Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2013 05:33 PM
Strange bedfellows, Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey, but their "emotional" interview that was taped on Monday and will air on OWN and run on Oprah.com on Thursday, may be the million dollar ticket back for the struggling former queen of daytime as she returns to what she does best.
Oprah’s Midas touch for grabbing celebrities remains golden at her own cable network, including an exclusive with Whitney Houston’s daughter following the singer’s death, then the artful dodger, David Letterman, and now Armstrong, the iconic super-athlete dragged down by a doping scandal of unprecedented proportion that saw sponsors including Nike pull their support.
The Armstrong interview will set a record for the Discovery-backed OWN and for Oprah.com, also a vindication for Brand Oprah, whose OWN has struggled since launching two years ago.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2013 05:04 PM
The leaders of Whole Foods Market, Starbucks and The Container Store on Monday exhorted fellow retailers to increase transparency, stand on principle and to see themselves as part of a "wider circle of responsibility" to ensure their success.
Speaking sequentially to an audience of 27,000 at the National Retail Federation's BIG Show in New York, the CEOs offered a combined keynote address that advocated lifting up employees and valuing vendors as the major brands assume heightened global leadership in a time of government retrenching.
Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, said retailers should strive to create an environment of "conscious capitalism."
"Charity alone won’t do it," he said. "We need business and capitalism, purpose and profit.”
Tindell said focusing on the well-being of employees "pays off and reflects on customers. It’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for. Customers and employees become your evangelical supporters. We want our vendors to think of us as their favorite customers, and this causes the universe to conspire to assist you.”
Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb agreed, saying that “business is making a wider wake in the world, not just doing the minimum, but part of a wider circle of responsibility.” The company's approximately 75,000 employees comprise a 40 percent ownership stake in the company, and 86 percent have health insurance.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 11, 2013 12:08 PM
American consumers may have a hitch in their gait and feel worn down, but they're still arguably the most reliable engine powering the global economy these days. The latest example comes from Rolls-Royce: U.S. luxury customers returned to their previous status as the world's largest market for one of the ultimate brands in automobiles last year, overtaking China as sales growth cooled there.
Overall, the luxury brand reported great news for 2012: It was a record year for Rolls-Royce Motor Car vehicles, with worldwide sales rising to 3,575 units. It was its third straight year of global growth, with the only negative that sales rose only by one percent, a growth rate much slower than the previous two years.
But considering that Rolls-Royce — like other auto-luxury brands — was battling a cooling of the market in China, a challenging European market and continued pressure on upscale buyers in the United States, the 2012 performance was satisfying enough to Rolls-Royce brass. "We had an outstanding year in spite of the challenges we faced, and Rolls-Royce now leads the ultra luxury market by some considerable margin," CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos said, according to Reuters.
"We are the pinnacle of all luxury brands in the world," he told CNBC. "We are interested in constant growth over the years to come, but sustainable growth." Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 18, 2012 12:07 PM
Executives at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Bentonville, Arkansas, were already having a bad week, with its holiday-heightened labor dispute on the current cover of Bloomberg Businessweek and brisk business making Bushmaster rifles the #1 assault rifle in America criticized in the wake of the Newtown, CT, school massacre. Still, at least the Mexico bribery scandal that besmirched its corporate reputation earlier this year, when a New York Times investigation was published, was dying down. Until Tuesday night.
That's when the New York Times' follow-up to its April expose was published online, with the headline, "How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs in Mexico." After examining thousands of documents and talking to local officials and Walmart's own executives, the latest chapter in the NYT expose concludes, "An examination by The New York Times found Wal-Mart de Mexico to be an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited."
The story is featured on the New York Times homepage today, smack in the middle of the gun debate raging among its readers, editors, writers and the population at large — a debate in which Walmart's brand is also involved as America's largest seller of guns, and the Sandy Hook rifle, in particular.Continue reading...
sip on this
Posted by Dale Buss on December 10, 2012 05:39 PM
The notion of civet coffee is strange enough — it's pricey java (approx. $500/pound) brewed from lightly digested coffee cherries that are plucked from the dung of a nocturnal, long-tailed, catlike animal that prowls the coffee-growing lands of Southeast Asia.
But now an entrepreneur in Thailand, Blake Dinkin, has gone the nascent civet-coffee industry one better. His Black Ivory Coffee brand is produced after elephants at the Golden Elephant Triangle Foundation are given Thai Arabica beans, removing some proteins in the digestion process, and expel the half-digested coffee. The company plucks out green coffee beans and processes them into a smooth brew that it claims tastes less bitter than regular coffee because Dumbo's process of semi-digestion strips out much of the protein.
Dinkin says he can take the inevitable humor. "There's always going to be an element of [poop] jokes in doing Black Ivory Coffee," Dinkin told the Associated Press. "But the reason why it's taken me nine years to develop this is I'm really trying to make a serious product."Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 7, 2012 03:21 PM
As countries like Bangladesh move up the food chain from aid to trade, the global eco-system fueling the fire, literally and figuratively, is largely the retail fashion industry, feeding the western world’s insatiable appetite for fashion.
The November 24th factory blaze that killed 112 garment workers in an illegal factory in Bangladesh showed the world, as Reuters puts it, that “pressure from big Western brands to produce huge volumes of apparel fast and at rock-bottom prices, [is making] Bangladeshi suppliers routinely sub-contract their orders.”
As the victims — many of them young women and mothers, all of them poor — are mourned and the Clean Clothes Campaign organizes vigils at C&A and beyond as part of a bigger shame campaign for brands whose labels were found in the ashes, what’s really on trial, as the New York Times points out in a scathing article today, is ethical sourcing and a severely out-of-balance equation claiming the lives of impoverished workers with no options.Continue reading...
in the spotlight
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 6, 2012 04:22 PM
Outsourcing jobs has been a topic that kept coming up over and over again during the battle for the US presidency this year. And for good reason. American companies have been moving their manufacturing jobs elsewhere for eons, ia fact that wasn’t exactly helping the nation’s economy recover from a bruising recession.
Apple, which has manufactured most of its products in Asia for years, is doing an about-face following its bruising over labor rights at its Foxconn manufacturing plant in China. Now CEO Tim Cook tells NBC's Brian Williams (in an interview that will air Thursday night) that Apple will manufacture an entire Mac line in the US starting next year.
“I don’t think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job,” Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in its new cover story on his first year helming the brand. “But I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs.” Cook estimates that the company has created more than 600,000 jobs in America since 1980 (WSJ.com does a nice job summarizing Apple's US manufacturing history.)
Perhaps this is a way for Cook and Apple to give a little back to America. The New York Times reports that Apple is planning to shell out $100 million for American manufacturing next year. It currently manufactures some parts of the iPhone in the US. It's also, of course, a way for Cook to carve his own brand and legacy apart from his predecessor and old boss, Steve Jobs.
“My own personal philosophy on giving is best stated in a [John F.] Kennedy quote, 'To whom much is given, much is expected,’” Cook told Businessweek. “I have always believed this. Always. I think that Apple and Apple’s employees have done enormous good and can do even more.”Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 5, 2012 12:59 PM
The urban Chinese consumer has greater confidence that green products are better for the environment than their North American counterparts, according to the a new study from DuPont — its China Green Living Survey: Consumer Awareness and Adoption of Biobased Products.
Seventy percent were either very or somewhat confident that green products are better for the environment, while of North American consumers, 65% of Canadians and 60% of Americans held similar beliefs.
The findings have exponential potential for greening-up in the world’s largest consumer market with growing demands for China to meet its sustainability targets. “Greater adoption of biobased products in China could help the country reduce its energy intensity and carbon emissions and advance a new era of green manufacturing,” stated Jeremy Xu, VP, Global Sales and Applications, DuPont Industrial Biosciences.
A majority of Chinese consumers are likely to purchase apparel, personal care, hygiene and household products made from biobased ingredients that offer environmental benefits. More than three quarters of respondents would definitely or likely buy such products in a range of categories including: Detergents 82%, Personal hygiene 81%, Clothing 78%, Personal Care Products 77%.Continue reading...