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: 02/19/2021

    Will 7-Eleven’s beer and wine on tap be a c-store game changer?

    This is a slippery slope. Is there a limit on the number of beers or wine one can order? Can orders be refused if the customer appears under age or intoxicated? Who checks mandatory age for purchases? Who determines intoxication? The cashier? Will there be security in store is things get a bit rowdy? Will shots of tequila be next to complement beer and nachos? Just wondering.
  • Posted on: 02/09/2021

    Will retail pharmacies be the cure for America’s ‘vaccine deserts’?

    Major drug chains and supermarket with pharmacies ought to set up mobile stations on wheels in so-called food and vaccine deserts to provide vaccines. That will be tricky because the vaccines need to be kept at very low temperatures. But that could be worked out with enough advance planning and notification in these communities.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2021

    Who won this year’s Super Bowl ad contest?

    Overall, the commercials were weak this year. I grade them with a C. I thought the Toyota spot featuring the Paralympic swimmer was the best of the lot.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2021

    Are small brands eating big food’s lunch?

    New smaller brands are often more nimble and responsive to what consumers want. Private labels, too, but they have always had a price advantage. Taken together, that is not good news for big brands.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2021

    Will vaccine reluctant Americans slow the retail comeback from COVID-19?

    Dr. Fauci said 80 percent of Americans need to be vaccinated before herd immunity is reached in the US. That will not happen this year. So a return to stores like before COVID is not likely anytime soon.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?

    In America, we have freedom of speech. That's fine. But at this time, we also have too much anger, bitterness and downright hate in this country due to political differences. The Pillow Guy and all professional athletes and entertainers should keep their political views to themselves. Focus on selling pillows, playing ball, singing and acting. Leave politics to the politicians. Exercise freedom of speech by voting. America would be better off.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Is Amazon on its way to becoming America’s favorite grocer?

    The headline asked if Amazon was on its way to becoming America's "favorite" grocer. The answer is no. All things being equal post-pandemic, Amazon will continue to grow its share of the grocery business as a convenient source of goods. But "favorite" grocers cultivate loyal shoppers who prefer the personal touch. That is something that H-E-B, Wegmans, Costco and others do well.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Do sampled freebies drive loyalty?

    The study claims that free samples aim to attract new customers rather than entice existing customers to spend more. So what? A new customer is a new customer. Some will become loyal to a brand even without a coupon that is typically given with a free sample. Apply a cost-benefit analysis to sampling events.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Did Amazon Pantry outlive its usefulness?

    Amazon Pantry wasn't convenient and it wasn't simple. Consumers didn't like it. End of story.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2021

    Will Giant Food’s shelf labels with diversity call-outs drive sales?

    In theory, this is a noble idea that might spur sales of these labeled products. In practice, however, I see a potential a backlash by insensitive and offended shoppers who will not buy these products because of some misguided principles. Nevertheless, kudos to Giant Food.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2020

    Publix decides the time is right for an experiential, two-story concept

    I applaud the two-story concept by Publix. It may be the vanguard of the New Normal in store design in the post-COVID era. I have toured a few two-story supermarkets in Europe and the division of departments seems to work well. Shoppers take an escalator down and up.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2020

    Should c-stores go healthy for the sake of kids?

    Let's be practical. Many c-stores make their money selling beer, salty snacks and hot dogs. Eliminate them and the store goes out of business. The retailer with a conscience would offer a blended assortment with "healthier" options. Will that happen? Depends on where the store is located.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2020

    Lidl and Tesco keep their Christmas spots ‘merry and bright’ for 2020

    Tesco is my winner. It strikes the right tone and message for this Christmas season. Lidl is okay for fanciful adults, but much better for children. Who is Lidl trying to reach? Kids?
  • Posted on: 12/11/2020

    How long will it be before robots replace humans in restaurants?

    People still like the personal touch when dealing with something personal like food in a restaurant. On a personal note, I would boycott any restaurant that had robot servers. But that's just me. Or is it?
  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Can retailers get store brand growth back on track during the pandemic?

    Post-pandemic shopping will see consumers gradually revert back to their previous in-store behaviors, and that includes favoring superior store brands. Lack of availability has been a temporary issue with private label, but that will be resolved once we get back to normal.

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