Tupperware CEO blasts cheap US consumers

Rick Goings blames a 'Wal-Mart market' for his company's problems but ignores its dated domestic image.

By Jason Notte Feb 1, 2013 1:48PM
Image: Woman holding empty purse ( image100/Corbis)When a guy whose entire job involves getting you to buy plastic kitchen storage containers calls you cheap, it just might be true.


As Tom Gara at the Wall Street Journal gleaned from Tupperware (TUP) chief executive Rick Goings' Tuesday earnings call, he's not exactly happy with the buying habits of the average cheese-product-eating, soda-swilling, dollar-store-dwelling American.


In fact, in a quarterly report made available on Seeking Alpha and dominated by the 60% of Tupperware's business from emerging markets in South America and Asia and its growth in European countries like Germany, Goings bluntly explained to Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Olivia Tong why his mix of products isn't succeeding in the U.S.:


We are a high-quality product and a brand. Why do we do better in Europe than we do in the U.S.? Hey, take a look at the average brand of cab that you get in the New York cities. I mean, they're filthy, they're junk. Get in a cab over here, it's a Mercedes or an Audi. The U.S.A. is basically a Wal-Mart (WMT) market. Our top-tier products like the Microsteamer or the Ultraplus that are 100-year-old products, hard to sell them in the U.S., because that's a discount market over there.


That most Americans have no idea what the Microsteamer reheatable steamer/colander and Ultra Plus casserole dish lines are bolsters his point a bit. Still, The Huffington Post argues that most Americans aren't springing for $30 steamers they can hand down to the grandkids, because the money just isn't there.


The Social Security Administration puts the median annual wage at $26,965, while the Corporation for Enterprise Development notes that most Americans are one emergency away from financial ruin. Combined with stagnant unemployment numbers and a recent downturn in the gross domestic product, the loss of the payroll tax break has taken a toll on U.S. consumer confidence.


But that's letting U.S. consumers off a bit too easy. As Goings says, "Europe buys quality, Japan buys quality." As the Guardian acknowledges, Japan just fell into a recession, while Europe's austerity measures and bailouts couldn't prevent a double-dip recession there. The U.S. isn't the only nation going through hard times, yet it's the one coping with disposable plastic from the supermarket instead of slightly costlier product that will last far longer.


What that has to do with the brand or reliability of cabs in either market is still anyone's guess, but the greater point about Americans' fear of the up-front cost shouldn't be lost on a country that made Wal-Mart the largest retailer in the nation and No. 2 on the Fortune 500 one cheap plastic resin chair at a time. Just because it's true, however, doesn't make it a great thing to say to potential customers.


Nor does that truth make it Tupperware's only problem in the U.S. market. Sure, its products aren't cheap, but they're also attached to a dated image of mid-century American domesticity that no longer exist. Those Betty Draper-style semi-mute subservient housewives in pearls have faded into suburban history and aren't throwing Tupperware parties anymore. Even Goings admits that one of his "dumb" decisions in the U.S. was "recruiting younger women by giving her products that a 50-plus-year-old woman would like." Maybe American consumers can do better than a $1.99 pack of disposable plastic containers, but why should they buy Tupperware if the product they're being sold doesn't differ much from the sets their parents and grandparents are handing down for free?


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697Comments
Feb 1, 2013 4:21PM
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Dear Mr CEO of Tupperware, your products are over priced,difficult to purchase and have a asshat for a CEO!

Incase you haven't noticed thanks to the 47% who won't work and the President that spends all day on vaca and ruining any economic recovery with his spending spree's and 100% failure investments the average American can barley afford Walmart!

If I was intrested in Tupperware I'm not now and doubt I'd buy anything until you butts been fired!

I'm not cheap pal I'm just over taxed and making every dime I have count, thanks for the understanding you asshat, excuse me I'm going to go buy some Gladware suck on those lemons buddy! 

Feb 1, 2013 4:20PM
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Yes, I'm cheap. My parents are frugal. My grandparents were penny pinchers. So?
Feb 1, 2013 4:20PM
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rick goings is a turd  and ill bet he doesnt use his own product,as he puts his million in the bank.

 

Feb 1, 2013 4:20PM
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Used to buy a fair amount of Tupperware and then realized I was paying way too much $$$ for plastic and than I can buy RubberMaid products (just as good if not better) for much less.  I think Tupperware Board of Directors should take a look at their CEO - seems he just pretty much managed to alienate the entire country - what's going to happen to their sales here now? What an idiot
Feb 1, 2013 4:18PM
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wallmart is expensive in the long run donot shop there  we need to buy more american products we do make the best stuff in the world but it is expensive at times
Feb 1, 2013 4:17PM
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When Tupperware pays its workers as well as its executives, then it can complain.  Until then, shut up - and go out of business (unless you can get your executives to buy millions of dollars of Tupperware)!

Feb 1, 2013 4:17PM
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wouldn't do any business with a ceo with an attitude.
rubbermaid all the way!


Feb 1, 2013 4:16PM
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Rickie is a real piece of work.  He is selling products that have a 100%+ profit margin, are now made in China to make more profit, have declined in quality over the years and he is telling us how cheap we are?  Maybe, just maybe, this is why he has a problem selling his products in the US.  Not that US consumers are cheap.
Feb 1, 2013 4:16PM
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Maybe this guy should put that energy he's using to trash Americans into revamping his advertising and marketing strategy.
Most people don't buy Tupperware because they don't WANT it.  It's our money and we spend it the way we please, hell we worked for it not you!
Feb 1, 2013 4:15PM
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. . Sadly the man is right and wrong.   The plastic containers I use are all disposable...and I do not think of Tupperware as disposable.....
Feb 1, 2013 4:14PM
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Handing down kitchen products just doesn't happen anymore. 

 

We have great pots and pans, small kitchen appliances, super sharp Henckels, etc. etc.  When we look to upgrade we give to Goodwill.  Our younger relatives want to buy their own color, style and latest greatest features. Any used plastic-ware, as they would say, GROSS!

Feb 1, 2013 4:13PM
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When you don't have money how can you spend it unless you are the government.?
Feb 1, 2013 4:13PM
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Tupperware is produced where? Where are their products manufactured? Let me give you a hint, NOT IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!!

 

  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA

Feb 1, 2013 4:11PM
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IMO it's up to the company to make a product the consumer wants to buy. Insulting the consumer for not buying your product is not a business strategy.

Feb 1, 2013 4:11PM
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Clear plastic tumblers (circa 1970) for your kids priced at $49.00 for a set on their web site.  I think I'll stick with my glass ones.

Feb 1, 2013 4:10PM
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Blaming the consumer for being too cheap...... now that's the sign of a true leader.
Feb 1, 2013 4:10PM
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Tupperware stopped manufacturing their products in the United States many years ago and manufactures most products in Mexico and China.  Now that’s a true double standard.

Feb 1, 2013 4:10PM
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We re-use food product containers such as margarine containers that come with a lid, etc. So I think that makes us smart, not wasteful.
Feb 1, 2013 4:09PM
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Really? Cheap?? Give my Tupperware steamer to my kids/grandkids? Is this **** talking about my steamer that is cracked in half? That steamer??? All over priced garbage. At least with Rubbermade I know what I got and if if wears down..who cares..I'll go get another one and not feel like I need to get another job to pay for it.
Feb 1, 2013 4:09PM
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As! H^le,  maybe he should hire some American workers so we can buy his over priced plastic.
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