Service of Live and Learn: Did You Know Unsold Luxury Fashions & Accessories are Destroyed at Season’s End?

September 13th, 2018

Categories: Luxury, Retail

Burberry Scarf. Photo: uk.burberry.com

I knew that mutilated US currency is destroyed but I didn’t know that at the end of a season unsold luxury goods are as well. Matthew Dalton explained the practice in a recent Wall Street Journal article and reported that one internationally known brand—Burberry–is bucking the custom.

“Destroying unsold inventory is a widely used but rarely discussed technique that luxury companies perform to maintain the scarcity of their goods and the exclusivity of their brands. In Italy and many other countries, they can also claim a tax credit for destroying the inventory.”

Stefano Ricci suit. Photo: Stefanoricci.com

Dalton also wrote that one Italian menswear brand, Stefano Ricci, fills dozens of boxes–it sells its fashions in Italy, China and the U.S.–with cashmere suits, silk ties and cotton shirts and ships them off to be burned. “The companies hired to incinerate the clothing film the destruction so that brands can prove to the Italian tax authorities that their inventory has truly gone up in smoke.” The owner would like to give some of the clothing to charity “but the tax credit ties the company’s hands.”

He also reported that the Swiss conglomerate that owns Cartier bought back unsold watches worth “hundreds of millions of euros in recent years…. which were piling up at retailers because of a drop in demand from Chinese consumers. The company pried off the jewels and melted them down, but is reusing the materials.”

As I noted above, Burberry Group won’t be following suit, bowing to pressure by environmental groups “who say it is wasteful.” [Now that we know I doubt these groups are the only ones to share this point of view!] “The amount of stock Burberry destroys had risen sharply in recent years, from £5.5 million in fiscal year 2013 to £28.6 million in the last fiscal year.” And Dalton added that the brand’s younger target market is particularly concerned about the environment. It will no longer sell fur. Elizabeth Paton who covered the story for the New York Times wrote that the company is researching sustainable materials with a group at the Royal College of Art in London.

Gucci Fall 2017 menswear collection. Photo: gq.com

High end holdouts don’t want to see their goods deeply discounted as “luxury goods command higher prices because they are inherently more valuable.” Gucci reuses cloth and leather and claims that it destroys a “relatively small” part. In addition, “it unloads unsold clothes through discounts for friends and family and through outlet stores.”

Decades ago I bought a traditional Burberry raincoat that I still wear every fall and spring. The quality of the material is unequalled—the cuff and coat edges have never frayed; the lining is solid. It cost a king’s ransom but given its longevity was fairly priced. I can’t attest to the quality of luxury goods today nor do I know how many people who buy them would dream of wearing them this long even if they lasted. I’ve always been too practical. When I’ve bought eccentric bits of clothing I’ve paid as little as possible. Even if I could afford them, the unconventional looks customers expect from some luxury fashion designers will date themselves too quickly for my taste.

Did you know that high end manufacturers destroyed their goods? I understand the reasoning behind the convention to preserve the value of fashions and accessories, but the practice doesn’t seem fitting today, do you think? Dalton doesn’t say what Burberry will do with its leftovers. How might companies protect their exclusivity and extravagant prices yet skip the step of annihilating their products–or should they continue the process?

Ballon Bleu de Cartier Photo: cartier.com

 

Service of a Crack in the Surface of E-Commerce

September 10th, 2018

Categories: Discounts, E-Commerce, Luxury, Retail

Photo: physics.aps.org

A Wall Street Journal article about traditional retailing and E-commerce made clear that those who see the latter annihilating traditional retail shouldn’t order the funeral flowers just yet. Some retailers of both luxury and discount goods are spending big bucks on their brick and mortar stores. In a second article the same day the Journal reported that WalMart has started to refuse to ship heavy items–because of the cost– by claiming they are out of stock. This approach may be temporary and therefore, potentially less significant in the long run.

What’s In Store?

Photo: pinterest.com

Target was also a focus of John D. Stoll’s Wall Street Journal article, “Tiffany’s $250 Million Bet on a 78-Year-Old Store.” He wrote “It turns out that all over the ravaged retailing sector, companies are rethinking the mantra that the future is digital, and pouring money into actual brick-and-mortar stores.” Target plans to spend $7 billion. It doesn’t break down the superstore’s expenditures though “a spokeswoman said stores are an ‘incredibly important linchpin.’”

Why this confidence in physical stores? Stoll wrote: “Because the bulk of America’s retail is still done the old-fashioned way. Target has consistently increased online sales, but ecommerce represents less than 6% of its revenues. Online sales are closer to 7% at Home Depot but under 4% at Walmart.” Tiffany’s stores produce 90 percent of its revenue.

Photo: logos.wikia.com

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual Consumer Insights survey showed weekly purchases from stores has risen from 36 percent four years ago to 40 percent in 2015 and 44 percent this year. Stoll wrote: “Retailers are smart to better integrate the physical shopping experience with people’s online habits, but now is not the time to give up on making stores better.” On a recent Wednesday, he reported, Tiffany’s new café in its NYC flagship had 1,000 on a waiting list for 40 seats.

Cupboard is Bare

So what about Walmart’s shipping policy? People need the products involved such as household cleaners, nonperishable groceries, pet food and cosmetics so they will buy them somewhere.

I marvel at how CVS often covers the cost of shipping heavy items with no minimum purchase required, in conjunction with a sale many times, and wonder how long the windfall will last.

Photo: walmartcareers.com

Sarah Nassauer in her Wall Street Journal article wrote that the Walmart “has begun telling online shoppers that some products in its warehouses are ‘out of stock’ after the retailer changed its e-commerce systems to avoid orders deemed too expensive to ship.” Some suppliers were surprised. To address the policy they’ll “stock their products at more Walmart warehouses around the country to keep sales steady, according to an executive at a large food company.

“The shift is part of a test, Walmart said, to see if it can deliver more products via ground shipping, a cheaper option than air shipping, in two days or less.” Spokesman Ravi Jariwala “said shoppers shouldn’t notice a big increase in out-of-stock items because walmart.com will suggest similar products from nearby warehouses.”

Do you think retailers like Tiffany’s and Target are throwing away their money in this retail climate by upgrading their traditional stores? Is there an aura about some stores—like Tiffany’s—that compels shoppers to visit? Will retailers figure out cheaper ways of shipping heavy goods or will customers increasingly pick up in stores their online orders deemed too heavy/expensive to ship? Walmart says it’s a test but if profitable, don’t you think the “shortages will be permanent, potentially impacting online sales? When you buy online, do you stick to your shopping list more than you do when you’re in a store?

Photo: flickr.com

Service of Changing Your Mind III

September 6th, 2018

Categories: Changing Your Mind, Decisions, Invitation, Magazines, Politics

Photo: limpingintotruth.com

I respect people who change their minds for good reasons. It takes guts especially if they are in the public eye. However in some cases when intelligent people know they are slamming a stick on a beehive, why do they chicken out when they must have anticipated they’d be stung?

This is what happened when David Remnick, whom I admire, The New Yorker Magazine’s editor in chief, invited and then disinvited Steve Bannon to speak at the magazine’s October festival which for 19 years has included political, art and literary figures.

Photo: newyorker.com

Doha Madani with the Huffington Post, covered the reactions. He wrote that a New York Times article disclosed that the former White House chief strategist was to be a headliner. “The New Yorker’s readers and staffers accused Remnick of giving a platform to Bannon’s racism and white nationalist agenda after the Times article.” One columnist tweeted that she was “beyond appalled,” Madani wrote. Some of the speakers also protested.

Madani shared Bannon’s response to the withdrawn invitation, which he’d made in a statement to CNBC: “The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation. In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.”

Madani continued “‘I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think I’ve ignored their concerns,’ Remnick said in a statement Monday evening. ‘I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues — and I’ve re-considered. I’ve changed my mind.’ 

David Remnick. Photo: newyorker.com

“Remnick said he ultimately decided that, while he would still interview Bannon for a journalistic piece, a festival was not the best forum for speaking to him. An additional reason for canceling Bannon’s appearance, Remnick said, was that the magazine would have paid him an honorarium, as well as for lodging and travel if Bannon spoke at the event, rather than for an article, which would be done without payment.”

I’ve produced countless industry events but the speakers were noncontroversial–and most approved by others–so I’ve not run into a situation like this. However I think that Remnick, who is used to looking controversy in the eye, should have kept Bannon on the lineup–though moved him to a lower position rather than that of headliner, if there was such a spot.

Do you think that Remnick should have stuck to his guns and not withdraw the  invitation to Bannon; thought twice before inviting Bannon to participate in his festival in any capacity or tested the water before doing so? Have you had to similarly backtrack due to pressure by others?

Photo: kompastiana.com

 

Service of Can You Go Home Again? Do Revivals Work for Businesses Like FAO Schwarz or the Playboy Club or Comedies?

September 4th, 2018

Categories: Broadway, Movies, Passe, Retail, Revival, Television, Theatre

Photo: Pix11.com

I’m intrigued by the concept of revivals. Two once successful businesses that closed are attempting them now–FAO Schwarz and the Playboy Club—and a prominent theater critic wrote in his Neil Simon obit that they don’t work when it comes to comedy.

Charles Passy covered the Schwarz and Playboy stories in Wall Street Journal articles, “FAO Schwarz Is Set to Return, And It Needs People to Dance on the ‘Big’ Piano– Midtown Manhattan store will be staffed with demonstrators, magicians and men and women playing costumed roles, including toy soldiers” and “Playboy Club Returns to New York, Bunnies and All, but Will It Hop? Industry experts question if the club’s concept will still work, as it comes back to the Big Apple after a three-decade absence.

Hugh Hefner and bunnies. Photo: Oldlarestaurants.com

I have memories of both. On a visit to FAO Schwarz with a first grade classmate and her mother the girl pointed to Santa and reported to my six year old self that he didn’t exist. I attribute happier recollections of the store with gift reconnaissance for my nephews. As for the Playboy Club, it paid bunny wait staff four times what other jobs I’d applied for after college offered. The reaction I’d expected from my father—he’d had a fit when he learned I’d modeled fully clothed for an art class—was only one of several good reasons I didn’t pursue the opportunity.

Terry Teachout’s Neil Simon obituary began “All comedy dates, and every pure comedian sooner or later becomes passé—even one as beloved as Neil Simon.” After “Lost in Yonkers,” wrote Teachout in The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Simon would never again write a full-fledged box-office smash, and none of his plays has since been successfully revived on Broadway save as a star vehicle. His last bow there as a playwright, a 2009 revival of ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ directed by David Cromer, closed after nine performances.”

Photo: Playbill

Teachout observed: “And while his plays remain popular with amateur troupes and smaller companies elsewhere in America, most of the major regional theaters tend to steer clear of his work.”

In an op-ed piece in the same paper associate editorial features editor Matthew Hennessey wrote that theater today is “dominated by crowd-pleasing jukebox musicals and adaptations of popular movies. In the last few decades of the 20th century, Simon, who died Sunday at 91, was a household name.” Broadwayworld.com proved Hennessey’s assertion. A headline last week was “Jerry Zaks will bring Mrs. Doubtfire musical to Broadway.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Hennessey continued: Simon’s “domination of the Great White Way from the 1960s through the ’80s has no contemporary comparison. The current toast of Broadway, ‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, has staged two original hit shows in a decade. In 1966 Simon had four plays running in Broadway houses at the same time.”

Do you think that FAO Schwarz and Playboy Clubs will/can fit today’s customers? What about revivals of once popular comedies–do they all become passé? Perhaps “Mash” and “Honeymooners” fans, or those who tune in to the TV version of “The Odd Couple” –derived from Simon’s play–don’t buy tickets to Broadway or major regional company theaters because they are simply too old or too poor? Or maybe laughter is out of fashion on the Great White Way?

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Service of Newspapers—When The Good Guys Win

August 30th, 2018

Categories: Charity, Newspapers, Tariff

Photo: philly.com

On one side of this post is a man who did extremely well, lived simply and used his fortune to help the newspaper industry, and many others. On the other is a private equity firm that pushed for a tariff against Canada to allegedly help some US businesses while threatening the survival of others. Amazingly, our system worked and the good guys won. Read on.

Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest. Photo: mercersburg.edu

“I can’t think of any cause that we support that’s more important than the support of the newspapers,” Mr. Lenfest said in 2014. That’s H.F. Lenfest, known as Gerry, who died early in August. James R. Hagerty wrote Lenfest’s obituary in The Wall Street Journal.

These weren’t just words for Lenfest and his wife Marguerite. They paid $88 million for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com four years ago and in 2016, “donated that company to a nonprofit, now known as the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, charged with preserving quality journalism in Philadelphia and testing ideas that might sustain fact-based news reporting elsewhere,” wrote Hagerty.

In all, the Lenfests have given away $1.2 billion. In spite of Lenfest’s financial success in the cable TV industry, the family lived modestly—keeping the house they moved into in 1966, for example. Their son Brook said his father “rode city buses and flew coach” because people in coach were “more open to conversation.” [The Lenfests gave $14 million to Teach America after Gerry Lenfest chatted with the founder he met on the train to NYC.]

Photo: ehshumfinancial.com

At the same time as this stalwart attempt at saving an industry takes place the Department of Commerce was supporting a tariff on Canadian newsprint that would raise the price as much as 30 percent ringing the death knell for many papers and causing severe cutbacks in staff and production in others. The tariff was to save jobs here. It appeared to back wealthy cronies at a private equity firm who pushed for the tariff because they own a US newsprint business. Some wondered if there wasn’t another agenda: to cut off yet more arteries of information that feed [legitimate] news to communities across the country.

A few days before the International Trade Commission’s decision–made yesterday–William Mauldin told the story in: “Bad News for U.S. Papers, but Tariffs Are Paying Off for One Rock Capital –Private-equity firm headed by a Washington and Wall Street veteran pushed for the tariffs on behalf of its North Pacific Paper and hope they are affirmed in a coming trade-commission vote.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

He reported that after salaries, newsprint is usually a newspaper’s second biggest cost. The increased cost “threatens the viability of small-town papers across the country, forcing reduced publication days, layoffs and other cut backs. Canadian mills have historically supplied a large portion of U.S. newsprint.”

He continued: “Some industry observers say a Trump administration, led by a president antagonistic to the media, is unlikely to be sympathetic to newspapers.” A White House spokeswoman said such a claim is “absurd.”

So what happened yesterday? Tom Kludt and Jill Disis at CNN.com wrote: “In what amounts to a blow to the Department of Commerce, which upheld the tariffs earlier this month, the International Trade Commission found that the imports of Canadian paper do not hurt American producers. The commission’s vote was unanimous.” Commissioner David S. Johnson, a Texas Republican, serves as chairman.

Do you predict the success of the Lenfest Institute’s research may save the newspaper industry? Are philanthropists like the Lenfests who gain little more than personal pleasure from their generous gifts, few and far between? Were you surprised by the International Trade Commission’s unanimous decision regarding what Thehill.com called the “Trump tariffs?” Did you also see the proposed tariffs as the administration’s attempt to punish and diminish the fourth estate? Dare we extrapolate this decision, with David and Goliath overtones, as a turning point where responsible commissioners based their decisions on facts and not due to pressure from a bully–with more to come?

Photo: thedailystar.net

Service of Fleeting Impressions: Eye-Popping Displays, a Dash of Vintage and Middle Eastern Vibes at NY Now

August 27th, 2018

Categories: Display, Gifts, Merchandising, Vintage

MT masking tape, Japan

In a quick visit to NY Now, the former New York International Gift Fair, I saw striking, contemporary displays by companies with decades under their belts as well as vintage-inspired products and some Middle Eastern accents.

MT, a Japanese masking tape manufacturer, had a most outstanding display [photo above and below right].

MT masking tape, Japan

At first I thought I was looking at long plastic straws in wonderful colors suspended from above and only on closer inspection did I realize that I was looking at unrolled spools of masking tape meticulously installed! MT’s tape is made of Washi paper. Its website claims that the paper is strong and “extremely thin compared with those made in other countries.” The company—its factory launched in 1923–stands by its adhesive which it claims leaves no trace when removed. Its color range may be more extensive than most. For sure its booth designer is visionary and the installers extremely patient.

Meloria by Graziani, Italy

My photo doesn’t do justice to the striking Meloria by Graziani booth. Like MT, its fresh look belies the age of the manufacturer: The candle company was founded in Tuscany in 1805 and Meloria is one of its brands. Ball-shaped candles, some, in saturated colors, joined pastel hues and naturals reminiscent of lush hedges, cherries, cabbages and oranges as well as a shiny black 8-ball. Unlike many booths crowded with choices, this one focused on only two shapes, the ball and tapers with a twist.

Alexander Girard wooden dolls

You couldn’t miss the giant replicas of Alexander Girard’s family of wooden dolls in the Vitra booth. The original human and animal characters designed by Girard in 1953 to decorate his home in Santa Fe are in the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany. According to the website, the dolls are made and painted by hand today and precisely replicate the originals.

Filt string bags

Mahogany

Booths with a vintage spirit included Mahogany’s flannel nightwear in patterns inspired by the 40s and 50s and Filt’s string bags colored brightly to distinguish them from the natural originals that for decades European shoppers brought to the market to fill with comestibles.

I noticed a Middle Eastern vibe in some of the booths such as Zenza Home, Selamat Designs and jazzy tablemats in the back wall of Kim Sebert’s booth. I also thought the crystal fireplace in Kathryn McCoy’s booth would fit well in a Middle Eastern style manor house.

Have you noticed retailers with remarkable displays, seen or received any great gifts recently or noted striking trends in your forays online or about town? Are you surprised that some venerable brands–a candle manufacturer over 200 years old and a maker of masking tape almost 100–excel at projecting a hip, trendy image?

Kathryn McCoy

Selamat Designs

Zenza Home

Service of While We Were Distracted by Stormy, Omarosa, a $15K Jacket & Michael Cohen…

August 23rd, 2018

Categories: Climate Change, Greenhouse Gasses, Jobs, News, Politicians, Politics, Pollution, Scams, School

Photo: nationofchange.org

Cable and social media are obsessed with Stormy, Omarosa, the $15K Paul Manafort jacket, the Cohen admissions and other almost daily forehead-slapping bits that distract from and mask crucial changes by the current administration none of which are topics around the water cooler.

Daniel Nelson wrote in sciencetrends.com that the administration cut out the yearly budget for NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System which measures greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and “will likely stymie efforts to combat global climate change.” The savings was $10 million/year. [By comparison, the Mexico wall is estimated to cost $70 billion to build and $150 million/year to maintain.]

Photo: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

According to Nelson, “Kelly Sims Gallagher, the director of the International Environment and Resource Policy Center at Tufts University says that the decision was ‘a grave mistake.’”

The program supported research big and small. It:

  • ensured that countries adhered to the Paris climate accord because it measured reductions in emissions
  • provided data for 65 projects to understand how forests keep carbon out of the air
  • prevented deforestation of tropical forest in developing nations
  • tracked dissolving carbon flowing from the mouth of the Mississippi River into the Pacific Ocean
  • helped Providence I. reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Meanwhile Betsy DeVos was busy unraveling consumer protections in another sector—for-profit colleges. [Examples: chains which train automotive mechanics, cosmetologists, cyber security techs and, like the now defunct Trump University, real estate investment specialists.]

Photo: economicdevelopment.org

According to Erica L. Green, DeVos “formally moved to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs.” In her New York Times article, Green described the sector as “scandal-scarred” noting that the now rescinded gainful employment safeguard was made during the previous administration.

Photo: autotraining.edu

The rule under Obama “revoked federal funding and access to financial aid for poor-performing schools” where graduates were left drowning in debt with poor job prospects. Green reported that since 2010, when the Obama administration began to tighten the rules, almost half the career programs and schools have closed and the student population shrank by more than 1.6 million. The president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry’s trade group, admitted “The sector today is so much better.”

Who will be left holding the bag to pay defaulted loans under the DeVos change? Taxpayers.

“‘The Trump administration is once again choosing the interests of executives and shareholders of predatory for-profit higher education institutions over protecting students and taxpayers,’ said John King, the Obama-era education secretary charged with enforcing the rule, who called the move ‘outrageous and irresponsible.’”

Attorney generals of 18 states have sued to delay enforcement of the DeVos reversal.

Here are the reasons her department gives for rescinding the gainful employment rule:

  • Research ignored by the Obama administration “undermined the ‘validity of using the debt and earnings comparisons.’”
  • They found that “‘a troubling degree of inconsistency and potential error exists in job placement rates’ that ‘could mislead students in making an enrollment decision.’”
  • It was “burdensome” for schools to disclose their data.
  • “the Obama regulations ‘reinforce an inaccurate and outdated belief that career and vocational programs are less valuable to students and less valued by society, and that these programs should be held to a higher degree of accountability than traditional two- and four-year degree programs that may have less market value.’”

Maybe someone can explain these arguments to me.

Is there a chance that these reversals—and their negative impact–will be part of voter decisions at the November midterm elections? Do you think that they are widely known? Are the extraneous headline-grabbing distractions deliberate to keep our eyes off the many far bigger birdies? They sure are working, don’t you think?

Photo: pinterest

Service of Contests for Kids: We’re All Winners

August 18th, 2018

Categories: Books, Contests, Driving, Kids, Reading, Safety

Contests that teach, encourage and reward kids to better themselves and/or their communities help us all.

Author Karen Russell told NPR “New Yorker Radio Hour” listeners on a recent August weekend about how proud she was to treat her family to a pizza when she was a kid. An avid reader, she’d qualified for a free pie with one topping through Pizza Hut’s Book It program. She’d read 10 books.

Books tossed recently at the Millbrook, NY Transfer Station

Book It was founded in 1985. It runs from October 1 to March 31 for children from Kindergarten to the sixth grade and homeschoolers can also participate.

Things may have changed since Russell won her pizza. She read printed books and today many children use Kindles and other tablets. Some may still record their books on paper and some access an app that reaches teachers who track their participation. But the goal remains–to promote reading.

The National Road Safety Foundation [NRSF] conducts contests for kids to help its campaign to drive down the number of traffic accidents, deaths and injuries here. I know about it because a colleague, David Reich, runs and promotes the contests. One is “Drive2Life,” in its seventh year, in which teens submit messages to be turned into public service announcements [PSAs] to warn drivers about the dangers of speeding. This year’s winner, a California 8th grader, received $1,000 and a trip to New York where he collaborated with Emmy Award-winning producers to script, film and edit his winning PSA, “Cars Aren’t Toys.” The PSA aired on “Teen Kids News” on 150 TV stations.

Photo: fcclainc.org

In addition to Drive2Life, there are NRSF Drive Safe student contests in Washington DC, LA, Chicago and Atlanta as well as Safe Rides Save Lives for members of Family Career and Community Leaders of America [FCCLA] and #DrivingSkills101 for Students Against Destructive Decisions [SADD] Chapters nationwide.

Can you name other great contests for children? Did you participate in any when you were a kid?

Photo: washingtonautoshow.com

Service of Cart Before the Horse: Corporations Collaborate When Foolproof Locks on Internet Security Don’t Exist

August 16th, 2018

Categories: Banking, Corporations, Data, Internet Security, Mobile Wallets, Social Media

Photo: edgarstewart.com

Thank goodness all giant corporations aren’t leaping into bed together to share respective expertise and information although some are inching in that direction and others are raring to go. It won’t be long.

But first a digression: In arriving at the topic for this post I counted seven fuzzy attributions in one newspaper article. Isn’t that a lot? Laced throughout a recent front page article in The Wall Street Journal I read: “According to people familiar with the conversations; the people said; a person familiar with the discussions said; some of the people said; said people familiar with the matter; some of the people said and people familiar with the matter said.”

Photo: clckinmoms.com

Nevertheless I believe the topic is valid and am troubled by its implications. The title and subtitle: “Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We’ll Give You Our Users. Facebook has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about customers as it seeks to boost user engagement data.”

Reporters Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and AnnaMaria Andriotis wrote that Facebook had spoken with people at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp “to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger.” Facebook Messenger is a messaging app and platform.

What did “people say” about the conversations? “Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts.” In addition, “Facebook asked banks for information about where their users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger.” Messenger has 1.3 billion active monthly users according to the reporters.

Photo: pinterest.com

Timing could be better for this outreach. The reporters reminded readers about current investigations in which Cambridge Analytica accessed data on some 87 million Facebook users without user OK. “‘We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit-card companies for ads,’ [Facebook] spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. ‘We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.’”

Banks are tempted by the digital reach and doing business with online platforms with healthy and growing businesses. Even though Facebook has introduced what it says are safety features, “Bank executives are worried about the breadth of information being sought, even if it means their bank might not being available on certain platforms their customers use.”

While PayPal and Square have beaten banks to the punch in the world of mobile commerce many customers continue to be comfortable with traditional ways of paying such as credit and debit cards, cash and checks.

Photo: timeanddate.com

Some deals between big players are already struck though I question their purpose: American Express members can reach a rep through Facebook. [Why would you need to do that?] Paypal users can send money through Facebook Messenger and Mastercard’s Masterpass digital wallet lets customers place online orders with some merchants.

Before all these mergers of communications, customers and data happen, shouldn’t there first be a firm grasp on digital customer privacy? Why are we becoming so lazy: Is it so onerous to check a balance on your bank’s website that you need Facebook do it for you? Can you believe that AmEx members can’t reach out to a company rep but instead need Facebook to do it for them? These “benefits” appear to potentially favor everyone but the consumer—do you agree?  Do you pay for things via mobile wallet, credit or debit cards, cash or checks? And last, does an article with more than a few generic attributions disturb you?

Photo: canyourelate.org

Service of Changing Taste: The Lowdown and the High

August 13th, 2018

Categories: Beer, Cannabis, Drinks, Trends

Photo: 13.com

Question: What do smart marketers do when consumers cool on their once hot product? Answer: Develop the next trend.

Beer consumption has slumped—Americans chose wine or cocktails over beer in 2017 for the first time. Saabira Chaudhuri and Annie Gasparro wrote that drinkers “are thinking about other things: taste, value, beer bellies.”

Photo: stealingshare.com

In their Wall Street Journal article they cite Beer Institute stats: the brew was 60.8 percent of people’s drink of choice in the mid-1990s. Last year it dropped to 49.7 percent. People 21 to 27 years of age chose beer 65 percent of the time in 2006 vs. 43 percent two years ago according to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA.

Enter brewers like Lagunitas, a Heineken company, among several “diving into the deep end of the cannabis-infused drink pool.” The brand introduced a sparkling water drink for sale in California called Hi-Fi Hops according to Steve Huff on maxim.com. “Lagunitas says their 420-friendly fizz comes in two strengths: a lighter version with 5mgs of THC and a stronger one loaded with 10mgs of the only reason anyone messes with cannabis anyway (it’s the THC that brings the mellow, in case you didn’t know).” THC stands for tetrahydrocannabidinol.

Photo: forbes.com

According to Huff, “If anything, the beer maker is a little late to this game. Blue Moon founder Keith Villa is producing craft beer loaded with THC. Corona is ready to join the game, too. And California vintners have been infusing wine with weed for a while now.”

Cannabis is legal in Canada but is against federal law here. Mike Adams, contributing writer at Forbes, wrote that “Molson Coors, the second largest brewer in the world, is reportedly trying to get into the game.” It’s considered by some currently a risky venture for sales in the U.S right now though “the beverage sector alone is expected to produce $15 billion a year, according to statistics from Cannabiz Consumer Group.”

Photo: newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org

Adams reported that in Canada the market might jump from $5 billion to $22 billion because, as a Canadian brewer planning to introduce a cannabis beer observed, “Smoking has lost, and beverages are how we like to become altered.”

Do you think that cannabis drinks will take up the sales gap for breweries made by decreased beer sales? Will pressure by breweries, along with other interest groups wanting to make cannabis legal, convince lawmakers to change the law in the US? Have you tried a cannabis drink?

Photo: thedrinkbusiness.com

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