business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB wrote yesterday about the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine report saying that the marketing of high fat, low nutrition food and beverages to children leads them to consume such foods and run a higher risk of obesity than if they ate healthier products. The report says that if companies do not change their marketing strategies, the federal government should step in and solve the problem legislatively.

MNB user Bob Trader responded:

I am tired of hearing the debate over whether or not the government should step in and regulate a manufacturer’s marketing tactics. Manufacturers promote their products and target them to the customer that is willing to listen and through good research, have figured out who that audience is. In my opinion they have done a great job in figuring out that there are a lot of parents that do not pay attention to what their kids eat, read, or watch.

Most kids under the age of twelve years old are not going out themselves and purchasing their own groceries, their parents are. When I go shopping with my own son he will ask for snack items that do not meet our family’s healthy standards and we do make exceptions but we also limit the amount of these types of products we purchase. Blame should be placed on the parents that cannot teach their children about balanced diets or when to say “no” to their kids.

I am reminded of a recent lunch conversation with a friend of mine that complained his son spends too much time playing his video games and not enough time on his schoolwork. Should the government step in put marketing restrictions (besides the ratings systems) on video game manufacturers because they have done a great job researching and learning about their customers or should my friend step up to the plate and be a parent? (By the way, I told him to step up to the plate with his son and stop complaining to me because he purchased the video system.)

Parents should step up and be as diligent as the manufacturers when it comes to understanding what makes their own kids tick.

And another MNB user wrote:

I'm one of those that is going to say it's the parents responsibility to purchase and feed their children healthy foods.

School systems have lesson plans that explain the food groups to children, they study the Food guide pyramid. School districts have taken junk food out of their vending machines and replaced them with healthy food and snacks. Now the government wants to step in and tell manufacturers what kinds of products they can market and to what age group?

There comes a time when parents have to step up to the plate and raise their own children.

Here’s a question, though.

Parents are voters and taxpayers. If enough of us feel that the government should help us by regulating what can be shown to our children on television, isn’t that just one more way of stepping up to the plate?

Just wondering…

On the subject of whether the industry should lead or follow when it comes to creating healthier products, one MNB user wrote:

All I can say about those who think the food industry needs to lead consumers to healthier, more nutritious products is that I doubt they have ever held a marketing job. If they had such responsibility they'd realize that you just can't place such risky bets on changing consumers behavior. And, none of their examples hold water; these businesses all identified a budding demand and filled it.

Okay, but let’s go back to an example cited by another MNB user earlier this week.

Was the iPod a response to consumer demand? Or the creation of a visionary company that decided to lead consumers and its own industry in a new direction?

Joining in the discussion about why moderate drinkers tend to have fewer obesity problems, MNB user Steve Cavender wrote:

Just maybe people who drink in moderation also eat in moderation. Maybe, just maybe, it's a lifestyle. Could it be that people who live a moderate lifestyle are less likely to be overweight?

Makes sense to us.

Another MNB user agreed:

Could it be that "moderation in all things" leads to healthier living?

One of my favorite public service ads on the radio is the ad by the educated elite that points out, students that take music and art classes do better over-all in school. Could it be, that students that work harder and take their education seriously do better in school and have the time and inclination to expand their interests into extra education?

Of course that can't be the reality, because that kind of common sense conclusion won't support the research budget requests or the future employment of the educator.

Responding to yesterday’s piece about the possibility that Coca-Cola might fall behind PepsiCo in terms of market capitalization, one MNB user wrote:

I'm not surprised by the news about Coca-Cola, actually. I worked for a couple of years for an independent Coca-Cola bottler, and it was plain to see that Coca-Cola North America is one of those slow-moving behemoths (Coke NA representatives would visit our plants because our little company was more technologically advanced than the parent company...). From what I've heard about PepsiCo, it's a much more dynamic company, both in attitude and action. It might not hurt Coke to have a scare like this to get the company moving, rather than just relying on its size as its competitive advantage.

We got the following report from MNB user Ted File:

I walked into a relatively new Target yesterday with my wife. As usual I walked through the store and as might be expected a few out of stocks, but otherwise the physical condition was what I would expect from Target....Well done!

But, so disappointed that a.) no mention of the Christmas Season and b.) absolutely no, Christmas music.

So, being the guy I am I found the manager and shared my feeling:....His response, well you know that a few people in this area don't "believe" and I commented that the latest survey found that almost 70% attend a church every week. That is a poor excuse, what about music. "Well, we have had a few customers complain that it interfered with their shopping" to which I responded "you have got to be kidding, besides you have no Holiday decor only a large snowflake hanging over 6 or your 20 checkouts." He responded well we are trying to control costs. To which I responded, "May I assume that you are Christian in your beliefs and that most of your employees are as well, and secondly that the reason you are doing the business you are doing is because 2000 years a person was born whose birthday we celebrate each year!”

So my good manager says, "Thanks and I concur and will try to do something about it."

Now, not that he was the person who took it to Minneapolis, but this morning Target announced that they would consider their stand and begin to use the word Christmas in their advertising. Gee, maybe we will even have music....who knows?

Actually, it seems like an appropriate day for a very specific Christmas song…

…and so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For the yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Lets hope it's a good one
Without any fear…

Can it really be 25 years?

Finally, we had a story yesterday about how in the UK, Tesco is testing what it calls a “musical sandwich,” which comes in a small box with a musical chip that plays when the customer opens it. Which prompted MNB user Lisa Everitt to write:

Unless my sandwich magically caused Elvis Costello to appear next to my desk and sing "My Funny Valentine" to me while I eat, I will pass, thanks.

Would you settle for the Content Guy singing “Margaritaville”? (Maybe we could start a new career…)
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