Mobile Marketing – What’s New?


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a major boom in digital technologies. Specifically, a surge in mobile usage beyond basic communications. More consumers now use their smartphones for online shopping, numerous finance categories, gaming and video streaming. Consequently, smart marketers are implementing some innovative mobile movements.

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been monitoring the shifts in consumer behavior. Back in June, one reliable source detailed the accelerated shift to e-commerce – 7.4 million new digital buyers in 2020 (source: eMarketer). Recently, marketers have fast-tracked targeting consumers adapting to digital technologies. Detailed below are two innovative digital marketing movements:

  • Leveraging the popularity of the social media platform TikTok (an estimated 100 million U.S. users; 50 million of whom check the app daily), Dunkin’ announced it was going to re-release a limited addition of its branded holiday merchandise line Onesies – long-sleeve T-shirts, baseball hats, phone cases, etc. Their objective is to expand their social media following by targeting younger consumers now heavy users of online pandemic shopping. Note: Personalized products are now a new way food brands are connecting with their loyal customers.       
  • Trolli gummy worms utilized QR codes on their packaging to enable consumers to access a trial on Play Station for a video game “Deliciously Dark Escape” where players protect their gummy avatars. Smart Marketing: A.) Three-fourths of American households have a least one gamer, 21% are younger than 18 years old (source: Entertainment Software Association); and B.) Capitalizing on the resurgence of QR codes.

FYI: TikTok is testing longer, three-minute videos. Imagine the increase in smartphone usage if TikTok triples the current length of time people can record.  

Forever Relevant – The World Ahead (5/11/2020)

Today is Armistice Day in France. Normally a major, joyful holiday, but thanks to a second COVID-19 health crisis lockdown, Cannes feels like a ghost town. Reminds me of our first lockdown and The World Ahead.


Lockdown ends today here in France. Every nanosecond crept by. I ate and drank well, basked in the Mediterranean sun on my balcony, worked, read and wrote. During my lockdown, I was able to regularly engage via technology with family, friends and business peers.

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  • As the pandemic began to unfold, everyone would share their concern about getting sick, the COVID-19 statistics, social distancing and how the outbreak would impact their personal life. Perspectives about a post-pandemic world were myopic.
  • The #1 overused cliché: It is, what it is” meaning we all have to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, a challenging, frustrating situation that cannot be changed. Most people indicated we just have to deal with it.
  • As the curve began to flatten and details emerged about re-opening the world, people were buzzing about a vaccine being the solution without recognizing the geo-politics, time line and dollars associated with global vaccines.
  • Everyone understands we are going to witness major global transformation (social, economic and political) and experience the “New Normal.”

“New Normal?” The definition of normal – conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected. A standard day? A typical week? I do not accept the concept of the New Normal.” Instead, I believe we now live in a “New World,” a world where one size does not fit all. Example: The different ways three countries handled the outbreak – Sweden with herd immunization, France with strict lockdown rules and the United States with mixed messaging resulting in chaos.

Over the past few weeks, I have published numerous posts advocating  “to build a better world, start in your community.” As I get ready to leave my apartment later this morning, I am prepared to face the unknown challenges of the “New World” where one size does not fit all.



My favorite centenarian shared an interesting thought last night.

“Amazing how many troublesome events I have witnessed that have happened to the world. Localized to a degree. A very long list. However, the pandemic is the only event I have experienced that has happened to the whole world at once.”

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Mom’s long list:

  1. The Great Depression.
  2. World War II topped off with The Nuclear Bomb.
  3. The Holocaust.
  4. Never-ending genocide – Cambodia, Rwanda, Serbia, etc.
  5. Countless wars – Korean, Vietnam, the numerous Middle East wars.
  6. Memorable historical tipping point events – assassinations (JFK, RFK, MLK, Rabin), 9/11, the Arab Spring, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis.
  7. The Great Recession.
  8. Migrants drowning in the Mediterranean and washing up on beaches.
  9. Children separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border.
  10. Mother nature – earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, wild fires, etc.

As she indicated, a very long list. She also added: An unruly era of painful memories! And now we usher in a new era, the COVID World.

A Special Day


Back in September, I interviewed my Mom who is a centenarian. The article, posted on LinkedIn, received its fair share of buzz. People wanted me to interview her again. She decided to pass until this morning to talk about Sunday, a very special/memorable day for her family. 

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Moi: Our interview in early September received some good buzz from members of my Tribe. I wanted to discuss your spin on computers and technology, a major transformation you witnessed in your lifetime, but you opted for breakfast instead. I know you did not want to continue with a series of follow-up interviews, but I cannot help but get you to open up about Sunday, a very special day in family history.

Ma mère: I’ve had my coffee and baguette. Go ahead.

Moi: Does Sunday rate as one of the great moments of your life?

Ma mère: Absolutely! Way up there. I got to witness my eldest grandchild get married. All thanks to technology, Zoom. I am extremely happy for Emily, proud, plus I really like her husband Matthew. And yes, I know, if it were not for technology, I would have missed the whole wedding since it was in Connecticut, and I am unable to travel.

Moi: We have had our fair share of technology conversations. Specifically, the power of telecommunications. Do you see the role Zoom will have in our COVID World?

Ma mère: Yes, but I will be politically correct. The big picture is I am extremely happy for Emily and Matthew. However, realistically, I am sitting here in France, the coronavirus is continuing to spike everywhere. As I indicated in my interview, people are only concerned about their own turf. Zoom will enable people to put a mote up around their protected bubble, observe “social distancing”, stay healthy. To me, conversations will become diluted and something will get lost in translation.

Moi: Good point. What do you think will get lost in translation?

Ma mère: For starters, people’s interpersonal skills. Missing body language cues. But hey, my first Zoom experience was great. Unbelievable! Watched my Emily get married. However, it made me realize that your grandma Rosie was very wise when she said: “You live long enough, you see it all.”

Food Halls


Food-away-from-home experts publish their forecasts daily pertaining to when the channel will fully recover. Their content makes for some interesting reading. Being an optimist who worries a lot, as I shared in my post The Interconnectivity Impact, too many factors may obstruct the industry’s comeback.                     

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Based on what I read, a majority of operators surveyed in the past few months indicate the road to recovery will vary significantly by segment. However, last week, one article that piqued my interest provided details of a report by Cushman & Wakefield, a leading commercial real estate services company touting food halls. Food halls, multiple vendors operating unique/artisanal food stalls within a shared space, were clearly a rising star in foodservice pre-pandemic. Cushman & Wakefield predict this sector will bounce back quickly and exhibit robust growth in the aftermath of COVID-19. Their rationale:

1.) Lower operating costs compared to independent restaurants.

2.) Adaptable public spaces prepared to embrace safety protocol (e.g., social distancing).

3.) Consumers will continue to pursue social experiences, especially Millennials and Gen Z.

Cushman & Wakefield’s research team did acknowledge food halls were already viewed as primarily an urban destination, but they are now beginning to branch out to the suburbs, C&U campuses and roadsides. Consequently, as the economy improves and more workers return to their offices, their VP of Retail Research indicates: “Food halls are here to stay.”

Are they? I believe Cushman & Wakefield’s rationale is sound, but as I shared back in July, industry pundits banking on the future of consumer eating trends need to step outside their industry box. They need to analyze the “Big Picture.” Especially, when it comes to food halls in the COVID Era. Big city foodservice ecosystems will be adversely impacted as more people continue to work from home. In addition, if at home productivity remains sustainable, there might be a shift away from densely populated metropolitan areas (e.g., New York, San Francisco, etc.) to smaller cities. Bottomline: A dwindling number of food hall patrons.

Are food halls a future trend?

Space Available


Earlier in the month, movie theaters reopened in an estimated 70 percent of the U.S. The first blockbuster (“Tenet”) laid a dud. Concerned that people did not show up, Hollywood studios decided to postpone the release of other blockbusters. A grim omen for the big movie business.

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The last time I addressed the impact of the pandemic on the film industry was back in April. I examined the COVID-19 domino collapse associated with the cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival. It would be interesting to analyze the potential economic domino collapse as the big movie business falters starting with concessions – candy (e.g., less physical units, packaging, logistics), popcorn, beverages, supplies (e.g., cups, lids, napkins), etc. However, for today’s post I would like to focus on theater chains.

Needless to say, all the major theater operators, AMC, Cinemark, Cineworld the parent company of Regal Cinemas, have reported double digit declines since Labor Day. During this period the S&P 500 was flat. Over time, chain theaters will adapt as it relates to audience safety protocol and reduced operating hours to minimize operating expenses. Conversely, the growing popularity of streaming will continue to be a competitive threat making their comeback arduous. Undoubtedly, major theater operators will have to shutter underperforming units.

Space available! One solution I have given thought to is transforming shuttered cineplexes into community learning centers. Starting with K-12, it would enable more students to take advantage of remote learning, especially those who are from low income families or limited by technology. Community junior colleges can offer courses. Specialized certificate programs can be offered enabling members of the community to enhance their job skills.

Space available! Malls.

Forever Relevant – Save the Planet (3/7/18)

Earlier in the week I was watching a program on NHK TV about the utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to plan the disaster preparedness associated with urban flooding. Reminded me of an old post I wrote back in 2018, Save the Planet. More importantly, it made me think about the potential of AI assisting global disaster preparedness in our new world of coronavirus pandemics.   


AI (Artificial Intelligence) is rapidly becoming mainstream.  The World Economic Forum at their recent annual meeting in Davos detailed innovative technological opportunities that would solve our planet’s threating environmental challenges.  What will save the planet, AI or community?

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Answer: Both, interconnected.

Detailed below is a short list of identifiable areas AI will impact according to the World Economic Forum’s report Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for the Earth:

– Management of future utilities, water and energy (e.g., renewables).

– Monitoring systems that will identify the illegal depletion of valuable resources (e.g., oceans, forests).

– Improved modeling/forecasting of weather and climate change that will eventually lead to better decision-making pre/post natural disasters.

It is clear, AI is poised to support a more energy efficient world, improve ecological conservation and confront climate change in real time.  However, after all the data is crunched, I firmly believe the human factor, as in community will also be essential to save our planet.  Back in 2017 I stated in two posts, Community and A Community Tale – “To build a better world, start in your community.” 

Start participating in saving our vulnerable planet!



“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” – FDR


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Interesting Zoom meeting last week. Reconnected with a group of guys I grew up with over 50 years ago in the Bronx. Outside of two individuals, I lost contact with all of them when I moved out of NYC in 1985. Diverse journeys: one became an Executive Producer on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” two dabbled in the film industry, several are self-employed, one went on to become a professional gambler. To my knowledge most are or were married with kids. I have no clue whether any have grandchildren.

Fun Zoom call! Guy talk out of the gate – the good old days, sports, etc. Then we discussed the COVID-19 pandemic. Most indicated they were optimistic about economic recovery in the U.S.; silent when I mentioned the dire straits of the global economy. A lot of Trump bashing. Minimal concern they might experience a banana republic election and the potential of history repeating itself (Bush vs. Gore). All of them too dependent on improved coronavirus testing and a vaccine so they can get on with the New Normal – travel, eating in restaurants, attending sporting events, etc. New Normal? I suggested we have entered a new era and it will take at least a decade to sort things out. More silence.

One thing that struck me about the virtual reunion, nobody talked about their children or grandchildren’s future. I never married, no children, yet extremely concerned about the future for children. My thoughts:

  • What impact will all the trauma associated with the pandemic have on little people? Living with stressed out parents. Surrounded by media overkill, death, “social distancing,” disrupted schooling. We could use the resurrection of Mr. Rogers right now.
  • What impact will remote learning have on the educational development for all age groups? More and more articles are surfacing addressing the pluses and minuses of the different telecommunication tools. Personally, I believe it will take several years of online teaching, before educators figure out the best way for a generation to develop.
  • I remember all the things I experienced which contributed to my overall social development. Will children now experience a different form of social connectivity due to “social distancing” as we enter an era with the potential for more coronavirus pandemics? Will there be sleepovers, playdates, celebrations (e.g., birthdays, graduation parties, etc.), organized sports, after school activities, school trips, summer camp? What impact will virtual substitutions for these activities have on children?

In closing, I will continue to be a pragmatic optimist who is uncertain about the future. I have posted my views about community being one silver lining resulting from the pandemic crisis. There will be others. However, while we are busy innovating transformation, we need to take time out to focus on preparing our children for the future.


Video Games Promotes COVID-19 Business Bonding


U.S. video game sales thanks to COVID-19 pandemic social distancing reached new heights in the second quarter, April through June. A record $11.6 billion, a 30% increase vs. YAG (NPD Group). No surprise! What I find interesting is housebound executives are utilizing popular games to meet and bond (a.k.a. networking).

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Tired of being cooped up in your home office? Suffering from Zoom fatigue? Go rob a bank with a potential client in Grand Theft Auto.

In person lunches, dinners and 18 holes of golf have been on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an article I read in the International NY Times Tech section, numerous executives disclosed virtual gaming outings represent a chance to form memories with new connections. Imagine, instead of bragging about shooting 90 followed by cocktails in the club house, you can boast about the number of cars you carjacked and pedestrians you ran over eluding police. Virtual gaming meetings are also great for people not located within geographic proximity.

Are you ready to bond? Want to explore the galaxy with Super Mario or do you still prefer LinkedIn?

A Doom Scrolling Antidote – Seaweed


Monday I was online reading/analyzing the latest worldwide COVID-19 pandemic news and statistics. I caught myself “doom scrolling.” I switched reels to research futuristic environmental projects I follow. Positive content! Specifically, seaweed, my favorite antidote against “doom scrolling.”   

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I first discovered seaweed as a potential food resource back at a conference I attended in 2017. I began to further research its product benefits, as well as connect with people in the category offline when I briefly resided in Maine; online via Twitter. In September 2019 I published an article on LinkedIn Sea Vegetables: The Untold Story. Needless to say, I am still bullish about sea vegetables, thus have continued my research. Detailed below are two new product applications I discovered upon scrolling Monday:

  • Sustainable Packaging – Notpla, a London-based startup has developed innovative packaging materials they believe will compete directly with plastics in the future. One notable success story is Notpla’s strategic partnership with Just Eat to launch a seaweed-lined box for takeout food in lieu of plastic boxes. Another company, Evo & Co. located in Indonesia, has introduced Evoware, a line of disposable/edible cups and sachets made from seaweed. High in fiber too!
  • Biofuel – MacroFuels is developing a third-generation biofuel made from seaweed sugars to power cars. The economies of scaling up production will be key to their success. Given 70% of our planet is covered by sea and seaweed only requires water, sunlight and a nutrient presence, their management is confident they will help meet the planet’s 2050 sustainability goals.

Do you have an antidote against “doom scrolling?”