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MNB reported yesterday that Wal-Mart is adopting a new slogan after almost two decades, getting rid of “Always Low Prices” and moving to “Save Money. Live Better” as it tries to appeal to more upscale consumers.

Lots of reaction to this one…

One MNB user wrote:

It seems to me that Wal-Mart’s new slogan…sounds a lot like Target’s slogan, “Expect More. Pay Less”.

It does, doesn’t it.

MNB user Murray Raphel wrote:

Through the years, working with many companies to create identification programs, my basic philosophy was "Make it easy for the customer to recognize."

"Always Low Prices" says it all and has a long history. What does "Save money. Live Better" mean?

Example: I am vice chairman of a waterfront park in Atlantic City. Because it dealt with exhibits and education we called it "The Ocean Life Center." We kept that name for a dozen years. One time I was speaking to a group of senior citizens and asked them if they had ever been to the Ocean Life Center. Their answer: 'Why would we want to go to an old folks home?"

We quickly changed the name to: "The Atlantic City Aquarium.” Within one month, attendance double, then tripled.

Reason why: the name said what it was and what it did.

And do you know how long it takes the consumer to recognize a change in a company's slogan? Too long…

Another MNB user wrote:

This is the same decision Winn-Dixie made fifteen or so years ago. Look at how well that worked out!

MNB user Randy Harmon wrote:

I don’t see how they intend to make this work. Their site selection for Wal-Marts was focused on lower income areas, not affluent neighborhoods. I’m certainly not driving ten miles in my BMW to park next to a 1972 Pinto to get door dings in the parking lot.

How can they expect to lure affluent shoppers to buildings that are not in the neighborhood of the affluent?

While I’m not sure it is entirely fair to characterize the average Wal-Mart shopper as someone who drives a ’72 Pinto, I get your point.

Responding to MNB’s broad coverage of Tesco’s efforts in the US, MNB user Michael F. Parker wrote:

The American operator of Tesco, who is British, has chosen many Trader Joe’s failures and (none of) Trader Joe’s great minds. This should tell you all you need to know.

Arrogance is active and a rule for failure in the USA. Kevin, I love your mind but think that Tesco will be a total failure in the US because of the arrogance of the USA leadership.

We’ll know soon enough.

Responding to yesterday’s MNB Radio piece about the sad state of affairs in both retailing and journalism, MNB user Mike Slattery wrote:

A lot of what you observed about the lack of curiosity of the reporter offers lessons to the food sales fraternity as well. How about the salesman that presents a new item to a buyer without ever taking the time to visit the buyer’s retail outlet? Does he know what competing items are on the shelf? What are the retail prices? Is there room in the category? Just like the reporter that needed to get off his duff and hit the pavement, so too do those of us in food sales need to get out from behind the desk and hit the aisles in the supermarket!

No argument.

And MNB user Steve Sullivan chimed in:

All that comes to mind reading your commentary is the word “LAZY”, in relation to both the reporter and the coffee merchant. The young whippersnappers just don’t have the gumption that our generation had (say that in your best Walter Brennan voice). I am NOT a journalist but I get so frustrated listening to the local TV reporters or reading the local paper when I see a story on which I know I could do a better job of reporting. This is not even mentioning the use of improper English and numerous misspellings. They don’t take the time to do it right. Read the story and re-read it.

Don’t rely on spell-check (too is to often used in the wrong context ha-ha). Too often people are just ‘doing’ their job instead of taking pride in it. Why is it only certain writers or reporters receive the admiration of the reading public? Could it be that they don’t just report the news or tell the story? Could it be that they REPORT the news and TELL the story? That news can be passed along as just what happened, or the whys and wherefores behind it can be explored.

Likewise, you can run a retail business, or you can RUN it. I realize I am echoing what you always say, Kevin, in that the retailer must distinguish his operation, especially against a formidable foe like Starbucks or Wal-Mart. But isn’t that common sense? And what stops that retailer from using that common sense? Either a complete lack of retail ability or LAZINESS.

Are we, the public, to blame for this laziness? Do we expect less now from our reporters and service industry people? I think in some ways, we are responsible. It seems like it doesn’t take much to stand out above the crowd these days. I find myself complimenting someone at McDs, when all they did was get my order correct (for a change). WE have got to demand the service we expect! The training in retail operations seems to be secondary to getting a body to fill a slot. It might be part financial in nature, but a lot of the lack of personnel training comes down to laziness on part of the management. We have to go to the window, open it and shout that we are not going to take it anymore (DARN! That movie was good!).

Whether it is the local coffee shop against the Starbucks, the local book store against Amazon or Uncle Bob’s clothing store against Wal-Mart, that retailer MUST get off their duff (nicely put, eh?) and put effort behind and scream and shout about that ONE thing that makes them unique.

Except for the fact that I have a lot of compassion for people who make spelling errors, I agree with you completely.

We had a story the other day about how there is an ordinance being proposed that would ban the opening of any new fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles, the result of studies saying that South LA has both the county’s highest obesity rates and the county’s highest concentration of fast food restaurants.

And I commented:

I have no idea if this is legal or not, but I have to admit that it sounds like a good idea.

MNB user Luke Dolezal responded:

Sounds a little bit like socialism... I am thinking that fast food is not precisely the root of the problem. It may be close, but if we were to dig a little deeper...

Another MNB user wrote:

A good idea, eh? This certainly gets into murky water. What is a fast food retailer? Wouldn't many of our grocery stores w/ their large grab and go areas and food bars be considered 'fast food'? Certainly many of these same grocers are selling foods that are less than healthy. A local store in my neighborhood (not the one I work at) has a 'hot bar' that sports a myriad of fried food choices from potato wedges to chicken, gooey mac and cheese, wings - you name it. And none of it a whisper better than a Big Mac.

Don't get me wrong, I can count on one hand the number of times I've been in a fast food place over the past year - I'm not for them. I also hate to see the urban sprawl and sameness that invades cities when chain after chain opens. I just don't see how banning fast food openings will work. People need to wake up to healthy food choices and demand better options and stop patronizing the places that sell unhealthy meals. ... Yeah, easier said than done, right?

And MNB user Suzanne Crettol wrote:

I would like to propose a new mandate – PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. While I know it’s not politically correct, nor popular to accept the consequences of ones own actions (feels better to blame someone or something else), but aren’t we the ones placing that 60+ grams of fat into our mouths or perhaps it’s the invisible nymph holding a gun to our head. Where is the will power and personal integrity of yesteryear?

I’ve had a couple of days to think about it, and in hindsight I think my “good idea” comment was a little glib and not very well reasoned.

It should go without saying that the ultimate responsibility for eating crap belongs to the person who puts it in his or her mouth. And there is a little something called “free enterprise” in this country, and until fast food is illegal, banning the opening of fast food restaurants from certain high-risk neighborhoods isn’t a very sensible approach.

That said, I have to admit that I do tend to believe that communities ought to be able to legislate against certain kinds of retailers opening within their borders. And let me pose the fast food issue another way. If a large number of the people living in South Los Angeles don’t have private health insurance, and they are getting treated for obesity-related problems at public hospitals on the public’s dime, then isn’t there a public policy issue in here somewhere that needs to be addressed?

I’m just asking…

KC's View: