retail news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From CNBC, more evidence that consumer addiction of speedy deliveries is being encouraged:

"From the Upper East Side to Williamsburg, delivery company names are plastered on subway turnstiles, bike docks, bus shelters and backpacks of cycling couriers zooming by. They promise to get milk, frozen pizza, diapers and other online purchases to customers’ doors almost instantly.

"The explosion of ultrafast delivery services has turned New York City into a testing ground. Gopuff, a pioneer in the “instant needs” category, launched Wednesday in New York City. International players, including Russia-born Buyk and Berlin-based Gorillas, have launched in the city over the past few months. And more are coming, including Turkey’s Getir.

"All are making a similar bet: consumers want their goods faster and without leaving home."  The story notes that "the wave of companies operate differently from third-party delivery services like Instacart, DoorDash and UberEats — and act more like retailers.

"Across the city, they have opened “dark stores.” They resemble mini warehouses with central locations for quick deliveries to different parts of town. The stores are closed to customers, but have aisles of fruits and vegetables, coolers filled with yogurt and milk, and shelves stuffed with snacks."

There is, of course, one common problem:  "They still have to prove they can stand out in a crowded field and turn a profit."



•  Fast Company has a story suggesting that any move by Facebook to change its name - a report to this effect made the founds this week, though Facebook itself is not commenting on it - is akin to how, "two decades ago, tobacco behemoth Philip Morris announced its intention to change its name to the Altria Group."

They company said that "altria" It comes from the Latin word altus, meaning “high,” and "according to company execs at the time was meant to suggest high performance."  But the real reason that the company wanted to reduce the visibility of the Philip Morris name, the story suggests, is that everybody knew it was a tobacco company.  Calling it Altria, it hoped, would reduce the intensity of the tobacco stains on its reputation.

Facebook can "rebrand the company with a new name, to signal its ambition to be known for more than social media," Fast Company says, but… "A rebrand is a lot of things, but it can’t fix the body-image issues of one in three teen girls on Instagram or obviate the blame teens apportion the platform for increased anxiety and depression.

"Nor will it erase whistleblower Frances Haugen’s appearance on 60 Minutes and before a Congressional committee, testifying that Facebook always chooses what’s best for its bottom line over public health and safety. What Facebook needs, at minimum, is real, difficult, foundational change. But that’s hard compared to a transparent, superficial PR move."

I wish I'd thought of this comparison when first reporting the possibility that Facebook would change its name - it seems apt.  Facebook seems to be having a big tobacco moment, and some of its executives seem as tone-deaf and unethical as those tobacco executives were (and are).  I've been saying for years that there will be a special circle in hell reserved for tobacco executives, but that may have to enlarge that circle to accommodate the executives who think it is just fine to use social media to enrage and scare people and encourage suicidal thoughts in vulnerable teens.