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January 27, 2020

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

The business world lost a legend last week in Clay Christensen: the Innovator’s Dilemma author and “disruptive innovation” pioneer leaves behind a legacy, including this classic: How Will You Measure Your Life?

From Deepak’s neuroscience desk, the science behind TikTok’s crack-like addictiveness and a warning about the dark side of self-control.

Below are a few thought-provoking articles to kick-start your week. Thanks as always for reading, sharing and sending your contributions.



  • When consumers order online, they want what they want — and fast. Industry leaders recently discussed their current eCommerce strategies at Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center CEO Summit.
    • Consulting POV – Interesting article.  Marc Lore’s obsession with delivery speed is interesting and it’s unclear whether or not that’s the big win for Walmart in eCommerce given some of their other advantages.  And, as always a caution: 70% of Millennials are NOT going to be buying all of their groceries online in 2023 – that data point cited is wrong and silly.
  • Though the vast majority of retailers are collecting consumer data (especially those with loyalty programs), only a minority is actually leveraging insights from that data to target high-potential prospects.
    • Consulting POV – A major theme of our 2020s predictions document is transforming data analytics from being an underleveraged asset to central to managing customer experience. 
  • Most retail CMOs don’t think they’re meeting the demands of hyper-adoptive customers, making it difficult to acquire them in the first place.
    • Consulting POV – Shocking that Forrester finds the problem should be solved by an adaptive tech stack, since that’s the kind of thing companies pay them to help assess…always watch the source of a report! Workflow and capability are a big a barrier to meeting these demands as technology…they’re all important. 
  • Kantar’s Bryan Gildenberg suggests what the retail industry can learn from Gap CMO Alegra O’Hare’s recent departure.
    • Consulting POV – For more on democratization and amplification check out Bryan’s 2019 Insights Forum presentation – this will be a big theme of our work in 2020! Democratization and amplification are the reach and frequency of turning small things into big things. 
  • GeekWire takes a look at the workings of Amazon’s reported new pay-by-hand technology, powered by its now-patented “biometric identification system.”
    • Consulting POV – If you’ve ever spent 5 minutes at a CLEAR terminal in an airport watching that technology not work you have earned the right for some skepticism here, but by 2025-2030 biometrics will replace a significant % of wallet/phone-based transactions.
  • Related, one industry voice argues that Amazon’s greatest strength isn’t a traditional product category, but rather a type of product — utilitarian — that cuts across categories.
    • Consulting POV – Marketers continue to get better at understanding Amazon but often they patronize it like this to make themselves feel better. Amazon is both a utilitarian tool and an extremely user-friendly discovery aid – it is not a great pure discovery tool. But marketers HAVE to understand then when even when a retailer just creates utilitarian benefit (like saving time or money) it has an emotional payoff TO THE CONSUMER – who values their time and money emotionally more than Cannes-Lion-winning, heartstring-pulling creative. 
  • An overview of IoT adoption and usage in retail reveals that it’s mostly used to optimize supply chains and inventory, but also that nearly 40% use it for contextualized marketing in-store.
    • Consulting POV – As our colleague Dave Marcotte is fond of saying “the problem with the internet of things isn’t the internet. It’s the things. Things break.” Back of house operations not exposed to the wear and tear of customer interaction stand a much better chance of being meaningful until this technology gets cheaper and more robust.
  • And, Kantar’s Lee Kirkpatrick Smith makes the case for shopper centricity to inform relevant, non-boring eCommerce strategies.