Best Global Green Brands 2014

brand challenges

Starbucks Declares Firearms "Unwelcome" but Still Plays Both Sides of the Gun Debate

Posted by Abe Sauer on September 18, 2013 12:21 PM

"[T]oday we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores."

The underlining for effect was Starbucks', not ours. Following America's most recent tragic mass shooting—this time at Washington's Navy Yard—it appears Starbucks, long a perceived and publicized ally for the pro-gun Second Amendment movement, has finally taken a side. 

Long before the most recent gun-related tragedies, including the Newtown school shootings and Aurora theater tragedy, Starbucks had unintentionally become a central figure in the pro-gun movement. As other chains moved to ban open-carry and concealed weapons from their outlets, Starbucks held fast in its position of abiding by state carry laws. While the company has seemingly ignored both the positive and negative attention it recieved for its stance, it has continued to be leveraged by activist groups, including a campaign dubbed "Skip Starbucks Saturday" that took place in August that was led by, in part, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

Perhaps the anti-gun protests and propaganda have worked, as CEO Howard Schultz has laid out an exceptionally reasoned plea to gun owners to refrain from carrying firearms in Starbucks outlets.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Walmart Ready to Re-Up Plans After D.C. Mayor Vetoes "Living Wage" Bill

Posted by Dale Buss on September 12, 2013 04:47 PM

Walmart has won a huge victory for its business model, brand and worldview with the vetoing of the "living wage" bill today by Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray.

The Large Retailer Accountability Act, nicknamed a living-wage measure, would have mandated that big-box stores like Walmart pay about 50 percent more to their workers inside the District than the city's minimum wage, or about $12.50 compared with $8.25.

Walmart, along with other big-box retailers and business allies argued that the measure would actually hurt economic development and income in the city by forcing Walmart's withdrawal from its existing store development plans there and eliminating thousands of existing and potential jobs in some economically depressed zones. 

The company argued that its absence would further harm low-income residents by depriving them of the low prices that the retailer and others specialize in. There's also the argument about fresh-produce "deserts" in central cities that, in part, are being filled in by new Walmarts.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Chobani Curdles Under Strain of Handling Recall as Competitors Take Advantage

Posted by Dale Buss on September 6, 2013 02:41 PM

Chobani, already under siege by bigger players in the Greek-yogurt segment that it created, has stumbled badly over the first major marketing and customer-relations obstacle for the brand: a recall of some moldy yogurt.

The brand that built the only hot thing in the US yogurt market has been scored by critics and customers on social media and elsewhere after Chobani first only acknowledged some customer complaints about bad yogurt, then wanly warned retailers and consumers about it, and now is in the midst of full-blown retribution for not stepping up to the problem quickly and transparently enough.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Future Uncertain for 'Worthless' Billabong Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 27, 2013 12:53 PM

Australian surf company Billabong has arguably been the king of big waves for 40 years, but the last couple have been a rough ride for the struggling company. After tripling its losses to $772 million in the fiscal year ending in June, the company on Tuesday essentially declared itself worthless. 

Just a year earlier, the declared value of the brand rested at $224 million—still a far cry from its peak in 2007 when it was valued at $3.45 billion, according to Bloomberg. 

According to the New York Times, Billabong has several refinancing options on its plate, however its unknown how the new brand value will affect those proceedings. For now, it has delayed the start of Billabong's new CEO, Scott Olivet, who used to head Oakley.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Sears' Drop in Core Appliance Business Compounds Problem for Failing Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on August 26, 2013 10:40 AM

Sears results keep eroding, with no end in sight. Now the giant retailer's maladroitness has begun affecting the operation that arguably has kept the brand afloat: appliance sales. Not even a successful shopper-loyalty program has been able to turn things around for the company that used to be America's largest store.

Lately it's been easy to lose sight of Sears' woes. For one thing, at least one other traditional retail giant—JCPenney—has had things way worse over the last year or so. Also, Sears has been able to spark some gains at its other major brand, Kmart, with exposure from its popular and cheeky "Ship My Pants" and "Big Gas Savings" ads.

But Sears is suffering. Last week the retailer reported a $194 million loss during the second quarter as same-store sales fell by 1.5 percent. Sears hasn't turned a profit since 2010, and sales, which stood at $53 billion a decade ago, have dwindled steaily to $40 billion in 2012 as customer traffic ebbed and Sears sold assets to raise cash.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Whole Foods Hesitantly Deploys More Discount Tactics

Posted by Dale Buss on August 22, 2013 02:40 PM

The "new normal" in grocery shopping has presented Whole Foods Markets with a new dilemma: how to tap into the increasingly promotional appetites of its financially stressed target demographic without diluting the exclusivity and cachet of a brand whose nickname has become "Whole Paycheck."

Whole Foods leadership is tackling that challenge carefully, both emulating the discount tactics used by traditional supermarkets at the same time that it does so only selectively, at least for now.

"The recession was a wake-up call for us," Co-CEO Walter Robb told the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, he said, "People are stuck in the past about what Whole Foods is in the marketplace."Continue reading...

brand challenges

Ack-Attack: Activist Ackman Abruptly Resigns After Torching JCPenney Board

Posted by Dale Buss on August 13, 2013 05:04 PM

Below deck, JCPenney remains a mess after the sudden resignation of board member Bill Ackman on Monday night. And on the surface, things aren't so great for the brand either, as it tries to mount a marketing and merchandising charge for what could very well be its last shot at the back-to-school season.

The largest shareholder in the company, Ackman resigned from the JCPenney board a few days after starting an unusually public rebellion against his fellow directors over the pace of their process in replacing Myron Ullman as CEO. Ullman, former CEO of JCPenney, had come back aboard in the spring after the necessary departure of Ron Johnson, Ackman's hand-picked successor to Ullman who intended to transform JCPenney into a retailer and brand that would eventually be unfamiliar to just about everyone.

Ackman was replaced by Ronald Tysoe, a former vice chairman of Federated Department Stores with many years of retail experience—a notable move since one of Ackman's recent criticisms was that there wasn't enough retailing experience represented on the board. JCPenney said it would appoint an additional new director soon. Meanwhile, mega-investor and JCPenney shareholder George Soros also has come to Ullman's defense.Continue reading...

brand challenges

With Another Failed Foreign Venture to its Name, Tesco Turns its Focus Back to Britain

Posted by Abe Sauer on August 13, 2013 12:58 PM

After nearly a decade of trying to crack the retail egg that is China, Tesco, the world's No. 3 retailer has thrown in the towel. 

The British retailer announced plans to create a joint venture with China's state-owned China Resources Enterprise Ltd., which would marry Tesco's 131 China stores with CRE's nearly 3,000 Vanguard units across China and Hong Kong, creating over $15 billion in sales—much more than Tesco's reported China sales of $2 billion. The deal, though, wipes out the Tesco name from the Asian market, as the retailer will only assume a 20 percent stake in the new venture, Reuters reports

"This may look win-win, but in reality, Tesco is saying 'I can't figure out China,'" one analyst told Reuters. Like many other foreign retailers before them, Tesco struggled to carve out a solid brand identity for itself among the fast-growing China market, where Walmart and France's Carrefour have been the only foreign supermarket brands that have managed to compete with local outlets.Continue reading...

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