business news in context, analysis with attitude

We wrote yesterday about the complications that Tesco is facing with its planned entry into the US, and noted that its increased ownership position in Dunnhumby, the data consultancy, which has a long relationship with Kroger in the US, could cause issues.

MNB user Jerry Jewett wrote:

If the powers to be at Kroger or any other retail company need another company to tell them that The Customer comes first or the focal point of their efforts then I'm not so sure they should be in charge of the decision making process at that company.

We don’t think Kroger needs Dunnhumby to explain that…but it certainly helps to have someone to analyze and interpret the data.

MNB user Thomas Murphy wrote:

While it is certainly understandable that Kroger might be concerned with the Tesco/Dunnhumby relationship as Tesco enters the U.S. market, I have seen many times where the same data analysis produces differing results.

The data only points to options, the management team must determine how those options relate to alternative approaches in their formats and markets.

Finally, the ability to execute on those alternatives is key to the results. Kroger and Tesco are not the only companies to have access to this type of consumer and demographic information for their stores, but they are part of the few that know how to take advantage of it! As always, technology is only an enabler, if you don't have the smarts to use it appropriately, it will be a business cost, not a revenue generator.

In response to our story yesterday about Smart & Final examining its strategic alternatives, one MNB user wrote:

If Smart & Final management is smart, they will look for some way to merge or be bought by BJ's. Together they have a national reach and both are a little different than a standard retailer. It would add economies of scale because both buy approximately the same pack-size in products and there is no overlay between stores because S&F is west coast while BJ's is east coast.

Finally, we got an email from MNB user Eileen (Jessurun) McKusick, responding to yesterday's story about Coca-Cola considering a move into the café business:

In 1989, I opened a small cafe called "The Vanilla Bean Cafe" in Pomfret CT with the intention of bringing together members of my community in a central hub of good coffee, good food, and good conversation.

Within a very short time, it was a thriving community center, and was "discovered" by Coca Cola in 2002, when they turned it up during a search for "vanilla" on the internet. In May 2002, the first cases of Vanilla Coke in the country were delivered to the Vanilla Bean Cafe, amid much media fanfare. The vice president of coke got up and said, "I'm gonna say two words: 'Coke and Community'."

So clearly they see that people want and need community, cafés are a place for this to happen, and they want to get in the middle of it. Especially since soda sales are flat.

We've always thought that "community" is an essential building block of any retailing experience. So this doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
KC's View: