The World's Unsexiest Business
adding a little sizzle to the convenience store industry
Let's call it a duel between brand iconography: a newsletter with unique typography set on a signature peach yellow colored paper versus a web 3.0 multi platform ecosystem replete with price scraping deterrent technology (yes, I've tried albeit unsuccessfully)
For the former, the business model largely relies upon a grassroots movement style heavy handed collective effort of an army of call center 'analysts' (I wouldn't want to offend anyone here by the relegation of staff titles) reaching out to hundreds upon thousands of convenience store owners and operators for supplier and retail prices to collect data to repackage and sell. Integrity seems to be maintained through human 'second pass' common sense and perhaps passive verification.
For the latter, let's call it decentralization at its best (or worst) with a contributor base that teeters between altruistic price informer and competitor manipulator. Sometimes the lines become blurred as evidenced by what seems to be none other than price sabotage while other times consumers simply need to be made aware of a hard to refuse deal at the pump. Revenue is measured in terms of views, clicks, downloads, and subsequent aggregate advertising dollar spend. The integrity of such a system is reasonably kept intact by a distributed self policing effort and something akin to open outcry: if you don't like it or think it's right, someone (human or perhaps bot) will eventually reign in the forces of 'checks and balances' to restore order.
Both company leaders ensure their respective public presence need no fanfare yet their ubiquity as de facto market authority personalities and experts on prices at the pump has largely remain unchallenged for years. But for the sake of dispensing accolades, a 'skin in the game' honorary award might very well be handed to Trilby simply for her longstanding family name having become synonymous with the data itself.
On a leadership accessibility basis, Walt (Twitter) is easier to reach out to than Trilby (no social media presence). In fact, the cache and exclusivity (along with the occasional seemingly impromptu CNBC appearance) associated with the latter perhaps seeks to strengthen her brand's position as an exclusive data point for which thousands of analysts attempting to peer inside base their industry research, commentary, and projections.
No I'm not attempting to write a biography nor do I wish to pit one remarkable seasoned veteran against a strategically minded technology disruptor. I'm merely (self-)exposing the fact that the Lundberg brand could soon be on the selling block. Personal assertion and opinion all in the name of writing on the wall arbitrage. But since dogma usually gets the relative obscure nowhere, let's throw some color based evidence into the mix. I mean let's go all the way back to the days of yellow journalism. While Lundberg employs few modern day equivalent clickbait devices (let's call them splashy provocative headlines) to lure readers, the yellow tinged paper for which the 'letter' is printed on might connote otherwise. Well, that's assuming you lived in the era of yellow journalism or are even familiar with the historical usage of such a media strategy. But that's at odds with the acute and scientific heavy analysis because the traditional yellow journalism spurned most thought provoking pieces of content. Call it a clever play on enticing readers or maybe just a simple convenience to those plagued with a pre-existing condition of print media eye strain. Maybe the publication was ahead of its time but today I can reasonably state that this data analysis speaks volumes in the age of sexy big data.
Could it be that this relic of yesteryear journalism has significantly helped augment the publication's competitive advantage or one in which its technology leveraging competition is consumed more as a complementary good? Alternatively, is it that their B2B revenue generating capability leaves it free from dealing with the public at large and therefore makes its business ripe for the picking, plucking, taking, or sum of parts dismantling? That on a razor thin versus eye popping margin comparative basis.
Do I have your attention, Trilby? Winter has yet to be upon us because the financiers might be coming.