Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Disconnect Pledge

Did you unplug this past holiday weekend?  I did.  I enjoyed some great people watching (mainly weddings) in Independence National Historical Park and also went to the movies.  Inspired by a trailer, I learned about Cabela’s Disconnect Day.  Are you ready to take the pledge?

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Summer is just around the corner.  This is a great time of the year to disconnect and recharge your batteries.  However, too many of us have become surgically attached to our electronic gizmos, thus have lost the art of disconnect.  Outdoor retail merchandise leader Cabela’s has implemented a great marketing movement – pick your personal Disconnect Day.  I highly recommend you take time to click on the link.

More importantly, I highly suggest you take the pledge.  It’s time! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Last Sunday I participated on a panel at the National Restaurant Show.  The panel’s focus was how operators need to adapt to the Grocerant threat in foodservice.  Twice I mentioned Starbucks and their utilization of technology.  Starbucks (a.k.a. Startech).   

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The Starbucks technology case studies I shared with the audience Sunday (5/17) were as follows:

·         Mobile Ordering/Delivery – In conjunction with the Pacific Northwest launch of their Mobile Ordering and Pay branded app (feature) they will be testing two complimentary delivery systems by partnering with the on-demand delivery service Postmates. 

·         Gamification – They implemented a social relationship movement for the introduction of their Pumpkin Spice Latte back in the fall of 2014 via a scavenger hunt.  Their campaign earned them a first place award for smart social marketing at Forrester Research’s 2015 Groundswell Awards.

On Monday (5/18), Starbucks announced their partnership with Swedish streaming leader Spotify.  Select U.S. based baristas (150,000) will be given premium accounts to create playlists for their stores this fall.  In return they will promote Spotify’s premium service which is popular among Millennials.  The service costs $9.99 per month and will be accessible on Starbucks smartphone app.  It will also be integrated with their popular loyalty program.

Startech, smart marketers!  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Coffee – The Next Wave

As a result of coffee being America’s favorite hot beverage and the rising popularity of iced coffee, I am constantly aggregating online information about coffee innovation.  What will be coffee’s next wave?

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Industry experts view the evolution of the coffee movement in three waves:

1.    First Wave – Ground coffee sold mostly in cans in supermarkets.

2.    Second Wave – Coffee was more than fuel, it was an experience (a.k.a. Starbucks).

3.    Third Wave – Coffee brewed from beans that express themselves – premium sourced, then roasted in small, artisanal production.

Consumers are not only currently catching the Third Wave at their independent coffee shops and fine dining establishments, but also at branded National Chains – McDonald’s (McCafĂ©), Burger King (BK Joe), Chick-fil-A (Farmer-Direct), etc.  Seasonal coffees (e.g., Pumpkin, Peppermint, etc.) have become an integral part of the Third Wave, as well at its latest edition, cold brewed coffee.  Cold brewed coffee is made by soaking ground beans in cold water for hours for a richer, less bitter taste.

So what will be the next wave of coffee?  Some experts predict coffee drinks that mimic cocktails, shots of coffee made with bitters and citrus flavors.  How about coffee enhanced with protein?  Starbucks just introduced a new variety of its Doubleshot ready-to-drink beverage line that packs 20g of protein into each can.  Better yet, what about offering a coffee in an edible cup so consumers will be able to enjoy their coffee and eat their cup too!  In England, KFC is testing an edible cup made from special wafer coated in sugar paper lined with a heat-resistant white chocolate.

Coffee, the next wave!  Enjoy your java and save the environment too! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Uberification Alternatives

Have you tried Uber yet, the global service where you can book a ride via their mobile technology app with crowd-sourced taxi drivers?  Well they are now expanding their business model, as well as other companies that are copying their concept to create “Uberification” Alternatives.
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Uber was launched in San Francisco in 2010 and first expanded internationally (Paris) the end of 2011.  Through the years they have received their fair share of negative press due to questionable drivers (a.k.a. “Drivers from Hell”), angry taxi drivers that have harassed and attacked Uber drivers for stealing business, etc.  Well they are back in the news as a result of “Uberification” the word coined for companies that are emulating their business model.  Specifically a company in India called Ola, a competitor that operates in 100 cities compared to Uber’s 11.  In response, Uber is now providing potential customers with auto rickshaws, not exactly as luxurious as a Cadillac Escalade or a Lincoln Town Car that most American travelers prefer.  The open-air golf cart vehicles are a popular alternative to regular taxis since they are able to easily navigate through India’s traffic bedlam.  Caution: The legal maximum for auto rickshaws is three riders.  However, most drivers are ignoring the law.  Therefore you might end up fighting for a ride or otherwise clinging to the side of the cart.  

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  Scooterino is a new “Uberification” Alternative, the first carpool that connects those in need of a ride with scooter drivers heading in the same direction.  The cost is slightly more than an equivalent trip bus fare; an easy, convenient way to navigate the streets of Rome.  Also eco-friendly!

What will be the next new “Uberification” Alternative?  Water taxis in Venice, Italy?  Camels in Egypt, Cairo?