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: 03/13/2017

    Will ‘Fearless Girl’ lead to more women on retail company boards?

    All good points here. Sexism is still rampant; good ole boys' clubs (made up largely of the 1 percenters) still rule. But I do think that some of the large companies with such inbred boards and leadership are weakening themselves, as evidenced by the many new and successful entrepreneurial companies, many of them led by women. From what I've seen of Nielsen data, smaller companies/brands are significantly out-pacing "the big boys." So I actually think that the best/fastest way for women and (and men) to get ahead is to start their own business. It truly ain't rocket science. And it's always amazed me how once you are a male CEO somewhere, you are a CEO for life, even if you move from job to job with colossal incompetence.Anybody who thinks sexism is mostly "solved" is deluded. My daughter, and many of her friends, can convincingly tell you otherwise. As for the statue, I hope it stays there. It probably won't do much, but every little bit helps. (Full disclosure: this topic absolutely infuriates me.)
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Are Boomers being ignored by retailers?

    It is wise for retailers to shower more attention on younger consumers to attract and keep future long-standing customers among Millennials. As a 69-year-old Boomer, I don't feel neglected -- I can find what I need online for clothing, hardware and such because there's a wider selection and less hassle. Food is the exception -- I still want to pick out my own stuff in the supermarket and, unlike (from what I read) 99 percent of Millennials, I don't buy my groceries using my cell phone while tweeting. I will be genuinely surprised if I'm still here in 20 years. But I expect my kids and grandkids to be around, spending happily. So spend your marketing dollars on the younger people. We Boomers are just fine.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2016

    Is Chobani smart to open cafés in grocery stores?

    Chobani benefits from a new revenue stream, more exposure and the ability to test and sample for new usage occasions. It has worked with Starbucks in so many supermarkets and other food vendors with storefronts in airports. I was a little surprised to see 1,100 square feet -- it's bigger than I expected. If this begins to take off at all, others will surely follow and then retailers will have a stronger hand when it comes to negotiating. I suspect Target is still more in an experimentation stage than many other retailers, and more likely to try this. Other categories can try, but there's a limit to how many of these you want to have in your stores. You don't want duplication or cannibalization, and that could require some unpleasant policing and interesting contracts. Net-net, nice idea. Good, creative marketing by Chobani that is bound to draw some new interest inside Target. But I don't expect a stampede, for reasons I cited.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2016

    Pharmacy charges ‘man tax’

    Call it a stunt if you like, but I just love it. It helps raise awareness and nobody was harmed. As I understand it, men paid full price and women got a 7% discount. I wish this sort of thing happened more often. "Raising awareness" takes so darn long. I remember John Lennon (how I wish he were still with us) singing "Woman is the N***** of the World" back in 1972. Just Googled the lyrics; they're just as valid today.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2016

    Will others follow Walmart’s lead on manager pay?

    I agree totally with Robert, Max and Bob. Ultimately this will hurt standards of living for the typical low-wage earner. All retailers can do the same simple math and act in lock-step. That old African expression comes to mind: When elephants fight, only the grass gets hurt.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2016

    Could a ‘breakfast aisle’ revitalize the grocery center store?

    This has been tried, under one name or another, for many years. It seems like common sense in many ways but -- as with Congress -- not much ever gets done. There are many reasons for that, including retailers' lack of trust in their trading partners, vendor lack of candor in presentations, vendor battles over who gets to be the "category captain" or "aisle colonel" or whatever, fights over who would do resets, fears of upsetting customers who might shop elsewhere, fights over proper adjacencies, expense of plumbing required for refrigeration if moved into an all-encompassing segment aisle, perceived loss of sales/profits from new traffic patterns ... well, you get the idea.For these reasons and more (sorry, I just don't have the time), I see this as a nice idea that won't gain serious traction anytime soon. And that's too bad. The center store needs a real shake-up. Maybe a pioneer will give this a serious try and see what happens. But you know what they say about pioneers ... they get the arrows, but they also (sometimes) get the gold.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2016

    Are robo-carts coming to a Walmart near you?

    Here's a link to a story about IRI's VideoCart, from when it launched in 1990. I was quite sure it would succeed, but it didn't. Nice bells and whistles, it had.Anyway, the success of Walmart's new cart will depend on the costs of production, maintenance and reliability. In answer to the poll question, I am positive these concepts will be tested, but I give this one about a 50% shot of making it, no more, no less. And I'm 100% sure that there will be improvements to shopping carts, along technological lines, in the near future.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2016

    Will dedicated teams lift Target’s grocery business?

    I agree that it's incredible that it took Target this long to figure this out. It's pretty basic. They've got a lot of catching up to do in an extremely competitive market. If comps don't respond significantly in the next year or so, I'll vote with Cathy Contrarian!
  • Posted on: 09/02/2016

    Walmart cuts in-store back-office jobs

    Let’s see. As of July 31, Walmart had 5,283 stores in the U.S. So we’re talking about roughly 1.25 employees per store being reassigned or cut. Considering all the circumstances as explained, the move makes sense to me. I suspect that tomorrow morning, the sun will still rise in the East.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2016

    Happy Meal fitness trackers are now an exercise in crisis management

    Max is right. No biggie. I'm a little surprised McDonald's didn't check out the wrist irritation issue more carefully -- it's been a thorny issue for several vendors of these fitness tracking devices, resulting in refunds/returns.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2016

    Is a ‘DARK’ cloud looming for brands over GMO labeling?

    Sure, there will be some backlash. It won't be like turning on a faucet, but the trickle is gaining volume. This was all about deep pockets and political money from the start. Both usually win versus what consumers want, but we're finally seeing some organizing against this sort of thing -- the increasing anger and distrust so many people feel toward government today. That anger and distrust fed both Bernie and Trump, and it's not easily dismissed. The big money also ruled what nearly all trade associations did, which I thought was very short-sighted of them, to work against consumers. It's a slow process and I'm pleased to see it gaining momentum. I hope consumers boycott products with those electronic symbols on them instead of plain English. That particular part of this law is so ludicrous that it belongs in a Saturday Night Live skit.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2016

    When should brands go down market?

    Tempest in a teapot. I recall it was touted as a big deal when Nike, Adidas, Reebok and others started selling running shoes to wannabes, as a fashion statement, practically everywhere but barbershops. In the trade press, the world was coming to an end. It didn't.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2016

    Will meal kit delivery services move beyond niche status?

    The only thing I would add to the majority opinion here (which I agree with) is that people who have used these services tell me they do not save time and they are over-packaged. One person who had subscribed to Blue Apron didn't like it and gave me one of his meals. Perhaps it was just this particular meal, but unwrapping everything and following all the directions took an inordinate amount of time, and the meal was only so-so. IMHO, it was faster/easier/tastier/cheaper to just hit the supermarket meals section on the way home.
  • 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.

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