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: 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.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2017

    Will Millennials lead a resurgence in home cooking?

    Yes, Millennials will take to cooking at home. I based this on personal experience and not polls and surveys (I think we have learned how unreliable they really are). I am the father of two, and both cook. I know other Millennial men who are married and cook. I think TV cooking shows help, but meal kits are the real entry point because they often provide exotic recipes.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2016

    Burger King launches its own augmented reality game

    Games will amuse and entertain customers and surely children will like them, too. Call me old-fashioned, but I think all of these fast-food joints should focus more on the food they serve and less on games, AI and otherwise.A sidebar thought: The landmark Carnegie Deli, the iconic Jewish restaurant on Seventh Avenue and 55th Street, down the block from Carnegie Hall in New York City, is closing its doors today after nearly 80 years in business. Maybe Burger King can snap up this location. It's what the world needs: more Burger Kings and more games.Happy New Year!
  • Posted on: 12/29/2016

    Which spot gets your vote as the best international Christmas commercial of 2016?

    Being a traditionalist, I select Marks & Spencer as my favorite. The helpful Mrs. Claus was a nice touch. The others were a waste of time and video: John Lewis (what's the point?), Waitrose (strictly for the birds) and Allegro (Good Grief! What forced sentimentality!).Here are some questions: Where is a commercial about the birth of Jesus? Isn't the Nativity the REAL meaning of Christmas? Are we so wrapped up in the commercial aspects of Christmas that we forget or neglect the reason why there even is a Christmas?
  • Posted on: 12/28/2016

    Will data-driven checkout get shoppers through the line faster?

    Tests of all these high-tech checkout solutions — at Hy-Vee, Kroger, and Amazon's store — sound great, but at what cost? Will grocers invest a lot of money to outfit ALL of their stores with these solutions? I doubt it.Grocers who want to move shoppers out the door quicker could simply open more checkout lanes during busy periods. Has anyone ever compared the added labor costs of this simple low-tech solution to the cost of high-tech ones? I doubt it.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2016

    Will a higher minimum wage translate to better service levels?

    I believe that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will increase in-store service levels by the employees getting the raise. However, in-store service overall will deteriorate because there will be fewer employees. Retailers, as well as all other employers, will reduce the labor force or install robots to defray the increased pay per hour. Sadly, that is just the way it is.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2016

    Starbucks launches its own branded web cartoon

    Maybe I am slouching toward being a grumpy old man, but ... this "entertainment" is for people with too much time on their hands.

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