Wednesday, November 19, 2008

fresh & easy delivers value in a tough economy

The new fresh & easy stores will be a breath of fresh air in these tough ecomomic times. Great quality and variety -- not unlike what people rave about from Trader Joe's and Costco -- but at reasonable prices and located in areas that have been relatively underserved by the grocery world. I think Americans will initially be underwhelmed by the interior space and the lack of faux premium offerings. In time, they will discover that the quality is very top notch -- and the store is very easy to shop. It's about the size of a Trader Joe's but more the vibe of a Costco... no frills, big aisles, slightly industrial.

The biggest consumer promise they have made is that the shopping "experience" will be better because of customer service and the quality/value equation. I think the staff still needs a bit more training in order to teach new shoppers and help them through the check out. It's pretty much all self-check out and my last few visits were unassisted(no one even asked).

In these first months of operations, I really think they will need to step it up on customer service and reach out to the community to let them know that they exist... and WHY they exist.

WHY I CARE: I spent a couple of years in the trenches, helping develop the new fresh & easy Neighborhood Markets. The team from Tesco are amazing and should be given much of the credit for how the stores look and function. Simon Uwins is the marketing and brand leader, a Tesco veteran who spearheaded the design and development of the stores. I headed the team at Deutsch -- mainly working on packaging(over 2000 items), retail signage, uniforms, web site development, newsletters and the flyer. We also created documentary films, internal presentations and tried to help the "Americanize" the brand.

Dr. Pepper finds a way to achieve Chinese democracy

Axl Rose has responded to Dr. Pepper’s offer to give everyone (except Slash and guitaristBuckethead) a free can of soda if Guns n’ Roses finally release the long-awaited Chinese Democracy this year. Dr. Pepper's vice president of marketing Tony Jacobs says: "We never thought this day would come but now that it's here all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."

Guns n' Roses and Dr. Pepper? I know, it seems like a bizarre pairing but who really cares? I will gladly chug a few DP's in order to hear the latest (17 years in the making) offering from Axl Rose. And hats off to the latest ad campaign for getting us to slow down and "taste" our Dr. Pepper... huh? Hmmm. Those spots seem aimed at 40 year olds, not the next generation of DP drinkers. But then again, the Guns n Roses faithful are all getting close to 40 something, so crank it up!

BMX breathes life into Levi's.

The Levi Strauss Signature® brand today announced the creation of the Levi Strauss Signature BMX team and its partnership with four accomplished BMX bike riders: Jamie Bestwick, Morgan Wade, Anthony Napolitan and Corey Martinez.

This is genius. I have witnessed my own teenage sons recent attraction to Levi's and wondered why this brand suddenly became relevant? Such an age old trick: associate with current heroes of the youth of today! Better yet, make it seem like your product was designed specifically for this crowd. I feel like Guitar Hero and Levi's are taking advantage of "brand value" that was already there -- and just needed a new and improved way to appear relevant and compelling to today's youthful audience.

I'm on my way to the mall to get a pair right now. Hmmm... they would look good with a pair of Converse All-Stars right?

The Brand Bubble Bursts for Detroit

I have worked with the automotive industry for many years and always was amazed at how we are so captivated by new cars. We are easily persuaded to toss aside our 3 year old vehicle in favor of the latest offering with a low APR or cash back offer. Also amazing was Detroit's development of V8's, Hemis and Supercharged, Big Block gas guzzlers. Okay... we all get a bit weak in the knees when we see the retro inspired Camaro and the new Charger, right? But the ill-timed launch of these vehicles and the lack of development of "cool" and affordable hybrids really seems like the biggest brain fart of the century. The New Camaro is a sweet looking ride. If it came in a $20,000 Hybrid version, and didn't cost GM $23,000 to make, market and sell... we would be celebrating some great design and engineering innovation!