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Everything Changes: Life's certainty

November 10, 2003 Commentary Archives

A survey was conducted in Briton by Money Gram, an international money transfer company active in
the Caribbean community. This issue centers around the community  abandoning Caribbean fast food, for Burger King, McDonalds and other non-Caribbean British foods. This piece does not critique or attempt to draw any conclusions about this study. Quite frankly it's out of my purview. But it did awaken in me some very interesting contrasts, on this subject matter. With our British friends.

Living here in the States, and having a healthy awareness for what's going on around me. I choose to ignore that study and develop this piece from an American perspective. In the interest of brevity I'll ignore the obvious parallels, i.e., generational differences and such. Get to meat if you will. No pun intended.

The McDonald corporation suffered its first quarterly lost ever, back in 2002. I think somebody might have said to 'em, Its the food stupid! McDonald reinvented the menu inputting low fat healthy menus. Here we are at the end of 2003 and Mc. D is back on track. Talking about getting the message, positioning and then executing. Oow, we!

Unlike the study in Briton, I know of no such study here in the States. But I do suspect those trends exists here. But for somewhat different reasons. Maybe we need to reinvent West Indian food. Should we make it healthier? What would that do to the taste? Have you tasted Mc. D's health fries lately?  Oh, no, you have to admit. Nothing beats French fries, deep fried in some arteries clogging lard. When it comes to tasty fries.

Maybe we can give Pattie a different color? No, dat en it! I've heard somewhere that it's a low calorie meal. I have no pertinent information on that. But if that is the case a calorie count, publicly displayed, would be a very good idea.

So much for the bread, here's the meat. Here in Philadelphia I've never seen one advertisement on the television extolling the virtues of Caribbean fast foods. Yet on a daily basis fast food commercialization runs the gamut of the advertising media.

There was a time when it was taken for granted that we lean on familiar ways. Now  with the Internet and all. We have greater exposure to the overload of information. On the issue of health, especially. We have seen the emergence of a more savvy, sophisticated consumer. Outside of the confines of our traditional groups, we have adapted to new influences. So wha we gona do, blame de people or listen to dem.

We're in a new era, where focus on the customer is a formula for success.  Back in September while awaiting the start of the Puerto Rican Parade in Philadelphia I entered a mini-mart to buy a cup of coffee. It was a tight squeeze in that market and so my place in line put me close to the snack shelf.

Behold! my once favorite snack had evolved. Fignewtons in 5 different flavors. Was this a response  to the consumer request,  I doubt it. I am inclined to believe it was preemptive, competition driven. Observe  your market shelves on your next visit. Too many choices if you ask me.

Everything old is new again. The old time grocer is back but he's not relying on his over used paper-note-book anymore. He now has a data crunching monster on his desk -- we call it a computer. He knows what his customers are buying and not buying, and who his customers are.

Share of the market has taken a backseat to share of the customer. Simply put, there's a shift from mass marketing, to customer oriented marketing. Microsoft earlier this year shifted its employee incentive program to  rewarding employees based on customer oriented issues.

Even  the neighborhood store selling Pattie has to recognize this. Any expectations that a business can prosper by taking for granted the habits of it's customers, in this new age. Can only lead to diminishing returns.

With few exceptions, for example: The pornographic industry and the undertakers -- you got the point. It should be very obvious to all of us  but unfortunately it is not. The world is changing fast! Dinosaurs need not apply. We need to learn the new rules. It's about the people...!

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