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: 07/06/2017

    Have grocers figured out how to successfully do business online?

    The only way to successfully do business online is to try it and evaluate the results, and not just research and evaluate other grocers' efforts. Obviously, grocers nowadays need to offer options for shopping. Online is one of them. But it never will be a major part of the business.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2017

    How can retailers make loyalty programs more effective?

    More personalization is the key. It enhances customer engagement, which leads to more visits and larger baskets.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Will Unilever’s investment in an organic meal kit maker pay off?

    I think the meal kit business will eventually settle down with fewer players, but this business will remain an interesting option for consumers. Kroger and Publix have limited tests of meal kits. They and other savvy grocers have the opportunity to dominate this shopping option. They should collaborate with their trading partners in the food business.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2017

    What makes consumers so loyal to Publix, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and H-E-B?

    All grocery stores largely sell the same products. The keys to success are clean, well-stocked stores backed by efficient and friendly customer service. The X-Factor is simple: Shoppers feel good in such a store, and want to come back to feel good again.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will online grocers redefine hotel room service?

    An interesting and creative idea that will have limited success. After trying this service a few times, I predict road warriors will stop using it. There are other options for on-the-road healthy eating if that is the goal.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2017

    Will personalized meal plans increase Peapod’s order sizes?

    What's there not to like? Peapod enhances its service and remains a vibrant player. The consumer can opt for personalized meals for a modest fee. I'd call that a win-win.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Is personalized packaging going mainstream?

    Personalized packaging would be valuable for new products looking to create awareness and buzz. I usually dismiss such tactics as a gimmick or a fad that will quickly be forgotten. But a Coke bottle bearing my name sits on my desk. What can I say?
  • Posted on: 03/13/2017

    Are retailers ‘blind’ to digital marketing’s flaws?

    When all is said and done, the big winner will be digital coupons. It will be generational. Everyone carries a smartphone.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2017

    Should grocers open slow checkout lanes for seniors?

    I have seen similar studies about the elderly and supermarket checkout. Many of these shoppers just want to get out of the house and interact with cashiers without feeling pressured by shoppers behind them who are in a rush to do whatever they do to justify their busy lives.It would be good customer service to have such "No Rush" checkout lanes staffed by mature cashiers who actively engage these senior shoppers with friendly conversation. It would increase loyalty to stores. Let the busy folks wrestle with the self-checkout machines and fume when the robotic voice announces, "Help is on the way."
  • Posted on: 02/17/2017

    Do consumers want to follow grocers on social media?

    Since I don't believe the results of surveys anymore, I rely on personal experience as my guide.I have apps for Whole Foods and Market District (a Giant Eagle banner). They are fine, but I can't say I am eager to engage with these retailers via social media. I check out special events in the stores, but these retailers don't reach out to me via email, which is what they should do.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2017

    How price competitive does Whole Foods need to be?

    While it is true that other grocers are stocking more organics at lower prices than Whole Foods, the latter does not have to overreact. Whole Foods has tremendous brand power. Act like the leader. Be competitive on price, but promote value. My hunch is that dunnhumby will help Whole Foods in a big way.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2017

    Which commercial won the Super Bowl broadcast?

    My favorite was the Budweiser commercial which provided a solid story to back the brand. My least favorite was Spud MacKenzie. I bet most Millennials have no idea of the original commercials years ago, so much of the impact was lost for much of the viewing audience.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Will Walmart’s Scan & Go catch on this time around?

    Like self-checkout terminals, this "innovation" benefits retailers more than customers by reducing labor costs. I may be wrong (won't be the first time), but Walmart's test a few years ago didn't catch on, and I don't think this one will either.Has anyone asked customers if they want this innovation that lets them scan and bag their own groceries while shopping? Why not give them a time card and union card at the same time?The only reason for eventual success is generational. Millennials and the generation behind them like all the new digital gizmos. But I wonder if mom wants to scan and bag if she has a few "active" urchins in tow.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2017

    Will blending online/offline roles improve the Walmart customer experience?

    This makes sense for all the reasons other posters listed. If successful, it could be a model for other retail companies that have not made similar moves already.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2017

    What does giving up alcohol say about Starbucks?

    I can't blame Starbucks for trying to extend its business into alcohol, and I am not surprised that it didn't succeed. People don't go to Starbucks for beer and wine. As a "brand" extension, it was doomed to fail. The Starbucks brand is too ingrained in the minds of consumers, and beer/wine doesn't fit. On both counts, it was a bridge too far.

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