Forever Relevant – Lessons from a Top Winemaker (4/6/18)


Customer journey mapping, people-based marketing, influence marketing, content marketing, etc., etc., etc.  I am weary of the daily bombardment of digital gurus preaching about the future of marketing.  Candidly, I think they are over processing and would benefit from the wisdom of Koji Nakada, a top winemaker.

Read On:

I have posted in the past about one of my favorite TV shows, a series on Japanese TV titled The Professionals.  A recent episode featured Koji Nakada, a Japanese winemaker in the Burgundy wine region of France.  His wines are coveted around the world (22 countries) and served in acclaimed restaurants.  Detailed below are some of the lessons I learned watching his special that I believe marketers would benefit from as they adapt to the continual transformation of marketing:

  • Don’t always follow trends; do what you think is right (integrity).
  • Experimentation, experimentation, experimentation.
  • Expect the unexpected. Cope with it, learn from it, move forward.
  • You cannot change the past, so just think forward.
  • Be passionate about what you do. Give it your ultimate energy.
  • Always think positive. Find joy in every day.

Thank you, Mr. Nakada.  As I experience the transformation of marketing, you made me realize experience still matters in our technological driven world.  There is no substitution for experience.

Marketers, trust your instincts!






In an age dominated by digital transparency, inflated online reviews for providers of goods and services, fake news, etc., the use of the word authenticity has grown in popularity. Candidly, as I have previously posted, authenticity has evolved into a repetitively, over used word.

Read On:

The definition of authenticity: (noun) – The quality of being authentic (of undisputed origin, genuine). Synonyms: Originality, legitimacy, validity, bona fide.

As a food-away-from-home channel marketing specialist, I recognize how food companies are facing more pressure/demand for supply chain related information. Consequently, the full disclosure of the sourcing/integrity of their ingredients is better known as biodiversity – sustainable farming and agricultural practices including regenerative ecosystem procedures, animal welfare, labor practices, etc. Last month at the UN Climate Action Summit, nineteen leading companies announced the formation of the OP2B (“One Plant Business for Biodiversity”) coalition to drive transformation in the food and agriculture systems for the benefit of people and our planet.

Authentic? Definitely, authenticity 2.0! However, I believe TMI. Some marketers are over subscribing and creating authenticity marketing ploys. Detailed below are two examples:

  • Nestlé® Toll House® – Nestlé introduced the Nestlé® Toll House® Artisan Collection, a line of premium baking chips made with single-origin chocolate from Ghana. “Cocoa beans are the top agricultural export from Ghana; its rich soil is ideal for growing the intensely aromatic cocoa that is captured in these new premium baking chips,” says Ruth Braden, associate marketing manager for Nestlé® Toll House®. “Made with chocolate sourced from a single origin delivers a premium chocolate to the Nestlé® Toll House® portfolio.” Something you will think about the next time you dunk your cookie made with premium priced chocolate chips in a glass of cold milk.


  • Starbucks – The brand juggernaut has always been dedicated to buying 100% ethically sourced coffee and was ahead of the transparent/authentic supply chain curve. But now, with 31,000 locations worldwide, their creative team has decided to publish their brand systems guidelines. Their iconic logo has been the same for years, but now we can learn about their regional in-store signage design elements complete with color codes and typographic weights, as well as the creative strategy behind their Instagram posts. Authentic? Definitely, but TMI. I am not convinced the average consumer that is purchasing a cup of joe cares about the design elements of their in-store signage/promotions.

Is TMI authenticity necessary or a new marketing ploy?

High-Tech Regulations


A provocative quote from Kara Swisher (technology thought leader, editor Recode): “We are giant digital cities that were built without adequate police, fire, medical or safety personnel, decent street signs or any kind of rules that would make them work smoothly.”

Read On:

The above quote resonated for me last week when I read that fifty state attorneys launched an investigation to determine whether Google is violating antitrust regulations. Interesting move, but candidly too little, too late. From my perspective, the tech giants have gone unregulated for too long. Case in point: The Cambridge Analytica, Facebook data scandal in March of 2018. Eventually, the FTC levied a $5 billion fine, a drop-in-the-bucket given Facebook reported $15.08 billion in 1st quarter 2019 sales. Most advocacy groups believe the FTC fine will not force Facebook to rethink their responsibility to protect user data in the future. Despite all the news, misinformation and controversies since the scandal, a study from Pew Research Center indicated that 26% of Americans deleted their Facebook app. Mixpanel, a research firm and The Guardian have tracked a significant decline (20%) in Facebook usage since the scandal was revealed.

I am one of the Americans who canceled my Facebook account. I was deeply concerned Cambridge Analytica was the tip of the iceberg and there were numerous situations Facebook was compromising their user’s data. In addition, I was alarmed that Facebook’s understaffed policy enforcement team was unable to police and establish advertising and publishing standards/policies. Recent case in point: Last month a BBC investigation revealed how Facebook was being used by traffickers to buy and sell antiquities illegally excavated/looted from tombs in Syria and Iraq.

To safeguard the beneficial growth of the web, time to reel in and regulate high-tech!


The Human Diet and It’s Influence on Climate Change


Back in May I investigated applying biomimicry for a climate change solution. Last week I read the UN released a special report describing how plant-based diets represent a major opportunity for moderating and adjusting to climate change. The current market value of plant-based foods indicate people are slowly adapting.

Read On:

The shift away from animal-based foods is good for the Earth’s health as it relates to reducing greenhouse emissions, as well as facilitating the opening to efficiently use water and energy. More importantly, observing a plant-based diet has numerous human health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases (e.g., heart, certain cancers, diabetes, etc.), plus obesity. Consequently, plant-based foods are achieving mainstream acceptance with more consumers (a.k.a. flexitarians) trying to eat less meat. By the numbers, U.S. retail sales have grown 11 percent in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion (source: GFI & PBFA).

The UN Youth Climate Summit will take place September 21st in New York. It will provide a platform for leaders driving climate action to discuss their solutions, including changes to the human diet. Note: The United Nation’s projects by 2050 the world population will astounding be approximately 9.7 billion. Because I am a food futurist, I hope the young leaders will open dialogue about other potential food resources that could be beneficial to the Earth’s health. Specifically, encouraging consumers to eat more sea vegetables, a topic I will be addressing in detail later this month.




Raiders of the Fridge


Delivery sales are fueling restaurant industry growth. One consulting firm projects growth at more than three times the rate of on-premises revenue through 2023. Candidly, I am uneasy about the competitive impact online grocery shopping will have on overall restaurant sales as Amazon and Walmart step up their services levels.

Read On:

Beginning this fall, Walmart will be rolling out their “InHome” delivery option. Walmart’s delivery people, utilizing smart technology, will be enabled to pick an online grocery order and deliver the food items directly into their customer’s refrigerators as the homeowner is watching. Sounds like fridge delivery will make it extremely convenient/seductive for consumers to pass on ordering out food or dining away-from-home.

Food for thought: Thanks to smart technology, Porch Pirates will have the opportunity to evolve into Raiders of the Fridge.

Virtual Authenticity?


I have been scrutinizing the evolution of influence marketing since the end of 2017. Linqia, a company that specializes in digital marketing reports that 92% of marketers who utilize influence marketing find it to be effective. The latest development? CGI influencers.

Read On:

Since its conception, I have been struggling regarding the exact profile of a clear-cut influencer, specifically whether it is better to use a macro or micro influencer. Macro influencers are categorized as celebrities with massive, millions of followers, while micro influencers are everyday consumers who have significant social media followings (1,000 to 100,000) they engage deeply with on a regular basis. This much I do know, it depends on the industry and size of business. In fashion, it is good to have a macro influencer like Meghan Markle, Global Fashion Influencer. If you are a mom-and-pop restaurant in a small city like Raleigh, North Carolina, it would behoove you to find a micro influencer who broadcasts on Instagram.

Thanks to CGI influencers, the latest icons of digital stars, the world of influence marketing is experiencing major transformation. As their name implies, CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) influencers are created by computers, thus not human. Example: Meet Miquela Sousa, Instagram handle @lilmiquela, L.A. model of Brazilian decent, an Instagram “fashionista” with 1.5 million followers.  She posts daily about designer outfits partnering with brands like Prada and Diesel, as well as social and political issues (e.g., Black Lives Matter, DACA, etc.). Followers like her candor, authentic content, in comparison to most real fashion influencers they perceive as scam artists.

Consumers are constantly trying to cut through the social media clutter to identify trustworthy sources of product/brand information. Consequently, influence marketing was conceived and is still relatively a new concept. Currently the rise of CGI influencers is beginning to blur the line between reality and the virtual world. They are selling a glorious lifestyle reflective of our current hip culture that evoke massive consumer followings, as a result, big brands are beginning to cash in on their potential.

My query: Will CGI influencers, the new breed of digital/virtual avatars, dilute brand authenticity?



Last month I indicated companies no longer innovate, they implement disruptive innovation. Has the use of the term disruptive innovation become over employed? Presently, the best innovation I am witnessing has been conceived by individuals applying biomimicry.

Read On:

“Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” – Biomimicry Institute

Bottomline: Mother Nature is the consummate engineer/designer. Animals, plants and microbes have continually adapted to new ways of living throughout earth’s changing history. Consequently, leaders in the field of innovation benchmark Mother Nature to develop new products, processes and policies. Recently, engineers at the University of California Irvine derived inspiration from the skin of stealthy sea creatures – various species of squids, octopuses and cuttlefish. Their skin cells (chromatophores) respond instantly to the different temperatures of aquatic environments. When it is cold the cells close up to retain heat; when it is warm the cells open up to release heat. Currently, the only application has been applied to space blankets utilized by marathon runners, but UC Irvine predicts the bio-inspired material will be applicable to various sports apparel. Coincidentally, Under Armour is in a long-term partnership (10 years) with another major California university, UC Berkeley.


“I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning” – Steve Jobs