retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Here’s a simple reality: people love food. We love talking about how we cook, how we shop and, of course, how we eat. So for a second, forget the well-intention discussions of efficiency and rationalization in the industry and remember that little fact.

As evidenced by my column above, I (like Kevin) love listening to Tony Kornheiser's radio show. What makes it so wonderful is the show ranges far from sports. In fact, I could argue the movies and food get equal time, which makes it a perfect fit for the MNB authors, if not our audience.

Mr. Tony (as he likes to be called) loves talking about his favorite foods and getting gifts of those items from his listeners, whom he calls “the littles.”

A new favorite of Mr. Tony’s is the brown rice/black pepper/sea salt variety of Triscuits. He loves them and ravenously eats boxfuls. Being a loyal little I called Rick Brindle at Mondelez and relayed the story. Rick called his company’s public relations staff and they dispatched a box of samples to Mr. Tony’s studio in Maryland.

The result: Mr. Tony gleefully talked about the gift for two minutes last Wednesday and his on-air crew waxed on about their favorite varieties as they suggested new ridiculous varieties such as mutton and molasses. Through it all, Mr. Tony kept reminding his listeners, “I like Triscuits better than any other cookie or cracker.”

Here’s the thing. Mondelez got a ton of free advertising on the air with just some samples. More importantly, it befriended a passionate consumer who talked about his love of the product in better terms than any ad could ever convey. Mr. Tony started out as a customer, but he turned into an advocate.

That’s not to say that free gifts of food to radio shows is a foolproof marketing strategy. Rather, remember that this shows how much people like all different kinds of food items. And they talk about that passion at work, at parties, on social media and sometimes through the media.

Remember, food stores are not just selling items. They are selling what people love.

Keep it in mind. It can be an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: