business news in context, analysis with attitude

I talked yesterday about my enthusiasm for the Amazon One biometric payment system being used at Whole Foods, but suggested that they've done a lousy job of marketing it.

MNB reader Roland Figueredo responded:

Totally agree with you here, there needs to be better marketing for this type of service.  Some type of signage, QR code, floor cling, etc. that explains the benefits.

I was recently at the Moda Center for a concert and they have implemented several Amazon Go kiosks throughout the stadium offering beverages, snacks, and some hot foods like nachos and hot dogs.

I simply used my Apple watch to gain access and was able to grab what I wanted and leave on the other side in less than 2 minutes.  There were lines of at least 20-30 people in most of the regular beverage/snack stands.

They did have two employees manning each of the frictionless kiosks that helped explain how to get in, pay, etc. 

What a great time saver and I didn’t miss one second of the show!

Yesterday we took note of a CNN report that Benoit Garbe, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s US chief marketing officer, is stepping down at the end of the year, as the company continues to feel a backlash from its attempt to broaden sales by partnering with a transgender social media influencer.

The company said that Garbe was leaving "in order to embark on a new chapter in his career.”

I commented:

CEO Brendan Whitworth is doing everything he can to stop this wave from swamping his boat, but I cannot imagine that he is going to be successful for much longer.  Nor should he be - Whitworth has been a classic example of gutless, mealy-mouthed "the-buck-stops-over-there" management, unwilling to take responsibility for the company's missteps.  (Though my position is that the company's real misstep was not owning the idea that it was trying to grow sales for a brand well into decline before the backlash.)

By the way, at least they didn't say that Garbe was going off to spend more time with his family.  Because that always makes me wonder if his family really wants to spend more time with him.

One MNB reader responded:


From another reader:

This story reminds me of the Tropicana launch of new packaging in 2009.  A slew of marketing people and the Director of Sales who voiced their concerns as about the package,  were let go before the launch for not supporting the package change.  Then after the launch, sales people were let go because retailers wouldn’t support the brand. (Go figure!)  Not until more than a year later did the CMO,  who designed the package and never tested it, finally get released by the CEO.  Everyone else took the fall for top management decisions. 

And another:

A good example of a Brand forgetting its consumer demographics. And a senior leadership team disconnected from major strategic decisions (by a neophyte exec) to create a major shift in Brand segment marketing.

I'm not sure I buy that the decisions were being made purely by a neophyte marketing exec.  And as for forgetting who the core audience was, A-B had to face the fact that the brand was in severe decline.  They badly needed to expand the customer base.  The problem is that they did it badly.

Reacting to Weis Markets expanding its relationship with Amazon, one MNB reader wrote:

Just curious how the Amazon delivery from Weis Markets and handful a small grocers differs from Instacart? I actually think it is a poorer decision on the part of the grocer than leveraging Instacart since Amazon is a direct competitor for food. One option is to pick up at an Amazon Fresh location – which would be (in my opinion) like Target offering free pick up at Walmart. Understand, being a Weis shopper, that Weis is behind The Giant Co/Ahold in the delivery game but was shocked that they opted to partner with Amazon for delivery!

Fair point.

And finally, in writing about how Chick-fil-A is testing drones to deliver chicken sandwiches, I said that the idea of chickens flying around reminded me of a famous Thanksgiving episode on "WKRP in Cincinnati," which prompted one MNB reader to write:

I never missed an episode of WKRP (or Barney Miller) but that one show is up there with the funniest things ever seen on TV. It’s up there with the Barney Miller where the station gets high eating pot brownies. Good humor never gets old.