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April 8, 2019

Welcome back to your weekly update on the changes, trends, and movers-and-shakers making headlines across marketing, brand, consumers and more!

Too many great new books out these days not to share another: Harvard Business School professor Thales Teixeira contends in his new book Unlocking the Customer Value Chain that it’s not new tech that drives disruption, but decoupling of the customer value chain and picking one aspect to one-up competition on.

In honor of April Fool’s last week, a quick round-up of stunts brands pulled to celebrate the day. And, Morning Consult’s latest list of the most-loved brands in America.

And, from Deepak’s neuroscience desk, a look at how online reviews can foster a deeper connection between brands and consumers.

Below are a few thought-provoking articles to kick-start your week.

BRAND & MARKETING

RETAIL, SALES & SHOPPER

  • Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin warns that companies can all too easily get addicted to the idea of a subscription business. Perhaps case in point, Digiday goes on to profile Reebok, who’s launching a new membership program to forge closer customer relationships.
    • Kantar Consulting POV – Important to distinguish between what DSC does (a subscription model) and what Reebok is launching (a loyalty club). There’s a lot of confusion from marketers around this topic – but directly connecting to consumers, directly selling to consumers, and forging a subscription relationship with consumers are three completely different things. Dubin’s point is correct – a subscription has to solve a problem for a consumer, and is rarely the best way to do that. Razors have the advantage of being a predictably replenished and often forgotten purchase, where subscription is ideal. 
  • Molson Coors is getting in on the direct-to consumer delivery service game, in part to gain greater insight on its customers and their browsing habits.
    • Kantar Consulting POV – Neat idea, but again: does it solve a consumer problem? In this case, apart from the legal obstacles, the overwhelming percentage of pilsner style beer in America is sold cold, not warm, and this model doesn’t do that. Relationships are two-way streets – marketers want the data from D2C but aren’t always willing to do the work of creating something valuable for consumers in exchange. 
  • It’s been a big week for healthier, more natural, and/or plant-based offerings! 7-Eleven is testing different store formats and experimenting with more wellness products as it races to shed its image as a “junk food staple” in today’s increasingly “clean eating” world. Burger King will be introducing the Impossible Whopper, a meatless burger, in select locations. This all comes as Kellogg sells Keebler and Famous Amos to get out of the cookie businessTaco Bell tests a more vegetarian menu; and Nestle introduces a line of plant-based burgers in Europe.
    • Kantar Consulting POV  Kellogg’s decision had very little to do with healthy living and more to do with abandoning a direct store distribution (DSD) business they thought was too expensive. The meatless meat concept is one that’s rooted in consumer trends that we expect growth from (I should just “leave” the puns here). 7-Eleven is undertaking a number of strategies to get closer to more health-conscious shoppers and lock in the millennials/centennials that are a disproportionate share of their shopper base (for deeper insights on c-stores, this presentation on KRIQ is a good start). 
  • As it shifts its focus to exclusive brands, Amazon is also trimming prices of produce and seasonal items at Whole Foods, and bolstering the benefits Amazon Prime Members receive from shopping at the fresh grocer.
    • Kantar Consulting POV – There was also an enormous amount of coverage this week on Amazon stepping back from private label in a number of categories. It may be time for the media to stop breathlessly covering every A/B test the Amazon algorithm undertakes as though it were etched in a tablet and carried down from Mount Bezos. hey’re learning. At Whole Foods, Amazon has unsurprisingly algorithmically calculated that there’s more potential volume selling competitively priced groceries than selling super expensive ones. This may work for Whole Foods and may not; while they were sleeping, conventional grocers got much better at the differentiating parts of the Whole Foods offer. A quick “Amazon” search on KRIQ will provide ample intelligent coverage of Amazon’s current strategies!
  • eBay’s mobile app now features visual search capabilities, enabling an improved shopping experience with more intuitive discovery, search and filtering.
    • Kantar Consulting POV – Anything eBay can do to fix its #1 UX problem (the amount of useless stuff a shopper needs to see to find what they want) is a great idea. 
  • Amid discussion around an imminent IPO, Pinterest faces questions over its ability to become a social eCommerce platform.
    • Kantar Consulting POV – If you follow Bryan Gildenberg on Twitter, you know that one of his pet rumors to monger is that Pinterest’s IPO strategy should be to merge with a retailer (Target would be great). Pinterest is a great idea in search of a business model – retail is full of business models in search of a great idea. 
  • A look at the blurring lines between living and buying, algorithms and humanity, and people and points of purchase – that is, a new era referred to by some as Living Commerce.
    • Kantar Consulting POV – J. Walker Smith’s work on the “New E.R.A.” of consumption hits these points in a better organized way…but yes, the lines have blurred between shopping and other human activity – hence the need to integrate different parts of the Kantar offer!

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