On Jan 14, the US Census Bureau reported weaker-than-expected month-over-month results in USShould I worry consumer spending in December. While the magnitude was small, the number was preceded by a minus sign, which was a surprise to many. Most widely quoted was the .9% drop from November to December in retail sales and food services. This was the largest month-to-month decline in nearly a year and caused a broad stock market drop.


The results were naturally tweeted, posted, headlined, shared, and retweeted. In a world where data gets slammed into sound bites and 140-character text strings, a great deal of pessimism circulated around digital media. Even professional analysts and economists sang the blues.

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Categories: Analytics, In-store | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments


Restaurant blog imageWhen you think of variable pricing for revenue management, you tend to think of the travel industry. After all, airlines invented yield management  and hotels soon followed. But along the way came a lot of customer frustration and confusion.

Restaurants, on the other hand, have been at dynamic pricing for even longer and don’t get such a bad rap. Cutesy names like Happy Hour and Early Bird Special take the bite out of revenue management.

Despite the long history, restaurants are only beginning to tap into the power of revenue management. Continue reading

Categories: Analytics, Local, Promotions | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments


Digital loyalty programs are poised to jump from the pioneers to the masses of local restaurants, cafes, bars, salons and more that rely on repeat business. Companies like LevelUp, LocalBonus, Five Stars, Swipely, RewardMe, Square and others are rapidly expanding to new cities. Peter Krasilovsky, vice president at BIA/Kelsey, told Bloomberg over $155 million in VC money has been invested in digital loyalty-card companies.

What are the benefits of e-loyalty programs for local businesses and why is this sector likely to surpass daily deals? The three accelerants are cost, performance and insights.

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Categories: Analytics, Local, Loyalty, Mobile, Promotions | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments


Marshall McLuhan, who was born 100 years ago today (July 21, 1911), authored “the medium is the message” in 1964. He explained that the nature of media influences how messages are received without receivers realizing it. For example, motion pictures require less interpretation by viewers than radio.

Digital marketing validates the same point in a completely new way. Current day technologies spawned by the internet allow messages to be fleeting, even expendable, as media platforms test and refine them.

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Relevance marketing is one of those terms that is hard to disagree with. Joel Rubinson recently made a great case for it.

The words themselves sound unassailable. Who would argue that marketing shouldn’t be relevant? Of course it makes sense to tailor marketing  to be more appropriate, and now we have better tools than ever before to do it. But there are more effective and less effective ways to be relevant in shopper marketing. Let’s look at Who, What and Where.


Media buying often focuses attention on relevant individuals.  Marketing  lingo is replete with “audiences,” “segments,” “target markets” and the like. Continue reading

Categories: Analytics, In-store, Pre-store | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment


Retail and CPG marketers are scratching their heads about measuring social media. The main reasons are that it comes so many forms and we know so little about them.

It can be an ad network. Facebook is now the #1 display ad network, delivering 31% of impressions.

It can be a PR vehicle. The number of PR firms receiving more than 15% of their revenues from social media activities is up 50%+.

It can be a market research source. Over 75% of respondents to a survey by Valued Opinions said they use social media to share thoughts on a product or service. Continue reading

Categories: Analytics, Branding, Online, Pre-store, Social | Tags: , , | 1 Comment


How a big a hit can fuel rewards be? As gas prices approach $4 a gallon nationally, they can be a big hit for Kroger.

Kroger last week expanded its rewards program to allow shoppers to save more per gallon based on how much they spend in-store. Spending $100 in a month saves them $.10 a gallon (the minimum), while spending $1000 or more saves $1 a gallon (the maximum). 

Shoppers can save money at Kroger stations or Shell stations. This is a optical benefit for shoppers and a clever move by Kroger. Continue reading

Categories: Analytics, In-store, Loyalty, Promotions | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment


The New York Timesrecently revealed that J.C. Penney, via SEO vendors, was found guilty of cheating Google results to “win” top rankings. Concurrently, was caught manipulating search rankings by soliciting universities to provide links to students, professors, and administrators.

In both cases, Google responded, driving down both J.C. Penney’s and Overstock’s rankings in its search results.

This is another installment in a saga that also includes BMW, Forbes, and many other properties. There are enormous incentives to subvert organic search. The opportunities in internet search are larger than past borderline practices within telemarketing, direct mail, and email. Continue reading

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Consumers are looking for deals. They are clipping coupons at an increasing rate. So why are retailers not getting the same sales lift they once did?

“We do believe there’s a level of promotion fatigue out there,” Susan Viamari, editor of SymphonyIRI’s Times and Trends, told Ad Age.”Promotion has been very high in the industry over the past couple of years, even though we did see a moderation in the growth. CPG manufacturers need to evaluate everyday pricing strategies.”

Sales lift per promotion has fallen, and everyday pricing may be one of the reasons. But a bigger factor is untargeted, mass discounts.  Marketers need to better tailor their shopper messages, employ digital capabilities, and rely less on broad programs like TPRs. To offset promotion fatigue with smart tailoring we need to ask a few questions: Continue reading

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L.L.Bean is testing a new system that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to determine when a shopper handles a specific product and then triggers a nearby video screen with information about the item, according to RFID Journal.

The article mentions how the deployment provides valuable input to make content on in-store screens more relevant.  But even more value comes from not just reacting, but predicting. This is what dynamic optimization can provide.

Any source of shopper behavior that makes in-store digital signage more relevant gets retailers past the broadcast mentality of conventional deployments and adds value to the shopper experience. Taking the next step, correlating the plays to purchases, provides further valuable feedback to management. Continue reading

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