Make Me Feel Something

A marketer’s job in today’s omnichannel environment is to make the consumer feel something.

A tough ask in most categories, but especially so in technology. When the new news is about being data ready for the future, it’s almost a given that the marketing effort will lead with data. But data isn’t really a thing that evokes emotion in the average human (tech nerds aside).

But this past weekend, Dell delivered  two new power-packed campaign spots in the Beat Again effort, masterfully telling us stories: the “night before” a heart transplant for a pre-teen girl, and the “welcome back” as she returns to school healthy after her heart transplant.

The key elements in the story show emotional engagements between heart surgeon and his child, between mother and father of the heart patient, and between mother and daughter. The data displays are not always central to the storyline, but helpful and in the case of the sushi menu, even entertaining. Edited many ways so the frequency of spots over five days of the WGC golf event didn’t get annoying, the whole package left me feeling hopeful, inspired and in awe of what future data can do for a patient, a family, a surgeon and a community of classmates. Real People. Real Emotions.

To weave a story that connects the emotions of hope, inspiration and awe to the Dell brand all in one weekend is something Dell marketers and its agency partners Young & Rubicam should be damn proud of.

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



ShopperAnnie versus the Porn Star

Bet you didn’t know I chose @ShopperAnnie as my Twitter handle back in 2009 because there’s a porn star who calls herself Anne Howe. UGH!

Launching a professional consultant identity in the Shopper Marketing/Retail/Consumer Goods space is hard enough.  Competing with a nasty little porn star for a good ranking on a Google search for your real name – well that just gave me an incentive to work harder.

That’s why  when I chose my company name I added the word Associates – so I could use AHA! as part of my brand. I chose to expand my ShopperAnnie  “handle”  on my blog.

If I can slog it out on Google search with a porn star, think of what I can do for your business. Persistence pays off in the long run.

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?


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!!

The Grabbing Power of Visual Icons

During a recent visit to Target in search of new earbuds to replace a pair that got stepped on, I found myself standing at the electronics counter making a purchase. While I am in fact a shopper that notices many things, clutter around a retail counter rarely gets any attention. Mainly I think its annoying and in the way.

But, in the midst of paying, SOMETHING ICONIC caught my eye. It was on a typical rack of gift cards –  a sea of clutter that’s hard to read and impossible to shop, in my humble opinion.

But these babies jumped out at me big time. Why?

These icons spell “pleasure” to the brain!!


Because my brain is patterned to recognize the two images as associated with pleasure. So, while out of context in a store versus on a screen, they break through the clutter and get noticed.

Nice work, Apple.  I almost gifted myself on the spot. Almost.

PayPal – Brand or Commodity?

Well. I just got an e-mail to take a survey about PayPal. I thought: “I use it, so why not take the survey?”

I think I flunked.  The invite told me it would take ten minutes, which I was willing to invest…but it only took two…..a sure sign of self-select termination survey research.

When I thought about it while answering the first few questions, the brand doesn’t really have a benefit to me other than it allows me to pay my tech service vendor with one-click.  I literally use it ONLY for that. When I answered the first two questions in that frank of a manner, the survey then stopped, and told me “Thanks, we have no further questions.”

Hmmmm. I have a sneaking feeling that in fact, PayPal might want to hear more about why I dumped its brand into a commodity category the moment I tried to find more than a convenience benefit and could not. I can’t recall thinking about wanting or trying to set up PayPal to be my go-to payment method for anything else. I have a (sort-of) positive feelings about the brand, but when pressed , those feeling are really not anything I’ve ever acted on.

The oddest thing is, as I dissect what just happened, I still can’t summon up any desire or reason to change things.

To think…how quickly what you might think is a brand can become just another commodity……..


My Missoni Mistake

I’m no rookie when it comes to shopping. This morning, while commenting on shopper behavior on the RetailWire site where I’m an “expert panelist” I made the decision to switch my planned grocery trip to Target (not Meijer) and go check out the Missoni apparel scene. The discussion topic was about the shopper quest for a trophy purchase, and I used the Missoni collection at Target as an example.

Before heading out, I browsed the collection on, noting a few sweaters I might consider as my personal trophy purchase.  The “out of stock” notices on much of the apparel online should have been my first clue.

Indeed, only one day after the launch,  every rack of Missoni at my local Target was already re-stocked with Merona, Xhiliration and Mossimo items. Even the kids area and the accessories areas were bare. The only Missoni item left in the entire store was a plastic headband, hardly the statement piece I thought I might acquire.

Target got an $86.00 basket ring from my journey for a fashion find. The closest thing to fashion in the cart, however, was Maybeline mascara.

Savvy shopper that I am,  I tracked down an “in-the-know” associate who gave me the story ( it ALL sold out in 30 minutes, she reported) AND whispered to me the date that the store will have more Missoni. That date is not advertised and will remain my dirtly little secret until I rectify that mistake and get my trophy Missoni sweater.

I can’t remember the last time a retail event made me note my calendar, set an alarm alert and will get me in the store the minute they unlock the door.


Your brand has lost our mind. Can it get our hearts?

My friend told me a few weeks back that she somehow spent $7,000 last month on her Amex card. She was rattled by the depth and breadth of her spending, even though it did include a new furnace and some vacation airline tickets. But she paid it and then went back again the next day to Costco for supplies for a trip to her lake home. She’s lucky. She only spent seven minutes thinking about that seven thousand dollars.

Think again about that seven thousand dollars. That is the total amount of discretionary spending that 34.5% of U.S. Households have in a year. Over 50% have less than $10K to spend on non-essential items.

These stats from the 2011 Discretionary Spend Report (from Experian Simmoms) are troublesome for the economy, for retailers and especially for brands that used to command a price premium because they occupied some favored space or status in our minds.

Now, most of the consumer mindspace is crowded with fear. Not brands. And with math formulas that subtract from the weekly food budget the outrageous prices we pay for a freaking tank of gas for the car! And our minds are full of endless marketing, ranting at us to devote lots of time to online shopping before we go shopping because we must, we must, we must seek a discount or coupon for every single purchase we make.

Can you stop and think right now what brands really make a difference in your life when you’re in that crazy space of being on the edge of household poverty after twenty some years of prosperity? How many brands even have a tiny sliver in your mind anymore when all you have for discretionary money is ten grand for a whole year? Think of what Groupon has come to mean in your life. Is it meaningful or is it fearful?

What’s fearful to me is the fact that Groupon is now turning their monstrous machine to supermarkets. Classic brands should be sweating in the heat that is about to crank up to enable any growth, even growth with no margin, as the CPG brands clamor after share of wallet in the most aggressive way.

A surge in the endless round of discounting, some of it even disguised as “shopper marketing” is like getting out more nails to pound in the casket of the concept of classic CPG brands. IF HALF OF THE U.S. HOUSEHOLDS HAVE LESS THAN $10K TO SPEND IN A YEAR ON THINGS THEY WANT, WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU DO TO ENCOURAGE SHOPPERS TO SAVE A SPACE IN THEIR CLUTTERED, FEARFUL MINDS FOR YOUR BRAND?

Yes, brands could shout. And many do. But who’s listening? Plus, all the shouting is about deals. We run after them like mice on the wheel. So uninspiring.

I want to know which CPG brand is going hire ambassadors at retail to hand out hugs? so many of us need them. They can create just a moment of heartfelt empathy, or caring, of joy. Maybe a few brands won’t jump on the Groupon coupon wagon….. Maybe they’ll capture our hearts, which is really the path to our wallets.

(Note: as I wrote this, I started thinking about Coke’s open happiness campaign. They manage to find great high ground for branding and stick with it. And then the old song came into my head: “things go better with Coca-Cola, things go better with Coke.” I’m no soda drinker but suddenly I’m craving a Coke in a green glass bottle.  It might just feel like a cold, but warm hug that’s worth a couple of bucks.)