Shopper Marketing - September 2017 - 8
The Editor's Choice
fter yet another weekend of spotty internet performance, my eyes were drawn
to an article with a wonderfully direct headline: "How can I make my home Wi-Fi faster?"
The site being Recode.net, I braced for technospeak about mesh routers, GHz bands and CAT
6 cabling. What I got instead was internet security advice that P&G's Neil McElroy would've
understood way back in 1931: "Buy products
from reputable brands. Don't buy the $30
camera that you found a random Amazon listing for. Buy from a brand you trust. That costs
more money, but it's absolutely worth it."
We now live in a world where hearing a Marketing 101 concept - brands matter - seems
out of the ordinary. That may help explain
why, as Businessweek has reported, the top 10
packaged foods companies saw $16 billion in
revenue evaporate over the past three years.
The leadership at 3G Capital seems to have
gotten the memo. In May, the private equity
firm pressed the pause button on its intensive cost-cutting schedule long enough to
let its Kraft Heinz execs rethink, reformulate
and reinvigorate the brand promise behind
Oscar Mayer hot dogs. Basically addition by
subtraction: No added nitrates or nitrites. No
artificial preservatives. No by-products. Not the
Wienermobile's most hummable jingle, I suppose, but then Millennial mom will take transparency over tonality every time.
Unfortunately, that seems to have been
the highlight of the past few months, a period
y SHOPPER MARKETING SEPTEMBER 2017
that I heard one CPG executive refer to as
marketing's very own "summer of hell."
He was not being hyperbolic. Brand marketers witnessed German hard-discounter Lidl's
invasion on top of German hard-discounter Aldi's expansion plans (both chains stock American national brands sparingly and merchandise them accordingly); Amazon's acquisition of
Whole Foods and its escalating price war with
Walmart; and the launch of ever-more-brazen
challenger sites like Brandless.com, which aspires* to nothing less than eliminating the "hidden costs you pay for a national brand."
The media and bloggerverse more often
than not describe these developments as if
they were bolts out of the blue, using words
like "alarming," "startling" and, most commonly, "game changing." But with the exception
of Amazon's moves (it does tend to strike like
a dragon on "Game of Thrones") none of this
should come as a surprise. Twelve years ago,
the late Jim Lucas, a shopper marketing visionary (DraftFCB, Schawk, Frankel, etc.) posted a
warning on our site, P2PI.org, about the rise of
"choice editing" - the paring down of shelf assortments based on shared interests or tastes.
Whole Foods, Lucas said, choice edits based
on nutrition; Trader Joe's curates around its
"affordable gourmet" shopper profile; and
"Aldi and Lidl focus on choice editing on the
basis of price/value. They incorporate the dual
strategy of a limited number of low-priced
national brands in conjunction with a good