business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

Marketing Daily reports on a new study from NCH Marketing Group saying that “food marketers drastically cut their use of coupons last year, issuing 13.1% fewer coupons than they did in the prior year. That amounted to 305 billion coupons, a decline of 8.1% in all categories, reports NCH Marketing Services.”

However, “2011 coupon distribution was comparable to 2007, with 20 billion more coupons -- a 7% increase jump -- available to shoppers. And the $470 billion of coupon value in 2011 is a 26% increase from 2007.”

And, the story says, “Coupon-craving consumers redeemed $4.6 billion in savings, a jump of 12.2% from the year prior, and a 58.6% increase from five years ago.”

The surge in usage came because of the recession. The question is whether it will continue in a recovery.

And the other question I would ask is what the surge means in a culture where nobody knows what the actual price of anything is, and what expectations it creates among consumers.

Stores magazine reports that in-store health clinics have continued to grow in popularity in the US, fueled by “a shortage of primary care physicians, rising concerns about access and costs, looming health reform requiring expanded coverage and care coordination and the ever-older Baby Boomer population ... Though growth of the clinics slowed in 2009 and 2010, 2011 showed a marked shift: The number of in-store clinics (1,355) rose 11.2 percent, according to research and consulting firm Merchant Medicine.”

• Safeway has announced its partnership with the Go Green Initiative “to launch the first annual Go Green Glogster Earth Day contest. Students will be asked to investigate the sustainability of the food, water, or energy system in their community, and express their findings through videos, podcasts, blogs, music and photos compiled in a ‘Glog’ (see

“For the food system, students will examine the availability of locally grown and organic food in their neighborhood; food safety procedures at their local grocer; and the impact that higher fuel prices will have on the price of food where they live.”

Safeway said it is providing an organic garden to a winning school; a full-service, all natural BBQ for a winning class; and five (5) one-hundred dollar cash prizes to winning students.

• Published reports say that Starbucks’ efforts to offer beer and wine at one of its stores in Coronado, California, ran into a roadblock this week, as the City Council voted to oppose its application for a liquor license.

The council seems to be taking the position that making alcohol available at Starbucks is the same as making it available to people not yet old enough to drink legally. However, the opposition may not matter since Starbucks’ application has to go before the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control, which may not have any legal foundation to deny it.
KC's View: