All Articles Tagged "consumer"

Salmonella Poisoning, Recalls And Prison Labor: Your Favorite Brands And Products Are Literally Full Of Crap

October 8th, 2015 - By Cynthia L. Dorsey
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Things You Should Always Buy Generic

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Let’s face it. We live in a society where consumption is a natural part of our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are consumers and as consumers, we deserve stability. But on any given day, we may turn on the TV and find out that one of the products we use on a regular basis has been recalled. Or worse, there’s been a call to boycott companies we frequent most due to shady practices.

Let’s start with the recent multistate outbreak of salmonella poona linked to imported cucumbers. Known to many as a low-calorie vegetable, the cucumber is actually a fruit that is supposed to have many health benefits. Studies have even shown that cucumbers contain anti-cancer compounds. But now they can kill us? This is unacceptable. Not only for the obvious reasons but because the cucumber is a staple on my salads and sandwiches, and I love putting them in water. Well, make that “was” and “loved.”

Speaking of water, it is one of the most important entities to maintain human life. Therefore, you would think our access to safe drinking water would be handled with priority and care by the companies that provide it. We have been told to stop drinking the water from our faucets unless we have some sort of purifying agent because the tap water has been found to have lead poisoning and bacteria that can make us sick. So many people turn to bottled water as a solution.

Yet, in June, over 14 companies that provide bottled water recalled their products due to E. coli contamination concerns. Acadia, Acme, Big Y, Best Yet, 7-Eleven, Niagara, Nature’s Place, PriceRite, Superchill, Morning Fresh, Shaws, ShopRite, Western Beef Blue and Wegman’s all frantically pulled their water off of shelves. But the damage was done. I used to buy a large bottle of water from 7-Eleven pretty much every day. It has been four months since the recall, and I still wouldn’t touch that water with a stick, let alone purchase it. Absolutely not.

Recalls continue to happen for everything from our cars to lamps we’ve bought from Ikea. No one is safe. Not even the babies. Precious Cargo recalled 479,000 onesies due to a choking hazard.

The lack of stability in the products many companies are selling to the consumer is only half of the issue. Big businesses are now buying into the cash cow in the form of American penitentiaries. Slavery, in fact, still exists as inmates are doing hard labor so that we consumers can have the products we seek. Out of the more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in the States, 1 million of them are African-American men and women. Working an average of eight hours a day and making at the minimum, 23 cents a day, our favorite companies are receiving major tax breaks. They are employing prisoners, paying them less than minimum wage, and charging the consumer triple what the product cost to make. The prison industrial complex is new age slavery at its absolute (and despicable) finest. Prisoners are still human beings who not only have legal fees but still have bills to pay, fines to satisfy, and families to provide for. And upon release, the hard labor they’ve done does not boost their resume, but rather, limits it because of the location where they worked.

But ya’ll don’t hear me, though.

Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Walmart, Victoria’s Secret, AT&T, BP, Microsoft, Nike, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Honda, Nintendo and so many other companies that we give our money to have bought into slavery in the modern age. And as consumers, we deserve better. We deserve to have quality products that won’t jeopardize our lives and bastardize our incarcerated brothers and sisters. And while I can appreciate the products and foods provided at Whole Foods and the sales at J.C. Penney, carelessness and greed should never be an option when dealing with human lives.

Filling A Need In the Beauty Industry, Model Entrepreneur Iman Brings The Right Color to Cosmetics

February 25th, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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Welcome to the “Work It!” column, where we take a look at business innovation of every kind.

Diego Corredor/MPI / Picturegroup via AP IMAGES

Diego Corredor/MPI / Picturegroup via AP IMAGES

Sometimes being an innovator is as easy as paying attention to what others ignore. Iman is best known for serving fierceness. She blazed runways and magazines during the 70’s and 80’s. She was a muse to Saint-Laurent, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Versace. She’s David Bowie’s wife! As if all that fabulousness wasn’t enough, you have to give her props for being an innovative businesswoman as well.

If you’ve walked through a department store or picked up a magazine for black women, you know about Iman Cosmetics. But you may not realize how the brand has made history. There was a time when being a supermodel wasn’t enough for a black woman to find foundation in her color.

Iman still remembers make-up artists asking her if she brought her own foundation when she showed up for shoots, and the grey shade her face took on when those same artists mixed concoctions to make due.

Where There’s A Need, There’s A Check

In 1994, after she retired from ripping the runway, Iman founded Iman Cosmetics. From the start, Iman was confident in her venture because she knew there was a need for her product. Women constantly approached her on the street asking what products she used, and where they could buy them. Her products, sold on the Web and in chain stores, do about $25 to $30 million a year.

Iman’s business strategy is still effective today. In every industry and area of interest there is bound to be a group that is underserved. Being the first to cater to their needs will inspire unparalleled brand loyalty.

I was admittedly comfortable with Iman Cosmetics being identified as a beauty brand that filled the gap for black women because it was deeply personal for me. It was more than foundations and powders; it was appealing to a deep psychological need that I think all black women needed at that time: to be told that they were beautiful, invited to sit at the cool table and courted in high style.

– Iman, “Think Tank: Iman on the Multicultural Consumer”

Serve, Don’t Pander And Never Abandon

The main pitfall with this strategy is alienating your intended audience by stereotyping them. As Iman says, “Multicultural markets are nuanced, but not alien.” Know your audience and their culture, but don’t pander in a way that be can perceived as offensive. Show your allegiance with subtle nods to social cues that someone not part of that group would miss.

This innovation strategy isn’t limited by race. Any trait that makes a person unique can be translated into a business’s differentiator. Appealing to a niche market is a great way to build up to serving a larger market. Iman Cosmetics slowly shifted to a more holistic vision that served women of all skin tones. That doesn’t mean when you get on leave your base for the mainstream. Never forget the customers that supported you first.

C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed). 

We’re highlighting Pioneers in the Game every day here on Madame Noire. Click here to meet all of our salutes.

“Mega Monday” Brings Crowds of Shoppers After Christmas

December 26th, 2011 - By Charlotte Young
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shopping woman

As many shoppers know, the days leading up to Christmas is reserved for shopping for loved ones, but the day after Christmas is a day to do some personal shopping.

With most people still at home enjoying the holiday season, Reuters and businesses alike expect that this “Mega Monday” will see the third biggest shopping day of the holiday season.  The day falls right behind Black Friday and Friday, December 23.

This year Christmas came on the warm side for many across the nation, another reason to be out and about on the day after Christmas. For retailers it also means less of a sale in winter clothing and accessories.

Many people will be cashing in on their store gift cards while others says that it’s worth waking up early to take  part in the 60 and 70 percent discount advertisements.

According to ShopperTrak, shoppers may do up to 60 percent more shopping this December 26 than last year’s date.

“It was a stampede at 8 a.m.,” shopper Sarah Klein said to Reuters.

Consumer spending has been up this holiday season, although less than expected. Americans are more optimistic about the economy and a poll by Consumer Reports observes that four in 10 Americans plan to do a bit of shopping over the next few days.

Although people may be out in the malls, not all of them are there to shop and spend money. Despite the allure of additional discounts, this year Americans are also returning purchases in record numbers. CNN Money reports that shoppers have returned about $46.28 billion worth of holiday merchandise.

Consumers Responsive to E-mail Marketing

June 28th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(BrandWeek) —  Despite all the complaints one hears about e-mail spam, a survey in the U.S. and 12 countries in Europe and Asia/Pacific finds plenty of consumers willing to act on marketing e-mails that catch their fancy. Released this week, the study shows 58 percent of respondents saying an e-mail marketing message has prompted them to make a purchase at an offline store or via a call-center order desk.

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Consumers Responsive to E-mail Marketing

June 28th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(BrandWeek) —  Despite all the complaints one hears about e-mail spam, a survey in the U.S. and 12 countries in Europe and Asia/Pacific finds plenty of consumers willing to act on marketing e-mails that catch their fancy. Released this week, the study shows 58 percent of respondents saying an e-mail marketing message has prompted them to make a purchase at an offline store or via a call-center order desk.

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CBS.com Publicly Testing iPad-Ready Video

June 21st, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Read Write Web) — CBS.com is experimenting with HTML5 video, the plugin-free video technology supported by Apple mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad. With HTML5 running on the CBS website’s back-end, visitors from these and other Internet-connected devices could stream videos without having to install the Adobe Flash plugin, something that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is known to be vehemently against, having penned a public statement giving half a dozen reasons why Apple mobile devices won’t include its support.

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Consumer Confidence On The Rise

May 25th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(CNN) — A key measure of consumer confidence climbed for a third straight month in May, a research group said Tuesday, with the outlook for the next few months spiking to pre-recession levels. The Conference Board, a New York-based research group, said its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 63.3 in May, the highest level since March 2008, when it stood at 65.9. The index climbed from a downwardly revised 57.7 in April.

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Consumer Confidence On The Rise

May 25th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(CNN) — A key measure of consumer confidence climbed for a third straight month in May, a research group said Tuesday, with the outlook for the next few months spiking to pre-recession levels. The Conference Board, a New York-based research group, said its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 63.3 in May, the highest level since March 2008, when it stood at 65.9. The index climbed from a downwardly revised 57.7 in April.

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Setting Up Shop For Young Media Consumers

May 19th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(YPulse.com) —  Last week in Essentials we learned guys’ lifestyle network Thrillist had bought members-only e-commerce site JackThreads (described as a “grungy Gilte Group,” by TechCrunch). Then yesterday I pointed to a post on PSFK that gave props to a recent sweepstakes on Urban Outfitters for rewarding readers of the UO blog while potentially attracting new ones. The common thread here? A marriage between online media and e-retail that could raise some interesting questions for publishers, brands and young consumers alike.

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Consumer, Industrial Shares Lead U.S. Stocks Higher

May 3rd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(WSJ.com) — The consumer-discretionary and industrial sectors led U.S. stocks higher Monday following reports of increasing consumer spending and a rise in manufacturing activity to its highest level since July 2004. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 94 points, or 0.9%, to at 11102, in midday trading. Its top performers included some of its most economically sensitive components, with J.P. Morgan Chase up 2%, Boeing up 2%, Cisco Systems up 1.8% and Walt Disney up 1.7%.

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