business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB user Jarrett Paschel about Walmart's new "Goodies" program, which allows subscribing customers to sample new foods not found in stores run by the world's biggest retailer:

Your observation: “This speaks volumes about where Walmart sees itself heading in terms of food marketing and e-commerce…” is, as always, spot on.

While many may question whether or not Walmart would really know how to “delight” is customers with goodie bags offering the right kinds of artisanal foods, none of that matters at all.

Because as the story goes on to observe “at first, Wal-Mart will select the products sent to subscribers, though over time companies may be able to pay to have their products included in the Goodies boxes."

The message could not be more clear…IF this turns out to be a viable program, the first thing we are going to do is outsource placement in our “goodie” bags to the highest bidder. We care so little about you, loyal customer, that if you show the least bit of interest in our pilot program of specialty products, we’ll return the favor with a steaming hunk of end-cap product promotions. Nothing says “surprise me” like a box of products from Kraft, Nestle and Unilever!

After all, it’s not as if truly boutique, artisanal producers could actually afford to PAY for the right to be sold at Walmart.

All excellent points.

I did take note last week when the "Goodies" story came out that Tom Furphy and I had been discussing precisely that opportunity in a video segment that we'd posted a week earlier. I'd like to think we were a little prescient, but MNB user Steve Sullivan had another thought:

ORRRRRRR…Someone at WalWorld reads MNB!

Well, actually, a lot of people at Walmart read MNB. But I don't think we can can take credit - or blame, depending on your POV - for this.

But I do think, with some justification, that we got it right, and we got it early. (And I'll also give credit to FMI, which gave us the platform and made it all possible to begin with.)

Regarding the Walmart annual meeting, one MNB user wrote:

I understand the need for all the "hoopla", it helps morale, everyone gets to drink all the Kool-Aid they can handle and there are free concerts all week long. Imagine if they took all the money they spend on Stockholders meeting, their fleet of jets, year beginning meeting, fall managers meeting and used it to pay better wages, better benefits for families or just to have more cash to bribe Mexican officials.

This company is far from being the low cost retailer it claims to be. Wal-Mart calls it part of their culture, it's all about priorities.

Got a laugh out of the email that suggested that Walmart, in addition to Cheap Trick and Aerosmith, should have hired another group to entertain at its annual meeting:

Los Lobos?

Regarding a new Lund's store being built in minneapolis, one MNB user wrote:

One of my largest clients lives within blocks of Lunds’ new store in downtown Minneapolis.   They have been watching the store’s construction with rather breathless anticipation from the windows of their condominium.   To say that they are looking forward to the store opening would be a rather drastic understatement as they have had few options in their neighborhood for basic grocery staples and have to travel by car to do the bulk of their “stock-up” shopping.

Reflecting on the passing of Jack Twyman, MNB user Denis Zegar wrote:

I knew Jack Twyman quite well.  He was a member and former Chairman of NAWGA in the early 1980's when I was VP of Government Relations.  Jack was a very unassuming, thoughtful leader who was proud of his contribution to Super Foods. Imagine calling a CEO of a large food wholesaler and he answers the phone himself.  That was Jack.  Jack rarely spoke of his days as a Hall of Fame basketball player.  He considered himself a businessman first and foremost.  My fondest memory of Jack was when I offered to take him and Mike Wright and Drayton McLane to the airport.  Picture 3 men 6'3 to 6'7 getting out of a 2-door sports car.  The skycap's reaction was priceless.  We all will miss gentleman Jack.

MNB user Elaine Howard wrote:

I remember Jack. He was  an imposing figure but a gentleman with a ready smile. I wouldn’t have known of his passing or the story you shared had I not read it on

And MNB user Thomas Robinson wrote:

Jack was really one of the great guys in the grocery business.  He ran a company that truly cared about its retailers and ultimately the consumer.
KC's View: