business news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The San Francisco Business Times reports that Safeway is “going national with a personalized pricing program that offers special deals based on each shopper’s purchasing history ... The Pleasanton grocer, with $44 billion in annual revenue, is expanding Just for U after initial testing in Northern California and Chicago over the last year or so.”

“It’s the wave of the future, and we think we’re on the front edge,” says Safeway Chairman and CEO Steve Burd. “It’s where the world is going — personalization.”

Environmental Leader reports that 72 percent of US companies surveyed “say sustainability influences their purchasing decisions and is an important factor when selecting a service provider.” Outside the US, the number of companies saying the same thing is 91 percent.

According to the story, “The survey results show sustainability expanding from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’ as companies understand that selecting solid partners as part of their supply chain translates into lower risk and more efficiency.”

The survey also found that “26 percent of respondents said cost considerations outweighed environmental factors when purchasing products and services;” “54 percent of companies said when two purchasing choices are equal (including cost), the greener product or service is better;” “20 percent said when two purchasing choices are not equal, greener is better;” and
“17 percent of companies said sustainability is a standard part of their request for information, proposal or quote system.”

Again, maybe I’m getting cynical. But I only would have been shocked if a study from this source had said anything else. I hope the numbers are right and that these trends actually are taking place ... but I’m not totally swayed.

• The Associated Press reports that a new program from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin tracing beef potentially contaminated with E. coli “as soon as there is an initial positive test.

“Current procedures require USDA officials to wait until additional testing confirms E. coli before starting their investigation. Under the new process, government officials could trace the source of E. coli 24 to 48 hours sooner.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that PepsiCo plans to use the late singer Michael Jackson’s image on a billion Pepsi cans “as part of its newly launched ‘Live For Now'’ global marketing campaign.

Jackson, who died three years ago, had a longtime sponsorship agreement with Pepsi.

Well, I guess that “Live for Now” is better than “Dead Forever.”

I cannot imagine how putting the image of a dead singer who seems to have had serious drug problems, was suspected of pedophilia, and who at the very least was one of the creepiest celebrities in recent history is going to sell soft drinks.

Then again, maybe I’m not the target demographic.

• Did you see where Spirit Airlines is going to start charging $100 per bag for bags carried on the plane and put in the overhead bin? The current charge is $45, but Spirit says it needs to raise the price to keep its fares low.

Of course, that’s only for carry-on bags paid for at the gate. Pay for them at booking or at check-in, and it will cost about half that.

Bags that you can fit under the seat in front of you, however, are free.

For now. It is hard to imagine that Spirit’s fares are so low that these exorbitant bag fees won’t be a problem for the airline. Not sure about you, but for me this is a bridge too far...
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