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Decoding Corporate Narratives: The Surge of ‘Choiceful’ in CEO Discourse

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In the dynamic world of corporate communication, language evolves alongside market trends and consumer behavior. One term making waves in major companies’ boardrooms and earnings calls is “choiceful.” Though it may not be a household word, it’s gaining traction among chief executives who find it to be a powerful descriptor for today’s ever-changing economic landscape.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski, and Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan have all recently utilized the term in different contexts. The frequency of “choiceful” in S&P 500 earnings calls has nearly doubled this year, according to CNBC’s analysis of FactSet transcripts. This surge reflects its emergence as a go-to adjective for CEOs looking to convey strategic flexibility and reassure investors amid economic uncertainty.

Interestingly, “choiceful” isn’t common in mainstream dictionaries, but the Oxford English Dictionary traces its origins back to the late 1500s. It appears only 0.002 times per million words in contemporary written English, placing it among words considered uncommon and unknown to most people.

CEOs are employing “choiceful” to describe the shifts in consumer behavior witnessed over the past two years. In the face of inflation, consumers are more discerning in their spending, carefully selecting where to cut back and where to indulge. This change has presented challenges for some companies while benefiting others.

For instance, Ralph Lauren’s CEO, Patrice Louvet, noted on a recent conference call that consumers are seeking timeless pieces, reflecting a more selective approach to their purchases. This shift has implications for companies across various sectors, prompting CEOs to emphasize the thoughtfulness of their business strategies.

Molson Coors exemplifies this approach with its focus on nonalcoholic drinks. CEO Gavin Hattersley emphasized being “choiceful” about the company’s market presence, prioritizing faster-growing categories like energy drinks over traditional ales and lagers.

McDonald’s, facing the challenge of menu price increases, has also adopted a “choiceful” stance. Kempczinski explained the company’s disciplined approach to navigating customer pushback against higher prices, highlighting the careful execution of their strategy in response to inflation.

As we approach the end of 2023, economists are divided on whether the next year will bring a recession. This uncertainty places added pressure on CEOs to navigate potential challenges. The question arises: will “choiceful” remain the word of choice for CEOs, or will a new term emerge to capture the essence of their strategies in an evolving business landscape? Only time will tell as corporate leaders continue to adapt their language to the ever-shifting dynamics of the global economy.

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