Walmart: AI Leader


As a result of competitive disruption (e.g., Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods plus their introduction of Amazon Go, a high-tech, convenient mini-market), grocery retailers can no longer adhere to their traditional marketing strategies.  Consequently, AI (Artificial Intelligence) solutions will help facilitate the transformation of the supermarket industry.

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Accenture, a leading global consulting firm, disclosed in their Technology Vision 2017 for Consumer Goods survey, seventy-eight percent of executives agree that AI will be a game changer.  Established AI solutions have already revolutionized how leading retailers have enhanced their engagement with customers to deliver superior service.  A market leader that is skating to where the puck is going to be is Walmart.

An American multinational retail corporation, Walmart has evolved into the largest grocer in the U.S. thanks to leveraging innovative technology to create the “seamless customer experience.”  For starters, they recently upgraded/redesigned their smartphone app to include a product search bar, barcode scanner, customer reviews and Walmart pay features.  Customers can now make “smart” shopping lists to price and check item availability in order to project the total cost of their shopping basket before they enter a Walmart store.  Store navigation maps also facilitate a more convenient shopping experience.  In addition, in select sections (e.g., pharmacy), Walmart implemented “Scan and Go” shopping so customers can bypass the regular queue for an accelerated shopping experience.  Another innovative addition in select stores has been their Pick-up-Towers; self-service kiosks.  Customers scan the barcodes from their online receipt and products will appear on a conveyor belt.  This past week, Walmart announced they will be testing an automated robot, “Alphabot” to assist their grocery fulfillment team.  Bottomline:  With their continual investment in technology to enhance their customers experiences, Walmart will be building a depository of data creating AI solutions to augment their consumer marketing as well as improve their overall operational performance.

On your mark, get set, go!  Experience the AI world of grocery shopping.



Half Time – 2018


As I gear up for the second half of 2018, this morning I reflected on what has happened YTD – family, business, world turbulence (a.k.a. geopolitics), technology, etc.  Candidly, I am trying to make sense of everything, thus reread a quote by Donald Rumsfeld to guide me on the road ahead.

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“There are known knowns.

There are things we know that we know.

There are known, unknowns.

That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know.

But there are also unknown unknowns.

There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” 

Conclusion: The second half of 2018 will be an unresolved mystery.



A sneakerheads review – people who collect, trade or covet sneakers as a hobby.  Resellers, capitalizing on the growing trend of these sneaker fanatics demanding limited edition, exclusive athletic footwear are still considered a small segment of total U.S. sneaker sales of $38 billion.  However, exorbitant sneaker prices continue to soar.

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The two leading sneaker resellers are Stadium Goods and GOAT/Flight Club.  They both understand that sneakerheads do not buy sneakers for utility, but a way to communicate personality – making a fashion statement.  Examples:

  • Louis Vuitton, originally priced at $190, currently selling for $2,750.
  • Pharrell Williams (musician) designed Adidas for $12,350.
  • Limited edition LeBron Nike shoes sell for an average of $6,000 a pair.

Exorbitant pricing or extortion, a fashion shakedown?

Are you a sneakerhead wannabe?  

Influence Marketing


As a member of the SMRA (Social Media Research Association), I am their advocate for influence marketing (two guest posts):  The ongoing debate?  Should marketers utilize macro or micro influencers?  I have concluded when it comes to pop culture, the key is to find a macro influencer.

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American actress Meghan Markle, soon to be a member of the British royal family upon her marriage to Prince Harry, has exploded into a British fashion icon thanks to a photograph taken of her last September in Mother distressed jeans and sporting a Everlane tote bag.  Note: For the record she has deleted all her social media accounts.  However, every fashion statement she now makes circulates around the world exponentially.

Ms. Markle’s fashion influence by the numbers:

  • Mother experienced a 200 percent increase to their website; a 60 percent increase in Google searches versus the same period the prior year. The company sold out their inventory in 3 days and cultivated a waiting list of 400 people.
  • Everlane reported they now have a waiting list of 20,000 people for the tote bag she carried.
  • At her first post-engagement appearance, the Strathberry bag she carried sold out in 11 minutes and website traffic to the bag’s manufacturer (Scottish) soared 5,000 percent.

Fashion industry analysts believe Meghan projects the image of a modern woman with an undemanding idea of luxury.  Consequently, young women gravitate towards her fashion statements.

As I continue to research influence marketing, when it comes to pop culture (e.g., fashion), macro influencers deliver the robust numbers.  Food marketers need to take notice and find their circle of macro influencers.  Example: White Castle should find a celebrity (e.g., professional athlete) eating their new Impossible Foods high-tech veggie burger.

Show me the macro influencers!

Clichés 2018


Cliché (noun): A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.

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  1. Authenticity.
  2. Awesome.
  3. Busy, Crazy.  I’m swamped.
  4. Collaboration.
  5. Disruptive innovation.
  6. Ecosystems.
  7. End of the day.
  8. Fake news.
  9. Start-ups.
  10. Sustainability.
  11. Transparency.
  12. Work/life balance.





“Change is frightening to people who lack resilience, but those who embrace it, usually find that they land on their feet and that fosters resilience.”  – Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein (“The Power of Resilience”)

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How true!  Recently, I questioned when I read in the Well section of the International New York Times, all the books that are flooding the market guiding parents to better cultivate their children’s emotional resilience (a.k.a. life’s ups and downs).  To name a few titles: “The Yes Brain,” “The Good News About Bad Behavior,” “The Book of No: 365 Ways To Say It and Mean It,” “How to Raise an Adult,” etc. 

Definition: resilience (noun) – an ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change.  My query:  Is resilience something you can actually teach your children?  Or is resilience something one develops over the passage of time owing to experience?  Examples: broken relationships, career turbulence, an unexpected illness, death of a significant other, etc.

“Life must be understood backwards; but… it must be lived forwards.”  – Sören Kiekegaard (Danish philosopher)


Lessons from a Top Winemaker


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.

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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!