Retail analytics: Here’s lookin’ at you, kids

I recently reunited with FoodOnline.com to write a story on Big Data analytics in the retail food supply chain. The first bylines I had for that site were in 1999, when I was Editorial Director for that related sites — before the big bursting of the Internet Bubble. Accenture’s Stages of Analytic Capabilities

When the Internet was new, there were no iPods, let alone iOS, Android or Bluetooth-powered beacons; Big Data was just a gleam in its young Business Intelligence mother’s eye. And retailers had no idea what to really do with their Business Intelligence systems. Those who finally do, today, see BI as old news as analytics — predictive and now prescriptive — come into their own, powered by Big Data and cloud computing.

Today, as an exec from SAS told me, a shopper who stands in front of a Nescafé display for more than 10 seconds might just get a virtual tap on the shoulder, or rather a bzzzz in the pocket, with a coupon to get that package of coffee off the shelf and in to the cart.

My favorite interview in this story just might have been Nick Hodson, former head of strategy at Safeway Stores and current leader of the North American consumer and retail business practice of Strategy& PwC, who reminded me that the technology isn’t at all the point of progress so much as creative minds who come-up with new things to do with it. Yes, major retail marketers from Walmart and Nestlé may well fave a backlash over privacy concerns if opt-in/out issues aren’t handled correctly, but these times sure are interesting. Read all about it in my story, ” Predictive Analytics Helping CPGs Reach Individual Consumers.”

A DYI ‘shroom farm. A fishtank herb garden. What next?

“That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen,” the Whole Foods buyer told Nikhil Arora, who opened a big & stanky bag-o-fungus in the buyer’s office. To the young innovator, that bagful was the crown jewel of a new product he’d liken to a “next iPhone” for natural products fans.

He was kinda right, as you’ll find out if you read the story — “Home mushroom farming, fish-gardening and other supply chain collaboration challenges,” — that I wrote when I saw Nikhil in my travels on the packaging beat. Over the next few years he found the right suppliers for his DIY mushroom kits and then a cool aquaponic fishtank-meets-herb-garden kit.

New product to bow end-February 2015.

New product to bow end-February 2015.

Now he Alejandro Velez, co-founders of Back to the Roots, are at it again; they’ll unveil a new product on February 26th.

What’s it gonna be? I don’t know, but I couldn’t be happier to see these folks start so small and gain national distribution so quickly with such simple, honest ideas.

Rock on, guys.

Dead simple marketing: How ‘Social’ is the new Soylent Green

Goin' social in Tucson

Goin’ social with the Contract Packaging Association at the Tucson Omni/National

Okay, we get that Spam is a protected trademark, unless it has a lowercase “s,” in which case it refers to the virtual analog of the canned pink, meaty stuff. And Kleenex ain’t just any paper product. Unlike brand names, however, there’s no legal department to remind us of the true meaning of buzzwords. Like “social.”

What’s social mean? For starters, like Soylent Green, it’s about PEOPLE! Not thumbs smudging a smartphone or myopic drones spamming-out 144-character cyber-droppings on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn just because somebody told them to.

My attendance at a recent confab of the Contract Packaging Association, particularly some presentations and a group of attendees — enterprising outsourcers — led me to some deep thoughts under the hood. For this crowd, succeeding in business hinges first and foremost on real as well as virtual, relationships. That, and some golf, decent meals and some good drink (pictured).

I connected those dots and published them in dead trees and online, in the column titled, “Where’s this Relationship Going?” There you’ll find links to experts on both social…and socializing.

iPhone app for prescriptions seeks to tap a new-ish $100 billion market

Goin’ mobile: How many people never fill that first prescription? Not to worry; there’s an app on the way for that, too — GetMyRx — as we reported in this story at Pharmaceutical Commerce.

getMyRxDeveloper GetMyRx Inc.’s CEO Luis Angel says “at least a few hundred” scrips have been filled” since the iPhone app’s soft launch in the Miami-Dade, Fla., market in November last year. The app links to fee-paying pharmacies in Angel’s network, as opposed to a single store or chain, and lets people enter data or scan labels as well as insurance cards, coupons and related discount cards. New York and San Fran are top-priority markets for rollout perhaps by summer, Angel told me.

This and other moves by chains are hope to combat patient abandonment issues surrounding initial prescription fills, which a Harvard study indicates may constitute 30% of patients and Angel says has gotta represent a market worth at least $100 billion.

When Big Pharma brands shed their sales reps, you know outsourcing’s here to stay.

Industry after industry, major brands in various industries have shed all but their deepest core competencies. For the largest U.S. and global brands, this has typically led to a major offloading of manufacturing, packaging and distribution- and logistics-related functions. The reason is simple; for many if not most brands, much of those functions are commodities, whereas the real and profit-adding value to the brand is the brand itself. When the product can be manufactured and otherwise acted upon using standard equipment, processes and services that meet the brand’s specifications, even the sales function can be outsourced.

Sales is so closely linked to marketing in the Big Brand wheelhouse, it may surprise you to learn that sales, even in the highly specialized life sciences business, is often outsourced. How much of the Big Pharma sales force is outsourced depends on lots of product variables, but the use CSOs, or contract sales organizations, has been mainstream for many years.

PC_NovDec2013.indd

How do Big Pharma sales forces ebb and flow, and how do CSOs respond? In part, CSOs have been busy scooping-up experienced sales reps as brands reduce their headcount. CSOs area also laying the ground work for global growth through enhanced IT competency, broader service offerings and international partnerships and acquisitions.  Online and mobile app use and the resulting collaborative capabilities of sales force software has only hastened the integration of in-house and outside contractors in communicating to customers, in this case healthcare providers. (See article linked below for an explanation of the graphic.)

I recently investigated the phenomenon and wrote what I found in a feature for Pharmaceutical Commerce magazine. Learn more by reading the story, “CSOs broaden their palette of service offerings.”

 

 

Zevacor’s new cyclotron from IBA to offer new hope…in 2016

On November 4, Zevacor announced that it selected a firm to supply their new cyclotron. This updates the story I wrote for Pharmaceutical Commerce under the headline, “New higher-capacity cyclotron to stabilize isotope supply.” In that story I cited IBA Group and Best Medical International and Best Cyclotron Systems as possible sources; IBA was chosen.

For this outside the company’s biopharma orbit, Zevacor Molecular based in Fishers, In

d., the company’s 70-MeV (as in million electron volts) commercial cyclotron is reportedly to be the first and only 70-MeV unit dedicated to medical use in the United States. Upon startup, which is planned for the fall of 2016, it’ll primarily produce Strontium 82 (Sr-82), which in turn produces Rubidium (Rb-82) injected into patients for cardiac imaging. Start-up is planned by the fall of 2016.

cyclotron

The big deal, John Zehner, COO of Zevacor told me, is that national labs from Brookhaven and Los Alamos to those in Canada, South Africa, Russia and elsewhere produce much of the needed supplies only “when they have time” leading to an impossible situation by healthcare providers to “keep the supply even so the product is available day in and day out.”

Until the fall of 2016, here’s wishing the patients in your life a stable supply of isotopes.