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Another comment on the initiative taken by the Aldi cashier, as elaborated upon by Michael Sansolo in his column today.

MNB user J. Schindler wrote:

I also wondered if Aldi actually empowered their cashiers to that extent.  But if the cashier did it without authority then it was not really "easy to be generous" as he/she likely was risking his/her job.

This reminded me of my wife's experience over 30 years ago at Wendy's with three small children in tow.  After ordering she realized she had left her purse at home.   She said she could bring back the money in a little while but the supervisor on duty gave her the food and said not to worry about it.  A day later I did return to pay but he refused to accept my money.   That gesture did more for my perception of Wendy's than a gazillion dollars worth of TV advertising.


Interesting email from MNB user Gary Breissinger:

When I read Craig Herkert’s comments about consumer value perception and the possibility that retailers (and indirectly manufacturers) are training  consumers to only buy on deal, I was struck by strong feeling of déjà vu. It seems like only yesterday that Durk Jager and I were preaching this same message about the importance of “everyday value” --and building consumer trust and loyalty to brands and stores--in support of P&G’s “ValuePricing” initiative in the very early 90‘s.

That initiative had a transformational impact on P&G’s business for over a decade. However, when it comes to promotion spending, we are dealing with a cyclical phenomenon that requires continuous attention and a truly long term focus on the business that few manufacturers or retailers can sustain. Maybe it is time to re-drain the promotion swamp, re-establish the integrity of list prices,  reduce the excessive level of hi-lo promotion and make the relationship between everyday shelf price and merchandising prices more credible to consumers?

Self-inflicted wounds are the most damaging---and manufacturers and retailers once again seem intent on  distorting the true value proposition of their respective brands.

All excellent points. Though it always seems like the swamp is bottomless, and that draining it is an exercise in futility because someone always has a stake in keeping it deep and murky.

BTW...I had another thought about yesterday’s Herkert interview in the Wall Street Journal. I wonder what Supervalu’s independent retailer customers think when they read about his plans for the company, which seem primarily retail-focused.

Yesterday, I made a little joke.

We had a story about how Unilever is recalling 10 million cans of Slim-Fast drinks in the US and Canada because of concerns about bacillus cereus, a micro-organism, which the company says “may cause diarrhea and possibly nausea and/or vomiting."

And I wrote, with tongue firmly in cheek: Not to make light of a food safety problem, but it seems to be that for people who need to drink Slim-Fast, the diarrhea and vomiting might be seen as a value-added.

One MNB user wrote:

We teach ServeSafe Food Manager training and we are busting a gut over here after reading your “value added” comment about the Slim Fast recall.  Thanks for the Monday a.m. laugh Kevin!

Another MNB user wrote:

You just had to say it didn’t you? I can’t stop laughing but I think others may view it differently.

And, from another MNB user:

You’ll take some heat for that, but I laughed out loud…

Our wives would probably commiserate over the fact that we both never pass up an opportunity to go for the cheap laugh.

Keep it up!

And another:

Boy are you going to get mail on that one, although I can see the “tongue-in-cheek”, others will probably not find it so funny. Hang tight, this too will pass, especially if you drink a can of Slim-Fast.

Still another MNB user wrote:

I’m sure you’ll hear from the people with no sense of humor, but let it roll off you.  That was funny!

To be fair, there was one - but just one - email that criticized me:

I’ve been a faithful reader (and occasional contributor).

Your comment on “Not to make light of food safety issues” is completely off the mark.

Your supposed sensitivity disregards the suffering caused by the consumption of these products that may cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Your comments may also cause suffering to those who may be using those products in an attempt to deal with obesity or other issues.

I hope you will make an apology to the entire MNB community and carefully consider the personal impact your remarks in future.

The thing is, MNB is what it is. Serious levity. Sometimes (though not often) I’m going to make jokes that everybody is going to find funny, and more often I’m going to make jokes that are going to offend some folks. But I’m always going to make jokes, and I’m almost always going to go for the cheap laugh.

Because, as a smarter man than me once wrote, if we didn’t laugh, we’d all go insane.
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