According to this, the wine industry needs to do more to attract younger (but not too young) drinkers.
In a study of 100 occasional wine drinkers aged 20-25 (20 each in
London, Paris, Brussels, New York and Tokyo), focus group participants
said they are curious about wine, but deterred by too many choices and
styles, complex labelling and wine's stuffy image.
Anyone who thinks wine is stuffy has clearly never seen me vomiting cheap zin into the bushes. But that's not much of a marketing strategy, all other things being equal. This is:
A deep, rich pink, 187-ml aluminum can about half the size of a Coke
and faintly scribbled with words such as "revolutionary" and
"fragrant." In wine parlance, it's a quarter-bottle or a split, a $4.99
single-serving, pop-top, Red-Bullish can with an extendable
plastic-wrapped fuchsia straw attached to the side.
Every Wednesday for four weeks the same guy walked into the same restaurant and ordered the same meal: a steak and two gin-and-tonics. And every week he was presented with a bill, excused himself to go to the restroom, and then disappeared without paying. At long last, the apparently not-highly-observant restaurant staff caught-on to the man's elaborate criminal technique the fifth time he showed up.
When his server presented the bill, he again claimed he needed to use the bathroom. But when he walked out of the restaurant, four employees were waiting for him. They confronted him about the unpaid bill, which he offered to pay with a check, police said.
After (the restaurant manager) told him the restaurant didn't accept checks, the man "got nervous and ran," according to the police report.
The Los Angeles Police Department, which has something of a history of beating the shit out of people using their flashlights as cudgels, will get smaller flashlights.
The idea for the 7060 LED flashlight was conceived just days after news cameras broadcast images of LAPD officers beating car-theft suspect Stanley Miller with a two-pound, two-foot long standard issue police flashlight.
Which is certainly easier than getting the violent psychopaths off the police force.
A prosecutor in L.A. wants Paris Hilton's probation revoked, sending the famous-for-being-famous blond to jail for 90 days. According to Reuters:
The hotel heiress and star of the reality TV show "The Simple Life" was sentenced to three years probation in January after pleading no
contest -- the equivalent of a guilty plea -- to alcohol-related reckless driving.
Five weeks later, police pulled Hilton over again in the city of West Hollywood for driving without headlights and impounded her car, a $190,000 Bentley, when they discovered her license had been suspended, authorities said.
The case was then referred to the City Attorney's Office.
The City Attorney was not amused and decided that maybe Paris wasn't taking her legal problems and the authority of the court as seriously as she might.
It is not known whether Hilton will wear panties to her hearing.
In a comment to the post below, regular commenter Conrad argues with me. Me! the very owner of this blog! Imagine.
I'm still having problems with my ability to comment on my own damned blog, so I'm posting this as a posting. I quote from Conrad and then rebut:
Reducing wage costs by itself will increase rather than decrease a company's margins. Wages are part of operating expenses. If operating expenses fall and prices remain constant, margins increase.
Lowering labor costs is not, itself, going to decrease margins. You're absolutely right about that. However, firing one's most experienced and presumably knowledgeable employees in order to hire others whose sole qualification is working cheaper is not a strong indication that service and professionalism are significant strategic goals. Wages could be cut and prices could stay where they are, increasing margins but decreasing service quality. That's a valid trade-off, I guess, but in a commodity business I'm not sure it's evidence of business wisdom.
Circuit City can go low price, low margin, high volume - WalMart is a perfect example of that - but they'd better have some under-served niche in mind. WalMart, remember, went into rural markets that other national retailers wouldn't touch, bringing quality and selection to people who didn't have much of either previously. WalMart used the quality/selection identity to get a toe-hold and now uses its massive buying power to squeeze manufacturers, which allows the company to slash prices while maintaining acceptable margins.
I would argue that Circuit City enjoys no such under-served niche, but is competing in an already saturated marketplace. I'm not sure anyone in the continental US is a significant distance from a big-box electronics store with basically the same selection as Circuit City. So if they're not competing on service, and they're not competing on selection or quality, they've got price and branding as options. Think anyone is going to go to Circuit City because it's cool, especially after firing everyone to cut costs? Not a chance. They're competing on price in a commodity business; margins are going to be squeezed.
Furthermore, your model assumes that enhanced services can be provided at no increased cost. If that's so, it's actually an argument for, rather than against, firing the higher compensated incumbents.
I don't know that I'm assuming that at all. To the contrary, i think I'm assuming better service costs more, certainly in labor costs. I'm also assuming that a significant group of people will pay a premium in order to do business with a company that gives better service in an area as confusing as consumer electronics.
As for the assertion that there are "lots of people" willing to pay $50 more for a fridge in order to keep Circuit City employees in high cotton, perhaps lot's of people would say that to pollsters. I'm dubious, however, that those polls tell us much about how folks will actually behave when it comes time to whip out their wallets.
I guess I need to define "lots of people." I mean, if we're talking about my living room, "lots of people" is ten. Talking about a major retail chain like Circuit City, "lots of people" is a much bigger number.
Business is like baseball, particularly in highly competitive sectors like home electronics. Small percentages make big differences over time. Let's say one-in-fifty are like me and go (in my case literally) across the street to Best Buy instead of to Circuit City. Circuit City takes a 2% hit to market share, and Best Buy gets a 2% increase. That's not an insignificant swing.
OK, you say: But that 2% drop on the top line is offset by decreased costs, increasing he bottom line. Maybe the economics of it add up. I'm guessing they do. The management of Circuit City probably put together a spreadsheet or two modeling what they think will happen.
I'm fascinated that they've done this so openly. They just said, flat out, get out so we can pay other people less. Somebody must have considered the PR factor, and the management of Circuit City clearly concluded it didn't matter. They decided that doing the deed and riding out the resulting storm was better than the other options. That, itself, might be an indicator of just how bad things are at Circuit City. They might be looking at market trends and deciding they don't have anything to lose.
It ultimately comes down to the cost of losing potential customers like me. I think it's higher than you, Conrad, think it's going to be. I think there's emerging evidence that people are choosing to spend their money with companies that aren't vile. I give you the recent case of Burger King moving toward cruelty free suppliers. (Though I, personally, get kind of a kick out of the concept of a cruelty-free slaughterhouse.) Burger King didn't do that because their research indicated that people don't care about anything but price. Circuit City did what it did because it believes that price is all that people care about.
Conrad takes the stance of heartless capitalist in this comment thread regarding Circuit City, to which I reply:
Since "human decency" is clearly not something that you factor into business decisions, Conrad, how about this: Circuit City is in a commodity business. They sell the same stuff everyone else sells. They can choose to either wage war based on costs -- slashing their margins to the bone and decreasing the shareholders ROI -- or they can try to add value with service so that people will pay something of a premium to shop at Circuit City. Cutting experienced for low-cost employees seems to indicate which way they're choosing to go, and their margins will suffer appropriately.
Then there is the matter of PR. Not everyone is as scornful of human decency as a motivation as you are. There are lots of people -- me, for example -- who will shun Circuit City because it's clearly run by people who do not deserve my patronage. Will I pay fifty bucks more for my next refrigerator knowing that my money is going to a company that treats its employees with decency? You bet. Will others? Not everyone, but many. By acting as it has, Circuit City has shrunk its possible market. I choose to exercise my market leverage not only in service to money.
I'll bet right now that Circuit City undergoes some kind of huge, unpleasant transition in the next couple of years: A bankruptcy, a discounted strategic sale, a massive downsizing, something. And I'll bet you that one of the causes of that is the damage done to Circuit City's brand by this event.
Oh, and one more thing. I guarantee you the executives who engineered this disaster have protected their own interests and will be well rewarded for their inhumanity, even as the shareholders get screwed on the way out.
A long time ago I interviewed a former World War II fighter pilot, a Tuskegee Airman who had fought in Italy. He was an elderly man with flecks of gray in his hair and a still-firm jaw line, with an instantly recognizable military bearing. He told his story of hitch-hiking to Tuskegee to learn to fly, of the high and immovable standard he had to meet to become a pilot, and of the harrasment he and his fellow pilots had endured in order to risk their lives in service to their country.
And then he told about coming home from the war, standing on streetcorner in Memphis waiting for a bus, and having a "big white boy" come up to him to sneer at his uniform. "I've killed me a lot niggers," the white boy said, "but I've never killed me a nigger officer." The Tuskegee Airman wondered to himself if he had survived the war only to be killed on an American streetcorner.
He was saved by a passing white man who distracted the thug until the bus arrived by. To get the racist away from the black officer, the white stranger bought the racist a beer.
Today, President Bush delivered Congressional Gold Medals to the Tuskegee Airman, who in so many ways exemplify what is best about this country. The President said this:
“These men in our presence felt a special sense of urgency. They were
fighting two wars. One was in Europe and the other took place in the
hearts and minds of our citizens.”
I walked away from that interview as I walked away from most of the interviews I conducted with vets of World War II: In awe of the way each of them had risen to the challenge history presented to them. I like to think -- but do not really believe -- that I would have done the same.