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Fast Follow-up: Scott Friesen: ULTA Beauty


Fast Follow-up: Scott Friesen: ULTA Beauty

Capsule has spent an enormous amount of time in the beauty aisle. This is not because a majority of our staff is female, nor do we employ an extraordinary number of cross-dressing men (other than one of the founders).

We have spent time in the beauty aisles of our major retailers because of the qualitative research we do. In that time, we’ve had the chance to pair our work up with many forms of quantitative data to gather further insights into human behavior in this particular part of retail. After talking to Scott, we found the most elegant pairing in the qualitative we do with the quantitative he provides.

In the world of beauty, the word “sexy” is seldom, if ever, referenced when talking about analytics. When Scott talks about it, he refers to it not as an object (noun) but as a behavior or discipline (verb). There are so many intriguing things about where this goes, starting with the fact that Scott is remolding the language inside ULTA Beauty, which will have lasting impact.

Then, when he goes into what this means for an organization like ULTA, his examples of using this discipline to reverse engineer where (likely to buy loyally) customers of certain brands reside in the US, by county — we’ve just entered supermodel arena of sexy (without Adobe Photoshop). The outcome? If you have a beauty brand and have a chance to sell through ULTA Beauty, you’ll not just have revenue opportunity but you’ll learn from Scott and be better targeted in your marketing efforts in all markets.

So, now you might be wondering where does this come from and what else did you miss at Scott’s presentation?

Here are some interesting facts and my interpretation.

1. Scott started college majoring in biology and now applies those analytical skills to natural systems. This crossover from looking at organic systems to business systems is a fantastic career path.

2. Scott sharpened his analytic incisors inside the corporate rotation program at Best Buy where he also finely tuned his beliefs about quantifying human behavior. As a hometown retailer, we have tremendous respect for the BBY training grounds and how that’s applied to other (non competitive) retailers.

3. He seeks truth in everything he does and believes in the outcomes that are based on quantifiable outcomes. Truth is a great horizon word for inspiration and hopefully direction, nice to hear it coming from analytics in beauty.

4. His lifelong mission is to move our culture in the direction of fact-based decision-making versus the current state of gut reactions based on limited facts. Culture changing efforts are best started with language (the currency inside corporations and Scott’s move of changing the popular misperception of analytics being a noun is a great start.

5. When working on the entire system to achieve his objectives in an organization he uses a stack of components to identify the weakest block and goes to work there first. These tie nicely back to the organic systems we see in biology and the place where Scott started his higher-level learning.

You may not have heard these in Scott’s presentation; these came from an interview after his session. Hopefully this gives you more depth of knowledge into the way Scott is thinking about the analytics behavior inside the modern retailer.

Thank you Scott for sharing at the Shopper Insights in Action conference.

Reach out if you’d like to hear more.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal
Capsule Design


The Trend Commandments for Edgy Retailers, Brands, Researchers

Trend-watching is a perennial buzzword for brands and retailers, but rarely is its full power harnessed successfully. This presentation for the 14th Annual Shopper Insights in Action conference outlines the “trend commandments” to follow for success in identifying and taking advantage of industry trends.

Shared by: Jen Grant, SVP, Director of Brand Planning, 22squared (@jengrsnap) and David Yeend, VP, Planning Director, 22squared (@davidyeend).


Getting Ahead: Retail Innovation & Evolution

“You’ve got to do something different if you want a different result. We need to evolve” – Keynote Sir Terry Leahy. This sums up a lot of what we heard last week at the 14th Annual Shopper Insights in Action Conference in Chicago.

We also learned that how you tell the story is just as important as the story you’re telling, shopper messaging has to be 1) transparent/honest and 2) simple, how to use technology to simplify the consumer experience and so much more

Sir Terry Leahy, Former CEO, Tesco:

“Consumers want trusting relationships, they don’t want cold, transactional interactions.”

And now, we cannot wait for The International Shopper Insights in Action Event in Edinburgh.


Get Ready to Innovate at SIA International:

• Taking the Beer Category Further with Tesco
Jan Solta, Shopper Marketing Manager Off-trade, SABMILLER
Jiri Zeman, Category Development Manager, SABMILLER

• Winning Category Vision: Making it Happen
Anders Fisker Olesen, Global Head of Category Excellence, ARLA FOODS

• Closing the Purchase Decision Gap through Shopper Centricity
Richard Tolley, Joint Consumer and Shopper Lead, KANTAR RETAIL EUROPE
Steve Hildebrand, Director, KANTAR RETAIL EUROPE

• Bringing Shopper Insight into Reality
Kim Brown, Category Manager Meat, Fish & Poultry, SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS

• Understanding Omnichannel Shopping and How it Impacts the Evolution of Category Strategy
David Tittensor, Category Director, WARBURTONS

For the full speaker list and programme information, download the brochure.

Plus, Stories Shared by:
• Heineken
• The Coca-Cola Company
• SABMiller
• Dansk Supermarkets
• Starbucks Coffee Company
Reckitt Benckiser
• WM Morrisons • Swarovski
Arla Foods
Bacardi-Martini Corporation
• Campofrio Food Group
• Kerry Foods
• Sanofi
• Tetra Pack
• And more….

The International Shopper Insights in Action Event is the most integrated, cross-market shopper agenda focused on strategy and activation.


Fast Follow-up: Liz Berman: Safeway



Fast Follow-up: Liz Berman,
Director of Portfolio Strategy, Safeway

With a background at Pepsi Co, Liz Berman brought the best of CPG marketing to retail private brands in Safeway. Her insights were shared across a keynote panel discussion and a more intimate track session at Shopper Insights. She is pushing out from the bubble of private brands into new land where some have gone but few have remained, premium lifestyle category private brands (Ex: O Organics).

The private brand idea has tremendous history in the US and Europe. Going way back, Sears and Roebucks was all private label brands — you could get a kit house delivered by train from this iconic retailer. Europe has, though, seen the highest level of private brand share, perhaps due to the philosophy of Marks & Spencer and their role as a leading UK retailer.

The private brands typically bring exclusivity (which hopefully turns into loyalty), higher profit margins and leverage when negotiating with national brands. Today, there are more opportunities for private brands to explore new territory because others haves gone there. While Sears is a historic leader with powerful brands like Craftsman, Diehard and Kenmore, other modern retailers like Target, Walmart and Trader Joe’s have made the most hay from private brands in recent decades. Whatever the case, the idea of private brand is evolving.

Of late, Safeway has been making some interesting moves as Liz and her team are applying the expertise of CPG to a scrappy retailer situation.

Here are some insights from an interview after her session:

  1. Knowing the difference between a private brand that drives loyalty and one that is the outcome of loyalty is essential. There are many situations where loyalty has other reasons and origins, but the private brand sees the fiscal results. Obviously, designing private brands to drive loyalty will have a greater impact on your role as the leader of your pay grade.
  2. As the private brand we can and need to be nimble in categories, whereas national brands need to keep factories running. We can fill in the gap left for a highly specialized option for consumers; we know the categories in retail with lower innovation, change or new product development. These are the areas where we can make an impact for our shoppers.
  3. Commodities are our friends. We know when a category is facing commoditization when shoppers are telling us price is the only reason for a decision between options. Therefore, we have an opportunity to enter the category with something that a national brand wouldn’t dare because it would infringe on existing sales. We may not be the primary innovators, but we can certainly spark the need for innovation and keep national brands sprinting forward.
  4. And, to tie it back to the subject of the conference, data and analytics are the driving force behind Safeway decision-making. Seeing the numbers and seeing through the numbers allows Safeway to identify opportunities where national brands may not be looking.

For context, the house of brands she is managing. Her emphasis has been around the lifestyle brands on the right and specifically, “O Organics,” “Open Nature” and “Eating Right.”

Liz Berman gave us a look from the chair of someone coming out of a Yale Undergrad and the Harvard Business School graduate program. She gave us a glimpse inside where she sees private brands going, if you couldn’t see it already from the brands they have been launching, improving and advancing in the past few years.

Thank you Liz for sharing your perspective at the Shopper Insights in Action conference.

Reach out if you’d like to hear more.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal
Capsule Design



Shopper360: The Future of Retail: AT&T


The Future of Retail: Defining its Pure Purpose Paul Roth, President of Retail Sales and Service, AT&T Inc.

Paul Roth asks the large, complicated and challenging question, “will retail exist in the future?”

His answer: Yes.

But, the question still lingers as we depart from a conference about shopper insights. It’s an undeniable truth that dramatic change in retail is on our horizon, but – like most horizons – it’s hard to determine the distance and certainly challenging to navigate the right path.

AT&T has come a long way.

Few brands still exist with as much history in and around technology as AT&T; a history all loaded up on a large ship, moving slowly and deliberately into new markets. Consider the fact that AT&T was once a monopoly, easily compared to the US Post Office, now they are an adaptive retailer and telecom company (retailer placed first intentionally). Just consider taking a person from the beginning of last century and putting them into an AT&T store, they would likely identify them as a retailer first, telecom second.

Now, laurels in any tech related field lack the strength to hold a toddler, so they’re certainly not intended for a big brand to rely on. Hence, we hear the movements Paul Roth was pushing for and the places he was directing AT&T retail operations.

It started with listening, cautiously working towards understanding and structuring a plan for change.

What were the findings from research? How did the team at AT&T implement the new retail design experience? The top four expectations (and a bonus expectation) from shoppers were these:

1. Knowledgeable staff

Future of retail exists and is relevant, but it must be experiential. We have the physical need to touch, interact and feel the offering presented before us. And, we expect a subject matter expert to help us.

2. Personalized experience

“We are evolving from a phone store to an experience store.” Per Paul Roth, this movement is essential for survival. What makes retail fun? Instant gratification. This is the largest driver in retail. Going beyond a phone store means they present designed moments like the “personal theater” experience.

3. “Expert desk” tech-support

“Retail is the best place to tell a story that is complex, new or a high involvement purchase.” Large lifestyle-changing innovations are better presented in a retail environment and personalized manner as AT&T has designed. Home automation is certainly a great area of opportunity for AT&T to take a leadership position.”

4. Integrated omni-channel

The Paul Roth motivational quote of the week, “you can be replaced by a mouse click if these things don’t happen – if you don’t make the shopping experience exciting and relevant.” Truth can be hard to hear, but certainly good to change your perspective.

Bonus: Being social

“We missed this coming. We use it in public relations and we use it for social good. We’ve previously looked at it as a public relations issue.”

We are always impressed by moments of transparent honesty such as this. Shoppers don’t express a “need” for you to be present in social, the brand has a choice to enter the conversation. The AT&T brand still has a long way to go to achieve the status as a “social” brand, but it should be expected considering how far they’ve come.

Paul Roth gave us a window seat view inside his decision-making, team approach and methods for moving AT&T retail into an experience-driven retail future. And there is plenty more to be discussed. His honesty regarding Apple, being a phone store first and next moving into social media was very good to hear. And, while he mentioned AT&T’s efforts were meant to live up to the brand promise “rethink possible,” it was Paul who lived up to the promise in his speech.

Hopefully there are more leaders at AT&T looking to move the business forward. The brand has ample heritage in a category where history is scarce; we need to desire a brand we can trust.

Thank you, Paul, for carrying the torch and showing us what you have done and plan to do at AT&T Retail.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal, Research
Capsule Design



Live From #Shopper360: Trends To Kick Ass in 2014 and Beyond

David Mattin of started his discussion with an exercise that involved two ideas and whether or not they were good ideas, and what trends they brought up. The first example was for Royal Caribbean and featured a live streaming balcony for passengers without a view and this showed the blurring of boundaries between online and offline. The second example was Jeans Online and their idea is to have a courier bring a customer jeans and wait while they try them on and the trend of convenience was seen. Mattin brought up that you are not the only judge of a trend and in order to spot trends successfully you must look through the eyes of the customer. Mattin’s key thought throughout he talk was that expectations that are being cultivated online are arriving in the offline world. He then brought up five trends and cited examples of each.

1. Point-Know-Buy- This trend started as point and know and is the ability of a person to take a picture of something and know what it is. An example of this is L’Oreal Color Genius in which a user could  take a  picture of themselves and it would analyze clothes that the user was wearing and picks make up that matched. To be able to Point-Know-Buy in an instant is going to be the future. Virgin Atlantic staff has now been using Google Glass to source passenger info and hence their experience. Will this lead to Point-Know-Serve?

2. Sweat Equity- Involves consumers embracing and participating even if its difficult in order to receive a product or service. One example of this is Peddler’s Creamery which has their ice cream churned by pedal power and customers are asked to create product in order to buy it. Another example is Mattel with their idea to give out wifi minutes in exchange for solving word puzzles.

3. Data Divinity-  Data driven personalization is growing rapidly and technology seen in Smart Homes is becoming more mainstream. An example of this is Klepierre, a company that has a body scanning corridor that offers digital shopping recommendations based on gender and size. Chune has a speaker that combines the tastes of a group to play crowd pleasers and works by going through playlists on peoples phones.

4. Instant Makers- Making something instantly is becoming more popular and satisfies consumers desire not to wait. Topshop and Yr Store combined to make an instant t-shirt printing in a store. Another example is Lip Lab which allows shoppers to customize lipsticks in under ten minutes. DNA 3D has a shoe design concept that creates a perfect fit by wearing shoes with sensors that measure a customers foot in order to make the best shoe.

5. Heritage Heresy- A brand is its history and this doesn’t speak to the customer the same way that it used to. We all have access to same idea and old demographic categories don’t mean as much its harder to package one group together than it used to be. Moet and Chandon a traditionally expensive champagne company set up a vending machine in their UK high street store and vended champagne at an affordable price. Doing so they threw out their previous brand history. The Four Seasons food truck is another example of throwing away the previous brand history and doing something completely different.

Mattin ended with an urge for the audience to apply these trends. He also mentioned that it is important to think about who are you trying to reach and how can you reach them with theses examples.

About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at



Live from #Shopper360 – FIFA Activation: Consumer Marketing and Shopper Marketing Collaboration Success Story

There are a number of reasons why learning about Coca Cola, FIFA and a shopper and consumer collaboration in one seminar is valuable. And the reasons lie in the sheer juxtaposition of these words.

With the FIFA World Cup freshly wrapped up on Sunday, it was terrific to hear Jessica Ellickson’s view on the marketing that went into it for 2 years prior to the games, a collaboration that was not just cross functional, but also cross regional. Starting off with the FIFA’s viewership as disproportionately more than many other online sports, followed by showing how a linear process to connect the shopper and consumer marketing was made into a more collaborative one. Clearly the latter was a need rising from the grandness of the event, but one that should really be applied to anything, for any company.

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 Being a standing partner of the FIFFA, Coca Cola developed a number of different segments from young adults and teens, classic watchers of the sport, to moms who partake with family, to the energy drinks associative segment.

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The retail setup was balanced across both modern trade (larger, brick-and-mortar stores) and traditional trade (mom-and-pop shops, accounting for 65% of business for Coca Cola in Latin America).

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Probably one of the most interesting learnings was that the FIFA trophy is one that Coca Cola is able to do a pre-trophy tour for, where it interacts with heads of state, consumers, and a number of different consumer touch points to elevate the experience.

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One fun story of integrating social media was the Happiness Flag, which included selfies of everyone who submitted, to create a large flag seen below made of micropixels of photos, so to say.

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Overall, a great success story of the collaboration and organization of consumer and shopper marketing for a well timed event.

Sourabh Sharma, Senior Manager & Communication + Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering, marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting, he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer, and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called 3FS. He may be reached at Follow him on @sssourabh

Live from #shopper360: Decoding the New Consumer Mind

The third and final day of the 14th Annual Shopper Insights in Action opened with Kit Yarrow, professor at Golden Gate University and author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind.

Professor Yarrow started off by listing three socio-cultural shifts that have changed society in recent years:

1. Technology – It’s not what we are doing with technology; it is what technology is doing to us. Consumers no longer have the attention spans they used to. We become bored more easily.

2. Individuality – There has been a shift from “we” to “me.” We tend to focus on ourselves more due an increasing feeling of self-reliance. Our self-reliance provides us with a sense of empowerment.

3. Emotionality – We are responding to shifts that don’t really make sense to us. Our sense of security and control falls, while anger and anxiety rise. Trust is down in society, consumers are more wary and guarded. Consumers take to online communities to fill that gap in lost trust. We trust people like us.

Due to an increasing lack of consumer trust, marketers need to overcome the trust deficit. Professor Yarrow suggests that marketers must “get real.”

Getting Real:

Transparency – Marketers can no longer be around the bush. Consumers want to know the truth.

Personality – Show consumers who you are.

Authenticity – Prove you are the real deal.

Humanity – Relate to the consumer

Marketers who show kindness, optimism, caring, humor and happiness will get ahead. The top 50 brands of last year all demonstrated these characteristics.

Consumers want control, predictability, humanity, visibility and respect. Marketers must meet the needs of an ever-changing consumer market in order to build trust and stay relevant.

About the Author:

Sam Wisenberg is an advertising major at Boston University.  He can be reached at


Live from #Shopper360: Sir Terry Leahy, Ravi and a stage in Chicago

The morning started with a eye-opening speech by Ravi Dhar, The George Rogers Professor of Management and Marketing at the Yale School of Management. Ravi was able to deliver such compelling content as a speed faster than the twitter crowd could capture and distribute. So, we had to sit back, listen and take notes.

Then, later in the morning we got introduced to Sir Terry Leahy and his bountiful reign at Tesco. He was the first CEO many of us heard  talk a such length and depth about data and its importance to his former organization. He is, of course, English so the drama was in between the lines, which kept most of us listening for gems like, “People are superficial in their use of data. They don’t go deep enough.” And, there we plenty more worth bits of knowledge from Sir Terry Leahy.

And, upon the finish of his speech, Sir Terry calls up Ravi Dhar in order to conduct an interview. This seemed risky to me, two equal intellectuals having a discussion, what would it feel like for the audience? Would we get further insights or just review of what they already covered? Would Ravi take the interviewer role and show is curious side?

The result was tremendous.

Sir Terry Leahy (former CEO of Tesco) interviewed by Ravi Dhar (Professor at Yale University)

Here are some of the notable thoughts share be each of the participants.

Sir Terry: “People say things on too little knowledge or no knowledge. Most of what you hear from politicians is blatantly wrong.” When you dig into the data, this is certainly revealed on so many occasions. Yes, and certainly better access to big data for the world would allow us to call the politicians out on these issues.

Ravi: “Insights are granular, but the data needs to be big for confidence. Are you getting insights that your confident in? Because, most often the answer is no.” Insightful, as we seek granular insights and consider if they can be scaled, that is often the problem, the findings are granular, but the data for business to have confidence needs to be large. Unless we change the business perspective.

Sir Terry: “I would listen to give context to the data, for rich context. See the data and even through it. You want the leadership down in the data, they (management) are in a privileged place to be able to make rapid connections.” The data itself is gathered lower in the organization and often stays there, being interpreted and socialized up through an organization. The result is a management team with great physical and cultural distance from real data. This is a failure, the experience of management gives them a unique ability to connect the dots if they see the data.

Sir Terry: “Philosophers down in the data. People who ask interesting questions of the data. Curious about how life works, how people work.” This was a great one, more philosophy majors and more people who think in this way. A marvelous insight by Sir Terry.

Ravi: He asked a leading question (a situation where its okay to be leading) on the importance of seeing more disciplines when you’re in the role of an expert. Yes, as our educational institutions splinter into specialties, it is more and more important to keep a liberal arts (emphasis on philosophy) education strong in our culture. On this, we agree entirely.

Sir Terry: “We have more information on customers, but they have more on us too.” This had to be one of the largest gems from Sir Terry. The corporation has big data, the consumer has it too in the form of transparency, social media, etc. This is a window into our future as a culture, sharing big data and finding a balance of each knowing a lot about the other.

Sir Terry: “Entrepreneurs are wired differently. When they pop up in large organizations they are often marginalized as trouble employees. They have challenging character behaviors for a large organization.” Then, he spoke to finding and using entrepreneurial people in large organizations. How you do it, how you keep them around and do what you can to avoid categorizing them as “troubled people.” They are a positive virus in an organization and can do good if the organism doesn’t reject them.

These are some of the intriguing insights into this foray into a one-on-one interview by two intellectuals.

Thank you Sir Terry and Ravi Dhar, much appreciated.

 Aaron Keller
Managing Principal, Research
Capsule Design



Announcing The International Shopper Insights in Action Event 2014

The International Shopper Insights in Action Event unites more than 250 of the world’s most influential FMCG Suppliers and Retailers to share best practices, industry innovation and illustrate the value of activation at retail.

Leading Researchers, Category Managers, Shopper Marketers, Merchandisers and Industry Experts attend to explore consumer and shopper behavior, the decision journey and how to champion the value of activating intelligence for basket growth. Shopper Insights in Action is the most integrated, cross-market shopper agenda focused on strategy and activation.

The 2014 agenda for the 3-5 November program taking place in Edinburgh, Scotland, is now available for download and is the most integrated cross-market shopper agenda focused on strategy and activation yet – download your copy here.

The World’s Most Trusted Conference Brand for Activating Research at Retail:

• 250+ attendees from the world’s most influential FMCG Suppliers and Retailers
• 35+ countries represented in global participation
• 96% manager level & above
• 76% client-side attendees
• 100% new content shared by the best minds in the shopper ecosystem

Featured 2014 Speakers include:

• Digital Retail Landscape

• Psychology of Persuasion
Nathalie Nahai, Web Psychologist and Best-Selling Author, WEBS OF INFLUENCE: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ONLINE PERSUASION

• Location-Based Services
Simon Thompson, Director, Commercial Solutions, ESRI

• The Future of Retail
Kevin Barrett, Director or Space and Formats, SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS

PLUS, Stories Shared By:

The Coca-Cola Company
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets
Dansk Supermarkets
Starbucks Coffee Company
Reckitt Benckiser
WM Morrisons
Arla Foods
Bacardi-Martini Corporation
Campofrio Food Group
Kerry Foods
Tetra Pak
and more.

Use your blog reader code ISHOP14BL to save 15% off the standard rate.