Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc. Corporation, participates in a business roundtable on the “Future of Work in an Era of Automation and Artificial Intelligence,” during a CEO Innovation Summit, December 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson | fake images
“Choose” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but CEOs love it.
Sample Walmart CEO Doug McMillon described the average consumer, who is trying to cut back on spending but is still willing to splurge on what’s worth it.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski used the word to characterize the company’s strategy on price increases.
And the adjective appeared again during starbucks‘Investor update, as CEO Laxman Narasimhan outlined the coffee giant’s strategy for general and administrative expenses.
So far in 2023, the election has appeared in 15 quarterly earnings calls for S&P 500 companies, according to a CNBC analysis of FactSet transcripts. That’s nearly double last year’s usage, when it totaled nine mentions. In 2021, only CEOs of Molson Coors and McCormick said “eligible” when speaking to investors on its quarterly conference calls.
CEOs have found it a useful adjective this year, whether to describe today’s unusual economy or to assure investors that they can steer their businesses through anything.
“Celective” cannot be found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary or dictionary.com. But the Oxford English Dictionary notes the word’s first known use at the end of the 16th century. The adjective typically occurs 0.002 times per million words in modern written English, making it one of a group of words “that are not part of normal speech and would be unknown to most people,” according to the OED.
Today, CEOs have used it to describe a consumer whose behavior has changed over the past two years. Inflation has put pressure on their wallets, leading them to reduce spending in some areas but not others.
Some companies have found themselves struggling to explain why consumers aren’t buying their products or why inventory was piling up at retailers. Others, like ralph laurenhave benefited from the selectivity of buyers.
“I think that’s what consumers are looking for right now as they have more options,” Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet told investors on the retailer’s Nov. 8 conference call. “They want to invest in pieces that are timeless, that they can wear beyond a specific season.”
The change in purchasing habits has put pressure on some companies’ bottom lines and bottom lines, leading executives to emphasize thoughtfulness in their strategies. That’s where “choice” comes in handy again.
Take Molson Coors’ description of its narrow, specific focus on non-alcoholic beverages. In recent years, the beer giant has begun to move away from ales and lagers in favor of faster-growing categories such as energy drinks.
“We’re going to choose where to play, and we have two priority slots,” CEO Gavin Hattersley said in the company’s Oct. 4 investor update.
Or there’s McDonald’s explaining its approach to raising menu prices. Restaurants, like many other industries, have seen diners resist higher prices by visiting less frequently or opting for cheaper orders.
“I think certainly given the inflation that we’ve experienced over the last year (actually, more than a year), we’ve tried to be very selective and disciplined in how we’ve executed those price increases,” McDonald’s Kempczinski told reporters. analysts at the last minute. October.
Consumers are still feeling the impact of higher prices at McDonald’s and elsewhere. They are racking up record credit card debt, even as inflation cools.
As 2023 draws to a close, economists are divided over whether next year will bring a recession, which could mean even more dramatic challenges for CEOs to address.
Maybe they even need to find a new favorite word.