i am not always great with change.

sometimes it really hurts.

especially when you mess with my favorite comfort foods.

example 1: my blue box kraft mac and cheese

let’s get right to the brass tax.  i think they have shrunk the noodles.

i was so shattered at the prospect that i took this picture with the fork in the bowl (albeit a large bowl that maybe holds the entire box of mac and cheese) so i could create some context for future reference.  i know it doesn’t help.



chicago, illinois 7.2014

this is…errr was one of my favorite treats on the planet.  i will spare you the rant that i did write and delete because we are focusing on the potential of smaller noodles and not my rocky relationship with kraft blue box as i work towards a healthier lifestyle.  i have not purchased or consumed any blue box since this discovery because A) healthier lifestyle dictates i steer very clear and B) the fact that they might have changed it is just too much for me to bear….

anyone else noticed this? was this a one time bit of personal confusion?

that is what i thought with example 2…but the scenario has repeated itself.

example 2: my stouffer’s french bread pizzas – deluxe

why ohh why would you stop cutting the pepperoni into quarters?  now i have to hand shred them.  sure i was always interacting with the pepperoni making sure that they were evenly distributed across the pizza but that doesn’t make your hands greasy.  shredding the pepperoni does.  it happened a few weeks ago and i prayed it was just a random mistake but then it happened again this week and i think this might be the way of the future… (candidly, i did get better pepperoni coverage but too much work.  please see an au’ natural look beside a hand shredded option…


opelika, alabama 12.2014

example 3: mcdonald’s egg mcmuffin muffin

(okay, so i get that my choices of comfort foods might qualify me for a food intervention but please note that i am working to train myself to really like fruits and vegetables….very slow road…and feeling a bit of food shame right now.)

at this point i suspect that they have only switched the mcmuffin in the alabama market.  “research tastings” in airports across the country and on ashland avenue in chicago appear to still match the original recipe but we might have a switch-a-roo on our hands.  in alabama i have experienced a less bread like mcmuffin that does not really toast as well and doesn’t seem to have the same binding characteristics as

am i alone on these?  have you noticed these changes or others in the products you buy and eat?  please share them in the comment section below…

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how am i still alive?

not too long ago i was faced with trying to process/re-acquanit myself with all of the food in my pantry.  this happens every few years or so and is often driven by the discovery of some pretty old expiration dates by myself or even worse, a friend.i can ramble on about the reasons behind how this happens (e.g., never home, live alone, do not cook often) but upon bringing up this issue on Facebook i learned that i am not alone.

many many of us ignore expiration dates and we are all still alive!  this was thrilling news – but maybe a bit unsettling for those of you who i cook for if you are not of this mindset.

recently, a friend’s dad shared an article about the creation of a gelatin label that could help limit waste by more accurately determining when the food has actually spoiled/gone bad.  here are some highlights from Adele Peters’ article:

“The next time you start to toss an “expired” carton of milk, consider this: Dates on packages don’t actually have anything to do with food safety or FDA regulations. Instead, the dates are a somewhat arbitrary indication of when a manufacturer thinks food might be freshest, and most food will likely be fine for days or weeks afterward.


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is nothing sacred?

have you found yourself on a plane while having a super exhausting week and the flight attendant brings you your diet coke with just a little ice and you put down your tray to set your drink down and it is COVERED in an advertisement?  sometimes you just need a little peace.

my frustration with this might seem a little over the top but the extreme and creative lengths that companies are willing to go to in order to get their message in front of us sometimes can feel like an assault to the senses.

a last summer I noticed this gem in o’hare on the escalator heading up to concourse C.


yes, it is fair game like the giant stickers on the ground, but I feel like somethings should just be sacred. i dread the day i encounter toilet paper containing an advertising message or having the automatic paper towel, soap, and water dispensers talk to me. the technology is very much there now we just have to pray that these sorts of limits are respected….

while certainly there are some not so bueno product placements like what is listed above or when you are watching one of your favorite tv shows and they pause in a dramatic moment to acknowledge and appreciate the specific features of the car they are driving or how much they love the crunch of particular snack, BUT some just fit or are more believable because they are so well integrated.  some examples include…..

– james bond and his aston martin (but not his shift to the heineken in my humble option…)

– reese’s pieces in E.T. (brilliant!)

– junior mints in seinfeld (gotta love some kramer…)

what makes some work and others feel less successful?  seamless integration and being audience appropriate.


to a new year of magic!

so typically when one celebrates the new year they drink some bubbles.  and today i have the story of an amazing bottle of bubbles!

i would like to introduce you to andre’ clouet 1911 grand cru classe.

one of my favorite parts of this product story is in the number 1911.  this represents how many bottles of this champagne that are bottled per year.  you are currently looking at bottle #1045 de la cuvee’ 36 that was bottled on 2.5.2014.

that story alone has me swooning!  but then you see the packaging and i am practically speechless!


chicago, illinois 12.2014

yes, that is straw tied around the bottle with twine which is covered in a white wrap with an informational packet neatly nestled close to the bottle’s bosom. the unwrapping of this bottle felt like some sort of ritual which helped generate even more excitement about the actual bubbles contained.



and the bubble were….GLORIOUS!  the insanely unique packaging, the gorgeous bouquet of flavors contained in the bottle, and the spectacular company that shared in this experience with me put this bottle in another class.

many thanks to mark for this most special present – and for sharing in the magic of its drinking!

i wish you all a 2015 full of magical surprises, unexpected connections, abundant health, and boundless joy and happiness!

can you think of a product that has a story that helps it stand above the rest?  or just a story that stands out to you?  please share it in the comments sections below.

and just in case you are interested in a bit more about the wine itself here are some extra pictures that give a bit more detail…




the pigeon chronicles, vol 2

i find sometimes that the time between turkey day and the december holidays can be very stressful with work, shopping, just being your festive-est, and with life.  for that reason i present you with volume 2 of the pigeon chronicles.

no, this pigeon chronicles has nothing really to do with anything except for my bizarre fascination with pigeons (and do not even get me started on ants….).  my hope is that it will hopefully bring a little smile to your face and give you a little chuckle that will help you glide into the holidays and a most wonderful new year!

so here we go.  i present you now with bert from sesame street.  here he will show off his legs and perform his special little ditty that may just change how you view pigeons….

Bert Dances & Sings to “Doin’ the Pigeon”

and the extended version in case that was not enough…

Bert Presents “Doin’ the Pigeon” (extended version)

i truly hope this brings a smile to your face!  happy wednesday!

is there a video or picture that makes you smile?!  feel free to share them in the comment section!

(and special thanks to Meegan for sharing this bit of magic with me!)


wait…. a dry spf?

okay, i am currently experimenting with a new line of facial care products.

(do not worry guys!  stick with me here….)

the brand is eminence and they are a handmade organic skin care made in hungary since 1958.  overall, the package design is pretty simple across their line.  umm so kate, why are you telling us this?

WELL… then i was shown (and easily sold) a powdered spf sun protection product.  yes.  you read that correctly.  it is a powdered spf.  all you do is push the button on the top, it releases some powder, and then you apply it like a regular powder brush on your face, neck, arms…wherever you need.

brilliant.  no more oily sunscreen (i hope).  now i can enjoy (i hope) spf in its purest form.  how this will work when it is 90 degrees out and we are “glistening” (read: sweating) i am not sure.  but i must say i am excited at the prospect.  i cannot wait to see how well it works.


chicago 12.2014

so now let us get to the other bit of excitement here: the packaging.  not only is the primary package different with the telescoping brush which is crazy interactive fun BUT the wooden box is a stunner and really highlights its more organic and natural product feel.


facial care/cosmetic packaging can be and feel really lux, similar to spirit/alcohol packaging (as seen in my previous post ooooooh…. texture).

there are lots of reasons why this could be but here are two ideas i have that i would like to contribute to the conversation…

– you are typically interacting with the package one or more times in a day and if the package feels quality then it will help you feel better about using it as well as the possible effect

– often you are spending a LOT of money for a very small amount so the package is a way to reinforce the sense of value

can you think of other reasons why facial care/cosmetic companies invest more to create lux packages?  can you think of other categories where companies invest more money in the packaging in hopes of catching your eye?  please share them in the comment section below….

ohh and are you following me on twitter yet? follow me at @kcwglobal

are you following me on Facebook?  like me at KCW Global Research

please join the conversation – it is happening all over!

love (is in) the details

my brother teaches special needs kids ages 10 to 12 in the mansfield, ohio city schools.  he has been making a difference in the lives of those amazing kids for over 21 years.  i am super proud of him.  he is an inspiration.

for the last two years i have had the honor of spending the day sharing with them the magic and fun of qualitative research.  i take them through a variety of exercises that i actually use for clients and then help understand the strategic learnings that come from the many exercises.  needless to say, it is a blast.

beyond the fun of spending time with such curious and energetic kids, i always seem to walk away so impressed with the insights they have and how observant they are.  to help illustrate this i have included pictures from our unaided drawing exercises from the last two years:

heinz ketchup (12.2012)


two of the kids even recalled the little detail of the tomato and vine at the base of the package (see the green on the one in the top row?)!  what?!  holy impressed!!

coca cola and pepsi (12.2013)


red is an equity – check.  it says coca cola on the package – check.  and did you see the polar bears?!  top row #1 (“you only gave me a white crayon”), bottom row #1 & 2.  genius.


looks like the classroom has a bit more to say about pepsi!  note the logo, emphasis on blue, and the 12-pack box of cans, individual cans, and even the plastic bottle.

these kids make my heart smile.

TRY THIS AT HOME!  make it a family activity or even something to do with friends.  grab a 12 or 16 pack of crayons (one box for each person), a 11×8 piece of paper (and do not hesitate to use the WHOLE piece of paper), pick a brand, and start drawing!  it is fun seeing the details that stand out for some and not for others.  and if you do it, please PLEASE please send me the pics privately or post them in the comments section!



this past week i had the pleasure of traveling to new orleans for the qualitative research consultants association (QRCA) annual conference.  and yes, i am geeking out over some of the cool nuggets i got that i cannot wait to start implementing on monday….but i digress…after enjoying an amazing bowl of chicken and andouille gumbo and a…wait for it… deep-fried break pudding po boy at ye olde college inn in the airport, i was making my rounds in the hudson news and discovered this amazing NEW gem of a package………..


new orleans airport, 10.2014


as i was standing at the gate i carefully opened the outer package with incredible anticipation.  i sort of felt like ralphie from “a christmas story” when he was working to decode his weekly little orphan annie secret message.

some notable points on the package include: stickers with product information (suggesting this is an international product trying to meet our regulations), that this is a new tictac offering all together with crystals (read = “xylitol”), and that it is “exclusive to travelers” (and with travelers misspelled with two l’s – oops!).

once i had carefully opened the outer package and removed the second thin plastic layer my enthusiasm had grown – as had my audience as i started my own little focus group regarding the package while waiting to board – and this is the magic that i found!



shush up is right!  it has a slide door for picking out the product and a flip top as well for pouring!  the package is a bit big for your pocket but is definitely new and interesting….so of course i went back into the hudson news and bought all of the flavors in fear that i might not find this package again.

not sure on the verdict on the product itself…sadly, more of a candy versus a proper mint but i guess that is the tictac way.  my new friends at the gate appeared to like it but candidly, i was so excited that i might have biased them (or just in general, freaked them out).

SO, what are your reactions to this package?  have you seen any other candy packages that stand out as notable?  share it in the comments below… and be sure to come back and check the comments as there are some really amazing packages that are being shared….

and just because i know you all wanted to know what a deep-fried bread pudding po boy looks like…


i am not sure my body will ever recover from the new orleans culinary delicacies i enjoyed on this trip.  in fact, i think it is still trying to catch up from the minnesota state fair adventure of 2010….

more fun with wine!

so do you remember when you saw your first screw top on a bottle of wine?!  reactions to this innovation varied.  some possible reactions might have included…

– but how can THAT keep my wine as fresh?

– nice touch for CHEAPER wines

– hmm…no corkscrew needed?  NICE!

regardless of your reaction, i must say that i am very impressed with the level of innovation that i have seen with regard to wine packaging.  i have already shared the magic of the Copa glass of wine but even before that we saw boxed wine.  remember the outcry on that?  see possible responses above.  yep.  shockingly very similar.

but recently i came across a few other innovative wine packages that i cannot resist sharing with you….

1st innovation….a can.

yep.  a can of wine.  i have not yet tried it but leave it to whole foods to carry it…


chicago, illinois 9.2014


2nd innovation…a bag without the box.

in a world where we always boast about wanting less packaging, this seems like a perfect transition from the box…

bagged wine

(found online but they have another type at whole foods)

3rd innovation…and my favorite….a boxed 750ml bottle.

while many speak about the importance of less packaging, if a package is just perfect enough then the amount of packaging can prove to be less of a barrier…i, being the packaging whore that i am, just really hope deep down that this is better for the planet in some way because i think i am in love…


chicago, illinois 9.2014

4th innovation…because this category is changing and innovating daily it seems…the stacked single serving.

there is no sugar coating it, i have been hanging onto this gem for a while now.  if you follow me on twitter (@kcwglobal) this will look a little familiar.  it was in the clearance rack for $6.99.  shocking, right?  candidly i am afraid of what it will taste like so i am just keeping it around for the sake of entertainment.


auburn, alabama 5.2014

can you think of any innovations you have seen in the wine category as of late?  have you tried any of these new packaging styles?  and yes, friend or foe?  this spark another thought?  share in the comment section below…

hit or miss?

there are lots of elements that must come together for a package to be a success.  three key factors are:

graphics & structure.  these must come together perfectly to capture the essence of the brand clearly, concisely, and in an aesthetically appealing way.

package functionality.  the package must function in a manner that fits with how consumers use the product.  if it is too hard to use or does not do what they need the package to do, it can be considered cumbersome and not worth the head ache.

presence on shelf.  if the consumer cannot find the product on shelf or if the presentation on shelf does not support the essence conveyed through the rest of the packaging, this could easily translate to a lost sale.

now that i have set a bit of a foundation on the topic, i wanted to bring your attention to the new beech-nut package.  i am excited to report that i had two separate blog readers send me pictures of this package so i could not resist sharing it with all of you! (thanks brian and abby!)

beechnutsimilar to what we were talking about with the peach and pear packaging in the recent show me the goods! posting, beech-nut is working to set expectations about their product via the clear glass and label, the “100% natural” call out on the green lid, and use of the word “just” in the product name: real, clean, simple, natural, and homemade. this is supported through language on their website as well as from their product names:



kate, this package seems awesome, why is this blog titled “hit or miss?”?  thanks for asking.  it looks like the package is delivering on graphics, structure, and it seems pretty solid on functionality (although maybe the glass could be a limitation for transport), but how does it translate to shelf?  and here we have our potential rub.

imagine you are walking down the aisle and this is what you see….

photo 2  photo 1

(photo credits to abby, philly area)

well, what are YOUR reactions?

for me, marketer aside, i am so distracted by the separators that the magic of the packaging is lost.  all of the beauty and simplicity is totally mired in the clutter created by the paper/plastic separators (which feels way over worked and packaged).  as well, you can see how weird/sad the shelf looks when the inventory is low.

above the pictures focused on just the beech-nut section but once you open it up to more of the shelf…

photo 3

 …for me, it feels even messier.  while i totally understand the idea of trying to create a destination at shelf, which is never an easy feat, i am just not sure this is the best route.

what do you think?  hit or miss?

ultimately, packaging is hard.  really really hard.  this is why it is such a spectacular feeling when you see a package that really really works.

can you think of other packages that in your opinion really really work or miss the mark?  please share in the comment section below.