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November 4, 2019

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

Through non-traditional case studies, Ben Horowitz’s new book elevates the conversation around corporate culture, asserting that “Who you are is not the values you list on the wall. It’s not what you say at an all-hands. It’s not your marketing campaign. It’s not even what you believe. It’s what you do.” If that doesn’t strike your fancy, check out this list of 79 books and articles that will make you a better thinker and leader.

From Deepak’s neuroscience desk, a perspective on why our brains love fake news.

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



  • Amazon made headlines last week with the announcement that it will now deliver Prime members’ grocery orders within two hours for free.
    • Consulting POV – As always, useful to keep a horizon-based perspective, as Malcom Pinkerton’s post does. Amazon deciding it will deploy free delivery at first glance doesn’t necessarily make this cheaper or a better idea, though more deliveries per van actually does reduce the cost of each delivery. The biggest benefit of this for Amazon is the panic it sows amongst their competitors. We have ample shopper research suggesting that delivery cost is far from the only barrier to Amazon’s grocery delivery business (product cost, user experience, and the greater convenience of click and collect are three to start).
  • In other Amazon news, a summary of what we can expect both physically and strategically from the eCommerce giant’s store of the future.
    • Consulting POV – A great way to find out what we expect from Amazon is to check out the presentations from our successful Amazon day out in Seattle last week! Give us a shout if you’re interested.
  • Grocer Albertsons is leveling up its loyalty program with more personalized deals and rewards, turning “receipts into a one-to-one marketing channel.”
    • Consulting POV – Giving out coupons at the cash register is not a new idea – Catalina ran a relatively successful business off it for years! Albertsons is under new management (former Pepsi CCO Vivek Sankaran) and they seem more focused on ramping up opportunities to tap into supplier below-the-line funds. For those less familiar with Albertsons (the USA’s second largest supermarket chain and one of the 30 largest retailers in the world ) our 5 slides are a helpful guide.
  • As advertising costs for other digital channels continue to rise, DTCs are increasingly turning to Pinterest to reach new parts of the funnel, new customers, and new heights with their businesses.
    • Consulting POV – Pinterest is, without question, the most underleveraged shopping-related media platform in the world. They have a long history of collaboration with one retailer specifically (Target); it will be fun to see if these D2C brands using Pinterest use it as a platform to enter Target. 
  • McDonald’s has been rapidly building its tech capabilities to improve the customer experience, boost revenues, and…become the Amazon of food?
    • Consulting POV – McDonalds already is the Amazon of food on the B2B side – they basically dictate many of the rules of engagement in the food supply chain. Smart to see them apply that same standard-setting, highly analytic approach to their customer experience. It makes sense…kind of like Amazon’s third-party sellers, McDonalds doesn’t own its customer experience: its franchisees do. Enabling tools and technology (like Amazon with resellers) combined with rules and metrics are the best way to ensure a great customer experience.
  • Lots happening in the payments world this week:
    • PayPal-owned Venmo is offering cash back rewards for its debit card holders to encourage spending on more than money transfers
    • Uber Wallet, a digital wallet which introduces new options and features for drivers, also just launched, and the Uber credit card is back again with cash back benefits for users of Uber’s various services
    • Walmart is teaming up with Green Dot on a new fintech program to develop innovative products, services and technologies that sit at the intersection of retail shopping and consumer financial services.
    • Consulting POV – Walmart has been working for decades to build a robust, non-bank-based financial services platform to help particularly low-income shoppers make ends meet (for reasons too boring to get into, Walmart cannot own a bank in the USA). One of many topics we’ll be covering in Arkansas at our Walmart session this week! As for the others, the payment ecosystem in the USA is definitely a space to watch as non-traditional competitors seek to break the stranglehold the major financial institutions have on most consumer purchasing.
  • New research finds that 99% of consumers have shopped in a physical store in the last year, and half of shoppers would give up low online prices for personalized service.
    • Consulting POV – Take any survey that doesn’t quantify how much higher the prices would be for anything about a “price vs. service” decision with a medium-sized pile of salt. Our 2018 shopper overview does a great job of explaining the multi-variable equation of shopper value in detail!
  • Starbucks is opening its first mobile pick-up only location in NYC this week in an effort to address society’s desire for convenience.
    • Consulting POV – A great idea (which they’ve been piloting in China and recently in Canada as well). There will be thousands of these across multiple types of retailer/restaurant.
  • On the heels of last week’s news about Nordstrom’s new store, JC Penney has just revealed its latest store model which, powered by customer research, strives make its locations more fun and easier to shop at.
    • Consulting POV – The JC Penney shopper will love this. We should ask them. Anyone have their phone number? All kidding aside, there are some really good ideas in here combining apparel/beauty sales with related services that are all part of the broader trend of “need consolidation” in physical environments.  Back in 2015 we wrote a piece called CPG 2025 that described the consolidation of reasons to leave home under single roofs, and expect to see this consolidation continue!


  • Andressen Horowitz examines the duality of platforms vs. verticals, wherein new companies build digital platforms, serve a variety of adjacent verticals, and become the definitive and dominant platform in the space … but then new startups that better address the needs of a specific vertical within that platform emerge.
  • In summary, opportunities emerging from unbundling are where the future lies


  • Not-to-miss consumer trends manifesting across the global marketplace. Each week, Kantar’s Cultural Streetscapes Microsite will power unique insights on value-driven consumer innovations emerging in a key trend area.
  • This week, our Global Streetscapes Network shares three global marketplace solutions of vending innovations.
    • Blindozer is the vending system that bakes and sells bliny (Russian crepes)! Food vending tech, widespread in Russia, is usually limited to the resale of packaged snacks and cold or hot drinks. Solutions offering ready-made hot food are still quite rare. Blindozer is one of them. According to the manufacturers, it’s the world’s first machine capable of making hot, fresh pancakes in real time.
    • Germans love barbecues and with every ray of light coming through the clouds, there is at least one barbecue lighting up somewhere in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, weather development and spontaneous barbecue moods are not directly linked to store opening times in Germany, which especially in countryside regions can be pretty conservative as well. Enter: Regiomat Grillfleisch BBQ meat vending machine.
    • To answer Seoul’s call for healthier food options at train stations, the ‘Wonder Kitchen’ salad vending machine was made so that commuters can quickly buy a healthy tub of freshly prepared greens on the way to work. Wonder Kitchen subscribes to the ‘untact service’ trend, where the consumer is not in direct contact with anyone and instead shops alone.