business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB user Glen Terbeek, always perceptive, sent us the following note about the strengths of independent retailers:

If innovation helps independents, and if large chains are made up of many independent store markets, than wouldn't innovation really help big chains for the same reasons?

However, the problem is threefold; 1) innovation is defined by the local market, 2) innovation is risky, and 3) innovation needs to be executed first, otherwise it is copying.

No wonder all the innovation comes from the independent operators. No wonder the big guys are managing to average at best. Their organizations, measurements and business practices won't let them innovate!

Thank goodness there are independents out there creating new ideas for the industry to adopt. Otherwise, grocery shopping, food preparation, and daily meals would be very boring!


One MNB user offered the following assessment of the retiring Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman:

Based on the 'mad-cow-impact-on-the-population' evidence available to her and USDA, rightfully she should have expressed concern for the cattle industry. Some consumer advocacy groups, these days, too often make a loud noise even before reality of the issue is proven. Veneman handled it well and other than the 'potential' for lawyers, there were no losers: life, economic or political.

And, regarding Atkins’ declining business fortunes, one MNB user wrote:

Atkins really has to accept much of the responsibility for the rapid demise of the low-carb segment. In their zeal to license their name on every product under the sun they lost sight of the single most important product attribute, TASTE. I wonder if Mr. Wiant ever tasted the yogurt or the two different ice cream items they licensed their name to. You cannot create a long term relationship with the consumer with products that don't perform. Everyone will try something new, once, but good luck getting repeat business. The Atkins family had a great business model. Charge others to use your name. Don't build your own factories. Put a lot of money in the bank. Warning to CPG companies, if Atkins tries to sell their company to you, be wary.

We keep getting letters about Stephen Covey, who published the highly successful “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” back in 1989, and how has published “The 8th Habit,” which adds a new suggestion to his list.

One MNB user wrote:

Tried to read the book - it put me to sleep. Was not enthused when I had to read for work. My I recommend listening to it on CD – especially when narrated by Mr. Covney himself. Actually got some stuff out it.

And another MNB user wrote in about management guru Peter Drucker:

Peter Drucker, almost 95 years old and still full of brilliant wisdom! Many in upper management have always tended to be inbred and inward looking. (Some in retail even appear to live under rocks...or at least in denial.) I'm happy to see that you've acknowledged Drucker "the old master" for his 21st century relevance.

Regarding the burgeoning pet products market, one MNB user wrote:

This is one key, traffic driving area where your traditional grocers have just dropped the ball, or in cases like Safeway, have intentionally
de-emphasized the category (linear square footage devoted to pet stuff cut
in half) over the last several years, ceding their higher end customers to
Petsmart/Petco, and lower end guys to Wal-Mart....only Albertsons shows
reasonable signs of re-dedicating itself to a hot and growing area....

MNB user Robert Hemphill offered the following perspectives:

I'm bullish these days on the economy's prospects. Certainly one could argue for doom and gloom, but the stock market is doing well, employment figures are steadily getting better (dramatically so for those who are self employed), home ownership is at an all-time high and things are looking up in my personal corner of the world. Could we be doing better? Yes; our nation's deficit is a real concern, tax reform is way overdue, health insurance is much higher than ever and social security can't continue as it is. And yet our country is the economic leader of the world - and likely to remain so, regardless of one's party affiliation and ideology.

We got the following email about the treatment being given to Martha Stewart:

My view is that the government should be ashamed of itself for making such a to do about nothing. It is costing jobs, taxes, and punishing the only woman who ever made homemaking something great to do. She glorified thankless housework. She should be applauded and not framed. I have worked all my life and always hated housework and I actually enjoyed her glorification of this tedious task.

You can disagree about her treatment, but it has to be pointed out that she wasn’t framed. She broke the law. The question is whether the punishment fit the crime.
KC's View: