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 4:49PM
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As a US Consumer  all I will say is   take your  shitty  plastic ware , steamer & piss off.

Feb 1, 2013 4:49PM
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     The reason NYC cabs are filthy is because NYC is filthy. NYC is not representative of the U.S., though those who fear leaving its confines would have others believe so.

 

     As for the Europeans having Mercedes taxicabs...Mercedes is a "domestic" brand over there...the same reason you'll see Russian-built cabs in Russia, Japanese-built cabs in Japan etc.

 

     How did this guy become CEO with his level of ignorance?

Feb 1, 2013 4:49PM
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The sun will rise in the orning and I'll be no worse off than I am today for not having any Tupperware. In the future I'll make a point of never buying any Tupperware because they have a snooty CEO. He should move to Europe and sink with them when they all go under.

Feb 1, 2013 4:48PM
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They are plastic storage containers, how much do we really need to spend on that.  Maybe he would like to share what is probably another ridiculous CEO salary?
Feb 1, 2013 4:48PM
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Congrats Rick, I WAS a tupperware purchaser. Won't buy any more or your products, but then again I still have some of my grandmothers tupperware.

Feb 1, 2013 4:48PM
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Gosh Mr. CEO, I feel so ashamed for not buying your more expensive, longer-lasting, higher quality, Tupperware! I should have thought of my children and grandchildren's joy of reading my will and discovering that they would inherit Tupperware! Perhaps I should also buy a Mercedes and replace the much less expensive, thoroughly reliable Chevrolet that I drive. Oh, the pain of realizing that I have been living life on the cheap. Please forgive me, Mr. All-Knowing, All-Wise Mr. CEO.
Feb 1, 2013 4:47PM
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Free Glad wear, Free plastic containers from eating out, plastic wrap.  Who needs tupperwear?
Feb 1, 2013 4:47PM
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Guess what?  You just hurt your sales even more in the good ol' US of A.   Dumb Bass!  

Feb 1, 2013 4:46PM
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He can GO--TO--HELL! He should try living on the substandard wages that corporate "officers" just like him are so fond of paying in this country.
Feb 1, 2013 4:46PM
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this just tickles the s**t out of me...well rick goings you made 9.5 million dollars last year so you my friend you can afford a $30 tupperware steamer...and then you critisize our american automobiles...my friend again you probably haven't bought an american car in years because you make and i say again 9.5 million a year...and to top it off your bitchen about americans not buying your high priced products that arent made in the usa...although some are let me state...but just by your general attitude i would say most are not made here...so don't take as much money next year and make all your products here and get rid of your mercedes and your out of country vacation haunts lower your prices now that you can and advertise that all your products are made here by well paid american workers with american raw materials and i would bet  that you maybe won't make as much money god forbid but you'll feel a hell of a lot better about things here in america...knowing that you and your now all american company are doing the right thing...
Feb 1, 2013 4:45PM
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i have tupperware my mother gave me.  i love it. it is better than walmart and rubbermaid.  but, i don't see tupperware advertising. the last big thing i heard about tupperware was a gay guy sells the most in the united states.  i was like wow tupperware is still around.  i have tupperware that needs new lids.  my daughter melted my large yellow container on the stove.  that bowl was with our family for 40+ years, i was heartbroken. dad made chocolate chip cookies in that thing.
Feb 1, 2013 4:45PM
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Well well well.....who the hell is America now....the 47% ers.......food stamp welfare America!!!!   Welcome to the  New  "America" people!!!!   So why is   Rick  so surprised here.    Walmart does 8 Billion worth of business manufacturing in China.   So what is the big surprise here.. As Walmart grows American level of life sinks lower.   The bar is so low we will be a third world country  is 10 to 15 years.    Another Greece in the making.   And the obama administration wants  another 14 million illegals  to be legal to get FREE everything.   Wow  more lower class citizens and more Walmart customers.    So is America cheap..................not cheap but  part of the 47% of food-stamp people who only can afford Walmart prices.     Welcome to the food-stamp America!!!!!
Feb 1, 2013 4:44PM
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We do buy cheap stuffy, if that is not essential to our day to day life. We do spend more on housing, tuition or health care than our european colleagues though. IF we talk about if Americans are cheap, than that could be an apple and orange issue though. Thanks.
Feb 1, 2013 4:44PM
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I suppose one does tryu to keep ones expenses down. Especially since most people are living close to the bone these days and also relalizes that the mark up and profit sustained for the benefit of a few "OLIGARCHS" is so great.

 

You get what you pay for.

 

I

Feb 1, 2013 4:43PM
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congratulations Mr. Going's how many independent Tupperware reps did you just put out of business? Do you really think anyone in the US will want them in their homes after you to the world that we are cheap??!!
Feb 1, 2013 4:43PM
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Our problem is that these items can be copied and reproduced by China. Big such as Tupperware so this and did nothing about it.  China will kill the American worker by stealing products and thus US jobs. People read the labels and stop supporting companies that sell or have manufactured China made products.. STOP BUYING CHINA MADE JUNK, SUPPORT USA COMPANIES and SAVE USA JOBS.
Feb 1, 2013 4:43PM
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frickin' pyramid scheme...if you ask me.
Feb 1, 2013 4:43PM
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The last time I looked at buying Tupperware none of it was made in America. I will buy Pyrex which is still made in the USA. Glass is much safer and cleaner than Tupperware.
Feb 1, 2013 4:40PM
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I'll dig out my Tupperware...from the same closet that holds my leisure suit.
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