Warren Thayer

Editorial Director & Co-Founder, Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer

Warren Thayer is the editor and managing partner of Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer. Before going off on his own in June 2009, he was editorial director and associate publisher of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods Retailer, published by BNP Media.

Previous to this position, Warren was for 13 years the editor-in-chief of Frozen Food Age. He has written for a variety of trade and consumer publications – including Business Week, The Christian Science Monitor and The Boston Globe – and edited a successful book on computer-assisted ordering for mass merchandisers. He has also written or consulted for Citibank, Price Waterhouse, Merrill Lynch and consumer products manufacturers.

Warren has appeared twice on CNN to discuss merchandising, and is a frequent speaker at industry events. Raised on a dairy farm, he graduated from Boston University in 1970 with a degree in journalism. With the exception of eight years in corporate advertising and sales, he has been a writer and editor.

After 20 years in metro New York City, he and his family moved to rural Norwich, Vermont, where he continues his work via the internet (when he is not kayaking or hiking). In Norwich, he is a volunteer firefighter, writer for a local newspaper and the town meeting moderator. He and his wife, Toni, have three children and one grandchild.

  • Posted on: 07/15/2016

    Will personal shoppers lift retail sales?

    Years ago, when I lived in Rye, N.Y., I saw lots of human "artificial intelligence," and I think the programs described here will serve those folks in "1 percent land" very well. In fact I expect they will do very well, and thrive, in top-income niches everywhere. Gawd, I love Vermont.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2016

    How far should brands go with functional packaging?

    I'd bet that far fewer people actually use these gimmicks than marketers believe. If you can't do it with a bright, distinctive and informative package, don't just go adding more crap to the landfill. A little box for my cell phone? Are you kidding me? And while I'm at it, yesterday I received the two toothbrush heads I ordered online from Phillips. In a 12x12x12 box, with those little air-inflated plastic pillows. The toothbrush heads themselves were in bomb-proof blister packs. I was tempted to fire up the chainsaw. As online ordering explodes, this is the kind of "packaging" that also deserves attention. I'd be reluctant to order from Phillips again.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2016

    Are out-of-stocks driving shoppers online?

    All good points above. I sense I am among the many who make a large percentage of my planned purchases online, including using Amazon Prime and signing up for "subscription" purchases of items I buy regularly. Less hassle/time (biggest issue), more variety, in-stock, cheaper. That's a strong mix of hot buttons for all consumers. Besides perishable groceries, most of my "off-line" purchases are impulse buys in hardware stores. As arguably the ranking Luddite on RetailWire, I had definitely not seen this coming five years ago.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2016

    Is monitoring employee data the right move for retailers?

    Personally, I could care less who has this sort of info on me, but I know I'm in the minority. To me, it's obvious that this would create an enormous stink and open a legal can of worms. Don't even think about it.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2016

    Will become the king of private label?

    A good move for Amazon. From the start, it will be able to provide enough volume to private label manufacturers to get good pricing and service. It has a good database and analytic capabilities, and a well-known and -liked name. Unless Amazon screws up on quality — and I would think it's learned its lesson there — they should do well with this.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2016

    Should lower-tier private labels avoid being ‘ethical’?

    If consumers think your private label, of whatever stripe, is too low-price to be believable as a quality product, they won't buy it.

  • Posted on: 04/08/2016

    Should online browsers be told they’re being targeted?

    I'm with Steve Montgomery on this one 100 percent. Further, when I looked at the study online, it appears that there are actually four separate studies, three of which were answered by fewer than 200 undergraduate college kids. The fourth part of the study was of 269 adults, average age 34.9. Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but I wouldn't be wanting to make marketing decisions based on this.

  • Posted on: 03/23/2016

    Stores offer t-shirt and hoodie deliveries in a hurry

    Sure, speedier deliveries are becoming expected in metros. American Apparel will have to have a plan for dealing with customers who are angry that something arrived in 70 minutes, not 60. Glad I live in Vermont.

  • Posted on: 03/23/2016

    Should consumers be given incentives to write reviews?

    I can't believe this is even a question. This would be a disservice and muck things up by making reviews less believable. Sort of like Citizens United, allowing corporations to buy congressmen. Are you serious?

  • Posted on: 03/14/2016

    Should plastic loyalty cards go digital?

    As the leading Luddite on RetailWire, I confess I am very much in favor of smartphone accessible loyalty programs. I find myself increasingly loyal to the retailers who have made the change. People carry an enormous number of cards on both plastic and paper. They stretch your wallet so that things start to fall out, you have to fumble through them at the register, paper ones stick to plastic and hide each other, it's a waste of time, postage (to send them out) and non-renewable resources (plastic). It's like using an abacus instead of a scanner/register. Keep the plastic cards for Luddites who just won't change (worse than me, even) but please go smartphone friendly. This change is already long overdue.

  • Posted on: 02/05/2016

    Does the world need a lower-than-low-price grocer?

    Just a note about the Louis Vuitton handbag ... Not saying this is always true, but when I worked homeless shelters in Brooklyn, people would occasionally come in with very upscale items that had been given away by local charities. Wealthy people would give away almost-new and expensive stuff to one charity or another because they were tired of it. In one of our winter clothing drives, we once found a full-length mink coat in our collection box. We sold it to use the money for the soup kitchen; letting someone have it would have resulted in a mugging for sure, within a day.

    Anyway, my point is that appearances can be deceiving. The Vuitton bag? Might have been stolen. Might have been payment for a drug deal. Might have been a cheap counterfeit. Might have come from a charity. Might have been paid for at full price at Bloomingdale's. You just don't know.

  • Posted on: 02/05/2016

    Does the world need a lower-than-low-price grocer?

    There's a sufficient gap here in the U.S. Even with "the recession over," the underclass is growing steadily. I've worked in poverty programs all my life, both in NYC and now here in Vermont, and the need is as great, or greater than ever. New people are being added on my Meals on Wheels route every week, and I know for fact that's also true elsewhere. So there's a need, and a growing one.

    If people are worried about unhealthy food, and they should be, what's required is social and economic change. If we can buy enough congressmen, maybe that'll happen someday, but I'm not holding my breath. Having said all that, it would be foolish indeed for Kroger or the more upscale supermarkets to go after this particular low-income niche. I still believe in the importance of branding and differentiation. Mixed signals are not wise. Let a bottom-feeder take care of serving this niche, and work for change to help eradicate the widespread and severe societal damage of poverty. (And boy, am I going to hear about this from some of you!)

  • Posted on: 02/04/2016

    Does it pay for grocers to give free fruit to kids?

    My initial instinct was to applaud, and I do love the intent, but for the lawyers and increasingly rampant consumer paranoia. Check out the final link above, "Woolies 'free fruit for kids' PR stunt backfires." Amazing how no good deed goes unpunished.

    "WOOLIES' "free fruit for kids" initiative has backfired, with shoppers complaining the basket of apples and bananas is unhygienic."

    "The supermarket giant announced the program in November, claiming it would help children eat their recommended two serves of fruit a day and is part of Woolworths commitment to inspire a healthier Australia.'"

    "But customers have raised concerns that kids often have dirty hands and encouraging them to touch and eat fruit in-store could spread worms or other infectious disease."

    For more of the sad details, including the lady who fell on a banana peel just before Christmas and broke her knee in four places, click on the link.

  • Posted on: 02/04/2016

    The positive power of negative reviews

    Good posting. This is also very much a factor of how many reviews make up the star rating. Three reviews don't mean a thing. Five hundred mean a great deal. Usually. I like it when the seller responds to a negative review within the thread for all to see. It adds credibility. And when there are a few one-star ratings when nearly all others are positive, it is fun to read the one-stars because, generally, the complainer is a real piece of work.

  • Posted on: 02/04/2016

    Will CVS and Target be stronger together under one roof?

    I don't see any more of a challenge than having Starbucks in supermarkets. Target has cash, CVS has ongoing revenue. Sounds like one of those exceedingly rare win-wins to me. I do think CVS will get a bit more benefit from the added brand recognition, but the CVS banner within Target may help Target grow a bit of incremental traffic.

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