Kroger gets urban

Kroger has an urban store! Been awaiting how they’d handle the challenge- USA, like Canada, is increasingly urban, and downtown density doesn’t just put ROI pressure on a traditonal ‘generous’ suburban footprint (land cost, taxes, parking spaces, staff space,…); it also means different habits wrt how shoppers get to a grocery store, what they can carry, types of food & formats desired -smaller sizes, more ready-to-eat, less-oven but more-stovetop/microwave, more eco-conscious packaging preferences, more culturally diverse food desires. This sounds intriguing. Hope to visit and have a look for myself before long!
https://chainstoreage.com/store-spaces/first-look-kroger-opens-its-first-ever-food-hall-in-new-urban-format-store

find the low hanging fruit!

a cool challenge: where can your business find low-hanging fruit?

If you’re a traffic-based retailer, what ELSE might you sell, to generate high margin per unit sale? eg Dryer sheets? Done that. Greeting Cards? Got it. Fresh Cut Flowers? Taking care of it. Bakery? Got it. There’s always Giftware; but Loblaws has repeatedly tried different Centre-Of-Store housewares/ home decor/ giftware mixes, with ‘mixed’ results. Even Indigo has had some challenges getting Giftware just right.

But Grocery chains ARE starting to rock the RTE world.

The what?

Grocery Stores are agggressively pursuing ReadyToEat (RTE) revenue; these are high margin impulse-driven ticket items, and, to win, Loblaws et al need to battle Fast Food restaurants who generate far less traffic & often have higher ingredient-buying costs. Where’s this battle playing out? Not just in Liberty Village, Toronto (although that is a Lead Market!) but nationally. And who can Loblaws learn from abroad? imo from Wegmans (Rochester) who aced the in-store dining area and takeout RTE meals DECADES AGO.

So watch this trend closely — and enjoy the outcome.

But also take note of what ‘incremental high-fit high-margin’ ticket items exist that your business might expand into. Just as P&G did, when it moved Crest out of the (comparatively low margin) dental paste category, into tooth whitening kits, for which the ‘competition’ was (VERY high margin, low traffic) dental office cleaning appointments.

Demographic Shift – does this favour you?

Here are some stats supporting a trend you may think is obvious.

However, have you paused & prepared, then done enough (as a job seeker, business manager, workplace/product designer, researcher, etc) to fully leverage this shift?

Ponder it: More & More Single Females 25 to 44 yrs old in the workplace- implications?
https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/29/economy/single-women-economy/index.html

Can’t Touch This? Maybe, just maybe, you can!

I was privileged to learn about Linguistics from a fine Queen’s University Prof, and learn Trademark treatment from Legal/Paralegal guru’s advising some of the world’s most valuable brands in USA & Canada. These 2 worlds have never before collided; but this article
https://qz.com/quartzy/1663810/chinas-nicknames-for-foreign-cars-like-porsche-and-bmw/

made me consider rethinking classic ‘guidelines/rules’ for Brands facing what is, in my mind, the ‘intersection’ of two previously unrelated topics.

Formal training advises to prosecute and not acknowledge a brand name mistreatment. But that guideline predated Brands & Business going fully, irreversibly global. If a nation’s people (in this case, China) have spent a lifetime using a fully functional language that doesn’t ackowledge English consonants, vowels &/or pronunciation, and if (prospective customers) have difficulty pronouncing some Western words (and BRANDS!), should we –aghast!– consider the unthinkable?

Should we not just acknowledge the mistreatment, but leverage it? register their ‘alternate’ brand-equivalent phrase? use it in our communications? in our advertising?

If I were BMW’s agency (the article claims tht the BMW brand, in China, has been adapted to ‘Don’t Touch This‘), I’d meet MCHammer for music rights in China, to test a ‘working with it, not against it’ alternate brand campaign. Is it time to customize to the local market? Show some empathy?

imo the key is subtlety/tone- no ‘talking down’ or being obvious or patronizing. If you can master that, such a campaign, if done correctly, wouldn’t** destroy brand protection (it’s China! Bootlegs & Patent ripoffs are a much bigger worry than trademark protection!) but it might convey you ‘get’ the customer ie “Yeah thanks for recognizing our brand & btw we love what you’ve done with it”.

As always, this is just creative food for thought- **do NOT proceed with this idea until you clear it with your Trademark/ Legal gurus! They’ve saved my butt many times; their counsel is worth heeding with care & reverence.

StrategySteven

Ecosystem battle intensifies

G.A.F.A.M. Say it with me.

Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft– yes, Microsoft. A year ago I didn’t have much hope that Microsoft would be a viable contender in the ecosystem war. Maybe I underestimated their potential- and their luck. What happened to bring attention to this? Google. Google’s recent serious move into Gaming legitimizes the category as another essential block in an ecosystem foundation. And Microsoft just happens to ‘check the x-box’ as a gaming entity. Right place, right time.

Haven’t been following the ‘ecosystem strategy’ wars? It’s based on these realities:

Technology is an inevitable and growing part of individual existence.

Humans can’t handle too much complexity.

It’s more desirable to have 1 all-encompassing #tech partner, than many.

It’s efficient for us to have 1 tech partner at a time (‘Digital monogamy’?)

Personal #Data is now so revealing & all-encompassing that many people want to consolidate/reduce the number of players with access to it.

If a GAFAM firm has no viable service/item in an ecosystem-relevant subcategory, they’re vulnerable! A customer may yield their data (+ trust + loyalty) to another ecosystem player who does provide it.

The ‘fronts’ for the ecosystem war include: calendar management, file storage & sharing, photo storage & sharing, social media sharing, home security & home device monitoring, interactive voice recognition queries & trivia, home audio speakers, mobile shopping, customer reviews, personal banking, mobile payments, chat apps, mobile phone, film viewing, amateur video production & sharing, communities for ‘sharing’ resources,…

I published this ‘subcategory’ list a year ago; as of March 2019, I’d add two: Gaming (Microsoft, Google are already established); and Personal Health Monitoring (Amazon has made huge strides as a personal health data tracker)

To whom is this relevant? If you’re a firm in one of these 2 new categories, but NOT YET affiliated with 1 of the G.A.F.A.M. group, your stock may soar! You may be faced with: being bought, or buried. If it hasn’t happened yet, a rep from one of the GAFAM group may soon come calling, to kick the tires. (Attention: Nintendo, FitBit, etc!)

NEXT UP: GOOGLE U? I predict that the next brick in the ‘2020 & Beyond’ ecosystem foundation is: online education. My rationale: (i) a constantly changing work world means everyone ‘retrains repeatedly’ throughout a career; and (ii) even traditional post-secondary education (let alone Continuing Education!) increasingly includes digital from/on increasingly capable education & assessment platforms. I expect your GAFAM ecosystem partner will play an increasingly explicit role in: staying atop new skills, updating your skills, taking courses, winning certifications. In 2015, Lynda.com was bought by LinkedIn (years ago, I suggested Microsoft buy LinkedIn- pity they didn’t- they’d be ahead on this front). The combined entity ‘LinkedIn Learning’ has already penetrated many post-secondary institutions; before long, I expect that LinkedIn Learning will “become self-aware, and ….”

Food Service Innovation

I urge college students do plenty of storechecks if they want a career in #Retail or #FMCG industries; I also suggest they attend Trade Shows to gain understanding in #B2B or #Service industries. Here’s a fine article with a slideshow summary- an astute observer’s reviews of Food Service #innovations at a recent Show (note how several of the ideas involve smart tech, energy conservation, sustainability, process control): https://www.supermarketnews.com/news/six-technology-innovations-nafem

#Global #Retail – who’s got the ka-ching?

It’s always cool to read expert comments on hot #global #retailers – Enjoy! https://stores.org/2019/03/01/top-50-global-retailers/

SpongeBob … couture???

bet you never expected to see ‘SpongeBob’ and ‘couture’ together.

Seems avant-garde fashion is about to see a new brand- from deep-down. Benefits of licensing deals include: added revenue, added exposure, appeal to new audiences. Drawbacks? Streching and diluting a brand.

When a certain revered Motorcycle brand launched branded dog harnesses & dog clothes imo they jumped the shark.

While I was managing Dr Scholl’s- consistently pushing for performance perfection in orthotics and footcare- Head Office licensed out the name to a shoe marketeer who put ‘my’ brand on imported el-cheapo everyday walking shoes sold at discounters. Wince.

Is this a step too far, even for SpongeBob? Not necessarily, as long as they ‘keep it light’ ie don’t take the fashion items to seriously. https://www.licenseglobal.com/apparel-accessories/spongebob-goes-couture-amsterdam

#SoMe trends

terrific little article!

Trend Tidbits

Several ‘hot’ new food and beverage ideas recently voted as winners:

http://www.canadiangrocer.com/top-stories/water-kefir-drink-wins-top-innovation-prize-at-sial-paris-83595?fbclid=IwAR1l9b_iZYX6CdIWLBM0h-mjpCjQ31X6YLtfIDK-jrG4ulj7Kttq5-1NyUU

And a cool eco-packaging / ‘Loading’ idea from the strategy masters, P&G:

https://www.drugstorenews.com/center-store/pg-unveils-tides-new-eco-box-packaging/

Enjoy!

Steven