business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a piece yesterday about Coca-Cola lowering its prices on its C2 mid-calorie cola so that it is just 20 percent higher than Classic Coke, as opposed to the 40 percent higher that it has been costing.

To which one MNB user responded:

So Coca-Cola thinks that low(er) carb C2 is now only worth a 20% premium over the regular line-up. Don't they look at their own practices - a significant percentage of 2-liter and cans sold in supermarkets are on deal. Put a premium-price on any brand-related SKU within Coke's section - and you get a failure. Where are the marketing managers? Does anyone in Atlanta understand how consumers make decisions? There's less sugar (HFCS to be accurate) that should cost me 40% more. I don't think so...and apparently most others agree. The people doing the shopping are not dumb. And if there is a similar premium in single serve channels (c-stores and vending) - sales will be very weak.

Responding to the stories this week about Kraft considering the sale of its Oscar Mayer, Post cereals, Altoids and Lifesavers brands because the company wants to get rid of non-core businesses, one MNB user wrote:

OK, OK I give up. What is the "core" business of Kraft? I thought they were in the food business. Has the K-mart virus spread to Kraft? You know the one...if you can't make a profit on increasing sales because of your overweight, bureaucratic and inept management, just sell some assets.


Commenting on our story about CEO Larry Johnston’s growth plans for Albertsons, MNB user Bob Stevenson wrote:

I wish Mr. Johnston would visit/shop his stores in North Texas. My wife was shopping yesterday and was very disappointed with the quality of produce and lack of product on the shelves. Perhaps this is the message the employees want to send (albeit not very smart), to the public in retaliation for being cut to part time. Their stores are not very well maintained and they don't go out of their way to narrow the competitive gap on prices. Maybe it's time for Albertson's to pull out of the competitive North Texas area just as they did in the South. I'm sure HEB would be glad to have an opportunity to fill the gap.

We noted in that story, by the way, that Johnston is a food industry who likes to go food shopping, which led one member of the MNB community to comment:

It always fascinates me to read about a ‘food’ executive who visits stores… what a novel concept! I applaud Larry Johnston’s visits to his stores…isn’t that what EVERY food industry participant does? Is this not the norm? Don’t managers in the food industry visit stores on a regular basis?..... if you are selling, marketing, distributing products to retail don’t you want to see your brand, competitive brands, see private label initiatives, new products, packaging, view displays and promotions and even talk to a real live consumers? ….. on an ongoing basis in the REAL world. Visits should also include alternative retail formats.

Of course you also want to have independent consumer research, tracking mechanisms and get in front of your customers for feedback on your companies service too.

How many of today’s executives get in front of customers AND into stores where the purchase decision is made?

Not enough.

We had a story the other day about companies wrestling with whether to sponsor certain kinds of programs because of concerns about content. Tyson and Lowe’s Home Improvement, for example, decided to pull their ads from ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” because it believed the show’s content and themes to be inappropriate.

One MNB user responded:

I cannot get over the fact that corporations are old fashioned enough to believe that the television watching public actually associates their ads on a show with the corporation's beliefs or policies. That may have been true on "The GE Theatre" or "20 Mule Team Presents" but not in the new media era. An ad is an ad wherever it runs.

And another MNB user wrote:

What are Tyson and Lowes thinking? The viewer demographic of Desperate Housewives is EXACTLY what those two companies have been courting: women. My wife and her friends all watch and then talk about the show the rest of the week.

On the subject of mad cow disease and our continuing rants about whether the government is doing enough to protect us, MNB user Al Kober wrote:

Sorry to disagree, but you seem a little paranoid about this. You are probably in favor of testing all newborn babies for Alzheimer's disease, too.

Not babies. But certainly people our age.

And finally, responding to our review of the Food Network show, “John Cleese’s Wine for the Confused,” one MNB user wrote:

Thanks for the heads up on this program. I would have never given it a second glance had I not read your review. As I am just barely discovering the world of wine, this program was perfect for me. Wine is quite frustrating and intimidating for the novice due to all the names, flavors, smells, types, etc. that exist. John Cleese did a great job demystifying many of the more enigmatic aspects of wine and I now know that I can appreciate wines that fit my palate as opposed to constantly assaulting my taste buds with a wine that I hate but has received high marks in a wine publication.

Agreed. Wine is too wonderful a creation to spend a lot of time worrying about. Enjoyment is all.
KC's View: