Publix rethinks the ubiquitous Retail Endcap

Yes, it’s true. I took a dozen in-store pictures in a grocery store while on vacation. But, it’s rare for @ShopperAnnie to get a chance to shop in a brand spanking new major grocery store. Overall, I’d rate this newly constructed Publix store a ten!

What impressed me the most? The front of store endcaps, which were clearly designed with plenty of shopper logic. If you’re in the shopper business, you might remember that traditionally, grocers want to draw shoppers to the back endcaps, to get them down more aisles.

Shoppers, however, want easy and fast access to the items they want most often, seeking to shorten the time they spend in the store, especially as trips change to more quick-trips and less time-consuming stock-up trips.

The best example of new thinking in endcap display is shown below  in what I’ll call the breakfast bar. Note the cooler with an areas for eggs, yogurt, meats and juice. Starbucks gets a great spot on the upper right and Qia – a new gluten-free superfood cereal from Nature’s Path is featured on the left.

Breakfast_Publix_April2013

Near the end of our trip, a co-traveler went to the Publix store at 7am to get a newspaper,  saw the butcher stocking a rolling  refrigerated case set at the front door with fresh cut pork chops surrounded by fresh broccoli and seasonal fruit. Over breakfast at the condo, he made the suggestion that we stop by Publix later to pick up that fresh pork for dinner. When we arrived at 4:00PM, the meat was being restocked and we were told the fresh chops had been cut only minutes before we arrived.

Everybody Needs a Happy Place

A lighthouse has useful purposes, to help sailors avoid disaster and find their way home.

We all need that once in a while. So I’m posting up my favorite lighthouse photo from Sturgeon Point, Michigan. Long ago a family member was the lighthouse keeper there, and as a child we spent part of every summer on the point. This is my happy place, even on a cold winter day!

My happy place.
My happy place.

Bye, Bye Kiwi

Kiwi, you’ve been replaced by a banana. A peel of a banana, no less!

I recently read (in the AARP magazine, OMG did I just admit that?) that you can use a banana peel (the inside part) to polish leather shoes. Smear it on and buff it out after one minute with a soft cloth. A weird smell, banana on leather, but not as toxic as a whiff of chemical-laden polish out of that metal container.

As a marketer of consumer brands I feel somewhat guilty when I find a sure-fire organic no-cost solution to a problem. In this case, it means I will stop buying shoe polish, at least in brown.

As a consumer it’s frankly odd to rub banana peels on your $200 boots. But my last date with Kiwi ended badly when the color of an expensive and favorite pair of Ralph Lauren loafers turned into a blotchy mess of brown awfulness.

My boots look amazing, so do the ten year old Paul Green loafers I still love after all these years.  Oh what one banana peel can do!

And guess what else? The banana itself was a tasty treat in my greek yogurt smoothie! Now all I need is a white fruit option for my golf shoes!

Can you help me?

I’ve been re-reading Nilofer Merchant’s book Eleven Ways to Add Value in the Social Era. I love this book.

It’s about context for business in the 21st century, creating value via social connections beyond an organizational construct. The organizational construct is the hallmark of the information era, but gets in the way of the social era, she says. I could not agree more.

People ask me all the time if I will help them. About 99% of the time, I say yes. Helping others is my secret weapon to stay informed.

I continue to see examples of just how much organizational structures get in the way of how great business sharing can work. In some organizations, it’s about cross-charging for people time. In my view this can be eliminated with a bit of hard work on compensation. When people within  the same company have a bunch of different P&L’s to manage and each one hits different wallets, it gets complicated.

The natural urge and tendency to share and give time to help others gets disrupted. It’s hard stop being helpful, and wow, can a lack of help cripple an organization quickly. I know a lot of folks who have to account for time in a dishonest way because they spent time helping others, and it’s just demoralizing.

Ms. Merchant sees a day when companies will have to reconcile profit and purpose. I see inability to for many leaders (especially in marketing) to face the fact that NOW is that time. It’s not hard to respect, honor and reward the value of connected human contributors, in theory.

In practice, I see organizations that are still only crawling in an effort to move toward the constructs of truly allowing humans to add value in the social era.

How broken will business have to get before helping each other can become the only way to work?  Will business ever catch up to human nature?

A Penny Less is Not Less

Really? Come on Walmart algorithms.

I’m not one to bash retailers that compete with Amazon. I say this because it’s really about experience, not price.  But retailers believe that for most shoppers,  it’s about price, so being a shopper marketing consultant, I play the game.

That said, I’ve installed this app called Invisible Hand, which tells me, when I’m browsing online, where I can find what I’m looking at cheaper. Note the yellow bar at the top of the “screen capture” below.

 

png_ Price compare

 

This morning I get an e-mail from Barnes & Noble about new books. I’m looking at Bobby Deen’s just-released today cookbook. He’s taken his Mams Paula Deen’s recipes and slashed the fat and calories, but not the flavor.

I jump over to Amazon (without clicking on B&N site, sorry) and check out the Kindle version, then the paperback version. Then the yellow bar pops up and tells me I can get this book for $0.01 cheaper at Walmart.com.

As I said, I’n not a retail basher at heart. I truly believe that some algorithm somewhere in cyberland did this to me today.

I want to declare to the technology bot that “A Penny Less is NOT Less.” If the bot tells its human programmer, that’s good. but it probably won’t, because it’s probably not listening to the human reaction I had.

With that behind me, I can now experience the experience Amazon has perfected, the one-click order button. I’ll be testing recipes on Thursday.

Shopper Marketing – Climb into the Soup Bowl

I wish my corporate friends in shopper marketing would get out of their silo’s and climb into the soup bowl for once and for all. Come on friends, think about your own real life behavior. You don’t thing and act in marketing silo’s…and neither do your targeted shoppers.

When will marketing people stop thinking the world of quant data is more important versus a world of measuring human engagement and relationship?

We live in the world of soup, blended with incredible flavors. Would you eat soup with only one ingredient? No. Layers of flavor are just like layers of integrated, synchronized communication. Seamless and tasty. And fulfilling to the shopper.

It’s time to talk more about what is real and what is bulls&*t in the marketing services business. I’m standing up in the kitchen with something to say about blended recipes. They work.

What’s your recipe?

 

Watercolors

What’ s the most visually appealing aspect of travel for you?

For me, it’s an opportunity to be near water whenever I can. And to enjoy the stimulating colors. From the deep olive greens in a creek to the stunning turquoise of the Caribbean, each one is sensuous and has power to mesmerize and to energize.

Watercolors come with built-in feelings that aren’t always reflective of what they can signify. Typically, the calm teal colors of the Caribbean inspire happiness and reduce fear of the vast ocean for me.

But when I look at this photo below, which I snapped on St. Kitt’s island at the point where the Atlantic (left) and Caribbean oceans meet, it morphs into a visual symbol of choices to be made.

It becomes clear to me that the turbulence of an ocean teeming with motion, energy and change is where I’m drawn mentally, even though physically it scares the hell out of me. Time to wade in and trust the tides.

Give me the waves!
Give me the waves!

Ice Chimes Ring in the New Year

Usually, when I hear that pretty tinkling sound, it’s coming from my neighbor’s wind chimes that sing like the wind in Costa Rica.

Imagine my surprise in hearing the wind chime song from ice breaking up on a big lake on a cold gray windy New Year’s Eve.

The wind blew in from the north, and with temps in the high 20’s, a thin layer of ice on the west shore of Hubbard Lake began to crack and drift apart. I ventured out with my camera.

And while the pictures are cool, what I will always remember is how pretty that sound was on the lakeshore. I’ve never heard anything quite like that from a lake.

ICE_HL

Later that evening, the wind was howling and the ice changed to garish crunching and cracking which, despite a full moon, sent me back inside to find the memory of my special winter wind chimes that, to me, were singing Happy New Year!

Three AHA Moments – Words for 2013

This is the third year I’ve followed the advice of business leader Chris Brogan  – to select and post for all to see – three words that will guide the year ahead.

Last year I built my words around my business initials – AHA!

This year I’m jumping off with something that describes me and what I do very well. I got there because of a neighborly type newsletter Chris sends on Sunday mornings, which got me thinking  how nice it is to be centered, even in business, around human connections.  Chris is, and happily, so am I.

Homemade Soup. As a one person shop in consulting, I have mainly big organizations as clients, but I serve them in a most neighborly and personal way!

I blend solutions for them like homemade soup, getting it just right by referring to strategy recipes through lots of reading, research and combining of ingredients for a just right solution. So far the results have been quite tasty.

Impetus. Now here’s a word that has some oomph. Push, force, momentum and drive are all synonyms. If you know me, you’ll understand. I’m not one to let stuff lag. I can hear my biggest client laughing at this one. I’m all about looking out the front window of the bus and steering toward the future. This word will symbolize my intent to keep that focus forward.  Even if I have to pace myself sometimes.

Reflect. A calming word, but also a very stimulating concept. My creative muse is a huge part of my life; taking time for the art to balance the pace of strategic work is vitally important to my success, but also to my soul.  This is a year I plan to be more forthcoming about doing and sharing my artsy pursuits.  I’m also doing a lot more singing out loud. Praise songs do indeed lift my spirit high.

I’m starting by reposting the photo below, which I had made into a puzzle this Christmas for my relatives who own and graciously invite me frequently to their up-north lake home where this was taken.  I cannot thank them enough for being so generous.

Big Lake
Big Lake

I’m so excited by the energy that’s moving me forward into 2013.  I can feel it….2013 is going to be a fantastic journey. Amen.

 

 

 

High on Monster High

It’s hard to stay up on all the trends I need to know in retail, shopper marketing, culture…engagement, advocacy…you name it…I’m supposed to know about it.  Honey Boo Boo? Really? We’re over your gross lack of manners. Gangnam Style? Whatever…

My new curiosity is Monster High. I’m looking for a couple of ten year olds to play with. I’ll invest in the dolls and  sets of accessories to go with.  Really, I will. I also want to play dolls with all the moms. This is fertile ground for woman culture.

Just look at the branding. Is this the next gen Hello Kitty or what?

Branding at its finest!!

Be Yourself. Be Unique. Be A Monster.

Just ask my husband. I can be all of the above on any given day. And then I can go play with my dolls. Acting out stories. Like a ten year old.

Monsters? Or Zombies? Connections to apps with big glitzy keys on the packages…..

 

Clawdeen – the best seller

What ARE the stories the dolls act out for ten year olds today?Is Monster High a next-gen storyboard? Could it be a comic book reality show? Is it individually crafted visual story telling, or script some marketer is pushing?

Is this toy story, next chapter? Let’s play.

What’s the story behind this?

 

Branding at its finest!!