July 1, 2006
Mary Ellen Kuhn
More at www.Confectioner.com
For about four years at the start of this millennium, my family went TV-free. It wasn’t my idea, by the way, just something I went along with in the interest of family harmony because my husband was all gung-ho about the idea.
Our family’s little experiment definitely sparked a bit of eye-rolling among some friends and colleagues. I’m not sure how they viewed it — intellectually pretentious perhaps or just plain eccentric. Some questioned how we could stay well informed about current events without the benefit of CNN, network news and such. That was never a problem, however. Daily newspapers, newsweeklies and National Public Radio helped to fill the information void, as did online news services.
Which leads me to my point: That today, whatever one’s media preferences, most of us are relying upon a more diverse assortment of communication vehicles — including digital media — for information. So as fond of the printed page as we are here at Confectioner, we also are big believers in broadening our lines of communication. Starting with this issue, we’ll periodically offer expanded online coverage of industry issues and events. This month you can check out our editors’ impressions of the ALL CANDY EXPO, view some show floor scenes, read a trends review and more by visiting www.confectioner.com.
Object Lessons from Wal-Mart
I’m a big believer in attempting to learn from the experiences of others, especially when they’re way smarter and savvier than I am. It’s no doubt safe to assume that the management of Wal-Mart falls into that camp. But despite their near-infinite supply of retailing savvy, the world’s largest retailer has failed to make a go of its foray into the German marketplace. The company, which has opened 85 stores there since 1998, is pulling out of Germany, selling its business there to German retailer Metro.
“If you want to be in a foreign market, you have to know what your customers want,” said David Wild, Wal-Mart Germany CEO, in an article that appeared in DW-World.DE, a German online publication. He was, of course, referencing the importance of having the correct assortment for the target audience, something the retailer apparently slipped up a bit on in Germany.
Well said, Mr. Wild. And worth reflecting upon, I believe, since it applies equally to foreign and domestic markets. Retailers and vendors who figure out what the customer wants (preferably even before she knows it!) will be the winners. And the good news is, you don’t necessarily have to be the size of Wal-Mart to succeed at that.