Published on: October 19, 2015
Last week, I wondered about the series of 25 cent promotions that Whole Foods is doing, asking if they were consistent with the company's brand image.
Which led MNB reader Jessica Duffy to write:What the promotions do is create conversation and pull in people who would not otherwise come to Whole Foods, perhaps because of perceptions that it is too expensive or snooty. Once they come in, they will hopefully explore a little, see some other fun products even if they don’t get farther than a pastry to go with their coffee, and come away with a new place shop. It’s a valid strategy for generating new foot traffic.
We also got a number of emails responding to Chelsea Ware's "Millennial Mind" column in which she wrote about targeted marketing, and suggested that when Target gives her a Rogaine coupon - which she most assuredly does not need - it is missing an opportunity.
One MNB user wrote:I’m guessing Chelsea would appreciate the coupon if her balding husband used the product. Just as she will the coupon for diapers if she has a child. Sometimes ME-llennials just need to think it through.
But she doesn't have a balding husband. That's the point. This is not about millennials being self-centered. It is about marketers not wasting time and money sending out irrelevant messages.
From another reader:This is Drake Ellingboe, also a 23 year old, from Minnesota (Target’s homeland as I’m sure you know). I completely agree with Chelsea on the point she makes about Coke’s effective marketing to millennials, I would however bring up the classic story of when Target accidentally broke the news to a father that his young daughter was pregnant by sending extremely targeted coupons based on her buying behavior.
My point in bringing this up is to simply say that there is a broader struggle at hand. These retailers know the data on their consumers - as a marketer in the CPG industry I can attest to that. They must however, constantly balance the creepy factor with the convenience factor and therein lies the issue. One incident like the above article discusses and they pull back on targeted ads purposefully. It’s almost like the Imitation Games (there ya go I even worked in a movie reference this morning!)
Again, totally agree with Chelsea but would caution against condemning Target too much.
On the subject of Walmart's profit warning and planned investments, MNB reader Tom Murphy wrote:Retailers should be afraid…very afraid! When was the last time any of them suggested to Wall Street that they would “give up short-term profits for long-term benefit…so be patient”! Let’s remember the bear story, “you don’t have to be faster than the bear, just faster than someone else who is also running away from the bear”! That said, Walmart can make pretty good profits by outrunning a number of their national, regional and local competitors. And this will be harder to replicate than just fancier displays or lower prices…better to start running faster.
And another reader:You suggested that Walmart has to “improve the store experience” to be successful. Is it as simple as having fewer or no “out of stocks”? Every Walmart I visit has more “out of stocks” than the previous store. One way to increase the size of market basket is to be in stock. I don’t think this is just a Walmart problem. As retailers carry more skus, they need to make sure that the basic “blocking and tackling” is executed every day. I believe this refers back to your familiar themes: recruiting, training, keeping experienced employees and NOT cutting store hours just to satisfy Wall Street. I think the retail industry will have serious issues in the future because they are not able to recruit and keep valued employees. How many of your marketing students are headed to the retail industry?
On another subject, MNB reader Mike Nichols wrote:I liked your article about Starbucks trying to improve the drive-thru experience by installing video screens. But, as you know, it’s not just about the idea, but also the execution. We have a newly built Starbucks near my home, which I visit on my way to work most mornings. It features the new drive thru video. However, the baristas almost never use it. They used it quite frequently during the first few weeks when the store was built, but now I only see them using it about one trip out of every 10 to 20. Whether it’s Starbucks or anyone else, corporate can have all the great ideas in the world. But, if they can’t get the front lines to execute consistently and effectively, then those ideas are bound to fall flat.
Regarding last week's faceTime about LL Bean, one MNB user wrote:Kevin how did you manage to do a FaceTime in front of LL Bean's Freeport Mothership, talk about their ubiquitous duck boots, and not get their giant Duck-Boot-Mobile into the background of your video??! A missed opportunity for sure.
I tucked myself out of the way to do that piece. There were a lot of customer sneed the Big Boot.
Last week I was critical of a new FMI website designed to expose some supermarket myths ... and my problem was some of these weren't myths at all.
Like the idea that sometimes fresh food isn't fresh. One MNB reader had a thought about this:I work at a large Northeast retailer and we get 3 perishable deliveries a week, which does not get it done!
Or the idea that retailers manipulate customers into buying more, which is absolutely the case. Except, as MNB reader Pete Deeb writes, sometimes they don't call it manipulation:Having spent over 40 years in the grocery business on both the Retail and manufacturer sides of the business, I find the use of the term “manipulating customers” into buying more goods a “politically correct” statement! This assertion demeans the highly effective practice that all facets of the business use called MERCHANDISING! What business does not want customers to make impulse purchases or display related products (i.e. pasta and sauce) together to sell more stuff? How about offering complete meals in the Deli or utilizing recipe promotions to sell more ingredients. Do we think consumers are so naïve that they are being manipulated by the industry? If so then people like Wegmans and Publix are doing a darn good job of it.
From another reader:I agree completely with your take regarding the article about FMI dispelling food shopper “Myths.” I am an industry insider working very closely with one of this nation’s largest retailers, and we often merchandise in ways that encourage the customer to purchase the next size up in efforts to increase basket rings. We also work to create “speed bumps” designed to get the impulse buys as customers walk through different departments throughout the store. Everything from department plan-o-grams and display merchandising to the physical layout of the building is designed to increase the basket size in every retailer I have ever worked with or for. I understand what FMI is trying to do, but your take is absolutely spot on.
And another:Why would the FMI want to publicize possible myths about the food retailing business when many of the readers might not, initially, perceive the problem?
Why tell people about a problem, and then write an article to dispel the issue, when the readers don’t perceive an issue? If they did not know about the problem before the article, they will after reading about it.
And still another:I agree with you. As presented all FMI will do is to perpetuate the “Myths”. Instead why don’t they make an informational site that concentrates on the behind the scenes processes that supermarket retailers and manufacturers and producers go through as supplied by the respective entities. They have avoided the concept of “myths” because examples like you pointed out and water spray on produce do have dual purposes and one of them is to sell. The whole store is designed to sell products stocked. That is the purpose of the store and the customers are there to buy. The store wants the customer to be exposed to all its’ sales and non-sale merchandise and the customer can also benefit from their efforts. It is up to the customer to take or leave the sale device whether it is location within the store or a sign advertising the sale, POS.
Finally, responding to all my baseball coverage, MNB reader Jesse Ehlen wrote:I realized the other night, as I watched my wife's hometown Royals send the Astros packing, that I've tuned into more of the MLB playoffs this year than the last ten years combined and it has a lot to do with one of MNB's favorite themes: Disruption. The Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, all the 'usual [big payroll] suspects', are sitting at home watching four teams that haven't been to the World Series in a combined 152 years compete for a title. I'm obviously not a huge baseball fan, but the product offering is decidedly different this year, with new and different storylines, and it's brought me into the fold. I wonder how many others...
Maybe with a salary cap, MLB could generate this kind of excitement every year?...
Good luck to your Mets! (But go Royals!)
From another reader:It would be nice to see the Cubs win if only so Steve Goodman can finally rest in peace. (I'm betting that you know who Steve Goodman is!)
I most certainly do ... he's the singer/songwriter behind "Go, Cubs, Go" and lots of other songs ... including one of my favorite songs of all time, "City of New Orleans."
Another MNB reader wrote:Who says baseball is dull or boring?
Of course, you can't please all the people all the time:In today’s edition, you forgot to mention that last night the Minnesota Lynx clinching the WNBA championship for the third time in the last five years on their home court in the 5th game of a 5 game series……and they celebrated post game at a private party hosted by Prince.
I'm neither a big basketball fan nor a big Prince fan ... so that's probably why I missed it. Thanks for filling in the blanks.