Discover Why CEOs are Embracing the Word ‘Choiceful’ in Their Leadership Strategies

  • CEOs are increasingly using the word “choiceful” to describe consumer spending behavior and their company strategy.
  • In 2023, the term “choiceful” has appeared in 15 quarterly earnings calls for S&P 500 companies, a significant increase from just two mentions in 2021, based on a CNBC analysis of FactSet transcripts.
  • CEOs of major companies like Walmart and McDonald’s have utilized “choiceful” in their conversations with investors this year.

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

The term “choiceful” may not sound natural, but it’s becoming prevalent among chief executives.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon uses it to describe the average consumer who is trying to cut back on spending but still willing to invest in what matters.

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski also used “choiceful” to characterize the company’s strategy on price increases.

The term even made an appearance during Starbucks’ investor update when CEO Laxman Narasimhan outlined the coffee giant’s strategy for general and administrative expenses.

The use of “choiceful” in 2023 has significantly increased, with 15 mentions in S&P 500 quarterly earnings calls, in comparison to just nine in 2022. In 2021, only CEOs of Molson Coors and McCormick used “choiceful” in their quarterly conference calls with investors.

CEOs have found “choiceful” to be a useful term to describe consumer behavior in the current economic climate and reassure investors about their companies’ resilience.

While “choiceful” may not be found in mainstream dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary traces its usage back to the late 1500s. It is considered a rare term, appearing only .002 times per million words in modern written English, which makes it relatively unknown to most people.

Companies are using “choiceful” to describe consumers who have changed their spending habits due to inflation, becoming more selective in their purchases.

While some companies face challenges due to consumers’ choosiness, others, like Ralph Lauren, have benefited from it.

On the retailer’s Nov. 8 conference call, Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet mentioned that consumers are seeking timeless pieces that can be worn over multiple seasons.

Changes in shopping habits have impacted companies’ financial performance and led executives to emphasize the thoughtfulness of their strategies, making “choiceful” an appropriate term.

For instance, Molson Coors highlighted its restrained, targeted approach to nonalcoholic beverages, focusing on faster-growing categories like energy drinks.

McDonald’s explained its disciplined approach to raising menu prices, acknowledging how inflation has affected diners’ behaviors.

Despite the ongoing challenges, consumers continue to grapple with record credit card debt, leading to uncertainty about a potential recession in 2024.

The use of “choiceful” illustrates how CEOs are adapting to changing consumer behavior and economic conditions as they navigate a complex and uncertain landscape.


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