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    Published on: October 21, 2021

    KC did something he hasn't done in more than two years - he flew in and out of LaGuardia Airport in New York, a facility that long has been known for resembling a third-world airport.   Things have changed, he found…

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    Excellent piece in Fast Company that reflects on the "great resignation" - or, to use another term, "turnover tsunami" - that in August led to 4.3 million people voluntarily resigning from their jobs.

    It gets worse, the story says:  "Workhuman’s research surveyed employees in the U.S., UK, Ireland, and Canada and found that nearly 40% are planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months. In December 2019 that number was 21%. Put simply, your potential cost of turnover doubled in the past 20 months."

    Fast Company argues that "the fact that so many more people are planning a job search this year should be chilling to any leader," because "voluntary turnover has the potential to cost businesses billions."

    The story suggests that business leaders have three options:  "Hope this is temporary and do nothing … Get into a salary arms race to hold critical talent, which will crush your bottom line … (and) Double down on building a culture that attracts and keeps the best people."

    But "a bit of math," the story says, actually adds up to the notion that there really is one option:

    "The cost of replacing an employee can be anywhere from 50% to 200% of their salary (you can calculate your cost here). Using 100% as a benchmark, an organization with an average salary of $50,000 potentially faces that amount for employees who leave. Whether your turnover rate is 3% or 20%, that’s the kind of cost that can kill your bottom line.

    "Retention is obviously the key to cutting that cost, and workforce data show that the best ways to increase retention have to do with company culture. Continuous feedback, employee recognition, celebrating individual and team accomplishments, and just building a more human workplace all have measurable bottom-line benefits because they all strengthen employees’ emotional ties to each other and the organization …The Great Resignation illustrates the fact that people don’t make decisions based on strictly rational reasoning. We are emotional, community-oriented actors with needs that can never be fully quantified. We want to belong to a group. We want to feel appreciated. We want to show up as our genuine, complete, even messy selves and be recognized for who we are. All of these are possible in the organization I call the Human Workplace."

    Fast Company makes the point that this cannot happen within organizations by accident:  "Intentionality is the key to creating this culture. Work demands so much rational decision-making that leaders can miss the simple power of human connection. They need to pause and deliberately celebrate the connections and achievements that make up the irreplaceable networks of trust in a company. Show appreciation for employees’ contributions, the little considerations, as well as the big team wins. Tell stories about how their actions embody company values."

    KC's View:

    The shame of it is that none of this should be a revelation, and yet it only becomes relevant at a time when businesses are facing a labor crunch.

    We've always known that employee retention can save companies money in the long-term because it reduces training costs;  plus, it makes business cultures more relationship-based than transactional. We've always known that when businesses invest in their employees, those employees end up feeling more invested in the businesses.

    And yet, here we are, with many companies trying to rewrite internal narratives that, if they'd paid attention to them from the beginning, wouldn't need dramatic rewrites.

    The bigger question, it seems to me, is what companies do when the turnover tsunami recedes.  Go back to business-as-usual?  Or maintain their more enlightened approach and outlook?

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    The October 2021 Advantage Sale Outlook is out, concluding that:

    •  "Manufacturers and retailers expect increased dollar sales over the next two quarters compared to COVID and pre-COVID periods. They point to elevated levels of in-home consumption and price increases as the biggest contributing factors."

    •  "The industry continues to grapple with supply chain issues, with more than 40% of manufacturers and retailers reporting 'drastic' changes in strategy. Four in 10 retailers are increasing their supply at the warehouse, distribution center or wholesaler.

    •  "To mitigate rising costs, nine in 10 manufacturers are planning or have taken at least one price increase since the start of the pandemic; 16% have are planning or have taken three or more."

    •  "Seven in 10 manufacturers will reduce trade spending in the next six months, mostly due to supply constraints and diverting funds to digital investments."

    •  "Grocery manufacturers and retailers are feeling the impact of The Great Resignation, as six in 10 industry players say they’ve experienced  increased involuntary turnover for traditional corporate roles in the last 12 months. Nearly 80% of retailers and 60% of manufacturers say they’ve increased salaries to attract talent."

    KC's View:

    I continue to believe that when it comes to trends and events that directly affect shoppers, both retailers and manufacturers would be best served by communicating directly and clearly with shoppers about why these things are happening.

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    The Associated Press reports that "Walgreens will begin flying packages by drone to residents in a pair of Texas cities in partnership with Google’s drone-making affiliate, Wing.  The companies said they will begin testing the service next week in the city of Frisco and neighboring Little Elm, two fast-growing communities north of Dallas … It will be Wing’s first commercial expansion in the U.S. after years testing the concept in a Virginia town and parts of Australia and Finland. The drone company is a subsidiary of Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet."

    According to the story, "Walgreens says about 100 store items will be available for air delivery when the service rolls out in Texas in the coming months, including over-the-counter medication, snacks and cosmetics. Store employees will be tasked with taking online orders and then loading the purchased items onto one of a small number of Wing’s 10-pound drones.

    "The drones are able to navigate autonomously — though a human pilot can also control them remotely — and are powered by two forward propellers on their wings and 12 smaller vertical propellers. A tether releases to drop the package onto a front lawn."

    KC's View:

    These tests are going to continue, and I suspect that we'll find out that in some cases they don't make a ton of sense, but in some cases they do.  In other words, drones will be just one solution out of many to delivery problems facing retailers.

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the US, there now have been a total of 46,092,362 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 751,811 deaths and 35,814,326 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 242,935,790 total cases, with 4,940,334 resultant fatalities and 220,187,989 reported recoveries. (Source.)

    •  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 77.3 percent of the US population age 12 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 66.9 percent being full vaccinated.  

    The CDC also says that 15.3 percent of the IUS population age 65 and older has received a vaccine booster shot.

    • From the New York Times:

    "The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots on Wednesday for tens of millions of recipients of Moderna’s two-dose coronavirus vaccine and Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot, significantly expanding efforts to bolster protection for vulnerable Americans.

    "The agency also authorized medical providers to give people a booster shot of a different Covid-19 vaccine, a strategy known as 'mix and match.'

    "That decision may dampen interest in the United States in Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which studies have found provides less protection than the other two. Recipients of that vaccine will have the option of seeking a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech booster, which could prompt a more substantial jump in protective antibodies. Recipients of the other two vaccines will have the same leeway to choose a different vaccine for a booster shot.

    "The regulators, who authorized boosters for high-risk recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last month, did not recommend any one vaccine over another as a booster."

    •  Bloomberg writes that "as Covid-19 cases soar again in the U.K., officials could look to a country that’s moved past a similar crisis for a possible roadmap.

    "The search for answers in Israel may be useful, health experts say, because both countries were among the fastest in the world with their vaccination programs, yet were similarly quick to lift lockdown restrictions. And just as Israel experienced a spike in cases in June, so the U.K. is now, having just reported the biggest single daily jump in infections in three months.

    "Israel’s response to its renewed outbreak was to roll out an aggressive booster program, a decision that appears to have quelled the worst of the outbreak within weeks.

    "And while there are too many other variables to draw hard-and-fast conclusions -- from vaccine type and timings to age-group prioritizing, social-distancing rules and mask-wearing -- it may offer one stand-out lesson for the U.K: People should get their boosters."

    •  From the Washington Post:

    "The White House on Wednesday announced plans to distribute vaccines to a huge group that has been ineligible so far to receive the coronavirus shots — 28 million children aged 5 to 11. The operation is slated to begin as soon as federal health officials sign off on a reduced dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which the Biden administration anticipates could come as soon as the first week of November.

    "White House officials said they have already acquired enough doses to vaccinate every child in that age group. They plan to make the specially packaged vaccine available at more than 25,000 pediatricians’ and doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, and school- and community-based clinics. They also will undertake a campaign to educate parents more fully about the vaccines.

    "That strategy is key to reducing the impact of the virus across the United States, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, said at a White House briefing. The delta variant has changed the game, he said, describing a recent study showing children are getting infected and transmitting the virus as readily as adults, even though 50 percent of them are asymptomatic."

    •  Axios reports, however, that it may not be easy.

    "A recent survey by The COVID States Project found that just over half of parents of children under 12 said they’d vaccinate their kids if a shot were available, and even more have concerns," Axios reports.  "A quarter said they were extremely unlikely to get their kids vaccinated, and another 9% said they were somewhat unlikely.

    "The number of parents saying they have vaccine concerns has risen — not fallen — over the last few months."

    I'd like to think that the availability of vaccines for kids would create an enormous collective sigh of relief on the part people all over the country, but I suspect the greater likelihood is that it will instead prompt a rallying cry from people who just cannot accept the conclusions of scientists and dedicated public health officials.  When mandates are put in place for these kids, at least if they want to attend school (just like there are other mandates for a variety of vaccines), that'll just make the cries of protest louder and more strident.

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    •  From Axios:

    "Amazon isn't known primarily as a logistics company, but in 2020 the company shipped more parcels than FedEx."

    The story points out that "Amazon had zero share of the U.S. shipping market as recently as 2014.

    "Logistics is a $1.5 trillion business, and it has long been controlled by a handful of players — FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service.  Amazon has 21% of the U.S. shipping market — behind UPS (24%) and ahead of FedEx (16%). The Postal Service remains dominant — 38%."

    •  Social Media Today has a piece about how TikTok  is embracing what is called "community commerce."  An excerpt:

    "At a billion users and rising, TikTok’s influence is growing by the day, and with the holiday season fast approaching, many marketers are now looking at how they can utilize the reach of the platform to maximize their results in the period.

    "And while TikTok doesn’t offer as many ad options as other platforms, it definitely does influence user action, and purchase behavior. Which is the focus of a new report that TikTok has conducted, in association with WARC and Publicis Groupe, which specifically analyses the concept of ‘community commerce’, which TikTok says is central to its marketing appeal … TikTok’s branded content, created in conjunction with creators, and then the broader in-app community, can help to build stronger bonds, and establish your brand as a more likable, desirable product to TikTok users."

    TikTok explains it this way:  "“Community commerce specifically speaks to the notion of entertaining, compelling content that just happens to feature brands. It is creator-driven, word-of-mouth marketing that has taken over the TikTok platform and injects a new opportunity into content creation on social that is more authentic to its environment.”

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    •  MagnifyMoney is out with a new study concluding that "conventional food prices are rising at a much faster rate than organic costs. Since 2019, prices for select conventional meats, dairy items, fruits and vegetables have risen by an average of 13.9% — 12 percentage points more than the 1.6% growth in costs for organic varieties.

    "On average, non-organic meat prices are rising faster than costs for conventional fruits and veggies. Prices across the selected non-organic varieties of produce items have increased an average of 13.1% over the past two years, compared with a 15.6% rise across meat product prices in the same period."

    •  Pymnts.comm reports that "Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM) has debuted a private programmatic advertising marketplace for brands and marketers of consumer packaged goods (CPGs) … Advertisers will be able to tailor their audiences to match campaign objectives with targeting science. That will come from the new private marketplace, which 'pre-optimizes' audiences to reach business goals … The Kroger Private Marketplace will also offer advertisers access to targeting solutions and audience science, allowing advertisers to target only the most relevant households."

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    MNB reader Tom Murphy had a thought about yesterday's piece about Target using more and more in-store boutiques in its stores:

    This is an extremely interesting article.  When I was a grocery industry executive and then consultant (1990 - 2018), the standard grocer premise was that floor space was too important an asset to “lease out” to others…preferring to add more products to the space.  However, as the online and subscription models have taken hold over the past 5 years or so, suddenly there is ample space that can used for higher margin, and consumer experiential, alternatives.

    If you are a grocer in this day and age, you need to figure this out, because another fragrance or size of laundry detergent is not the answer to more sales and more consumer satisfaction.  However, it might result in more market, ad, slotting and placement fees…which of course, is another problem!

    And, responding to ther discussion we've been having about food waste, one MNB reader wrote:

    The states/FDA/USDA etc. have a lot on their plate these days but the entire sell by, best by, expiration date labeling could use a streamline and updating and could easily help reduce food waste.  States have different requirements for many perishable items which causes extra expense for manufacturing and delivery.  It confuses the customer (most people think “sell by” is an expiration date). 

    Take eggs - most states require 45 days either Best Buy or Sell by.  If marked incorrectly the states red tag the product.  In reality, eggs are good for months but food banks can’t receive them after the date marked on the package and most consumers will tell you that their “eggs went bad” by the date on the carton even though that’s not the case. 

    If these regulations were consolidated into something consumers can easily understand and are consistently applied to all food products across the US, it would greatly reduce food waste and some costs.

    Published on: October 21, 2021

    In the National League Championship Series, the Atlanta Braves defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-2, taking a 3-1 game lead in the best-of-seven series.

    In the American League Championship Series, the Houston Astros beat the Boston Red Sox 9-1, giving the Astros a 3-2 game lead in the best-of-seven series.