business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding the ongoing Facebook controversy, MNB reader David Spawn wrote:

Makes me wonder when some enterprising college kid or twenty-something comes up with a competitive idea to FB.  Maybe it’s a bit too naïve or simplistic, but finding sponsors to pay more for content and offer the user something for sharing their “lives” on social media, kind of like interactive TV?  Maybe you get tokens to redeem if you get enough likes or shares?  Probably wouldn’t fly but it seems when someone stumbles badly, it’s an indication that there’s an opening for someone to take advantage of.
Also, regarding the comments in the Eye-Opener, “Zuckerberg admits that companies had their way with its data, yet Russia and Trump are getting the coverage. Clearly, the media doesn't care that people are tired of hearing Trump is connected to everything bad….” I’m a little terrified that someone seems to think that a foreign power using data from an American company to attempt to meddle in a U.S. election seems to not to be news worthy of reporting.
Despite our occasional differences of opinion, I find your blog refreshing and well-written and am very glad that you can keep a cool (& informed) head about this.

Got an email about another subject from MNB reader Anna Osborn:

The read about Generation Z not feeling the love for Amazon was a great share.  You bring up some good points about not quite realizing the value of money just yet.  I noticed the article said gen z refers to people born after 2000.  If that's the case, it shouldn't be surprising they aren't enthralled by Amazon.  Most likely don't have an income nor are they likely to have their own most they're just 18 and still being financially supported.  I believe we really won't know more about this generation's shopping tendencies until more of them get a bit older.

From another reader, on the same subject:

I had a couple of thoughts on the Gen Z and Millennial purchase differences on Amazon.

Gen Z is primarily, although not exclusively, living at home making replenishment shopping that Amazon excels at less prevalent.

Gen Z shopping in stores and enjoying the experience is a HUGE opportunity if retailers talk to them NOW to cement those attitudes for when they do start making more comparisons.

I would argue that many Millennials are just starting the type of shopping that they will do in the Grocery space as they start their families as they have started later than the X and especially Boomers.

These shoppers will be very aware of data handling concerns and while retailers are touting their data today, all of that can be erased with one bad step. In the digital / e-com realm, it’s all data.

Both Amazon and traditional retailers need to beware and think through whether or not they are ready for this as they race online and can they make it a differential advantage?

If the online strategy adds costs for the consumer, what will they do when there are rough spots in the economy? This doesn’t have to be the whole economy. It can be very local as all things retail are.

Regarding changes that Target is making in terms of employee screening, one MNB reader wrote:

Kevin, the situation Target faces in terms of ensuring those they hire do not have criminal backgrounds is not without precedent.  The question about potential bias would be addressed more proactively if this topic weren’t driven by an individual retailer but rather by an industry forum / Board. 

Its been a couple of years since I was involved in this but a good model to look at is the one in place in South Africa, run by CGCSA (Consumer Goods Council South Africa).  It established an online registry for all store workers (across all retailers) which did three things.  First, it ensured that everyone employed in any retail store is a SA citizen.  Second, the work history was documented.  Thirdly and most relevant to the Target issue, if someone in the database commits an infraction (theft primarily) then it would most likely lead to them not being employable for a period of time within the retail industry.  In a highly franchised market like South Africa, this technology leveled the field in terms of knowing someone’s past work history.
What’s different is that the introduction of this system was intended to be a deterrent to potential theft / crimes being committed.  Once any crime was proven, the individuals record was updated for potential hirers to see.   I’m not close to how well it worked but your story makes me want to reach out to those leading the project to get a perspective. In a country with a diverse workforce, this system (at that time) made a lot of sense.  As a franchise business owner, this brought a more consistent, cost-effective way to do background screening.
My main point here is that one benefit of industry affair type organizations is this type of service.

Finally, an email about one component of my review of Eileen McNamara’s “Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed The World”:

Thanks for a great review and endorsement. I haven’t read the book yet, but will. I studied the Kennedys and consumed info about them from an early age. My comment relates to your judgment regarding her Catholicism. Faith is not political. I think your comments reflect a different generation who grew up questioning everything including their religions. It came off as anti-Catholic and many could easily take offense. It’s tough enough for those of us growing up both Irish as well as Catholic!

For the record, here is the relevant [passage from my review:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a contradiction in terms, although maybe just when viewed through a modern prism. She was committed to the less fortunate, and yet she certainly enjoyed the privileges that her family’s wealth and connections afforded her, and sometimes seemed oblivious to how unique they made her. Her dedication to the Catholic Church, an institution that we now know had some serious flaws, seems strangely anachronistic and maybe a little naive. There also was a willingness to ignore the personal flaws - and there were many - of her brothers that seems out of step with her intelligence, but, to be fair, in synch with the kind of blind family loyalty inculcated in her brothers and sisters since birth.

I certainly wasn’t trying to be anti-Catholic.

I would argue that the faith is one thing, and the institution is another. I am anti-institution. Then again, I’m skeptical about most institutions.
KC's View: