business news in context, analysis with attitude

We reported yesterday that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is promoting a global boycott of KFC, urging the company to treat chickens more humanely before they are slaughtered. One MNB user responded:

“As a consumer of chicken, I personally do not want chickens gassed before they are killed on the altar of being more humane. I imbibe enough chemicals in the food I consume. I do not want chickens gassed, thus adding
to the list.”

Fair enough. We think a nice, clean beheading is as much as a doomed chicken can expect.

Yesterday there were two stories, one after the other, that caught the eye of one member of the MNB community -- a piece about people being too tired to cook and clean, and another about the resurgence of e-commerce. This MNB user wrote:

“Doesn't this story actually dovetail with the one above on the time starved, tired consumer? Saving ones' own energy may be worth the additional cost.”

That’s exactly the opportunity, in our mind.

In our commentary about the study revealing that half of all heads of household are too tired to put much time or effort into cooking dinner, and two-thirds are looking for faster ways to accomplish basic household chores, we wrote:

“We have to admit that we read these results with a certain sense of shame. We’re hardly the first generation of people to be exhausted by responsibilities. It’s just that previous generations didn’t whine about it; they weren’t even asked if they were tired. It was a fact of life.

“That’s not to suggest that this isn’t a legitimate business opportunity or that this isn’t a very real cultural phenomenon. It’s just that we think that sometimes as a generation we ought to shut up, suck it up, and do what needs to be done.”

This perspective struck a nerve with one MNB user:

“Cmon, Kevin. I can't trot out the morbid numbers, but this is the first generation that has so many, many of their parents living into very old age and winding up needing care. So we're caring for parents with Alzheimer's (believe me, it's no picnic), putting kids thru college (so sometimes we need two jobs, especially since the medical care/nursing home costs a fortune, too, and eats up any expected inheritances that previous generations could count on) and working more hours than ever before (there are statistics on that, too.) If we didn't whine about it all once in awhile, we wouldn't be human. By the way, if you want a smart investment, think "nursing homes." AT $6K to $7K a month for confining an Alzheimer's-afflicted parent to a wheelchair in a hall, it ain't bad money. And don't say "bring them home," because when your parent is officially "at risk" in many states, a lot of your options disappear. Am I whining? Yup.

“Love your stuff, but had to share this perspective.”

We appreciate the point of view. We just hope that 30 or 40 years from now, our children don’t whine about having to take care of us…

Also in response to the story about time-starved and tired customers, another MNB user wrote:

“This would be a prime opportunity for the retailers to reach out to the local business community and offer to bring prepared meals to their place of business. The employees could either call or fax their request to the retailer by a certain time and pay by either cash, check or credit card and the meals could be delivered to their office before they left for home that evening. All the person would have to do then is reheat the meal in the microwave. Or the retailers could increase their sales by selling the consumer the bag that keeps the meal hot. The consumer could rotate the bags the way pallets are rotated. You turn in one and your meal is in another one. If you don't turn in the empty bag, you are charged for it.

“Another way would be to call or fax your request to the retailer and then tell them approximately what time you would be picking the meal up. As you approach the store, you call the special number and someone from the store is waiting outside with your meal. You have already paid by credit card or your check have already been pre-approved.”

And MNB user Cindy Weber added:

“When it comes to preparing a meal, I am lost. My ability to deliver the goods to the kids are about as good as my ability to dial a pizza delivery place.
Fortunately, my husband is a zen master in the kitchen. And its not his 'responsibility', it is the way that he keeps the family together. Most evenings (I'll leave room for some slacking), preparing dinner is a family event. The kids help with the prep, cutting, slicing, measuring and of course tasting. The idea is not only to prepare the meal, but expose this new generation to the art and love of 'food-ery'. Two out of three of them have bought in. In fact, this holiday season, our 12 year old received his first frying pan as a present.

“If we, as a parents, are too tired . . . what will their generation be . . . too

We hope not. Last evening, our 13-year-old had to make dinner for us to satisfy a home economics class requirement…and he chopped onions, made salad, and prepared a shrimp risotto like a pro. He even chose the wine for us (though he didn’t get a sip because he had homework to do).

We were extremely proud.

We noted yesterday that Wegman’s was ranked by Fortune as #10 in its list of top 100 places to work, prompting this email from MNB user Richard Cognetti Jr.:

“Wegman’s’ a top ten place to shop as well. Nobody better at giving their employees the tools they need to assist/serve customers. Love their deli!!”

A great place to work usually is a great place to shop. And vice-versa.

A lesson worth learning…
KC's View: