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: 09/07/2021

    Why does Amazon want a branded TV?

    Amazon disrupts every category they enter. If the technology works well, the television category will not be immune to the Amazon effect. The only question is whether Amazon will eventually be a major player.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2021

    Should retail robots go humanoid?

    As I have said many times before, this is a slippery slope whether in supermarkets or elsewhere. Sure, there are short-term benefits that these humanoid robots could provide, like delivery and cleaning, etc. But long term? Do we really want to deal with AI-equipped humanoid robots that are 100 times stronger than humans and a 1,000 times more intelligent? Why would they need humans anymore except maybe as pets. And they won't be affected by Covid. I may be going slightly off the rails here, but maybe not.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    Are robots taking over Schnucks’ stores?

    Yes, AI-powered robots can do a fine job by replacing humans for assessing out-of-stocks and messed up planograms. But a few observations:
    1. Walmart discontinued a similar test and the world's biggest retailer knows a thing or two about what works well and what doesn't. Schnuck Markets should pay attention.
    2. Anecdotal evidence and consumer surveys I have read indicate that shoppers do not like to see robots roaming the aisles. It's creepy.
    3. Robots in the aisles will be ripe for tampering by rowdy youngsters who are bored.
    Good luck, Schnuck Markets.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2021

    Should grocers take a lead role supporting weight loss efforts online?

    Grocers should stay away from this area. Grocery stores stock copious amounts of soda, sweets, baked goods, pizza, ice cream, etc -- all of which contribute to the obesity problem in America. Should stores sell these products? Sure, for discriminating and healthy shoppers who have self control. But setting up the retailer of these goods as a "weight management advisor" is duplicitous and perhaps absurd.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2021

    Do new Shipt and Walmart programs signal big changes to come in the retail delivery market?

    The US delivery market is still evolving. As always, there will be winners and losers. It's survival of the fittest. Thank goodness, the shopper will benefit the most by receiving the best service possible.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2021

    Following full FDA approval, should employees be required to get COVID vaccines?

    This should be a two-step process. First, all employees must be vaccinated. If the national situation gets worse -- if, for example, the delta variant rips through the country -- all customers should be masked and vaccinated. Let's see if there are retailers brave enough to do that. Enough already.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Should grocery stores retire the ethnic aisle?

    The wine department in most supermarkets typically groups wine by country: Italy, France, Spain, etc. This is a customer convenience. I agree with Ryan Matthews about retiring the word "ethnic" and replacing it with "international" and have the food in that aisle grouped by country rather than by ethnicities such as Italian, Mexican, Korean, etc.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2021

    Should retailers keep brands honest on their public commitments?

    Transparency is so important today to discriminating shoppers. But there is a fine line between environmental responsibility and virtue signaling. Brands and retailers need to understand the difference and exercise discretion.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2021

    Should grocers welcome Instacart’s warehouses?

    There has been a longtime and quietly-held suspicion that Instacart would evolve into a fulltime grocer and compete with traditional food retailers. Instacart's warehouse facilities might be a Trojan Horse and the first step to its larger goal. But I could be wrong.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    I support requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination from shoppers in order to shop unmasked in stores. Nervous retailers should hire security to enforce this rule. I see nothing wrong with protecting the health and safety of shoppers. France has instituted a Vaccine Passport policy and Italy will follow in August. "Nobody" in those countries can enter stores, restaurants, museums, cafes, bars, etc. without showing the passport that signifies vaccination. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will the Delta variant keep shoppers and unvaccinated workers at home?

    In-store grocery shopping will decline in states where there are too many unvaccinated people and the Delta variant is spreading infections. Spooked shoppers will revert to buying online and picking up at curbside until the situation improves. Grocers should prepare for more curbside pickups.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Has Ben & Jerry’s gone too far with its stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    The lesson from the Ben & Jerry's uproar is simple; Keep politics out of CPG marketing. Also, keep it out of sports and entertainment.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2021

    Are independent grocers thriving?

    To keep independent grocers thriving, the key is shopper loyalty. Once a strong bond is created between the grocer and shopper, the challenge is maintaining this loyalty. Smaller operators can do this much better than mega chains.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Why do healthy eating campaigns fall on deaf ears?

    It comes down to personal responsibility and the choices consumers make. It's ironic that supermarkets launch healthy eating campaigns for their shoppers and even hire nutritionists. But grocery stores have an entire aisle devoted to carbonated soft drinks, which every honest nutritionist says is awful for good health. Then there are baked goods, candy and ice cream for sale -- all laden with lots of sugar, which is a killer for good health. Are supermarkets sending a mixed message? Should they sell these goods? Of course, for two reasons: one, if they don't, a competing store will, and two, some shoppers enjoy these foods in moderation. Again, it comes down to personal responsibility and the choices people make.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2021

    Is the food delivery bubble ready to burst?

    Demand for food delivery services will decrease as more consumers resume their traditional shopping patterns; that is, shopping in the grocery stores where they can select their own produce and meats. Only two and maybe three service providers will remain after a shake-out. This coming scenario should not surprise anyone.

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