Selling groceries is a cutthroat business, where profit margins are among the lowest of any industry.  While there exists a few high-end grocery stores, who can afford to sell products at a very small premium compared to their competition, most supermarkets have traditionally relied on frequent loss leader pricing to attract customers.

Now comes this story suggesting grocery stores are looking at other options to drive traffic by improving the customer shopping rather than lower prices.  The main discussion in this story is how technology is fueling this with such technologies that measure the amount of shoppers in a store, payment via smartphone, checkout scanner tunnels, self-propelled shopping carts and more.

Though as the story discusses, innovative technologies do not always work in this business so expect some of these innovations not to last long.

Favorite Online RetailersStores Magazine is out with its annual listing of consumers’ favorite online retailers. Certainly it is no surprise to see Amazon at the top.  They have held that position for a long time. However, scanning down the list some other names may be a surprise.  For instance, Sears is listed at #9 even though their physical stores appear to be suffering.  And Google, whose retail offerings are somewhat limited, is listed at #11 while Yahoo is at #25.  One big question, if Google and Yahoo qualify for this list, does that mean Apple did not make the cut?

Brands Make Demands on CustomersTrendwatching’s September Trend Briefing will likely evoke some mild controversy.  In it they argue, that in the long-run (whatever that is!), brands will not only need to become more conscious of social and environmental issues, they also will need to demand this of their customers.  And, in demanding it, their customers will likely end up paying more or working harder to enjoy the product. 

 The story offers several examples from around the world where demands are being placed on customers to support a brand’s decision to move in this direction.

Android KitKatIs this a breakthrough marketing idea or just another example of how marketers will go to any lengths to promote their product?  What is it?  It is the naming a software update after a brand.  That’s right!  An old-fashion software update, in this case Android 4.4, is now being dubbed Android KitKat after the Nestle candy bar.  Read details at this Washington Post story

Whether this is brilliant marketing or obnoxious marketing, this is a terrific discussion item!

Market SegmentsWhen it comes to listing the key decision areas where marketers spend their time, for many companies probably well down on that list is time spent on fully understanding the market segments they target. 

Here is a good story from Direct Marketing News that examines three smaller companies who did take the time to analyze their market.  It describes the techniques they used and, for some, how they needed to make adjustments to their segmentation efforts and to their overall marketing strategy.