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: 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?
  • Posted on: 08/30/2017

    Is there a ‘right way’ for retailers to help in times of disaster?

    I agree with the policy of "quickly, quietly and generously." However, I think that the speed and generosity of retailers and food brands in this disaster have generally been under-reported by the mainstream media.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2017

    Are vendors delivering better online experiences than multi-brand sellers?

    I don't believe the results of the survey for one simple reason: People say one thing in a survey, but act differently in the real world. Anyway, with some exceptions, brands are not eager to enter the D2C channel.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2017

    Will Amazon become a dominant force in grocery after acquiring Whole Foods?

    Overall, Amazon is emerging as a dominant force in grocery. There are two side effects: One, it is bringing lower-priced organics to new customers who would not shop at Whole Foods because it costs too much or because there is no Whole Foods near them; and two, it is increasing the popularity and sales of private label products.FTC concerns are premature, but having the growing power and influence of the entire Amazon empire in the hands of one person -- CEO Jeff Bezos -- is not a good thing.
  • 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.

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