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The Day a Mother Took on Candy and Tabloids

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Normally tabloids get quite a bit of attention. No surprise, grocery stores place them in easy buying locations, right next to the checkout line. However, one customer and mother decided enough was enough and complained. Michigan parent, Jane Kramer, made it clear to her local grocery store chain that tabloids and candy have no business being easy to buy. Under Ms. Kramer’s perspective, easy candy visibility contributes to child obesity, and tabloids on display expose children to bad elements of society at an early age, which is unnecessary and can be prevented.

Instead, Ms. Kramer wanted her local grocer to place education-positive books and magazines in the same location near the checkout to help promote children’s education and reading.

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Typically, a single parent’s letter-writing to major company CEO to change his company’s behavior doesn’t get much of a response. In fact, Kramer’s first letter on the matter was entirely ignored and not responded to at all. However, her latest communication was posted on Change.org and had garnered 1,160 signatures online and aiming for 1,500. That got a response from Meijer, the grocery store involved.

Frank J. Guglielmi, Meijer’s top communications executive, stated by email that they were aware of the complaint and generally wanted to please customers, like Ms. Kramer. Meijer’s management was also conscious and interested in the need to provide healthy food products and contribute to better eating as well. However, the company was non-committal on exactly what actions would be taken towards pleasing customers and Ms. Kramer’s concerns. However, it was more than she had with her previous attempt to communicate. Meijer actually responded, possibly due to the online petition’s impact.

The point about all the above, however, is that where previously a single letter had little or no effect, online social networking and response about a concern clearly garners enough attention to receive a corporate response. And that sort of attention trigger empowers the average individual far more to help be the catalyst of market change when it comes to the type of products being sold.

Is Meijers likely to remove tabloids and candy? Probably not. They sell too darn well and those kind of products stake out their space on grocery store shelves due to sales performance. And that says a lot where the slightest drop in revenue can cause a product to be removed by a grocer with thin operating margins.

However, the fact that Ms. Kramer has triggered a social response can have just as much of an effect for fear of a sales performance change if the number of responders act on their concern. And that causes real change in a seller.