Pouch obsession can pose dangers for toddlers.

Sometimes a key insight smacks you like cold water in the face.

I had the honor of watching my 21 month old grandchild in my home last week. Believe me,  I got plenty of water in my face as she showed me her swimming kicks at every bath!

But I also realized that anything in a pouch type package goes directly in the mouth, which I witnessed in horror as she grabbed and sucked on an open sample pouch of organic baby shampoo her Mom left for us to use.

Given the surge in Mommy using pouch packed foods as convenient nutrition, even this “real-foods” based girl has had pouch foods for on-the-go nutrition. So we’d been at Harris Teeter earlier that day to grab two Plum Organic pouches of airplane-ready travel food for the trip home later in the week.  I quickly stashed it out of sight, but all day she pestered me to “hold it” or “have pouch” or “eat pouch”, all of which I successfully dodged.

Later in the bath, she saw and immediately grabbed the shampoo pouch, gleefully exclaiming “Maren do it” and into the mouth it went. You can imagine the ruckus that began when I snatched it out of her slippery little hand. This girl modeled her objection after Adele. Full-bodied, loud and long.

The insight hit me again the next day when we tried to apply sunscreen from, yes, you guessed it, a pouch-like container. I got the full blown “Maren do it” and had to act lightning fast to avoid another episode.

I bring this up not as a new “so-what” but as a “do-what” for anyone who looks after a child. An insight is only useful if applied. Realize these things:

  • the associations made in the toddler brain can’t discern the difference between good or bad things in pouch packaging
  • the toddleer sucking for nutrition and satisfaction instinct is still very strong
  • the inherent default for a toddler is “I do it” and they get great satisfaction and praise from others for just about any accomplishment
  • when “they do it”  – they get a dopamine shot in the brain and then they crave it again and again
  • no amount of  logical conversation with a toddler changes this.

Pouched nutrition is a convenient way to accomplish feeding young ones. But we must all be aware that the dangers of “pouch obsession” translating to ingesting very bad substances are very real and must be managed with great care by parents and childcare professionals alike.

Falling out of like with online shopping


Two weeks ago, I ordered an outdoor rug for my back deck from you.  I was so pleased to find the selection you offerred, and did a bit of exploring on your site to determine the size and style I wanted. I love that my chosen rug was a good price, the shipping date was very reasonable, and in less than three days the rug was on the deck, under the new table. Imagine how happy I was to have my neighbors over for dinner, collecting compliments on my style of outdoor entertaining.

So, why oh why, Overstock, do you continue to show up in my Facebook feed as a sponsored post with views and ads of all the other rugs I looked at but did not order???

Come on now, you know I bought one of the 5 styles I was looking at. Why do you now haunt (read as annoy) me with the other 4?

This the is most shopper-annoying part of technology.

It makes me want to delete my Overstock.com account. Instead of helping me, you are interrupting my life while I am trying to enjoy what I bought from you already.


I;m falling out of like with you.


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.

Be. Very. Afraid.

Just take a look at this chart.


What shoppers had to say in Q1 2012 about their method of shopping.

Shoppers said shopping in bricks and mortar retailers is reliable and safe.

Reliable and Safe. Reminds me of the guys my parents used to tell me to date when I was seventeen. I then brought home guys of whom they were very afraid.

Reliable and Safe. Major brick and mortar retailers in the U. S. should be very afraid.  These words are not the hallmarks of the future of in-store retail, in my humble opinion.

The kids are bringing home convenient, easy and favorite.

Recently, I was reading The Buying Brain, which has a chapter about several types of in-store experiences that engage shoppers’  brains, causing them to rate that experience as more superior. In this neuroscience research, conducted by Nielsen-owned NeuroFocus, the types of experiences shoppers connect with in brick and mortar stores have one of the following elements:


Information. (as in findability)


Social/Self Worth.


We need to ask shoppers about these words. But, first, we need to deliver on them in store-based retail. It’s not impossible, but it takes commitment and investment in more than just the goods on the shelf.

Reliable and Safe. These words are a hint to the kiss of death, not the kiss of a passionate connection.

Real live retail without a passionate connection to the shopper?

Be. Very. Afraid.

Personal Brands Enhance Shopper Experience at Farmer’s Markets


I am re-posting my point-of-view on shopping at the farmer’s market that I published last fall. I was reminded of it based on reading the discussion today on RetailWire.com, which was to input on whether farmer’s markets posed a share threat to grocery. Many opinions say not really, but I say the dimensions of experience and almost a hyper-local level of support and loyalty for the people who work at these markets poses something to think about. Culturally, we are moving to a familiar local and divergent way of living that supports commerce that feels comfortable and provides value.

I’m not willing to trade the experiences I love at the market and seek price-matching online and by scouting the store flyers. Too much time and running around; time I could be spending with my market friends. I learn more by talking to people who produce the goods I buy and proudly use.


Innovative Strategies Taking Shape at Retail

That’s where I’ve been lately. Exploring the kinds of innovation that works for Shopper Marketing. I’ve been inspired by retailer acceleration of integrated engagement with the shoppers.

Last week Gap pulled off a classic “Price Line Negotiator” model with a private price offer conversation platform that gives the shopper control to counter offer! Shoppers could bid back on a price counter offer for certain khaki pants. They’re fishing for value price points and they’ve changed their shopper target to a much younger shopper. They need all the insights they can get right now.

Communicating it’s new EDLP strategy to shoppers, an early March circular page on meal solutions had not one price point. And no smiley faces either…..as they are under pressure to change the direction for the quarter or get dissed again by the industry. But at least they’re doing something. I applaud their efforts in Japan. Walmart had no senior execs in Japan when the earthquake stuck, it struck before they landed on the way back from the Orlando Management Meeting.

These programs are the output of innovation in action, igniting new opportunities in shopper engagement. Retailers are testing new models, listening to shoppers and applying insights in a proactive way. The pricing strategy is an example of how retailers are moving quickly to gain control of the shopper relationship. Mobile strategies are taking shape as well, with many retailers building secure in store networks to have full content control vs. their suppliers.

What about Walgreens acquiring drugstore.com? I posted on that this morning. They could gain a shopper insights advantage by using the new customer data for mining insights. If I were Walgreens insight team, I’d be prioritizing the opportunity for 3 million new conversations with customers. They could easily take the pricing conversation private and perhaps get significant learning on the pricing scenario they are faced with.

My last post was about the Lowe’s offer on Facebook early last Saturday morning to promote a two-day Spring Black Friday site-to-store offer on garden soil, mulch and Round-Up. Lowe’s has made huge strides in putting relevant offers on Facebook and does a great job on Twitter too.  They’ve recently launched Team 48 and Jimmy Johnson on Twitter, they’re gaining followers very fast as the NASCAR season ramps up.

Retailers are finding ways to innovate with shoppers all over the landscape. Even my friend Sally is having success with Facebook announcing “sip and shop” girls night out events for her consignment furniture and home decor store in Berkley, Michigan.

Its time for manufacturers to join them and start testing in all of these areas. Retail partners in many industries need manufacturer support and collaboration. It’s way more innovative to test and learn and “act” instead of letting your insights remain in the strategic stage for too long.