Joy Makers: How Driscoll’s Brands Its Berries

The New York Times: “Its strawberries have been bred for a uniform shape … while Driscoll’s raspberries are pinker and shinier, made to meet desires expressed by consumers … Driscoll’s is betting that once consumers know why its berries are distinctive they will demand them by name … Driscoll’s plans to build awareness methodically, by starting with digital outreach. The company’s website, which largely offered recipes, has been changed to explain more about Driscoll’s berries and what makes them different.”

“The public will get an introduction to the people Driscoll’s calls its Joy Makers — agronomists, breeders, sensory analysts, plant pathologists and entomologists who will explain how the company creates its berries. The company’s YouTube channel will feature stories told by consumers about why berries make them happy. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be used to send traffic to the website and YouTube.”

“Labels on the company’s berries have been changed, too, to ‘speak’ more to consumers, using a scriptlike font for the Driscoll’s name with the dot over the ‘i’ colored to match the berries inside the box … Since margins on produce are razor-thin, most companies elect to spend the few dollars they have for marketing to woo buyers for supermarket chains rather than consumers.”

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‘Lab-Grown’ or ‘Clean Food’?

Quartz: “For years, food technology companies have referred to their products as ‘cultured’ or ‘lab-grown,’ but as these new businesses start to make a first foray into the public eye, they are also pushing ideas that may make people uncomfortable—such as meat grown in labs. To get over that, there’s a push to coalesce around a new term: ‘clean food’.”

“By opting for this terminology, the industry hopes to better communicate to people the ethos behind their products, rather than the actual processes (which often do occur in a laboratory) used to deliver them to the kitchen table. It’s main selling point: ‘clean’ meat and dairy are efficient products with fewer sustainability and animal-welfare problems than traditional meat and dairy.” The term piggybacks “off the now-ubiquitous use of the term ‘clean energy’.”

“Impossible Foods unveiled its plant-based burger at Momofuku Nishi in New York City in late-July, and Beyond Meat is selling its version of a similar product in a limited number of US supermarkets … These are some of the first players in what some hope will be a ‘clean food’ revolution.”

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Clarence Saunders & The ‘Piggly Wiggly’ Revolution

Jerry Cianciolo: ” … Self-service was a game-changer when Clarence Saunders opened the first Piggly Wiggly in Memphis, Tenn., 100 years ago this month … The 35-year-old Saunders set out to ‘ the demon of high prices’ … He reasoned that shoppers would gladly hand-select their own merchandise, and pay upfront, in exchange for lower prices and faster shopping. Coin-operated cafeterias had demonstrated as much with self-service sandwiches and desserts.”

“King Piggly Wiggly … stocked 1,000 products, four times the variety of a typical market. Customers entered through a turnstile and, basket in hand, followed a path through the aisles. Goods were neatly arranged with clearly marked prices, something heretofore unseen. There were even scales for shoppers to weigh sugar and other staples. The grand opening was a spectacle, featuring a beauty contest … Each woman entering the store received a flower and every child a balloon. A brass band played.”

“By 1923 … more than 1,200 Piggly Wiggly stores across dozens of states were doing $100 million annually (about $1.4 billion in today’s dollars). The company hit 2,600 stores by 1932 … Saunders didn’t integrate circuits or sequence the human genome. An observer once noted that coming up with a self-service grocery was ‘as simple as looking out the window or scratching your ear.’ Still, it was Saunders who gambled on the unconventional approach, doggedly spread self-service across the nation and shaped the grocery industry we know today.”

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Shoparazzi & The Kmart Shopping Experience

The Wall Street Journal: “Kmart … recently overhauled one of its stores in a Chicago suburb. The Des Plaines, Ill., outlet introduced a modest grocery section with meat and fresh produce … Lowered aisle heights allow customers to see new department signs from across the store, and the layout was made to look more spacious by widening the aisles. On a recent Saturday, a filled the store to take advantage of giveaways and to admire a face-lift that includes new paint, brighter lights, less clutter and the wider aisles.”

Dan Macaluso, a shopper, comments: “It’s amazing what cleaning the floors and turning the lights on can do … It suddenly looks like they want to be in business.” Kmart CMO Kelly Cook explains: “We’re starting here … In the next couple of weeks we’re really going to drill down to understand every single aspect.”

The branch is testing a free personal shopping program called Shoparazzi. Through it, customers can place an online order for pickup—even asking for items Kmart doesn’t stock but which a personal shopper could acquire … Tricia Perrotti, a Kmart spokeswoman, said the Des Plaines renovation is part of a plan to better align marketing and the store experience.”

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The Philosophers of Innovation

The Ascent: “When a business is beginning, often times its struggles are existential in nature. Consultants can come in and teach you the finer points of agile, scrum, kanban — you name it. Accountants can come in and teach you how to make sure you don’t lose track of your money. But precious few can come in and tell you what your business is really going to be at a deep level. But that’s the kind of stuff philosophers are trained to do. They look for essences. They probe, pull apart, and split hairs. They are trained to be skeptical until something like certainty and precision are reached.”

“Philosophical training allows for a certain kind of speculation … Speculation is characterized by its freedom. But in every discipline, speculation, and the characteristic freedom is usually limited by whatever the foundational principles are of that discipline. Philosophy, on the other hand, really has no foundational principles. In fact, its modus operandi involves questioning the foundational principles of all of the other disciplines.”

“Does this ring a bell to those in the business environment? It should, it’s practically a description of the ideal brainstorming practice. Brainstorming is embraced by so many businesses because it leads to innovation … Innovation is more highly valued now in the business world (or at least more talked about) than ever before, so if philosophy breeds the kind of thinking that leads to innovation, it seems that those who do philosophy well have a leg up on innovation.”

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Apple Jack: Force-Fed Innovation

Quartz: “In an era where corporations bend over backward to appear customer-friendly, Apple’s determination to force-feed innovation to buyers is unusual. It’s a stance with roots in the company’s history as an underdog in the cutthroat world of consumer technology … Apple’s most groundbreaking developments came when it trailed larger companies, and needed devices that were radically different to attract notice and help it steal market share from incumbents.”

“Of course Apple is no longer the scrappy young upstart it once was. As the tech behemoth continues to grow and exert its influence, Apple is now the incumbent, fending off challengers. It has fewer opportunities to launch major new or disruptive products, so its best bet to stay ahead of its competitors is innovating within its existing devices. In the case of the new phone, removing the headphone jack makes the device slimmer and more water-resistant. Like it or not, customers will probably buy it. And in time, conventional headphones may seem as quaint as floppy disks and flip phones.”

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Why Did Lego Hinder Product Sales?

The Washington Post: “Business has been so brisk at the world’s most profitable toymaker that Lego last year did something unusual: It began looking for ways to discourage customers from buying its products. The Danish company scaled back its advertising efforts amid a 25 percent rise in annual sales … It simply couldn’t make enough toys to satiate demand in North America, and needed a break while it boosted capacity at its factories and increased its workforce by nearly 25 percent.”

“But executives at Lego are hoping to ramp up production in time for this year’s holiday season … The company is buildings its first factory in China, and is expanding existing plants in Mexico, Hungary and Denmark. Lego also hired 3,500 employees in the first half of the year, increasingly its workforce to 18,500.”

Lego CFO John Goodwin comments: “In the past decade we have seen LEGO sales growth in the double digits year after year. We are of course very excited about this development. [But] the high demand also puts a strain on our factories around the world.”

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Zalando: Fashion, Emotion & Ecommerce

The Economist: “One of Europe’s most interesting technology companies sells shoes and threads … Zalando has a Silicon Valley-inspired work environment, holding “f**k-up nights’ to celebrate failure and ‘hack weeks’ to cook up new ideas. It encourages its employees to abandon hierarchy and structure for what it calls ‘radical agility.’ It has a 1,350-strong, and rapidly growing, technology team. Among its other assets are its software, which it built itself, and its user-friendly apps (two-thirds of all traffic goes through mobile phones).”

“Zalando pays close attention to data. It gleans a wealth of numbers from the more-than-5m daily visits to its site, and some brands and retailers of the bricks-and-mortar sort give it access to their stock counts. Both sets of figures help improve the firm’s forecasting of fickle fashion trends, its use of targeted ads and the speed of its responses to shifts in weather patterns or fashion tastes. Through data-mining it can spot the trendsetters among its customers and stock up on what they buy. In future it wants to sell its insights to the rest of the industry.”

“Amazon is pursuing the more price-conscious shopper, whereas Zalando is after a higher-value, more brand-conscious segment. The company believes that for such customers, shopping for clothes, shoes and accessories is an emotional activity; shopping on Amazon is just a transaction.”

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