business news in context, analysis with attitude

We noted yesterday that Martha Stewart will soon begin testing a magazine called Everyday Food, which sounds like it is trying to be a print version of a supermarket. In our commentary, we noted, “For supermarkets to allow Stewart to mine their territory borders on gross negligence. They should be doing this themselves -- producing content that informs, educates, enlightens and sells.”

This prompted the following email from an MNB user who works at Wegmans:

“Ahem, may I take this opportunity to toot my company’s horn? We’ve been publishing a customer-focused magazine called ‘Wegmans Menu Magazine’ for over a year now, exclusively devoted to providing simple, seasonal solutions to getting meals on the table (lots of recipes and prepared food ideas), celebrating our talented executive chefs, and educating readers about our quality perishable suppliers. And, we get our GM Dept. in the mix with table trends and cool housewares items that the likes of Williams Sonoma offer for a culinary fashion-forward reference, as well as a smattering of wine picks and the ever-important shopping list.

The results have been astonishing, with surveys showing that customers LOVE the format and SAVE the mag the way they do ‘Bon Appetit’ and ‘Gourmet.’ Heck, no lie, a past issue even showed up on eBay! Bottom line is that we’re definitely all about making things easier in a very tangible, straight-forward way that gets people in the store and having fun discovering new things to try.”

We’ve seen it, we love it, and it is precisely what we’re talking about. But then again, it is also the kind of thing that Wegmans’ embraces that so many other retailers don’t even consider…

Yesterday, we reported that Coca-Cola Co. is testing a new 8.4 oz. metallic red Coke can that looks like the popular energy drinks, selling it only in trendy New York clubs and boutiques. To which one MNB user responds:

“I'd think the profit margin on this tiny, wee can might be very nice for them, too. Because of the Coke brand these should sell more briskly than the sad little 10 oz boxes of cereal that my husband could accidentally inhale in his sleep...

And, discussion continues about the issue of unemployment and how the numbers are calculated, as one MNB user writes:

“In the interests of stopping unfounded rumors regarding unemployment, I went to the US Dept. of Labor's web site to get their explanation for the calculation of unemployment. To quote from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“‘Some people think that to get these figures on unemployment the Government uses the number of persons filing claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits under State or Federal Government programs. But some people are still jobless when their benefits run out, and many more are not eligible at all or delay or never apply for benefits. So, quite clearly, UI information cannot be used as a source for complete information on the number of unemployed.’

“Their actual procedure is described as follows:

"’The number of unemployed persons in the United States and the national unemployment rate are produced from data collected in the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of over 60,000 households. A person's unemployment status is established by responses to a series of questions on whether they have a job or are on layoff, whether they want a job and are available to work, and what they have done to look for work in the preceding 4 weeks. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons as a percent of the labor force (employed and unemployed persons).’

“Finally, I should point out that the unemployment rate has been steadily climbing over the past few months.”

Which was our point to begin with.

No matter what the spin, the economy ain’t pretty.
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