    There seems to be a growing sense among both citizens and politicians that data and privacy concerns need to be a much higher priority for some companies than it has been.  It is a shared and apparently bipartisan belief, and that's a good thing.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    Fast Company has a fascinating piece about disparities and inequities in how people are treated at Amazon.  An excerpt:

    "At the end of June, Amazon employed 876,800 people, an increase of 34% year over year. In July, CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company’s workforce reached 1 million workers, including 175,000 temporary workers hired during the pandemic. But not all of these employees have had the same access to support, information, and a safe place to work. Conversations with two Amazon workers who are employed in different parts of the organization reveal a stark difference in the treatment of Amazon’s corporate, white-collar workers and the hundreds of thousands who are keeping its retail empire chugging along at risk to their own health."

    You can read the entire story here.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, we now have had 11,697,469 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 254,291 deaths and 7,089,085 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 56,031,555 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,345,577 fatalities and 39,035,898 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports the breaking news this morning that final results from an experimental vaccine study done by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was 95 percent effective "and is showing signs of being safe, key pieces of data as the companies prepare to ask health regulators to authorize use.

    "Pfizer plans to seek authorization for the vaccine within days, the companies said Wednesday, leaving the shot on track to go into distribution by the end of the year if health regulators permit."

    The story says that the "95% effectiveness rate puts the shot’s performance on par with shingles and measles vaccines," with no serious side effects.

    The Journal points out that "upon authorization, Pfizer plans to produce up to 50 million doses by the end of year, about half of which would be destined for the U.S. The supplies would be enough to inoculate only 12.5 million Americans because each person needs to take two doses three weeks apart … The vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, equivalent to minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which prompted Pfizer to create a special container to keep the shots cold during distribution and set up its own supply chain to ferry them around the globe.

    "The need for ultracold storage has also sent some health authorities and hospitals racing to find special freezers."

    The New York Times quotes Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as saying, "I had been saying I would be satisfied with a 75 percent effective vaccine. Aspirationally, you would like to see 90, 95 percent, but I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we’d be good, but 94.5 percent is very impressive."

    Somebody asked me yesterday if I trusted the vaccine development enough to be willing to take one.  My response was this:  Absolutely.  If Dr. Fauci says I can trust it, then I'll trust it.

    From the Boston Globe:

    "The nation’s top infectious disease expert on Tuesday described the need for a uniform, national response to the United States’s accelerating COVID-19 crisis, saying there are a number of fundamental things the country can do to mitigate the spread of the virus, instead of a 'disjointed' state-by-state approach."

    Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, "The thing we need to get people to understand is that when you’re dealing with an infectious disease outbreak, the infectious disease, the virus in this case, doesn’t know the difference between the border of Louisiana and Mississippi or North and South Carolina.  It’s the country that’s involved, so we need to respond as a nation, not in a fragmented way.”

    •  The Associated Press reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is allowing "emergency use of the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at home and delivers results in 30 minutes … the test will require a prescription, likely limiting its initial use."

    According to the story, ":The company’s test allows users to swab themselves to collect a nasal sample. The sample is then swirled in a vial of laboratory solution that plugs into a portable device. Results are displayed as lights labeled positive or negative."

    •  The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that yesterday "the number of newly reported Covid-19 cases rose again, and hospitalizations hit another record, as states and municipalities imposed new restrictions … With cases on the rise, more states are implementing new restrictions on people’s activity. Ohio imposed on Tuesday a statewide curfew, requiring residents to stay at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

    The Journal writes that as "hospitalizations continue to surge … there were 76,823 people admitted as of Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a record and the eighth consecutive day above 60,000. Before Nov. 10, hospitalizations had stayed below that level."

    •  From The Hill:

    "North Dakota’s coronavirus mortality rate is the highest of any U.S. state or country, according to an analysis of data from last week conducted by the Federation of American Scientists.

    "The analysis … shows that North Dakota has a rate of 18.2 deaths per 1 million people. South Dakota, meanwhile, has 17.4 deaths per million, the third-worst rate in the world. The states have a total population of under 2 million."

    •  From the Los Angeles Times:

    "In an effort to battle a dangerous surge in COVID-19 cases, Los Angeles County officials announced Tuesday evening new limits on hours of operation for some businesses, while also limiting the size of outdoor gatherings.

    "Officials also warned that if cases and hospitalizations continue to surge, more extreme measures would be taken in the coming weeks, including limiting restaurants to pick-up orders and some type of return to the 'safer at home' order that would 'only allow essential workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes.'

    "Starting Friday, restaurants, breweries, bars, wineries and nonessential retail establishments must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Additionally, outdoor social gatherings - the only type allowed - will be limited to three households, with a maximum of 15 people."

    The Times goes on:

    "Across California, coronavirus cases are surging at an unprecedented pace, even worse than the second surge of the year, in the summer. Weekly coronavirus infections across California are now nearly 150% worse than they were a month ago, according to a Times analysis, rising from about 22,600 to 56,000 for the seven-day period that ended Sunday.

    "Hospitalizations statewide are up 51% over the same period. And the statewide rate at which coronavirus tests are coming back positive is now 5%, nearly double that of a month ago, when it was 2.6%. Deaths are expected to climb."

    •  From the New York Post:

    "The pandemic-plagued city of El Paso is teaming up with Walmart to deliver COVID-19 test kits to residents via drone as the Texas city searches for ways to contain the deadly virus.

    "El Paso Mayor Dee Margo helped launch the pilot program Tuesday, teaming up with the mega-retailer and DroneUp to make the city one of only a handful to go airborne in its fight to contain a new surge in the coronavirus … The initial plan calls for the drones to deliver the kits to homes within 1 1/2 miles of a Walmart Supercenter on Zaragoza Road, with residents then mailing the tests to a nearby Quest Diagnostics lab … Customers can apply to have one of the drones land on their lawn or driveway with the tests."

    The story notes that "the announcement comes as El Paso finds itself overwhelmed with new COVID-19 cases, prompting the city medical examiner to employ county jail inmates to load bodies into a line of refrigerated trucks in the parking lot of the coroner’s office.  The city has about 34,000 active cases of the pandemic and more than 1,100 in local hospitals — around 300 of them in intensive care units."

    •  Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the oldest GOP member of the US Senate at age 87, said yesterday that he had tested positive for Covid-19, but felt well and would be working from home while isolating.

    The Wall Street Journal writes that "Grassley’s quarantine raised doubts about the Senate’s continued operations for the week. It also forced the senator to miss a vote after he had participated in 8,927 consecutive votes, the longest streak in Senate history."

    At the same time, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) said he had tested positive for Covid-19, was asymptomatic and would be working and isolating at home.

    •  CNN reports that "shoppers are once again loading up on paper goods and cleaning supplies in areas of the United States hard hit by rising coronavirus infections, leading to empty shelves at some Walmart stores.

    "Officials at Walmart, the largest retailer in the country, said Tuesday that supply chains have not kept up with rising demand, and these goods have been harder to stock consistently in locations with sharp spikes in new virus cases."

    According to the story, "Walmart CEO Doug McMillon called it 'disappointing' to see 'as many out-of-stocks as we have in consumables right now generally,' although he said the situation had improved since the spring. He stressed that Walmart was better prepared to handle the demand than it was earlier in the year."  Walmart also said that the shortages seemed to be localized, and not system-wide, which is why store managers have been empowered to set limits on purchases of certain items depending on circumstances.

    Just to address an issue that has come up here about these out-of-stock stories … this is Walmart saying it, and the media is reporting it.  Which is what the media is supposed to do.

    •  From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

    "Against the backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases, Wegmans Food Markets has updated its limited-purchases list, launched at the start of the pandemic to prevent product shortages in stores.

    "Just added: facial tissue and paper napkins. Shoppers are now allowed to buy one package of the former and two of the latter per order."

    The story says that "Wegmans also is installing video cameras near the entrances of its highest-traffic stores so customers can check live feeds to get an idea of how busy a store is before visiting."

    •  From the Los Angeles Times:

    "Desperately seeking to find a seemingly responsible way to hold dinner parties, some people have started to get tests for the coronavirus as a way to clear themselves to attend dinner parties without needing to wear masks or keep their distance.

    "That’s absolutely the wrong thing to do, according to Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s director of public health.

    "Ferrer said on Monday that she has heard of groups of young adults going to get tested for the coronavirus on a Thursday in hopes of getting the negative results by Saturday morning, and then having a dinner party on Saturday night.

    "But such tests provide a false sense of security — and engaging in this practice can still result in the dinner party becoming a super-spreading event that can transmit the highly contagious virus widely."

    •  The New York Times this morning reports that "a survey by the American Alliance of Museums published Tuesday makes clear that nearly one in three museums in the United States remains closed because of the pandemic, and most of those have never reopened since the initial shutdown in March … Of the 850 museum directors who responded to the survey, which was conducted in the second half of October, just over half said their institutions had six months or less of their financial operating reserve remaining. Eighty-two percent said they had 12 months or less."

    The story goes on:  "American museums, which receive smaller government subsidies than European institutions, have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. They rely on donations and ticket sales to keep their doors open, but those have decreased or dried up since March. Museum directors reported that, on average, they expected to lose about a third of their institution’s budgeted operating income in 2020.

    "Nearly one in three museum directors said their institutions were at risk of permanent closure if they did not find additional funding in the next 12 months."

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal writes this morning that theater professionals on Broadway and elsewhere expressed hope that vaccines may allow them to re-open, though there is a recognition that the close-quarters of most live theater experiences makes it likely that live theaters will be one of the last industries to reopen.

    "Broadway theaters are closed through at least the end of May 2021," the Journal writes, and even that date is not written in stone.  However, professionals tells the paper that they feel "buoyed not only by the vaccines in progress, but also hope that a federal relief bill in the works, the Save Our Stages Act, could be passed to provide millions of dollars in support to the beleaguered industry."

    It will be a tragedy if, even if we find a way to conquer this coronavirus, we lose our cultural souls in the process.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  The Associated Press reports that after successful testing of the technology in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea, Twitter now is engaged in a global rollout of "tweets that disappear in 24 hours called 'Fleets' globally, echoing social media sites like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram that already have disappearing posts.

    "The company says the ephemeral tweets, which it calls 'fleets' because of their fleeting nature, are designed to allay the concerns of new users who might be turned off by the public and permanent nature of normal tweets."

    I think there is plenty of evidence that there is much to be concerned about.

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    •  Reuters reports that "retail sales rose 0.3% last month, the smallest gain since the recovery started in May, after increasing 1.6% in September, the Commerce Department said. They account for the goods component of consumer spending, with services such as healthcare and hotel accommodation making up the other portion."

    The story suggests that retail sales could "slow further, restrained by spiraling new COVID-19 infections and declining household income as millions of unemployed Americans lose government financial support."

    •  The New York Times reports that candy company Mars is acquiring Kind North America, which makes snacks that "celebrate their lack of artificial flavors and preservatives," three years after it took a minority stake in the company.

    While terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, the Times writes that it values Kind North America at about $5 billion.

    •  The Financial Times reports that Unilever is aiming to increase its annual sales of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives" to the equivalent of $1.1 billion (US), or roughly five times the sales it expects to generate from the category this year.  

    The expectation, and the strategies behind it, are seen as "intensifying the battle for the plates of climate-conscious consumers."

    •  USA Today reports that Pepsi has launched a new apple pie-flavored cola, but said that for the moment it will be available only via sweepstakes:  "The product is not yet available in stores, but Pepsi fans can get a free two liter bottle by submitting a photo or video of their failed attempt to bake on Twitter or TikTok and using the hashtag #PepsiApplePieChallenge."

    •  Gourmet ice cream purveyor Graeter's announced that for the first time it will bring its french pot manufacturing process to a line of vegan animal free and lactose free dairy frozen desserts it is calling Graeter’s Perfect Indulgence, and that it says "is virtually indiscernible from Graeter’s regular super-premium ice cream line."

    •  The Associated Press reports that "Britain will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, a decade earlier than its previous commitment, the prime minister said Tuesday.

    "Boris Johnson made the pledge as part of plans for a 'green industrial revolution' that he claims could create up to 250,000 jobs in energy, transport and technology … The environmental push is part of Johnson’s efforts to move beyond the tremors of the coronavirus pandemic and Britain’s divisive exit from the European Union, and to bring new jobs to struggling former industrial regions of central and northern England."

    Published on: November 18, 2020

    Yesterday, we had an email from an MNB reader who took issue with my approach to the pandemic, arguing that "fear-mongering is the new news," and that the pandemic "should not grind our lives to a halt ! This is not our first rodeo... We should be able to function and survive without ruining our jobs, relationships, travel & recreation, and everything else that makes life worthwhile. Politicians who believe that shutdowns are necessary and try and take away our freedoms need to be voted out of office. They obviously have a hidden agenda. We need to be able to live our lives and not have to hide in a closet!"

    I disagreed … and said that shutdowns are only necessary when people don't act like mature adults and wear masks, wash their hands and practice appropriate physical distancing.  It also means making sacrifices sometimes - I cited the case of my son, who lives in Chicago (where cases are spiking) and decided not to come home for Thanksgiving because he did not want to risk bring home the virus.

    I wrote:

    Mask mandates are not necessary if people wear them on their own, if people have the common decency - and yes, patriotism - to wear masks as a way of protecting other people.  You know, their families and friends and co-workers and neighbors and even people they don't know but who qualify as their fellow human beings.  Mask mandates are only made necessary when people are so selfish that they don't do the right thing on their own.

    I concluded:

    Our lives are not "ground to a halt" by this.  Nobody is hiding in a closet.  And we're not bowing to some "hidden agenda," or capitulating to "fear-mongering." We're all just trying to do the right thing for each other and for our community, recognizing that some quarter of a million people have died from this damned thing, and we don't want to add to the numbers.

    That's a quarter-million people who have died.  I get the occasional email from people suggesting that I am giving the pandemic too much attention, too much space.  To which I reply, how many people have to die to warrant the attention I am giving it?  How many businesses and livelihoods have to be affected?

    This MNB reader responded with an email:

    Thank you for confirming our views. You are living in hiding, and you might think you are doing the right thing. I guess when someone has a different opinion that doesn’t agree with yours ... then they are selfish and unAmerican? 

    Our kids are coming home for the Holidays .. these years are more important to us as we get order since there may be fewer opportunities. Temps will be talked and masks will be worn... common sense.... but well worth the effort .

    I hope you find their visit worth the effort, and that, in the end, you don't find that as a result there are fewer opportunities and fewer years because of your behavior.

    I am heartened by the fact that I am not the only member of the MNB community who feels this way.

    One MNB reader wrote:

    I am simply appalled at the disregard for human life that has come to the surface in the last 8 ½ months – having known family friends who have passed away from the disease.  Folks seem to be saying  as people are going to die anyway, why not this?  Would they feel the same way if the person was killed by a bullet from a known or unknown assailant, an airplane slamming into a building, and on and on – methinks not.

    So a heart felt thank you for keeping us up to date on the news – I know it must look pretty grim many days.

    Grim is the right word.

    Another MNB reader wrote:

    Those who scream about “Individual Liberty” seem to have forgotten the second half of what makes a functioning society: “Civic Responsibility.”  

    Fair point.

    And from another reader:

    KC, regarding your response on the Coronavirus and masks etc, amen and thank you.

    Regarding another story, about the introduction of gluten-free Oreos, an MNB reader wrote:

    So Nabisco comes out with Gluten Free Oreos, I guess 10 plus years late is better than never.

    Oh, come on.  They've been busy wearing us out with all their new flavors, introduced with such frequency that they became so much clutter.  At least,  IMNSHO.

    We took note yesterday of a Financial Times piece that reported:

    "Retailers and suppliers in the US are facing a blizzard of lawsuits and enforcement actions over accusations of profiteering as industry data show average prices of a range of household goods have risen sharply during the pandemic. Authorities across the country have brought hundreds of actions over alleged breaches of 'price gouging' rules on products including face masks, disinfectant and toilet paper."

    I commented:

    The community standards for what comprises gouging may be different, but I would hope that the states are consumer-oriented enough to not just prosecute those companies that are found to have violated the law, but also make their identities very, very public.  Consumers who believe that retailers advocate for their best interests need toi be disabused of that notion when it is demonstrably untrue.

    Prompting one MNB reader to write:

    There is no need for sanctimony in your view on pricing.  Please review your Econ 101.  If supply and demand are not in balance, price adjusts until it is balanced.  If the price can’t adjust, there will be scarcity.   If the price on liquid hand soap can’t adjust when there is more demand than supply than there will not be enough liquid hand soap for everyone who wants it.  If you let the price adjust, some people will be willing to pay more, but others may switch to bar soap which is readily available and now cheaper.   The customer can choose.

    Then, the increased price on liquid hand soap gives incentive to other players to enter the market, which will increase supply.

    Do you remember gas lines in the 1970’s?   There was scarcity because the government didn’t allow prices to go up.  There hasn’t been scarcity since then because the government isn’t intervening in the market anymore.   Let markets work.

    Was I being sanctimonious?  Wasn't my intention, but I'll accept the description.

    Your assessment sounds good, except for the fact that price gouging - which is what the story was about - is illegal in most states.  And probably with good reason.

    And, regarding Amazon's new pharmacy efforts, MNB reader Mike Bach wrote:

    Can you say “Game Changer?” 

    One can wait in line two days at a typical CVS or Walgreen’s just to pay for / receive a prescription order.

    I hope you enjoyed our Innovation Conversation on the subject this morning.  Tom Furphy and I would agree with your assessment.