Posted by Dale Buss on November 12, 2013 02:26 PM
Things are-a-changing at Target, largely because the chain is trying to play catchup in some crucial areas. It may still lead the style parade among discount retailers and have the niftiest Christmas ads—but Target trails Amazon and Walmart in different crucial areas and is busily trying to close the gap.
Sustainability is one of those areas, and some evaluators say that Walmart—long a brand in the hotseat over environmental responsibility—lately has surged out to a lead in its sector with a massive sustainable-supplier initiative. Target has now launched its own. Neither is sharing the results of their consumer research but instead, for now at least, focusing on pushing their suppliers for improvement and compliance.
Last month, Target began collecting information from vendors supplying about 7,500 products in the household cleaning, personal care, beauty and baby-care categories. Using criteria supplied by GoodGuide, it will evaluate a product's qualities in terms of sustainability in order to establish its Sustainable Product Standard.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2013 02:49 PM
Cargill is succumbing to pressures for transparency in its beef-processing operations by deciding to label when its "finely textured beef"—ripped by critics as bottom-of-the-processing-barrel "pink slime"—is included in ground beef in new packaging due out early next year.
The agribusiness giant saw how last year's pink-slime controversy ravaged rival beef processor BPI, which had to shutter plants and lay off hundreds of employees. And Cargill said its move was a specific response to its own survey of more than 3,000 consumers over the last 18 months about ground beef and how it's made.
"We've listened to the public, as well as our [retailer] customers, and that is why today we are declaring our commitment to labeling Finely Textured Beef," John Keating, president of Cargill Beef, said in a statement.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 5, 2013 08:02 PM
Apple has become the American success story of the digital age. But it never was the "all-American" success story because essentially all of the manufacturing of its iconic, intuitive, lovely and life-changing devices took place outside the United States, mainly in China and other Asian locales.
Now "essentially all" is becoming "most" since Apple took another step to fulfill CEO Tim Cook's recent vow to make adding US jobs a priority. The company plans to open a new plant in Mesa, Ariz., that will create 2,000 jobs to make components for its products. GT Advanced Technologies will make materials there out of sapphire, which is increasingly used to cover camera lenses and home buttons.
"We are proud to expand our domestic-manufacturing initiative with a new facility in Arizona," an Apple spokeswoman said. The company already planned next month a release of a new Mac Pro computer that is being assembled in the US.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 5, 2013 01:26 PM
If Harley-Davidson knows one thing, it's heavy metal. The iconic manufacturer of road warriors has been building heavy bikes for decades, but facing a new era of personal transportation and some new competition, the brand is looking to strip some excess weight to make it a better fit for more global markets.
Harley is changing its look to appeal to a younger, more international demographic. After all, the company expects to make 40 percent of its revenue from outside the United States by next year. To help boost those numbers, it has debuted it first lightweight bikes—the Street 500 and Street 750—at events in Kansas City, Mo., and in Milan.
"(It) fills a need for people who want to identify with a brand but have a motorcycle that is less intimidating, and more inviting,” said Matthew S. Levatich, Harley's president and chief operating officer, according to the Los Angeles Times. “This bike is easier to ride and easier to learn how to ride."Continue reading...
Posted by Kristen Van Nest on October 29, 2013 07:07 PM
Earlier this month, Under Armour introduced a completely different retail concept to the Chinese sporting apparel market—a market that has proven hard to crack even for the most seasoned retail veterans, including Nike and Adidas. But Under Armour's new Shanghai retail theater experience aims to do much more than just sell clothes and sneakers.
Located in the Jing An Kerry Centre, the store features a 270-degree screen that covers 90 percent of the relatively small boutique, encapsulating store-goes in the sights, sounds and experiences of athletic training—a truly foreign concept in China and greater Asia.
In China, especially, working out is not a common activity. Seeing joggers is a rarity and oftentimes in the gym, Chinese are seen wearing jeans or leather shoes as opposed to sporting apparel. Sports participation is also low due to lack of time, the single child policy, and limited governmental support to popularize sports. But, there is still huge market potential; after the Beijing Olympic Games, there has been dramatic growth in sporting brands.
Still, the market has proven difficult, with Nike, Adidas, and others struggling to localize their retail approach to fit the unique needs of Chinese consumers, both young and old. In fact, Nike and Adidas have spent much of their time in the country with a hard focus on building a lifestyle brand around young consumers, capitalizing on consumer trends towards creativity and self-expression. Still, Nike recently saw a three percent decline in its China sales while it experienced an increase in all other geographic locations.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Abe Sauer on October 10, 2013 12:55 PM
It's been three weeks since investigative journalists at ProPublica published a long profile of the severe potential danger in overusing the pain reliever acetaminophen. The report's most damaging allegations were not that 150 people a year die from acetaminophen but that safety agencies and manufacturers—especially household acetaminophen brand Tylenol—knew how dangerous the drug was and did little to warm users.
ProPublica's several stories, which make claims like, "[Tylenol maker] McNeil opposed even a modest government campaign to educate the public about acetaminophen’s risks, in part because it would harm Tylenol sales," are pretty damning for the brand, but the government agencies that oversee such operations don't make it out unscathed either. "Over more than 30 years, the FDA has delayed or failed to adopt measures designed to reduce deaths and injuries from acetaminophen. The agency began a comprehensive review to set safety rules for acetaminophen in the 1970s, but still has not finished," another report says.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 12, 2013 06:43 PM
Nearly nine months have past since the Tazreen factory fire killed 112 people in Bangladesh, and just five months since the collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka took the lives of over 1,100 people, but the parties involved are still at odds as new battles over victim compensation and factory improvements arise.
Twelve companies, partners in the global IndustriALL union are meeting in Geneva to discuss long-term compensation to the victims of the two disasters in Bangladesh, overseen by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is acting as a neutral chair. The participants include Zara-owner Inditex, the Primark discount chain owned by Associated British Foods, Canada's Loblaw Cos Ltd, European retailer C&A and Spanish department store chain El Corte Ingles.
"The families and the injured have already waited far too long," said Monika Kemperle, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL in a statement, according to Reuters. "Companies who are serious about conditions in their Bangladeshi production chain can send a clear sign of their sincerity at these meetings."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 29, 2013 10:46 AM
Nearly every auto brand in the US market has been trying to find ways to keep up with the boom in sales, from adding manufacturing capacity in America to raising prices. But no other brand is in the fix that Subaru is in.
Well, actually it's not a fix: Subaru is selling a lot more cars these days than it used to, but the brand is so small, with just 2.6 percent of the US market, that leadership of the brand and parent Fuji Heavy Industries is in a quandary about how how to respond to the brand's mini-boom.
Subaru's US sales were up by 27 percent for the year through July, more than three times the rate of increase for the market overall, and it faces shortages of its newest models. So while Subaru keeps gaining American fans with its rugged, all-wheel-drive vehicles and quirky advertising about "love" for its cars, it may not actually be able to sell them anything.Continue reading...