business news in context, analysis with attitude

Another comment about my admittedly snarky comment about McDonald's (I said the clean restrooms are the only good thing about the company) from MNB reader Craig Espelien:

I think the writer on “Your Views” regarding McDonald’s was spot on.  I am sort of on your side – not a huge fan of eating at McDonald’s but more because my palate has evolved past those flavors than because I do not like their business model.  But, from my perspective, McDonald’s – like all businesses that are viable today – serves a segment of the market that wants to buy their products.  They focus on consistency – if you get a cheeseburger in Chicago from McDonald’s you can be pretty much assured that that cheeseburger will be of the same quality as at any other unit in the US or abroad.  A lot of folks select McDonald’s not because it is the best food they ever will eat but because it is consistent, safe and a known commodity.
As I had told a CEO in one of my previous companies – we sometimes need to remember that we are serving consumers that are likely different from us and that our tastes are not always (or ever for that matter) reflective of what our consumers want and/or expect.  We are all free to choose where to spend our hard earned dollars but should remember that everyone else has that same choice – and we cannot color their choice with our preferences.
Is McDonald’s the best food?  Perhaps not – but it is considered quite good by lots of folks.  Sort of like Yellow Tail wine – very popular with many consumers but never part of any party or gathering at my house.  Why?  I no longer have that brand in my choice set – but that does not mean that others do not like it or even love it.  My guess is that you do not prefer Yellow Tail – but have rarely heard you disparage wines you do not prefer – only expound on those you do.
Finally, McDonald’s is not alone is serving food that might not be good for us – the burger joints you love (or the ones I do) probably are no better for you than McDonald’s when you get right down to it.  The key is to not eat every meal, every day there.  Morgan Spurlock showed that doing that at McDonald’s was not good for you – and my guess is that if we ate similar types of food at some of our favorite restaurants we would probably end up in as tough a shape.
Be well my friend and keep pushing the edges of conversation – that is where the really interesting stuff is.

From another reader, on another subject:

Is it just me or have you been eerily quite about Roland's departure?  I've been looking forward to reading your thoughts.  Did I miss it?

I think you did. Click here.

Yesterday, responding to an email, I wrote:

I wouldn't write Delhaize's obituary just yet. But the company certainly is facing nine miles of bad road, and having a CEO in Belgium with limited experience as a merchant - arguably the quality that is most important for the company's new CEO - won't make the ride any easier ... If Delhaize thinks it can fix its problems by focusing on the buy, instead of on the sell, then maybe we'll be writing its obituary sooner than expected.

Another reader responded:

I read your reader's comments and then your follow-up in relation to Delhaize's decision. Most retailers fail because they don't put enough attention on their supply chain and procurement practices.  A big portion of retailing is about location and ambiance.  It's highly visible, customer facing and it's important but it's actually the easy part of the value chain.  The inventory doesn't magically appear on the shelves at the right price.  If you think about it, most of the companies that are destroying retailers are companies like Walmart, Target & Amazon.  These companies focus on logistics and procurement and then make the retail experience secondary.  If a retailer doesn't want to focus on a critical portion of their vertically integrated business, they should outsource it to someone who does focus on it.  It's highly myopic (and common) to ignore these critical functions.  That's my 2 cents.

I never meant to suggest that supply chain and procurement logistics are unimportant, or even secondary. Far from it. But I do think that sometimes companies believe that by being effective in those areas, it allows them to put marketing and merchandising functions in a secondary position, and I don't think that is true, either.

Retailers can only procure better manufacturer terms, for example, if they are able to deliver sales to the manufacturer ... and that requires not just the right prices, but also effective marketing and merchandising strategies and tactics.

Regarding the outstanding Guinness commercial that we spotlighted yesterday, one MNB user wrote:

I think that is one of the best ads ever, actually made me feel good about friendship and what it means.

From MNB reader Dave McCarthy:

Kevin, absolutely concur!!! Saw this ad last night for the first time, last night along with my son, Devon 15. While I don’t want my 15 yr old drinking Guinness until the appropriate age (with a last name of McCarthy it’s inevitable J), I Loved his response to this ad. “Wow that’s a Great ad about Friendship”! He didn’t even know it was a beer ad until the very end.

We had an email yesterday responding to a video about the ubiquity of cellphones - and the sometimes negative impact - in which the reader laid out the rules for dating him:

Clients can get away with it but when it comes to dating,  if a woman texts or gets a call from her kids while with me, its a total deal breaker.  Phones are to be turned off at all times in my presence.  And vice versa.  At family gatherings, dinners, meeting, phones are to be put away and turned off.  Not even vibrate is acceptable.

My response:

Now, I haven't gone out on a date with anyone other than the woman to whom I am now related by marriage since 1979 - well before the cell phone explosion - so I grant you that I may be out of touch on this issue.

But if I were going out on a date with someone, I'm not sure I would make pronouncements like "people who know me know better than to look at their phone, text, or take a call in my presence," and "phones are to be turned off at all times in my presence." I agree that common courtesy ought to be observed, but last time I checked, relationships are hard to develop when one person dictates and the other person has to obey. And one other thing. If I were going out with a woman who had kids, I certainly would never suggest that she not take calls or texts from them ... it strikes me that the wrong place to be would be between a parent and his/her kids.

But maybe that's just me.

Well, not surprisingly, since I know who this particular reader is (and his name won't be any mystery to longtime MNB readers), he sent me another email yesterday:

There are plenty of desperate single moms looking for a meal ticket who will lower themselves to going out with me.  I make it very clear beforehand phones are to be turned off or left in the car.  They know this going in and have plenty of opportunity to opt out.   It might be 2013 but when someone is with me its 1963.  Oddly I've found the worst offenders are the women over 50.  The women under 25 are actually the most obedient.

With some justification, some people will wonder why I'm posting this moron's comments.

There's a reason.

It is important to remember that there are people in business today who think like this, and who say things like this, and who believe things like this. There are people in business today who actually impact the decision-making process who bring this sort of mindset to their work.

I find this staggering.

Maybe they do it for the attention. Maybe they think that just having their name published or posted - no matter in what context - is a good thing, or at the very least, an ego boost.

I cannot help but think that anyone who depends on people like this for business advice or guidance is making a serious error in judgement.

But maybe that's just me.
KC's View: