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: 08/10/2016

    Is it OK for brands to have emotions?

    Private label food brands are a separate category. It is challenging for them to compete emotionally with their category's big name brands, which may trigger an emotional response in shoppers. In private label, then, it is the brand of the retailer that strikes an emotional cord, regardless of product. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Walmart do it successfully for obvious reasons. Most grocers cannot, and that is their challenge when trying to appeal to Millennials.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2016

    7-Eleven makes history with consumer drone delivery

    I agree with the comments by Ryan Mathews, who logically pointed out the problems: cost prohibitive, cluttered skies, aerial accidents, etc. To that list I would bluntly add that the notion of drone deliveries is just stupid unless it is for medicine in remote areas. Are consumers so time pressed that they really need drones to deliver products to their homes? Maybe their lives are too damn busy. Maybe they need to sit quietly in a dark room and reconsider their priorities and lifestyle.Enough with pontificating about the supposed advantages of drone deliveries in today's ultra-sophisticated world. This is technology running amok.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2016

    Do wine and beer make for a better shopping experience?

    I agree with the posters who applaud supermarkets that offer beer and wine as part of an overall sensory experience. But there are many ways to offer these beverages.Let me speak from experience and observation rather than from a theoretical point of view. One of the stores I shop in frequently is Giant Eagle in a Cleveland suburb. I often see shoppers enjoying a glass of wine at a special wine bar staffed by a wine expert. Certain wines are being promoted, enjoyed and sold. Advice is given. This is a good thing.In another suburb, Market District (a unit of Giant Eagle) operates a full-size bar next to a cafe offering light fare. The shoppers there seem to enjoy and appreciate this experience before shopping. This is a good thing.Another Market District in another suburb has Food and Wine Fridays. For six bucks, shoppers buy a wine glass and they go around the story to six sampling stations there appetizers are available. The shopping carts have slots for the wine glasses. Every time I am there, the store is packed with shoppers sipping, shopping and enjoying the live music from 6 to 8 pm. This is a good thing.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2016

    Are in-store personalization tactics becoming less creepy?

    Besides the cool or creepy factor, there is the annoying factor. Shoppers do not want to received beeps for a half-dozen different coupons or other offers during a shopping trip. Grocers need to limit those connections to a max of three, or else risk shoppers opting out of the beacon program.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2016

    Will an online dollar store work?

    Profitability is always an issue with these kinds of ventures. With that in mind, it's really exciting to see them in the process of developing private labels sourced from China to further boost margins. That is something to brag about to customers, don't you think?
  • Posted on: 02/18/2016

    Publix engages customers where they are (on social media)

    Publix Super Markets began its social media program in 2009 because the chain wanted to engage with every customer — whether it's about the in-store experience, a person they connected with in the grocery store, the products they are carrying or not carrying. Its move to new platforms is the next logical step for this social media pioneer in the grocery channel.

  • Posted on: 12/21/2015

    Does digital open doors for private label marketing?

    The digital marketing director for Price Chopper was also part of the panel discussion with Red Gold at the PLMA trade show. She outlined the retailer's first-rate program that demonstrates how digital can boost private label brands.

  • Posted on: 11/06/2015

    Will Americans ever give up their paper coupons?

    Part of the reason for the slow transition from paper to digital coupons is generational. Boomers love paper. Meanwhile, Millennials are slow to change over, but they will as digital permeates every aspect of daily life.

    In a practical sense, I see paper coupons in my wallet when grocery shopping and use them. I don't see digital coupons on my smartphone and forget they are there.

  • Posted on: 10/01/2015

    Target challenges associates to shape up with Fitbit

    I think the Fitbit idea is a good employee benefit that other retailers should copy. Healthy employees are more productive employees. As it happens I wear a Fitbit, and I think it's pretty cool.

  • Posted on: 08/31/2015

    Amazon exploring public transit delivery

    Seriously? I'd like to see the box remain intact on the subway in some sections of New York City. Amazon is out of control.

  • Posted on: 08/07/2015

    Target tests beacons, plans nationwide rollout

    Beacons are an interesting technology and some people may actually enjoy getting deals sent to their Target app while shopping. But unless the consumer has opted into receiving such messages, I don't think they will be welcomed. Putting the Target app on a phone doesn't mean "Send me messages while shopping." Unwanted messages might even prompt shoppers to delete the Target app.

  • Posted on: 08/05/2015

    Are Amazon’s ambitions flying too high for comfort?

    Here's some straight talk: Using drones for Amazon delivery—or any other commercial delivery—is insane and dangerous. Has anyone read about the drones buzzing airplanes taking off from JFK in New York? Can't we remain free from such inane technology "advancements"? Folks, we live in a world gone mad. One word of warning if tech is unchecked: The robots are coming! The robots are coming! Kiss humanity goodbye.

  • Posted on: 07/08/2015

    The five stupidest questions to ask shoppers

    I have never been asked the question about budget. That would be annoying. The others don't bother me. Store associates are just trying to do their job. If you don't believe me, try it sometime.

  • Posted on: 07/06/2015

    Are third parties the answer for optimizing deliveries?

    I agree with the poster who said giving up control to a third party is key. Safeguarding the retail brand is the top priority. Bad service by a third party will come back to damage the retailer. Pick the partner carefully.

  • Posted on: 06/13/2015

    Blue Apron plans to show America ‘a better way to cook’

    My hunch is that none of the posters have tried any of these mail kits. I have tried them all. Here is my take:

    • They add a fun element to meals at home. When the meal box arrives, it's like Christmas.
    • Far from "everyday meals" as one poster said, these kits consist of exotic components and ingredients not typically found in supermarkets.
    • The meals are educational because they consist of recipes from around the world.
    • Yes, the meals take a while to cook (45 minutes on average), but so what? Is that taking time away from Modern Family on TV or Clash of the Titans online? Maybe it's time to spend more time in the real world.
    • Yes, the market is large enough on a national level to support multiple meal companies.
    • The main challenge for these meal kit companies is that major grocery chains will offer the same service. Promote it in store and online. Give the shopper points on a loyalty card for purchases, etc.

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