2013 was quite the year for the restaurant industry. Taco Bell made a splash with its much-anticipated Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos launch and Smashburger bowed its first TV campaign.  Other big news was made by McDonald’s, Chipotle, Starbucks, and Panera – and then there was the non-news of KFC’s Original Recipe boneless chicken. Check […]

My “brands to watch” post was such a hit last year, I thought I’d share who I will be keeping my eye on in 2014.  Some of these brands are sure to grow in the coming year, the future of others is less certain – but I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing a lot about […]

My most recent Harvard Business Review piece discusses retail industry trends, specifically big brands and other progressive retailers like Whole Foods, Starbucks and Lululemon Athletica who are increasingly shedding their national standards and conventions to achieve a more local brand image. Given the successes reported by these pioneering retailers, it’s likely we’ll see even more companies moving in this […]

If we all don’t die falling off the fiscal cliff, 2013 will prove to be an interesting year for brands and businesses. The following are five (well, actually six) brands I’ll be keeping my eye on next year.  Importantly, these are not necessarily brands that I think will fare well (predicting the future is not […]

What makes a store more than a store?  What makes a breakthrough brand experience at retail? These are questions that companies with brick and mortar assets wrestle with as they continue to lose share to online competitors or to those with mobile capabilities (smart phone-enabled mobile commerce as well as IRL roving mobile units and […]

(Today’s post is the last in a mini-series of reviews of retail concepts that have caught my eye.  I’ve already covered 77kids in Times Square and new Starbucks stores in Seattle.  Hope you’ve enjoyed my takes on what makes a store more than a store – a real experience.) Central Market defies convention.  The Texas-based […]

Last week David Ristau, the analyst who publishes daily stock recommendations in The Oxen Report, weighed in on the fast/casual dining industry with predictions for 10 fast/casual companies in the coming year. Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Domino’s were among the companies he analyzed based on growth, profitability, financial health, value, and management. […]

A year and a half ago, I wrote “Don’t Stop Retailin’, Blockbuster,” an encouraging post to the then-struggling video rental chain.  Blockbuster had just hired a new advertising agency and CEO Jim Keyes was mapping out his digital media-heavy plan for re-invigorating the business. I offered a different perspective saying, “While Blockbuster’s Keyes may want […]