business news in context, analysis with attitude

Little bit of hostility out in the MNB community this week…

Yesterday we noted that the latest dunnhumby Consumer Trends Tracker (CTT) is out, and underlines the fact that "Americans believe that food-at-home inflation has hit 22.8%, 9.7 points higher than the 13.1% annual rate reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."

One MNB reader responded:

Well - I give you credit. as Snoop Dog says in his commercial... You are incredible…ly bad.

Headline "Americans overstate inflation". You and Jean Pierre have gone to the same school. 

Defer, deflect, deny. So blame the American public for inflation.. Good onya. What a clown.

For the record … I didn't come up with this statistic out of thin air.  It was a dunnhumby number, based on research.

Besides, I commented:

The fact that Americans' perceptions of food inflation are dramatically inflated - sorry - compared to reality is interesting but, in some ways, irrelevant - marketers can't get into an argument about this, and have to address perceptions when talking to shoppers.

So you may think I am a clown, and you may want to disparage the White House press secretary.

But if the actual number is at odds with perception, don't you think that;'s worth noting … especially in the context of a commentary that suggests the perception needs to be dealt with.

Responding to this same story, another MNB reader wrote:

Perhaps the consultants and analysts should visit mainstream supermarkets more often. What do you expect consumers to think when a loaf of bread at Walmart goes from $1 to $1.49 in the space of a week or a gallon of milk doubles in price?

Time to deal with the realities and not try to lull consumers into a sense of security with signage and a few online deals.

Certainly not what I was suggesting.

We also had a story yesterday about how ""U.S. employers pulled back sharply on job openings, while layoffs rose in August, adding to signs the labor market and overall economy are cooling."

I commented:

This is a good thing, especially in the broad economic sense.  But if the pendulum shifts back in employers' direction, they need to remember who the essential people were when things got tough.  Everybody's goal should to stop the pendulum from swinging wildly, but rather come to a resting place in the middle, where everybody is valued and feels invested in the business's success.

One MNB reader took exception to my suggestion:

Maybe it’s time to change the name of your newsletter to “morningnewslecture.”

Have you ever read MorningNewsBeat?  (Actually, I know you have.)

I don't think I'm lecturing.  I like to think of myself as gently nudging, and expressing a point of view with a certain degree of passion.

Nothing's changed.

(Okay, maybe I'm a little older and crankier.)

We also had a story yesterday about how "Schnucks announced that a select number of its St. Louis-area stores now are offering what it is calling a 'flex assignment option," which it said would allow employees to be "able to optimize their work schedules by selecting shifts and store locations that best fit their personal schedules while creating opportunities for growth and learning at a pace determined by the teammate."

Sounded good to me.  But to an MNB reader, not so much:

Interesting… I have a different take. Instead of guaranteeing entry level employees a schedule, they are offering “open shifts” selection – thus limiting the workforce to only shifts the company deems necessary at any particular time. They're not even guaranteeing a location for the employee to work at!

Very clever marketing, though - points for that! 

And finally, on another subject, one MNB reader wrote:

In 1975, Loretta Lynn was one of the biggest stars in country music when she released a song that was quickly banned by many country radio stations. The song, “The Pill,” was an ode to birth control and sexual freedom that shocked the industry and many of the genre’s more conservative listeners with lyrics like:

“This old maternity dress I’ve got is going in the garbage

The clothes I’m wearing from now on won’t take up so much yardage

Miniskirts, hot pants, and a few little fancy frills

Yeah, I’m making up for all those years since I’ve got the pill.”

My, how times change with the rapidity.

Not all that rapidly.  That was almost a half-century ago.

But things certainly have changed.

I have to be honest here.  I have no memory of having ever heard this song before….but I love it … especially the subversiveness of it, when you think about the context.