business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we noted a New York Times piece about sophisticated political ad targeting on streaming services that suggests - if you read between the lines - the degree to which the technology could be applied to campaigns for retailers and suppliers.

Prompting MNB reader Bob McGehee to write:

Xfinity (everybody’s well deserved favorite punching bag) advertises a service named EffecTV.  It alludes to a huge number of consumer categories that advertisers can target to get to their best audience.  Being 71 years old, my commercials are heavy doses of prescription medications (pun intended).   That is a semi-good use of targeted marketing.

Political ads are unsavory at best and not having full disclosure of who is behind those ads reeks of potential hanky-panky and less than pure motives.   All technology advances come with a cost that sometime isn’t worth it.  Just thinkin out loud.

Potential hanky-panky?

We had a reader yesterday who railed about  promotional pricing at a hot price, but in order to get that hot price, you have to buy 3-4-5 of that item … which discriminates against people who don't need that much.  Another MNB reader chimed in:

Not only do many customers not need 3-4-5 items, my view is that it discriminates against those who cannot afford to purchase multiple quantities, and as many of those persons are minorities it amounts to illegal discrimination.  To the extent that many of these items are purchased using food stamps, the multiple purchase requirement also reduces the amount of food that the impoverished can obtain with their food stamp allotment.  One would think that in the current "woke" environment these retailers would be more sensitive to this consideration.  

We had an MNB/In Conversation video yesterday with Doug Olson, President & Chief Media Officer of a360media, the media division of accelerate360, in which he talked about how print publications about the life, reign and passing of Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated vitality and resonance in the print media sector.

MNB reader Glenn Cantor wrote:

Your conversation about magazine, special issue distribution with Doug Olson brought me back to my days working for Time Inc., Retail Sales and Marketing.  Their assets are now owned and distributed by new companies.

People magazine was our primary title. 

When there is a unique event or death of a famous person, this was an “all-hands” on-deck project.  Everyone working for our company would work in stores that week to assist the magazine wholesalers in getting the product off trucks and quickly onto the sales floor.  We would “follow trucks.”  My territory for these projects was Manhattan.  We walked from store to store.  The interesting thing about printed publications is that they are perishable, in the same way as is dairy.  In this case, these special issues will sell only for a few days, when the event is still top of mind.  These magazines are consider collectibles, which creates purchase demand beyond merely reading about the event online.

Yesterday, we referenced an Axios piece about new Pew Research indicating that "Christians could fall below 50% of the U.S. population by 2070 if recent trends continue."

Over the last three decades, the story said, increasing numbers of Americans have stopped describing themselves as Christians and instead say they are atheists, agnostic, or "nothing in particular … Depending on whether this trend slows, stops or speeds up, Pew projects the number of Christians of all ages will shrink from 64% to between 54% and 35% of all Americans by 2070 … 'Nones' would rise from the current 30% to 34%-52% of the U.S."

This is an enormous shift, and I commented:

To be clear, this shift may be more about identity than belief;  just because a person is unaffiliated with an organized religion does not necessarily mean than they do not believe in a specific deity.  This change could reflect a broader skepticism in the nation's population about all institutions, but it also could be accelerated by the behavior of some religious institutions.  (The Catholic Church, for example, has alienated a percentage of its members through its handling of sexual abuse scandals and the priests who committed them.)

Businesses that depend on some level of institutional respect in their communities need to be aware of these Eye-Opening statistics, I think - they are reflective of broad and deep cultural shifts in how people think and how people act.  For retailers who depend on those people for their sales and profits, these things matter.

One MNB reader responded:

Very interesting article on Christians and religion.  As I move through life and the aging process, I see more and more of a lack of morals and ethics in the younger generations.  Hmmm…could that be because of the decline of Christianity?  

Your question assumes that people who define themselves as Christian are inherently more moral and ethical than people who define themselves as being part of non-Christian religions, or not part of any organized religion at all.  I would argue that this isn't even close to being true.

I'd also challenge the notion that younger generations are less moral and ethical.  I think there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, not to mention plenty of evidence that their elders are perfectly capable of acting in immoral, unethical ways.