business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reported that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has filed a shareholder resolution against Costco Wholesale, asking that the company disclose what it has done to evaluate “controlled atmosphere killing,” which generally is considered to be a less cruel way of slaughtering poultry. PETA says that Costco has not made public its animal welfare policies, and that Costco is selling “tortured, crippled chickens who are scalded to death,” according to PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich.

I commented yesterday:

I’m not in favor of torturing and crippling chickens that are scalded to death before they are defeathered and sold to be cooked and eaten. If they can be gently put to sleep before they are defeathered, packaged, cooked and eaten, all the better.

But here is where I have a problem with PETA. It is the organization’s use of pronouns.

PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich talks about chickens “who” are scalded to death.

Last time I checked the old stylebook, “who” was a pronoun reserved for actual people. Not animals.

MNB user Jan Owens wrote:

Very much agree with your viewpoint against mistreating animals, etc., but ESPECIALLY agree with your objections to referring to chickens "...who...." As a professor of marketing, I work with students to improve clear and accurate communication, and avoid the "spin" terms as unethical.

...But I should also admit that I belong to my own version of PETA: People for the Eating of Tasty Animals. (I saw that on a restaurant sign in Monterrey, CA.)

MNB user Joel Guskin wrote:

I don't know, nether scalding or PETA's “controlled atmosphere killing” (which sounds reminiscent of the 1940's) sounds Kosher to me.

MNB user Ron Pizur had some thoughts about the whole shopping bag debate:

I found Ned Rawn's comment today a little odd - "To think you’re going to get a mother with 3 kids with an overflowing shopping cart to bring a canvas bag(s) from home is nuts." I just don't get it, is he saying this mother can handle pushing a cart throughout the store with three kids, haul the full bags out to her car and then into her house, but she isn't capable of carrying a few empty bags 'into' the store? Why couldn't she have the kids carry the bags in?

I guess I'll lump this attitude with the theory that you have to fight for the parking spot closest to the door. It doesn't matter if you will walk up and down every aisle or spend the afternoon in the mall you just have to get the spot closest to the building - no matter how long you have to wait for the person packing their car to leave, and thereby block the lot up for everyone else.

We had a story yesterday about how consumers will begin to see Dunkin’ donuts packaged coffee on the shelves of stores such as Costco, Wal-Mart and Kroger this month, compliments of a distribution deal with Procter & Gamble.

I wrote:

Here’s the interesting sentence from the story:

“The distribution deal with Procter & Gamble is also about introducing the New England-bred brand to new customers in the West and South where Dunkin' is expanding, with plans to triple U.S. stores to 15,000 by 2020.”

In other words, both Dunkin’ and P&G are using supermarkets are a kind of billboard through which Dunkin’ can get greater visibility for its new coffee-and-doughnut shops.

At the risk of annoying people who disagree with me on this issue, if you are a retailer I would point out to you that every doughnut sold by Dunkin’ Donuts in your marketplace potentially is a doughnut that you are not going to sell.

Which is why I think that supermarkets, which ought to be in the share of stomach business, ought to think twice about carrying brands that essentially hype their competitors. Such deals may lead to short-term dollars, but long-term obsolescence.

This is an ongoing debate here on MNB, one in which I appear to hold the minority view. Which is okay…

MNB user Paul Schlossberg wrote:

Please don't think in silos. Customers don't segment where they shop in the same manner that marketing managers do.

We know Los Angeles residents who order coffee from the Dunkin' Donuts website each month. That's a monthly sale the local supermarkets didn't get. At least now supermarkets can compete for that purchase and possibly gain some profitable incremental volume.

Following the logic you're using, restaurants should not sell branded products because these same products are available in supermarkets - a competing channel. There are countless examples of popular (retail) branded products being sold to foodservice outlets - I've managed the sales and marketing of some of those brands in foodservice over the years. Foodservice executives in purchasing/marketing/operations wanted to capitalize on the brand awareness and preference those products carried. And quite a few of those products reached beyond the back of the house recipes to be used on the table-top or re-sold in the original package.

Those of us engaged in capturing "share of stomach" should be thinking about maximizing each customer transaction. If that means that a brand from "another channel" helps maximize the transaction, go for it.

Another MNB user wrote:

I agree with your point of view, however, if my competitors carry this item, it puts me at a disadvantage. Aside from that, this a an opportunity to get the Dunkin Donuts customer in to MY store and a chance to sell them my lower priced ( and better tasting) donut.

MNB user Bob Warzecha wrote:

I have a different slant on the issue of supermarkets allowing Dunkin’ Donuts into their stores. My local Stop & Shop's bakery items are/were pure junk, just a step above the stuff my dog Salsa finds in the back yard after the raccoon has raided my neighbor's garbage can. So I stopped going there for a pastry in the morning when I was pressed for time. Now that this Stop & Shop has put a Dunkin' Donuts store within the store, I sometimes go there in the morning for coffee and a doughnut and most times pick up an additional item or two in the store. Maybe Stop & Shop should have fixed the bakery problem but at least they addressed the situation in a way that got me back into their store.

Okay, let me ask the question this way:

In this case, Stop & Shop addressed the situation … but did it solve the problem?

This sort of sounds to me like the retailer that decides to solve the problem of surly checkout personnel by investing in self-checkout systems. It doesn’t really solve the problem.
KC's View: