Sunday, February 28, 2010

Favorite Food USA

Last week I walked by a local private elementary school, spotted two piles of pizza boxes along with some discarded Kool-Aid containers. I thought about First Lady’s Michelle (
Let's Move) campaign. How is America ever going to curb obesity?

Read On:
In early February, Michelle Obama launched a new campaign titled Let’s Move designed to encourage kids to participate in more physical activity and for schools to serve healthful foods. Nickelodeon is supporting the Let’s Move campaign by airing TV commercials and posting campaign content on their website. I applaud the First Lady for her initiatives, but if America is ever going to begin addressing obesity, it needs to start at home. Reminds me of a great quote by Adam Gopnik, American writer, “Parents teach, institutions instruct.” Let’s start by cutting back on pizza as a convenient family dinner.

The most current pizza facts:

- America consumes 350 slices of pizza each second. Think about how many slices will be eaten by the time you finish reading this blog.

- An average slice of cheese pizza is 272 calories, 88 calories from fat. An average slice of pepperoni (the number one topping – 36% of all pizza orders) and cheese pizza contains 560 calories, 301 from fat. Does the average American stop at one slice?

- The U.S. per capita consumption of pizza is approximately 23 lbs., or 46 slices, per year.

- According to Gallup, children ages 3-11 prefer pizza over all other foods for lunch and dinner.

I recognize I am not going win a popularity contest among those manufacturers and operators in my industry that profit from pizza, but it is time that we begin to teach our children at home better nutritional guidelines to further assist Ms. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

My next blog will further address National Nutrition Month (
National Nutrition Month).

Monday, February 22, 2010

IPPC: Improved Personal Productivity Collaboration

At the end of the day, after thinking outside the box, providing proactive, value-added services, that are results driven, leveraging the knowledge base I have acquired over the years benchmarking best practices in the food industry, I realize corporate lingo truly amuses me. The new corporate speak is IPPC.

Read On:
I live within a stone’s throw of several major insurance companies here in Philadelphia. As I was walking back to my apartment the other day, I witnessed several insurance company employees leaving one facility, to go to another site, to attend a 4 PM meeting. I overheard one individual say to the group, “We are going to have to get everyone on board with improved personal productivity collaboration.” I asked myself, what does that mean?

- Get more done with fewer resources, since the insurance companies are now striving to downsize and cut costs?

- New corporate policy – less time spent outside taking cigarette breaks and checking social media sites on your crackberry?

- You better start collaborating with your teammates or hit the highway?

As I said before, corporate lingo amuses me. The next time you are in a meeting or at a conference, I challenge you to draw a large square, divide it into five columns down, five columns across. Fill in the squares with phrases like knowledge base, end of the day, win-win, 24/7, etc. Every time someone uses the appropriate word or phrase check off the appropriate block. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically or diagonally, stand up and yell out Bulls--t! Then hit the highway.

Key learning: If I was walking down the street listening to tunes on my iPod in my
Cocoon 2.0, the subject of my last blog, I never would have learned about IPPC.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cocooning 2.0

Back in the 90’s, marketing consultant Faith Popcorn popularized the word cocooning to describe the movement of people socializing less, thus spending more leisure time at home in preference of mixing with the outside world. Cocooning continues to evolve.

Read On:
Basically there are four variations of cocooning. The first being socialized cocoons where people retreat into the privacy/comfort of their homes to socialize with select friends. Thanks to Internet access, individuals can find all the products they need for a stay-at-home lifestyle at, as well as order online all their food and groceries – they rarely have to leave their homes. Next e-cocooning evolved for those that pursued “work-at-home” options. The third type of cocoon, the armored cocoon is when an individual establishes a barrier to protect themselves from external threats. Their home becomes a fortress. The fourth type, labeled the wandering cocoon, is where people bring the comfort and coziness of their home cocoon to their cars or minivans.

The wandering cocoon is morphing thanks to technology. People are now moving around in their own mobile wireless world. I call this “Cocooning 2.0.” Mobile devices and the advent of social media (e.g., Twitter, Foursquare, Loopt, etc.) now allow people to invite others into their mobile cocoon. On the other hand, based on personal observation, there appears to be an amazing degree of insulation associated with “Cocooning 2.0.” Just sit back in a Starbucks or a Cosi and witness. Everyone has their laptops fired up, their mobile devices out on the table and their ears plugged. To me, “Cocooning 2.0” defeats the purpose of enjoying a cup of coffee in an environment that was originally designed to promote community.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Grand Slams’ Lessons

Sports used to be important to me. Now the only sport I follow is singles tennis. Why? It is strategic, one on one, all about heart. After watching the Australian Open last week, I realized I have learned a lot from tennis that I have applied to my business knowledge.

Read On:
Detailed below are the lessons I learned watching the Australian Open:

· Know yourself, know your opponent.

· A great match can sometimes change in a heartbeat; one masterful shot can produce a huge shift in momentum.

· Maintaining one’s composure at all times is key.

· Winners are prepared to go the distance, champions know how to close.

· Grand slam champions make all the necessary adjustments required to hoist the trophy at the end.

· There is no substitution for experience.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I always enjoy discussing consumer marketing hooks –
Bomb and Exclusivity to name two. Once again, I would like to reference the work of behavioral economist Dan Ariely who points out that most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when it is free, we forget the downside.

Read On:
Ariely’s belief that freebies give us an emotional surge was recently validated by researchers. Consumers were asked: “What practices or methods personally give you the best feeling?” Free product tops the list by 30% of the respondents. Coupons followed at 20%, manufacturers lowering prices, 20%. Ariely states: “The power of free is related to our intrinsic fear of loss in decision making. There is no worrying about loss when we chose free. We also tend to perceive that what is being offered is more valuable than what it really is.”

Freebies work for me. There is an old adage in the restaurant business to which I subscribe: “You can have a great meal with bad service or an average meal with great service, you tend to go back to the restaurant with great service.” What is a component of great service? Freebies! That is why when I finally decide to eat out, since I prefer home cooking; instead of experimenting with a new restaurant, I return to my favorite local Belgian Tavern or sushi bar. Why? I always get a freebie in recognition of my patronage.

I recently read about the utilization of freebies as a marketing hook in other areas. Publishers are offering free e-books on the Kindle, e-reader. The digital giveaways are a hook to get consumers who like what they read, go on to purchase another title for money. Colleges are now utilizing “fast track” applications, waiving application fees and essays. A student only has to sign a no fee form with information that has already been filled out for those colleges that charged. Result? Increased applicant pools have increased enrollment. Some colleges even offered free merchandise (e.g., baseball caps) for applying. Sounds like colleges are now stealing a page from credit card companies.

One concluding thought about freebies. Freebies generate buzz. Positive buzz is the ultimate freebie.