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QuickWit Weekly (10/11): WitsNotes Vol. 4 & Last Week’s Top Retail News

WitsNotes Volume 4 takes us to a new frontier of Marketing.

  • Title: Re-invented Marketing: A Candid, Myth-busting Interview
  • Author: Rishad Tobaccowala (The talk and his website
  • Topic(s): Marketing
  • Length: 1 hour
  • RetailWit Summary: 5 minutes


Marketing is in a perilous spot—the cookie is crumbling, privacy will be a competitive advantage, CMO tenure is the shortest in the C-suite, advertising is more expensive, and marketing budgets are shrinking.

Rishad Tobaccowala shares his forward-thinking ABCDE framework for a better Marketing future. It’s his attempt at “simplifying without dumbing down the key issues” marketers face. Let’s dive into it.


  • People, not consumers 
    • CPG marketing is wrong; few consumers define themselves by brands they consume. 
      • It’s too narrow of a scope, which clouds the ability to see threats or opportunities.
  • Participant, not passive 
    • People create along with the brands; they aren’t just passively receiving.
      • Top 3 TV events have less combined viewership than Kylie Jenner’s Instagram in two days.
    • So, get advocates and creators on your side.
  • Re-aggregation, not segmentation 
    • Interactions happen one at a time, and audiences should be built from bottom-up (versus top-down of old).

“Forget about consumers, forget about audience, forget about segmentation”. It’s all about answering, ‘How can I help?’”


  • Experience, not communication 
    • Great brand experience leads to 1000 GRP’s of TV advertising. It’s all about better products, service, and design.
      • Amazon = 70% of spend is improving product, 30% telling people about it.
    • Better at spreading Word of Mouth.
  • Purpose-driven 
    • People care and remember what the company stands for. It’s attractive to purchase from and work for a purpose-driven company.
    • Can be basic; “I want to help the community around me”.
  • Employee Joy
    • Happy employees create better experiences or designs, ultimately leading to a better bottom-line. 
      • So, leaders? Fixate on employees rather than consumers.
    • Balance of power has shifted to employees.
      • Last three number one Netflix shows came from social media creators, who completely bypassed the major production companies.

“Do brands matter? The premise is, brands remain the ultimate navigation device in a fragmented world. They’re just built differently today than previously”


  • Poetry versus plumbing 
    • Entire industry is fixated on plumbing; right person, right time, right place.
    • We’ve forgotten the plumbing isn’t nourishing, it’s what’s in the pipes.
    • Said another way, technology can be fantastic, but might deliver nothing of value.
  • Respond, not just create
    • More work takes place after the creative is released than ever before.
    • People can begin a “campaign” without you, and marketers need to respond. 
  • Move hearts, not just minds
    • We live in a data-driven world, but people choose with their hearts and use numbers to justify.
    • We’re not completely rational beings. Satisfy both.
      • “If it was all just numbers, nobody would have children.”


  • Quality over quantity
    • “Datalakes are filled with dead fish”. Signal gets lost in the noise, so focus on getting the right data first.
  • Real time
    • “90% of the worlds data has been created in the last two years”, but a lot of historical data becomes quickly irrelevant. 
      • So, focus on real-time data to get the right insights and direction.
  • Meaning versus math
    • Data is meaningless without context; two people can extract two different meanings from the same data.
      • World leaders all reacted differently to COVID because of the meaning they extracted behind the math.

Data is critically important. Think electricity—can’t operate without it, and it illuminates the way.Eventually, it becomes tablestakes. Differentiation will happen with how it’s used.


  • Schizophrenia, not paranoia
    • Paranoia runs rampant in companies, particularly around competition.
      • As a result, they become hyper-focused on competition and miss the future or innovation possibilities.
        • Run two business model’s simultaneously: today’s business and a future model that could blow up today’s.
          • Successful companies eat their young. Apple iPod destroyed Apple Streaming. Netflix DVD became Netflix streaming.
  • Diverse, fear-free culture
    • Good, necessary efforts for diversity have soured; people stop feeling okay speaking up. Ergo, people won’t provide feedback.
    • There is a “diversity of faces without a diversity of voices”.
    • Build a culture that automatically assumes good intent.
  • Trust is speed
    • Good relationships, built on trust, allow organizations to move faster.
      • Let people move before they need to build a case.
      • To build trust, make intent clear and be transparent.

Examples of companies living this—Southwest Airlines, present-day Microsoft, and Gucci.

And, that’s it. All-in-all, this overview gives us as retailers and retail marketers much to think about. For example, treating your audience as people and not consumers—your audience doesn’t think in terms of share of wallet or category problems, but rather one wallet and jobs-to-be-done. It opens up new possibilities and lenses for solutions and revenue.

Here’s the top retail news from last week:

It’s Holiday prediction season.
The sales growth predictions from the experts on the holiday season are coming in and vary greatly.  From ~3-13%.  It is, unfortunately, our second “Covid Holiday” which makes predicting what the season will hold very difficult.  All indicators are that demand will be high this holiday season, but there are significant challenges on the supply side, both in supply chain and labor shortages.  

Just last week FMI reported that 80% of food retailers say hiring issues are hurting their business.  Despite retailer’s best efforts boosting worker incentives & pay, food retailers saw an overall turnover rate of 58% last year, up from 40% in 2019.

Walmart, Kroger and Target recently announced their needs for hundreds of thousands of associates.

  • Walmart: 150,000
  • Target: 100,000
  • Kroger: 20,000

Amazon is building a smart fridge.
Amazon doubles down on the IOT by reportedly building a smart fridge that will leverage their existing ‘just walk out’ technology.  The fridge would track inventory for you and make it super easy to reorder items via Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods.  If Amazon follows their trend on pricing technology reasonably and this is competitively priced it could be a game changer!  But it will take years to build critical mass as people only replace appliances when they break.

dunnhumby announces another partnership.
They will partner with Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG) to power SEG Connects, the grocery retailer’s media business. SEG Connects powered by dunnhumby will help CPG companies connect with customers in stores, online and on the move. Another big announcement for dunnhumby, and another chess piece in place for the retailer media groups – as they all fight for CPG dollars.

Walmart’s GoLocal Delivery service finds its first customer.
Walmart finds its first major retailer to participate in it’s GoLocal “white label” delivery service announced in August. Home Depot & Walmart announced the partnership last Wednesday.

As Retailers are both looking for Alternative Revenue streams (commercializing their strengths), as well as others looking for quick reliable delivery this partnership makes sense. Although the world of ‘frenemies’ is quickly getting very blurry and will be interesting to watch. 

Pinterest is adding more eCommerce features.
Pinterest has announced the launch of a raft of new shopping features as it becomes the latest social media giant to push eCommerce capabilities. Pinterest is becoming more of a powerhouse in the path to purchase; according to digital scrapbooking platform’s own research, 89% of its weekly visitors use Pinterest in their path to making a purchase.

Target embracing Buy Now Pay Later for Holiday Shoppers.
Utilizing Sezzle and Affirm, Target is able to offer shoppers the ability to take a product home today and defer the payments. While it is being used to push holiday shopping, sounds like this could be a longer term strategy for the retail giant. The battle for the holiday dollars is heating up!

Nike remains a top brand for teens.
In a survey of 10,000 American teenagers, Nike came out on top as the favorite apparel/footwear brand. A lot of brands come and go, Nike’s relevance over the past few decades has been nothing but impressive.

Instacart partners with Sunbasket.
You won’t have to subscribe to Sunbasket to enjoy their meals at home, as Instacart will now deliver them directly. Whether you want the already prepared meals, meal kit or add-on grocery items, you can find them on Instacart. The partnership marks the first direct-to-consumer (DTC) meal delivery service available through the e-commerce firm’s marketplace.

Unilever the latest CPG to zero in on “Gaming”.
Unilever is spending 45% of their media budget on digital marketing, and while they did not provide a breakdown of the spend on gaming – there are comments that “much more” is being spent on gaming and streaming than in prior years. Retailers are starting to jump in on this trend as well, definitely a space to keep an eye on as the buying power of the “gaming generation” continues to grow.

Rite Aid add Uber Eats to its delivery arsenal.
Uber Eats now becomes Rite Aid’s latest partner for on-demand delivery service for front-of-store products. They have previously announced partnerships with Instacart, DoorDash and Shipt as well. Rite Aid, just like everyone else, working on solving that timely and efficient delivery system that meets their customer’s need. You have to wonder if this is all confusing for the shopper though, do they understand the options and is it a seamless experience?

According to Amazon, Black Friday is already here.
If you were looking to beat Amazon on Black Friday deals, you are already too late. This holiday season is going to be a real battle, as we highlighted recently, and Amazon is looking to throw the first punch by already offering “Black Friday” deals on their site. Only 81 shopping days left!!

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