July 19, 2024

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CEOs have a new favorite word: ‘Choiceful’

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Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc. Corporation, participates in a Business Roundtable discussion on the”Future of Work in an Era of Automation and Artificial Intelligence”, during a CEO Innovation Summit, on December 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson | Getty Images

“Choiceful” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but chief executives love it.

It’s how 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 popped up again during Starbucks‘ investor update, when CEO Laxman Narasimhan outlined the coffee giant’s strategy for general and administrative expenses.

So far in 2023, choiceful has appeared in 15 quarterly earnings calls for S&P 500 companies, according to a CNBC analysis of FactSet transcripts. That’s nearly double the usage last year, when it totaled nine mentions. In 2021, only the CEOs of Molson Coors and McCormick said “choiceful” when speaking to investors on their quarterly conference calls.

Chief executives have found it a useful adjective this year, whether it’s to describe today’s unusual economy or to reassure investors that they can steer their businesses through anything.

“Choiceful” can’t be found in Merriam-Webster Dictionary or on dictionary.com. But the Oxford English Dictionary notes the earliest known use of the word in the late 1500s. The adjective typically appears .002 times per million words in modern written English, making it one of a group of words “which are not part of normal discourse and would be unknown to most people,” according to the OED.

These days, CEOs have used it to describe a consumer whose behavior has changed over the last two years. Inflation has put pressure on their wallets, leading them to pull back on spending in some areas but not others.

Some companies have found themselves scrambling…



2023-11-20 10:05:31

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