A Tramp Stamp on the Tomato!

I can’t wait to see if there will be a “tramp stamp” on my store-bought tomatoes one day soon. Change is coming to the produce industry.  Tattoos may soon replace those annoying but helpful little stickers you find on most fruits and veggies. 

There’s a secret trick to deciphering number codes on produce stickers – those leading with the number 9 are organic food, and those that lead with 4 are just plain food, grown however the farmer chooses.  Remember this: nine is fine and four is a bore.

I wonder if the tattoos will be tiny and hard to see like the stickers are now or big and artistic like a full sleeve? I wonder if shoppers will find the tattoos offensive or perceive them to be dangerous to eat?

This trend is beginning in Europe. Can you guess which U. S. retailer will lead the way with tattooed produce? Flip a coin on Whole Foods or Walmart. Sustainability is key to them both, and that’s what’s behind the tattoo movement.

I like the idea of tattoos on produce. I look forward to the day that I will no longer have to stick the labels from the veggies all over my hand when I’m prepping the organic goodies for the juicer.


The Full Sleeve



The fishy business of Shopper Marketing

I’ve got a voracious appetite for reading. This weekend I’m trying to catch up on a few industry reads. This morning I’m browsing through the 2nd Edition of Shopper Marketing, published by Kogan Page Limited in 2010 and updated in 2012. I like it because it has 36 chapters, each by a different professional from across the globe,  many of whom are colleagues and friends.

The subtitle of this new book is called “How to increase purchase decisions at the point of sale” but it’s hardly ironic that my favorite chapter is about what happens at home.  Because it is truly the day-to-day patterns of our everyday lives that shape not only what items we impulsively toss in the cart on a given shopping trip, but what brands become inscribed in our sub conscious brains as cultural preferences.

It’s also no surprise that Harvey Hartman wrote the chapter. Shopper marketers, especially those in insights areas of the discipline, tend to drone on about need states. Harvey, (whom I know and admire for his frankness) will tell you, correctly so, that experiences in our homes generate cultural tasks, not need states. In a nutshell, the study of culture trends and shifts matters greatly to all things shopper.

His story in the book gives me a fond memory AND true understanding of exactly why I used to buy Gorton’s fish sticks, and why, since picky eater toddler finally grew up, I no longer ever need to buy them again, but feel connected to the brand in a positive way.  It also explains why my husband continually sneaks regular Ritz crackers (and liversausage) into the cart despite the daunting nutrition label and its impact on his physical heart. The impact of Ritz crackers on his emotional heart is just to strong to resist.

At the end of the day, it behooves (love that word) every marketer who is accountable to the shopper (read as: ALL of us) to back away from thinking just about in-store behaviors. It’s prudent to move some of your research and personal reading time to understand the culture of preference and the impact of life at home to the deep-seated preferences we all bring with us to the stores.

The Hartman Group, encompassing a fine group of smart and intuitive humans that surround the always outspoken Mr. Harvey Hartman himself, have continually provided true depth and dimension to my reading and to my understanding of the fishy business of shopper marketing. They helped shape my non-stop shopper-centric focus in the business.

For now, I’m on to a chapter called Too Many Choices, a situation that actually prevents sales at the shelf. This chapter will likely explain why I love small stores and farmer’s markets!

What’s on your reading list?



I’ve spent many years in my career(s) being responsible for looking out the front window of the car, being responsible for having a view on what to think about next, and what to do about it. I’ve always called it the “So What, Do What” capability.

Now that I am an independent consultant, I find this to be the most valuable asset in my portfolio of services. Today’s pace of change is reminds me of a hot day in July a few years back, where I literally put the pedal to the metal and raced my little red BMW down the back road at 120+ mph. Windows open, wind in my face…..thrilling.

Scary? Sure, for the one second I thought about getting a ticket. But the thrill of the pace totally outweighs the fear. I’m not saying I’m going to race my car down that road again. But it sure is a thrill to be working in a space that feels so similar. 


Shopper Marketing – Top Trend for 2012 – Smart tech and human contact come together.

As I browse through 2012 trend articles, I look for threads that weave seemingly disparate trends together into something more meaningful.

This year, I see a distinct link between the breakneck pace of smartphone use and the growing desire even die-hard techies have for more human contact. This is especially evident in the world of shopping.

In 2011, smartphones gave us shopping convenience, pricing transparency, mobile wallets (review of Apple’s EasyPay app) and now Siri, princess of augmented humanity, a.k.a. the girl in the iPhone 4! Note the photo below, her face is a microphone!!

Our craving for humanity even within our technology has already superseded her reality. This is best described through videos on YouTube about “sexy” conversations with Siri, which if you must see, you can surely find! With Siri beside us on the couch, why would we ever stop clicking and get off our butts to go a store unless we’re showing off our Google wallets.

The way we use our smartphones will indeed continue to change the way we shop.  Need proof?  Walmart is ready to deliver a truly personalized “suite of products” directly to your smartphone (or tablet) based on what they glean from analyzing every bit of information they can access in your transparent digital/social graph.

The craving for technology and enhanced humanity in shopping seem like odd bedfellows, but fit like the circle yin and yang form together. According to trend watchers, we crave more sensory, exciting in-store retail experiences to offset the advanced shopping technology we’re so excited to have. I believe this has been in the works for much longer than just the past year.

Consider the quality of the experience shoppers must have had at what I’ll call the ancient marketplaces. No doubt, they were the true center of human relationships, exchanges, and social interaction, in addition to commerce. The experiences at the marketplace were tangible and fulfilling in a multi-sensory way. Smell the intense spices, taste new flavors and enjoy the rich conversation with those you see every week in town market square. Hear the high pitches of voices in negotiations, coins jingling as deals were reached.  Indeed, we crave this, more so now that it’s so far removed from that device in our pockets.

Even as today’s shoppers conveniently click around Amazon.com, they also flock to watch their meat ground fresh at the butcher’s counter, carefully and lovingly select the freshest veggies at the farm stands, congregate merrily at street markets and lunch with gusto at authentic ethnic food trucks. When they want service, they might crave a razor shave at The Art of Shaving, or the known, trusted sense of clean they’ll enjoy at a Tide Dry Cleaners.  Procter & Gamble obviously gets it, winning the top 2011 Excellence and Innovation in Retail award. These experiences create stories worth sharing, on smartphones of course, but also in face to face with those in our inner circles.

In 2012, I think we’ll see retailers and brands step up their mobile relationships with shoppers, while striving to connect their products and marketing efforts firmly to experiences that deliver multi-sensory benefits. Phil Lempert, “The Supermarket Guru” thinks food passion is still strong. I think that means knowledgeable experiential teams in stores should replace basic boring sampling.  If pupasas from El Salvador are the top new food at the Vendy Awards, the team that launches the packaged version in-store better look, feel and sound like they rolled in from that country last night. Think Heritage, real human style.

People gathered together with a common purpose share a sense of empowerment. Lempert says “Look for food groups to form that cook together, crowd sourcing in the kitchen” if you will. Add a savings focus and they’ll be couponing, shopping, cooking, eating and counting their saved dollars as a team.

My AHA! moment for 2012!  Bring top bloggers and followers together IRL (in real life) for shopping meet-ups. Digital promotes the exclusive human experience.

It’s a given that in 2012 Siri, on command, will text your friends and invite them to go shopping. The bigger question is – whose command? Will shoppers use Siri to extend invitation to friends? Or will a savvy retailer ask Siri to help them invite like-minded shoppers to an enhanced retail experience?

What are your thoughts?