business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story the other day about a poll suggesting that while ;people were cutting back on day to day expenses, they still want to indulge in occasional luxuries, which prompted MNB reader Rich Heiland to write:

I used to use a statistic about Millennials in one of my presentations about finding and attracting markets. The study pointed out that Millennials were not buying homes. Urban Millennials were not buying cars. They were flexible. They were renting for the most part and selecting places near friends, work, other places of interest. And, they were renting small. But, and this was the point, they were using their spendable income to put really good stuff in those small spaces, and for recreation.

In urban areas they used public transit and ZIP cars. Of course the study was an early one and I’d assume many of those folks did change housing as they aged, started families. And, it did seem to have an urban focus. But my point was that cutting prices is not a great way to attract a market and it may cost you market share. By the way, my wife and I have downsized from a golf course home into a two-bedroom apartment and we spend on quality and on the experience.

I completely agree with you, though I suspect that some of the trend lines have been affected by the pandemic.  But I think the long-term trends will be in line with what you are sketching out.

Got the following note from MNB reader Rick Brindle about our Innovation Conversation, which focused on the two-part MNB interview with Boxed CEO Chieh Huang:

Great talk! Terrific insights. Two great minds with OG e-comm experience! 

Chieh is a friend. I sure hope he and his team comes out on top of's current opportunities. I'm no longer close enough to the situation but am betting that if anyone can figure it out, it's Chieh. 

High praise .., since Rick Brindle is the very definition of OG when it comes to e-commerce.

On another subject, I got this email from MNB reader Georgia Case:

Good thoughts, Kevin, on Frieda and Frieda's. She was my best friend and I was lucky to have known her. It's inspiring that we can continue to pass along her endearing qualities that made us better and in turn we make others better. She had a contagious personality!

Interestingly we were about 40 years apart but honestly I think she was younger in thought and sensibility.

I know what you mean.

We took note the other day of stories about how marketing decisions made by Mars Inc. about its M&M brand advertising have caused a cultural kerfuffle, leading to a move away from its animated "spokes-candies" in commercials and hiring of comedian Maya Rudolph for a new campaign that will be launched during Super Bowl LVII next month.

The New York Times wrote that "the characters, which have featured in the company’s ads for decades, were not weighing in on abortion or the storage of classified documents. But figures on the political right, including Tucker Carlson of Fox News, have criticized the candy as 'Woke M&M’s,' owing to a series of cosmetic tweaks in recent years … 'M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous,' Mr. Carlson railed on his show. 'Until the moment when you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won'."

I commented:

The thing is, there are things in the world worth arguing about.  There are things in the world worth fighting for.

But something else is true.  Which is that some people will fight and argue about stupid stuff just because they like the fight, not because the core disagreement is particularly meaningful.  These aren't necessarily stupid people, just people who like to create chaos for fun and, often, profit.  (Who, exactly, even thinks about having a drink with or being turned on by an animated candy character?)

To meet, the kind of shoes that animated candy characters wear, or what color these animated candy characters happen to be, fits the definition of not worth noticing, much less arguing about.

One MNB reader responded:

This is indicative of the world today – focusing on stupid things that don’t matter and acting offended to get attention.   Meanwhile, Rome burns. 

And MNB reader Aaron Algazy wrote:

“There is no such thing as bad publicity."

If people are talking about it, it’s making an impression on them and others.  Getting people like Tucker talking about it gets about half the country listening.  Then when the other half finds out “they” agree or disagree, the other half will disagree or agree.  

Personally I think having a real live spokes person rather than an animated spokes ‘thing’ is better for humans.  And I’m sure that the animated M&M’s are still going to be around.  Mars has too much invested in them.  

I don't think that the old trope, "there is no such thing as bad publicity," really works anymore.

Just ask George Santos. 

(Too soon?)

The fact is that the viral nature of publicity - good and bad - these days makes it harder to control.  And stupidity - which I think the work that best describes this debate about M&M's - gets a far brighter spotlight than I think it can handle.