• Online Retailers Give Thanks

    Holiday spending is expected in increase by almost 5% this year, which is a rather robust rate, and this is certainly great news for retailers. But almost all of that growth is expected to be online, and so brick-and-mortar brands have been busily building...
  • A River Runs Through It

    Apparently Amazon's proposed acquisition of Whole Foods Markets will face no opposition from the Federal Trade Commission, and so the deal will close on Monday. In earlier posts we have explored many reasons for this interesting acquisition, the biggest...
  • More Tech? More Sales

    Lately we have been hearing plenty about the proliferation of technology in the food service industry as a means of 1) serving the customer more efficiently and 2) saving the restaurant money by reducing labor costs, which continue to increase. But an...
  • Subway Moves Sideways

    The emergence of fast-casual rivals combined with an industry-wide over-reliance on sales promotions (like discounts and bundles) has put some serious pressure on fast food provider Subway. The brand has also lost some of its position as a healthier food...
  • Chipotle: Lost At Sea?

    Chipotle is a company that doesn't do much traditional advertising, but that doesn't mean that they don't develop and implement marketing communications programs. They do. But the company doesn't seem to spend very much money on marketing...
  • Missing the McMark

    McDonald's has struggled with much lately, although the all day breakfast strategy is providing some much needed short-term growth for this stagnant global brand. And an announcement that it is upgrading its ice cream machines, replacing older models...
  • Baseball's New "Boys of Summer"

    Promotions at spectator sporting events in the U.S. are very, very common. Sponsor engagement is a big deal, as marketers pay lots of money to be attached to a "sport property" and reap the benefits of fan "affinity" among many other...
  • Sauce Still Somewhat Special

    Although McDonald's has struggled to attract young adults, marketers at this global powerhouse aren't yet out of new ideas. All-day breakfast has been a big hit, but the positive effects of that move are beginning to slow. Most new products over...
  • Addicted To Deals

    First DARE told us to watch out for drugs. Then Robert Palmer warned us about the addictive qualities of love. And now these days you can be addicted to almost anything--TV, the Internet, social media, sex, shopping, eating, etc. It's all the same...
  • Smart Habits, Smarter Shoppers

    A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal conducted a multi-year study that tracked the prices of certain categories of goods. The point was to prove that the vast majority of goods and services are actually cheaper at other times of year when compared...
  • Black Friday Transformed

    A few years ago in a Chicago Tribune story I observed an obvious phenomenon that I called "Holiday Creep", that is the tendency for retailers to offer large and larger "Black Friday" deals earlier and earlier in the year. This practice...
  • A Retail Role Reversal

    The retail environment is tough, and it's getting tougher each day. Revenues continue to migrate online, and many large retailers have plans to scale back their physical operations by as much as 20% over the next decade. Target and Walmart are probably...
  • Happy Holidays From The NRF

    The National Retail Federation and the International Council of Shopping Centers, while certainly biased towards optimism for their retailer constituencies yet at the same time not desiring to mislead the public, both agree that this holiday season will...
  • How Much Sales Promotion Is Too Much Sales Promotion?

    How much is too much? This is a question that marketers are beginning to ask in a restaurant industry that seems increasingly dependent on offering short-term, value-adding incentives for consumers, what marketers know as "sales promotion"....
  • Falcons Fans First

    Top-tier professional spectator sports aren't known for their low prices. A family of four now spends hundreds of dollars on average for an outing when one includes the costs of tickets, parking, concessions, and other factors; and with salaries and...
  • In-Bar Branding

    Marketers of alcoholic beverages sold in bars have always been adept at placing their respective brands in high-profile places where they can reinforce their brands and hopefully gain more sales among competitors. The free glassware, stirrers, coasters...
  • Still More Trouble With Naturals

    As if all of the lawsuits involving misleading "natural" claims weren't bad enough, a recent article by a Tampa Bay Times food critic has revealed that some of the "farm-to-table" fare we think we are eating isn't what we think...
  • Free Burritos!

    Even the most casual observer of the marketing environment knows that Chipotle has some work to do before its brand reputation gets back to what it used to be. Rather than embarking on a nationwide apology tour (a tactic favored by BP among others), marketers...
  • Free Burritos For Everyone

    There's just one catch. You have to go to Chipotle to get them. But that might be OK. Up until the successful chain's recent bout with massive product contamination and a corresponding 30% drop in revenue, things were going rather well. And although...
  • The Demise of Mass Formal?

    That American society has become a far more casually-dressed place over the past few decades is a forgone conclusion. Even the American Neckwear Association went out of business several years ago. That's a bad sign. In another sign of the times, Men's...
  • Advertising's Sweet Spot

    Digital or traditional? How do you prefer your advertising? Most ad experts would agree that this isn't really an "either/or" proposition, and smart marketers must endeavor to effectively integrate brand messaging across multiple mediums...
  • Fast Food Fighting

    The burger wars continue. As more consumers opt for the more higher quality "Better Burger" places like Five Guys and In-N-Out or eschew burgers altogether, the industry gets more challenging for marketers as they compete for stagnant market...
  • A Season of Many Returns

    We all know that the holiday season is important for retailers. Sales made during November and December can equal more than four months or more of annual revenue for many stores, so the flurry of promotional activity we must endure each year is rather...
  • The New Black Friday

    Well, so much for Black Friday, and good riddance. It' is still an important shopping day, to be sure, but recent evidence points to its waning importance as an end-all-be-all, make or break day for retailers. It looks like the game of "holiday...
  • Vader v. Brown

    Star Wars, one of the most successful movie franchises ever, has already generated a huge amount of buzz in anticipation of the release of the next movie installment in a few weeks. Such sequels, also known as "tent poles", almost always represent...