business news in context, analysis with attitude

We wrote earlier this week about a promotion we saw at Stew Leonard’s where the store’s ice cream parlor offered a free ice cream cone for every “A” that students bring into the store on their report cards. Well, according to Kate Lawten, a member of the MNB community, there is a caveat:

“I also noticed this promotion at Stew's, and last night I was there and happened to have my recent college transcript in my purse- I went up to the counter and the manager rejected my A's from last semester saying it was for eighth graders and under- I guess their # 1 philosophy, "The customer is
always right," doesn't apply at the ice cream parlor.”

We suspect that one of two things will change when the folks at Stew Leonard’s read this comment. Someone will re-word the sign, or someone in the ice cream parlor will be given the gentle word about how to handle college students with ice cream cravings and good grades.

Regarding the move toward irradiated ground beef, which seems to be picking up extraordinary momentum at stores around the country, MNB user Don Sutton wrote:

“Both the grocery and the beef industries need to take a look at the labeling of the irradiated product and the critics who are wading in with fear as a substitute for science. The word irradiated sounds too much like radiation. It gives the fear mongers a couple of quick points right off the bat.

“I would suggest that they come up with a better name for the process. Considering the mechanics of the Hy-Vee process, something slightly friendlier, like electro-sterilized might be worth looking into. This reminds me of the Regan name switch in the 80's when he changed the name of the MX missile to the Peacekeeper. It worked. Think about it.”

We’re not sure we agree on this one. For us, a missile is a missile, and we’re not fooled by benign names given tools of destruction.

And we think there may be something to be said for the word “irradiation” actually being understood as not being scary, but beneficial.

On the subject of healthier foods being available in supermarkets, one MNB user wrote:

“One of the interesting things I DON'T see in most retail grocery outlets is the utilization of information products: books, videos, CDs, etc. Why do we rarely find cookbooks in grocery stores? I've been waiting for someone to write and distribute (in stores) a book on healthy eating in a hurry AND on a budget. Maybe if the brick and mortar operations continue to ignore this, Internet marketers can get the ball rolling.”

We reported yesterday that it looks like Krispy Kreme is going to Japan. Which prompted an email from one MNB user:

“You will have just died and gone to heaven when they have Krispy Kremes everywhere. Then you can do your interval training for your marathon by sprinting from location to location.”

Maybe it’ll make the aching tendons in our knee hurt a little less…

Yesterday’s report about Superquinn getting an award for its environmentally friendly reusable grocery bag generated an email from a member of the MNB community:

“Re your enthusiasm about the bags at Superquinn's---There has been absolutely nothing stopping you, or anyone else who is concerned about the environmental impact of bags, from taking your own bags with you to the store. I can remember back in the early days of the current save the earth movement when canvas bags were being promoted. And there were a few establishments that used to offer a few cents per bag as a rebate for every bag you brought along to reuse. I think there are even a couple of places such as Lillian Vernon's catalog that have been offering personalized bags.

“In the end it all boils down to the fact that it is just not always convenient to remember to bring your bags along, until there is a financial incentive sufficiently large to get your attention.”

We agree that until people get charged for plastic bags, reusable bags won’t get any traction in the US.

On the self-checkout issue, one MNB user wrote:

“I find the instances where there are self-checkouts installed but never available to use the most irritating. I have yet to be in a Kroger's when the area wasn't roped off; however, it's only fair to say that I'm not there that often and not at peak hours. And just this past week I was in a Wal-Mart with long lines, and all the self-checkout screens were displaying a Not Available message. That was on a weekend at midday.”

Finally, we reported yesterday about a study from Prevention magazine and the Food Marketing Institute that says "...more than a third of shoppers (35 percent) claim that a major reason they don‚t eat a healthy diet is because nutritious food options are not available from fast food and take-out restaurants, and preparing healthy meals at home requires too much time." Which got MNB user Kate Munson to send us an email:

“Ah, the myth of the healthy meal. In the time it takes to load a family into the car, place your order at the drive through and drive back home, a three
course healthy meal could be prepared. No one's teaching the consumer to do this - at least no one's throwing money at educating the consumer the way the fast food chains throw money at keeping the consumer hooked on fat-filled convenience.

“Besides struggling with the fast food industry, the consumer must also battle themselves. It's the consumer who talks with one side of their mouth about healthy eating while the other side eats the cheeseburger. You have to please both.”
KC's View: