business news in context, analysis with attitude

One MNB user thought I was a little harsh in my assessment of Stop & Shop’s value-oriented promotional program last week:

While visiting family on the east coast (Connecticut) I stopped at my old Super Stop and Shop. I still remain impressed with those grand stores, layout, ease of shopping, and now, organic selection and self serve check out! And I am the typical “health food store shopper” demographic by every description….yet I love those Super Stop and Shops that I grew up with (we didn’t have a Stew Leonard’s close to us, and Whole Foods didn’t exist when I lived there).

On the subject of whether the Wal-Mart era could be ending, as suggested by the Wall Street Journal, one MNB user wrote:

When a company (or a nation for that matter) becomes the largest and most powerful in the world, that company must act like it and accept not only its responsibilities to shareholders, but also its responsibilities to the world it serves if it is to last more than a brief time.

If it accepts these responsibilities well and governs well, it will be loved and cherished by most of its customers (or citizens) but if not well those that loved it so will see to it that it perishes from the earth.

And another MNB user wrote:

Looking back, when it wasn't Wal-Mart, it was the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company that dominated as much as 80% of the grocery retail sales, looking forward- you better not disregard Tesco... bottom line is that there is always going to be competition possibilities of Wal-Mart proportions. Staying ahead of the curve, understanding what the next value proposition is, and being "me first" as opposed to "me too", is what is going to make you a relevant retailer 10 years from today.

Take a look at Giant Eagle's new fresh and easy format that opened in the spring, visit the NexStore Market in Boca Raton or Miami, Wegmans' new approach to food solutions "Take it. Make it", Whole Foods "Market Hall"- these are the companies that understand what I am talking about.

We wrote last week about McDonald’s launching a new coffee program that it hopes will help it compete with Starbucks more effectively. I was skeptical, to say the least, being a devoted Starbucks customer.

One MNB user wrote:

I am a die-hard Starbucks fan and will not be switching either, yet my kids had to go to McDonalds yesterday because they wanted to get in on the new Monopoly game. This was a remodeled store with a new counter shape that obviously was built with the new coffee program in mind. I began to look around at the regulars and the families. It appears to me that a large part of their customer base is families with kids that might not normally eat at the finer dining establishments and/or normally go to Starbucks.

I think some people will switch from Starbucks, but the new program is successful it will be because they are offering something for the kids’ parents that is a convenience and maybe a large portion of these parents just don't go to Starbucks yet would like a latte while they watch their kids play in a germ filled playground.

On another note, I couldn't help noticing a obese mother and her two obese kids sitting at one of the larger tables eating fatty foods while their homework is spread all about the table. Hmmm.

Noisy, germ-filled playgrounds and fatty foods all over the table. That’s exactly where I want my kids doing their homework.

(Then again, it also could describe a lot of elementary school cafeterias…)

Which leads nicely into an email about responsibility when dealing with the obesity epidemic:

While individual responsibility is a key to this dilemma, making choices must be made easier through businesses making responsible choices in the kinds of chemicals and additives they put in our food, e.g., high fructose corn syrups, artificial flavors and coloring, etc. and through truthful, full disclosure labels. Citizens and companies are in this together and are equally responsible.

I agree.

We spend so much time arguing about responsibility that opportunities for fundamental change often are lost in the cacophony.

And, regarding the rising price of boutique beers, one MNB user wrote:

Sad news. I'd like to go home and drown my sorrows with a couple of Ballard Bitters but the price of drowning sorrows has gone up too much. I may turn to some of those wines with the screw top.

Say it ain’t so…
KC's View: