John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 11/23/2017

    Does it matter if social media is getting a bad rep?

    Social media can be an effective tool for marketing if not abused. On a personal level, I use social media and like social media. But here is my bottom line: If social media disappeared entirely, the world would be a better place.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2017

    Do retailers need a new approach to store brand marketing?

    Sure, grocers should promote their store brands more -- if they are quality products comparable to or better than national brands. Not all are. But, given the widespread acceptance of store brands nowadays, that is enough of a reason to improve quality across all private label products on store shelves.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    How open are consumers to AI-driven shopping?

    I suspect that most consumers are concerned about privacy as it relates to AI. That is the number one issue. But I also suspect that Millennials would less concerned than older shoppers.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2017

    Has Google solved the problem of long lines at grocery checkouts?

    This scheme sounds rather complicated, so a meaningful number of shoppers probably won't take advantage of it. But here's an idea: hire more cashiers.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2017

    Retailers need to do a better job delivering groceries

    Most consumers will remain skittish about having frozen and refrigerated food, as well as fruits and vegetables, delivered to the home. That is why grocers should heavily promote curb-side pick up for groceries ordered online.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2017

    Amazon to begin making in-home deliveries in 37 cities

    Let's see if I can be diplomatic. The $250 set-up fee makes this service unlikely to be accepted by most people. Enough with diplomacy. Is this service cool, creepy or stupid? I choose Door 3, Monty.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2017

    Google’s real-time translation tech could be huge

    Another great tech tool designed to dumb down the citizenry. Why bother to learn another language? Too much trouble. Have the latest "innovation" do the work. Si puede leer esto, felicidades. No necesitas una maquina.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2017

    Will customers let Walmart deliver in-fridge?

    I would not want a delivery person in my home without supervision. This scheme might work well for dual income households that don't have the time to grocery shop, but have the extra income to invest in smart locks and in-house cameras to monitor the delivery person.But if the family is indeed so busy, why stop with stocking the fridge? Have the delivery person make dinner so it's ready when the family comes home. Maybe the delivery person can clean up and wash the dishes because the family is so tired from working so much during the day.Of course, I'm kidding. Maybe.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2017

    Will centralized buying make Whole Foods a more formidable competitor?

    Kroger's reaction to Whole Foods' centralized buying is the latest salvo in the grocery wars. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Kroger is launching a website allowing local suppliers to pitch niche products directly to buyers at the grocer’s 2,800 stores, a response to rival Whole Foods Market’s moves to be more conventional.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2017

    Target guides customers through the aisles with beacons

    It's laudable to see Target experiment with ways to improve in-store shopping. The experience certainly needs improving.Are beacons with mapping capability the way to do it? No. Most customers will not accept this feature because they just want to get in and out of the store quickly. I just don't see shoppers navigating the store while an app guides them. Would a mapping feature on the app help shoppers find an item that is difficult to locate? I guess so, but how many times does that happen? Most shoppers already know where their frequently-bought products are located.Target would do better by adding more store associates who shoppers could ask to locate that item. And by not periodically changing the location of product categories. Loyal shoppers hate that because they can't easily find anything anymore.Those are two simple common-sense suggestions that don't rely on deploying more techno-gizmos in an attempt to appear progressive and cool.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2017

    Albertsons buys its way into the meal kit business with Plated acquisition

    A smart move. Albertsons hits the ground running in the meal kit race. But a more patient approach would have been to develop their own meal kits, perhaps including their private label products. Loyal shoppers would appreciate that approach and it would serve to boost the Albertsons brand. But I guess the chain couldn't wait.Did they pick the right meal kit service to buy? That's debatable and entirely subjective. But I have tried five different meal kits and Plated is not one of my top three favorites.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2017

    Is BOPIS degrading the in-store experience?

    Sure, the increasing popularity of BOPIS suggests that the in-store experience is lacking. Why? Because grocers have not invested enough in making their stores inviting and engaging. So they miss some purchases that the BOPIS shopper would have made. However, savvy grocers should offer this option to their shoppers, who would go elsewhere if they truly want to buy online and pick up in store.Meanwhile, the rise of BOPIS also says something about this type of shopper. To be kind, they are busy people juggling home and work responsibilities. BOPIS alleviates the time crunch. To be unkind, they are simply too lazy. You should make time to carefully and selectively shop for the food that nourishes your family. What is more important than that?
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Artificial intelligence makes brand personalities come to life

    Here is my first thought: What a wacko idea! I would not want my brand of toilet tissue or cat sand to have a personality. Upon reflection, it might work for such already-engaging retail brands as Costco and Trader Joe's. It could help define an evolving brand such as Whole Foods. Or the whole notion could be another example of techno-nonsense.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2017

    Do grocers need to reset the center store?

    Sure, grocers need to reset the center store layout. But they need to do so dramatically. Shorter aisles would be a good start. Blending "healthy" packaged foods with traditional fare and private label makes sense because it gives shoppers a visual choice in terms of variety and price. How about a coffee station in the coffee section with a free flavor of the day funded by one of the manufacturers? Ditto for soft drinks and water. Integrate mini-sampling stations throughout center store. Overall, give the shopper a reason to venture into the center store.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Five pain points grocers must address to survive in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

    The obvious key is to make shoppers want to come to the grocery store. Ideas: Increase sampling; have live music on weekends (two- or three-piece band will do); have more events (Giant Eagle's Market District has Food and Wine Fridays that make grocery shopping fun); have guest chefs for cooking demos; open a restaurant and/or bar as part of the supermarket.Shoppers can't enjoy any of those things while ordering groceries online. Are these events an investment for grocers? Yes, but what's the alternative? Business as usual?

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