Finding the Why Behind the Buy in Consumer Packaged Goods: Michael Keplinger

Finding the Why Behind the Buy in Consumer Packaged Goods: Michael Keplinger


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On this week’s episode, we talked to Michael Keplinger about a topic we don’t normally get to explore – consumer packaged goods. Which is crazy, because after our conversation, it’s hard to imagine an industry that’s more about understanding customers, inside and out.

We did it live! But alas, the video was lost in processing, so we’re bringing back an old-school graphic.

About Michael Keplinger

Michael Keplinger is a partner at SmashBrand, an agile brand strategy agency for consumer packaged goods that specializes in a complete approach to market research, product design, and testing.

After earning a degree and early career in computer engineering, Michael’s entrepreneurial drive took hold and he soon found himself developing market strategies for his own consumer product business and he quickly found a talent for connecting seemingly unrelated dots to discover room for innovation and opportunity. At SmashBrand, Michael makes ample use of his philosophy regarding consumer products, that the key to success is about seeing everything from the eyes of the consumer and anticipating how they will react to a product or message.

Michael currently leads SmashBrand’s research team to develop strategies for clients and to optimize various aspects of branding and packaging through testing. This best-foot forward approach to optimizing from a consumer perspective is likely the single biggest impact on marketing any brand can do, and over the past decade, he has developed an agile methodology and proven platform for consumer testing and integrated it directly into SmashBrand’s entire process.

Just imagine where a consumer product could go if you already knew it would work!

Connect with Michael Keplinger

Follow Michael Keplinger on LinkedIn

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Follow Smashbrand on Twitter @smashbrand
Check out Smashbrand’s product design on their website:

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About Voices of CX Podcast

The Voices of CX Podcast is a podcast that covers all things business strategies, customer decision insight, empathetic leadership practices, and tips for sustainable profitability. With a little bit of geeking out on behavioral science, A.I. and other innovation sprinkled in here and there. The guests span multiple industries, but all of them have years of experience to bring to the table.

Got something to say about CX or want to be featured on the show? Let us know! Email the Producer ([email protected]).


Mary: Welcome to season eight of the Voices of CX podcast. As always bringing you the best thought leaders, practitioners, and academics in one place. Our goal is to make your job easier by giving you the tools and inspiration you need to lead through empathy, one new idea at a time.

Ladies and gentlemen, our listeners and viewers, welcome back to one more episode of voices of customer experience. We are in season eight and today I am joined by Michael Keplinger and interestingly enough, we have never had a guest like him on this show. So, this is exciting for me, Michael, I’m going to allow you to introduce yourself, tell our listeners and viewers a little bit about who you are, what you do and what you’re passionate about, and your role.

Michael: Thanks, Mary, and it’s great to be here. I’m a little surprised and that I’m, that there’s been no one like me because I’m one of a kind, well, I feel that my work is very, very much at the center of customer experience, but, for sure. We are very narrow in how we apply that. And I’m a partner and director of strategy at Smash Brand.

We are consumer packaging agency that focuses heavily on marrying really well-thought-out strategy, great design with consumer testing, and getting that very feedback that is ultimately going to lead to performance on the shelf. And so, I guess a key pillar of what makes us unique is everything that we do is meant to perform with consumers.

Mary: You know, interestingly, when my producer, Steve handed me your profile, he was like, I think this person’s going to be a really good guest. And I was not convinced because CPG, isn’t really something that we talk about that we do. And, curiously, I went into the website and I kind of researched it.

And that’s when it clicked that when we look at customer experience as a whole. We talk about how customer experience starts before the decision to buy. So, it’s got so much to do with a perception that customers have of the brand while they’re still searching, or even before they’re searching, what’s naturally coming at them.

So, they’re walking down the aisle of the supermarket, their eyes are going all over and maybe they don’t even need a product, but they’re already noticing it. They’re noticing that brand. They’re noticing how it’s packaged the colors the entire, how could I even say this, how, the brand positions itself and all of that is already making a difference.

So, in fact, that’s when I realized Steve’s genius. That you are precisely at that first step of the experience. And it is so crucial for us to look at this element because there are a lot of companies out there that perhaps aren’t consumer packaged goods, perhaps don’t work with direct to consumer that they’re still affecting their customers regardless of whether or not that customer has already bought from them. So, when you guys are talking to potential clients or to your current clients, how much of that evangelism do you have to do, or at this point, is it like pretty well known the importance of, your service to the market?

Michael: Well, I think in the realm of CPG, which are, we can all relate to this.

These are the products that are on the shelf and the shelf is whether it’s the grocery store down the road or it’s Amazon. I mean, even Amazon, the first thing you see, and the only thing is the product. And so, when you really talk about and we have so many choices, and so when you, the consumer and the customer, the client, whatever you want to call them, we’re all people. And we interface with these products and services on a day-to-day basis. And there’s more of them. That’s the one absolute truth. It’s easier to come to market with a digital product, with a physical product. And so, we are inundated with messaging with, everything in front of us.

And so, our mind is almost a survival mechanism, just kind of can’t process that it must reject it. And so, as you’re talking about, and kind of, as I think about it as relates to CPG of these different touchpoints, and it might not be the first time, but those build upon themselves and maybe deep in your subconscious, you actually have already seen an advertisement about a product and don’t even know it.

And then it connects when you see it on the shelf. And so having really a plan and a thought process about how all these touchpoints come together, I think is just as important in CPG as it is in any other digital service or offering that’s out there.

Mary: A curious question, how many behavior scientists or social psychologists do you work with in order to have this deep understanding of customer perceptions behavior, and decisions?

Michael: Well, our team is not ginormous, but we have a few really key people. And I’m going to say that where a lot of what comes from the work that we do is because inherently I don’t come from a researcher or a psychology background, I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years. And the key people that are involved in our team have that background.

They’ve been through this; I’ve owned several consumer products in the past. And so that’s what we bring into it is understanding how you have to succeed. Whether, and really, I have a strong tech background and some of my entrepreneurial days are SAS companies and trying to understand and where you can iterate through and find that fit that product-market fit. And you can kind of, it’s almost that the Axiom is to go out and figure that out later, but you don’t have that luxury with a package good. You have to do that all upfront. And so we’ve kind of had to really think through how to get that insight, how to put it in front of consumers in a way so that you can get that reaction and learn from it and then iterate through that to really get at what’s, behind it all because it’s so much more, we all show up to an advertisement to some aisle in the store with a lot of stuff in our brain and some of that stuff is actually at play in the decision-making. And I think the key to being successful is to understand which pieces are at play and what you can use to help guide consumers to the perceptions that you want them to make about your brand or product.

Mary: So, here’s where my knowledge gets a little bit muddled.

I imagine that the companies that use your service. And put out a product and they’ve got it in the aisle. The competitor right next to your product has also done the same research. And they’re trying really, really hard as well to be the place that customers’ eyes land when they’re walking down the aisle.

So how is it that you keep track of the changes in what customers expect visually or graphically from a brand? What is now calling their attention what’s outdated? And how can you stick out in the middle of competitors who have the exact same knowledge of you as a psychology of behavior, et cetera?

It’s not like the big players are ignoring this really crucial step.

Michael: Right. You know, I don’t really subscribe to the whole idea that there is, oh, I figured out this is the new way that to do it because the reality is that nothing exists in a vacuum. Right. And so, and context matters. And so in the case of a product, those products, exactly, as you’re highlighting, what’s around it are what we’re comparing it to and laying it over.

And so, we can’t really get to a place of deciding where what is. Distinct and what is different and differentiated without really, really understanding what that competitive place looks like. Consumers go there. And there’s certain things that you’ll see, everybody says the same thing. And so, we catalog that and some of those are important.

You need to say that so that consumers understand that you’re related to this, and then you need to find areas where you’re going to be different. And. And sometimes it’s inherent in the product and it’s just has something that’s better about it. And, and those are more of like a rational benefit that you can explain to.

And consumers might say, Hey, that’s actually better. And I can relate to that. I want that we see this a lot in the consumer electronics space where, you know, the next technology is here, but in say a food product or something along those lines where innovation is maybe. A little bit less. And so, it’s more about sometimes it’s more of a cultural aspect of understanding the trends of what’s changing in the world and how the consumer understands that product fits into their world.

It’s easier to make analogies maybe in the beer and wine section and we’ve seen the explosion of seltzers. And there really is a cultural element there about why these fit in there. And we’ve got these megatrends of people are trying to be healthier not that COVID started, the seltzer trend was already there, but I certainly believe it accelerated it.

And there’s aspects of how drinking fits into our life and how we think about that. And I think there’s a lot of sameness and there’s some lines about how it’s just everyday drinking everything. When you look at that and you observe that it’s not about what’s in the can. It’s about how consumers perceive that that product fits into their life.

I think that’s where you can find an opportunity to show them how it fits in their life differently. And so that’s just one example of how we think about it. And so, at the end of the day, and I think that this applies to thinking about how a customer is going to interact with any product or service experience is. Just kind of understanding where they’re at and what are these trends what’s going on in their head and how do the other things that they’ll compare it to? They’re not always exactly the same. And sometimes it’s something very different, so it’s not just a competitor, but a substitute. If this thing didn’t exist in their life, what would they do otherwise and understanding how people fit those into their life and trying to find one. Aligns with a trend or an unmet need and trying to carve out a place somewhere between like these rational benefits and an emotional benefit of like, how I think about this product fitting my life and how it makes me feel. So that’s kind of at a very high level without getting very specific about one, but I think that’s the framework for how we think about trying to make that first impression.

And then and then building from there. Through this kind of short, very fast buyer’s journey of the types of perceptions you want them to take from the brand.

Mary: Did you know that voices of CX podcast releases a new episode every week while we’re in season? So don’t forget to sign up for email and social reminders. If you want us to drop into your inbox every time a new episode comes out,

What is it, do you think, Michael, really affects the market? Is there a way to predict how it’s going to change, which new trend is going to catch on? Whether it’s Emily salmon, rice from TikTok, or whether it’s the diet of the day like keto or if it’s seltzers is there some way that companies like yours track changes or at least try to stay in front of changes so that you’re not surprised to try to like get up, get ahead. Of the trends as opposed to chasing them.

Michael: Yeah. So, I think that there’s not, the short answer is no. We don’t focus on a particular like we know X inside out. And so, as I’ve just kind of highlighted, there’s a fair amount of research and really diving in and understanding that particular space and that’s, those things are a bit more tangible.

And then there’s the other element of trends and things going on. I think that it’s a bit of a fool’s errand to try to chase these trends that run through TikTok and these kinds of things. But I think at the crux of it is that you, people are hungry for kind of experience and having more meaning.

And I think that being bold is maybe the thing that is, that comes from there when you see things that are just seem like this phenomenon that came out of nowhere, there typically some boldness to it, a brand comes to mind. Are you familiar with Liquid Death water?

Mary: Yeah, I have my thoughts on this, but let’s hear yours first

Michael: Outside of what you think about it, there’s two things that I think anybody can relate to. One that their positioning and their market has very little to do with what’s inside the camp. It’s four. And to that no matter how you react to that, they are. Bold and shareable and you almost begs you to share it. And so, those are kind of the easy examples to find the old classic one of dollar shave club but it’s not that isn’t need, that is not necessary to win in the market. But it certainly is an element that I think is interesting. And even as you look at Liquid Death and as we think about it too, a lot of that is not on pack, right. They’ve decided to push, to build other pillars of their brand and what they stand for.

In an experiential way through their marketing and through, but as you can see, as you see it play out if you’ve seen a number of their videos and there is a connection to the product they’re not completely disconnected. And the brand, what it means to people, what it stands for is so much more than the packaging than the product itself  

Mary: I have no idea who they market to. I think it’s genius as a marketer. I think it’s genius, but it always catches me off guard because whenever I’m walking down the, like, the bottles of water in the supermarket, and I see those cans of liquid death. Somebody misplaced and it always every single time and it does catch my eye.

I’ll give you that much. It does create a bit of an impression because you’re not expecting it to see it there along all the harmonious elements of Ascensia and Fiji and Evian. And then all of a sudden, you’ve got this heavy metal thrash rock lettering. And so, it does it isn’t, it is impactful for you.

Michael: Yeah. So, we’ve touched so much, we’ve talked so much about how we kind of begin to project but haven’t even delved into the other part of our process. And that’s really where you have these radical ideas, and you can test them and bring them in there. And so, sticking with that example of Liquid Death.

Yeah. You know, if someone was so creative on our team, that they actually came up with that. And we wanted to pitch it to our client. We, that is the kind of thing that we really are going to take in front of consumers. And. Test the viability of test the reactions of this. And so, I think as we come closer to product itself and visually, I think at the basis of what we’re doing here is done all day long in digital, it’s so easy to AB test something and measure the data, see what’s working.

And so our process that we’ve developed over really a long period of time is trying to mimic some of those aspects of trying to take a series of rounds of testing and put ideas that are, some of them are really out there sticking with what I said that I think to really stand out and catch that attention and resonate with consumers being bold, things that some brands maybe are a bit risk-averse to do especially with CPG where it’s on the shelf and I’ve already printed and made a hundred thousand. Products, and it’s not easy to change this. And so, we can go through. Series of testing to put those in there and really understand what’s working, what’s resonating. What’s not, what’s confusing. How do consumers see this fit into their life? And then really use that as a learning to go into more creative and then ultimately getting to a place where, you know, let’s say I’ve got three concepts and they’re very different. They may be very different looking, and we believe. Any, all three of them could be successful on shelf. And then, so we replicate that buying experience. And then now it comes back to how it’s important that you really mapped that short three, five-second buyer journey. And you’re measuring that it is working that it’s resonating and that ultimately people are choosing it over your competitors

Mary: Now, is this done through some forms of qualitative research, like focus groups or in-depth interviews or something like that?

Michael: We do a fair amount of qualitative research in the front end, as we start to really understand more of those consumer insights, their perceptions around it, a lot of psychology thereof like how do you, everything that we talked about, and we were, I guess, coming back to that about, it’s not all just guesswork.

We, do the research to kind of get an idea of things that may be at play and may matter. And then we’ll go and do more of qualitative research to understand how. And measure how people. You know how this might fit into their life test ideas, whether they’re positioning or different kinds of themes and emotions that are at play here.

And so that is really forming the strategy. And then once we have that it switches a bit more, it becomes more and more quantitative as we move towards ultimately purchasing intent, because that is a binary decision at the store. And it’s very, very quantitative. So, we’re mapping that process.

But as we move into say an earlier round of testing, whether we’re focused on. Words on pack or early concepts. It’s a bit more. Cross between quantitative and qualitative and the aspect that’s quantitative is really, you know, measuring the difference. And there’s perceptions as I talked about as part of your strategy that you want the consumers to come to.

And sometimes it’s like, how do I categorize this in my head? Because it’s maybe between two categories, and sometimes it’s how the product fits into their life. And so, your measuring say five, sometimes eight different concepts about how they score and how they are perceived on these different attributes.

And then a bit more of a qualitative side of really dig into why and the why is an important part of getting to the next level of translating that to direction to our design team, into our creative team to improve. and increase these perceptions. And so ultimately, we’re getting something okay. We’re firing on all cylinders.

This is our brand strategy is to really at the end of this, three to five-second customer journey, I want the customer to think this about the product and the brand, and then we’re able to measure those. And then in addition to purchase intent

Mary: I ever see, or how often really do you see situations in where on paper it looks solid. It looks like the plan is going to work. It’s going to be sticky in the focus groups and in the research, it seemed like customers really liked the product and really kind of migrated towards it. But once you went to market, it just wasn’t. And then what do you do in those situations?

Do you go back to the drawing board back to step one or do you just make some quick edits and how does that part work? The frustrating part.

Michael: Yeah, you know, I think at the center of that is what any brand owner or entrepreneur who is having lackluster results in market is that million-dollar question of why.

And I think that there’s, a lot of pieces, right? Are you, where on all of your brand touchpoints in your marketing touchpoints? Is it working? Is it not? I think what we offer to our clients, and I can speak to the brands that I own, that we own, and that we go, that we own the whole life cycle, right.

The branding, the execution, and what we bring to the table, I think for our clients is the confidence that this piece is right. It’s that this piece will resonate with consumers. And then. You know, in a very, typically very, very subjective process that where design presents these ideas, product ideas, packaging concepts.

And you have people saying, I like this, I don’t like this. And so, what I can tell you is those discussions still happen because they’re very interesting. And certainly, we don’t take the feedback in a vacuum. But then you go into testing, and you get very, very different results. I thought I liked that.

And ultimately you know, sometimes there’s really good business reasons or it’s just not a fit for how they view their brand of why. Might not go one path, but nine times out of 10, the customer data trumps your opinion and for good reason, because it’s it really? And so that translates to in-market, a strong correlation to how it would perform and what the answer, the question we’re answering to is will you beat your competitors is not the question.

That is not what we’re hired to do. It’s that if I take this product and they’re coming to us with that, what that product is, is how can I put my best foot forward and how can I cleanly and succinctly explain what this product is and position it so that consumers get it and want it and feel like they need it.

And what we can do is show them how. This final design that you’re actually going to invest in and print and put on the shelf is going to do a better job than anything else that we’ve explored in our process. And so, they have a lot of clarity. And at that point, all the other pieces of activation of what you do to put that in front of consumers, whether it’s you know, getting into doors and putting it on the shelf, the performance of a product could vary dramatically.

Whether it’s all the way at the top or right in the center at high level. And so, these are things that you don’t always control and, you know, marketing and getting it in front of consumers are all different aspects. So, I think that that is really what we’re trying to do is on that product it’s right and now you can, if things aren’t working, then that is not the lever you come back and report.

Mary: You know, interestingly, since I studied this a lot, I do some experiments. And when I’m in the grocery store, I realized that I tend to buy products that are positioned at eye level and period.

I don’t my eyes, don’t stray. I walk in and objective, I’m looking straight and I’ve kind of got that tunnel vision. And I’m just looking at the middle aisle and I don’t stray from that. And it’s interesting because I mean, you guys’ study this for sure. What are some of the studies related to shelf positioning?

Cause I know that it’s a science and I’m really interested in it. So, give me a little insight here. Help me nerd out.

Michael: I think that the why it matters, I must start there. Why it matters is comes back to what we talked about earlier of These are low, low proposition, small cognitive decisions here, right?

So, the risk of making a wrong decision is quite low and certain as the price point goes up, then that changes. But for, a lot of the stuff on the shelf, I think we’re in that space. And so, w we want easy and want something that it’s not finding the best. It’s finding the easiest that fits my needs.

I think that there’s a piece of that. And so naturally. You know, it’s easy to just look. So that’s one side on the consumer side. I think the other side is delegating. Like how do I look at all these decisions and make one? And someone else has made a decision that the more important ones are in the middle and closer to my face.

So, the other side of it, which is exactly. why the stores have slotting fees. If, I mean, if you’re Oreo, you’re going right in the center, but if you are not and you want to be in the center, you pay a slotting fee because there’s an advantage there for all those reasons. And so, getting back to if you’re not in the place that you can be front and center, and I think you can translate what I’m saying to marketing right.

And having a. Budget to be in front of someone’s face. And digital is it’s more important when you’ve got less automatic visibility is to stand out more and catch that attention. You have to earn your story your message could be the most amazing product, the best change your life. But if I don’t first get their attention and earn that three seconds to look at it, then you’ve already lost before you even begun.

Mary: Yeah, I’m pretty sure there are products that exist in the market that I’ve never seen in my life, and they’ve just been around forever and I’ve never even seen them. And it’s crazy how that happens now. We talked a little bit about this in the pre-call before we started recording, but in this, every day, more driven towards digital worlds that we live in.

What are people thinking or what is the industry considering regarding digital shelves? Is that a thing? Is that a thing that you guys researched that you actually invest time and thought into, like how to position things in a better or worse way? And do you believe that in the future online retailers like Amazon or Walmart, et cetera, are going to have slotting fees to somehow show up first?

And does that happen with sponsored products? I mean, how do you see the digital shelf.

Michael: Oh, yeah. I sell on Amazon. We have brands that are sold on Amazon. So, I think I know that fairly well. And this is a question that comes up with clients. Also, because nobody wants just a one vertical one-channel approach to their brand.

And so there certainly is a question of weighing where are you going to primarily, sell, try to sell because, and when it comes down to, I think is partially that. When you’re digital, you have more real estate, I’m a consumer product. If that’s the only thing it’s quite limited. And it’s really a game of succinctness and trying to communicate a lot in very, very, very small space.

And so, I think that the risk for brands and companies that are selling digital say, Hey, that’s I have all this space because they, the reason it’s a risk is because they lose sight of the fact of our attention span it just because you have that space doesn’t mean the consumer is going to give it to you.

And so, I think that the way that we think about it for even a product that’s going to be sold primarily online. And we can stick with the Amazon example and even there and, you know, very strict about. Image is all white space, just the product. If it’s a very large product, you can show the product.

But I think primarily if it comes in a package, they want to see the package. And so, they’re mimicking that kind of store shelf. And you have to win there. And a lot of studies have shown to even on, in digital and on Amazon, when you have a marketplace of that imagery being so critically important and then even secondary to your title and explaining it.

And so those things certainly matter. But I think if you, it gets back to what I said of being purposeful about succinctness on. The packaging and that process, if you’re a consumer product and you’re going, saying I’m never going in the store, I’m only going to be sold online.

I think getting that right is by itself a very good exercise because it forces you to figure out what is the most important. And if I could only, if I only have three seconds of your time, what do I want to convey? And then you think about your, the digital real estate that you have to expand upon that and drill in deeper.

And I think that that is still true today, whether you sell online or in the store.

Mary: Now, when it comes to things like curbside pickup, for instance, that’s kind of a different battlefield because we don’t really browse when we’re doing curbside or when we’re doing Instacart. And we tend to stick to brands that we’re already familiar with.

So, we’ll just go and select brands that are recurring in our shopping cart. So, how do you introduce a new product or how do you show up in front of the customer? When they’re the type of shopping is already kind of the habitual, just give me the same thing so I can put the same thing in my cart.

Michael: Yeah, and I think, I think that the advertising and back to Amazon sponsored products, that is the digital form of slotting fees.

Right. And I think that you’re right. It becomes more and more. And we like a, probably a lot of people outside of COVID is I kind of never want to go in the grocery store ever again. It’s just so easy. And then they, and they make it easy. So, it becomes more and more challenging. And this is where I think ultimately keeping all these things that we’ve talked about in mind, forefront of mind is that this is it’s not a, it’s not a decision like my new $1,000 flagship phone.

Like which one am I going to get? And where we maybe spend a bit more time thinking about it, but these are just kind of impulse buys. And so, the software and these apps and the convenience are making it so easy to be those brands that just kind of get all the market share. And so that’s where I think ultimately you need to be in front of consumers.

You need to be at the forefront of their mind kind of this, this idea of salient, like, is it available to think about, I’ve seen this before, and so that’s where I think that it’s not a hundred percent on pack, right? You have to do the marketing; you have to get out there and get in front of them.

And it might be, I think it translates just as well as on the Amazon, a new product launch, where you have to really do that, spend in the sponsored ad and get there and prove to Amazon that people want your product. And I think that you can translate that to even like I know Walmart who does grocery delivery now, and they have their equivalent of sponsored products on their new products are launching and getting in front of there.

And so those kinds of things are a challenge and but also the taking the product home and the experience side of it. Right. And what is it? I made a low I had a low decision project. And I took a chance on this new product I’ve never heard of. And so, I think all those things that we’re talking about matter on follow through on the experience that they have the tactile feel of the product the messaging on the back that they’re not reading in this form, in this format. And a lot of times, probably not even in the store. And so, all these little,

Mary: Maybe in their fridge,

Michael: Yes, right all those things matter. And I just, ultimately, there’s not a one-stop fix.

I think that you have a great product, you put your best foot forward, and then you look at the dynamic of the competitors there and you promote that product. And I think that all that work upfront is an amplifier for all marketing. All those touch points. If you stand out, if you have a good message, they get it quickly, then you know, what might take.

A million dollars of marketing to get to a certain place to get to a certain traction might take half that. Right?

Mary: Well, we’re almost running out of time, but I have one question in my head that I’m going to try to express to you, but it’s not fully formed. So, bear with me. If we were to take as an example, an industry that already went fully digital, that used to be an in-store experience. And I was fully digital. I would say that music is one of those things. So, we used to have record stores and it was a total experience, right. Kids would spend the entire day just walking through the aisle and looking through vinyls. And I guess we got a little bit of that back with the like, nostalgic return of vinyl as a collector’s item now.

Essentially, when we look for music, we go online and I would say that at one point, once iTunes came out and we started just being able to order all of our music, what ended up happening is that we stopped finding new artists to listen to. And that created an opportunity for companies like Pandora and companies like Spotify to then create curated lists based on your taste so that you can find new artists to listen to.

Do you see anything like that happening with CPG in the future where let’s say it does go fully online and we never want to go to supermarkets again, because we’re just done with that? Do you think there will be some sort of service that would offer? I don’t know, think of like a subscription box with samples of new products that come out in the market or something like that. You think there’ll be an opportunity for that kind of way to end up in front of people in a fully digital industry?

Michael: Well, that’s a really, that’s a really a great question. And a very thought provoking one. I think that the short answer is yes. And I think that we actually have seen some examples of it already.

I forget the name of it, but one of the first wine subscription companies many, many years ago and we signed up for it. And the first thing that they do is you fill out a card of your likes and your tastes and profiles and then you’re no longer choosing your wine. They’re sending you stuff that they think that you’ll like, this is Pandora’s model for music, but for wine.

And so, it’s actually really interesting to think about. I think the key to understanding where it would be successful is understanding where consumers don’t have a huge stake in the game. Like if you gave me a bad and wine was like that, and there might be there’s others, you know, snacks

Mary: Snacks, I was going to say snacks so snack boxes?

Michael: Yes. And I think that, I think that the digital side of it, and in particular, we’ve been talking a lot about groceries. Certainly not all that we do, but I think it’s the most relatable thing. So, we’ll just stick there for a minute. But me and like many people who kind of never want to go into the grocery store again, I would still like say, hey, based on your shopping preferences, well you might want to try this product.

And I think that there is a lot of plays. I see that I actually completely see it a hundred percent happening. Certainly, the stores will want to monetize it and it will be, it’ll be the other slotting fee. But I think that and then it all comes back to what I said that you can get a, you can get a go at.

But you’re going to have to impress them. And so, everything that we’ve talked about, I think matters, and that’s the experience like you I’ve, I’m gonna try your product because I found another way to try it and it’s great. So, I’ll keep buying it and it gets that little heart on the app so that it’s always in my favorites list.

Mary: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much. I know that we just talked about groceries, but it was still fascinating. And I hope that in the same way that I was able to really easily identify with that, our listeners and viewers will have the same experience. So, if they want to talk to you, if they want to listen, is there some way to follow where to get in touch with your agency? How can they do that?

Michael: Yes. So, if you drill up, if you want to take a look at more about how we do our work and some case studies of how we’ve applied, what I’ve been talking about to specific products, probably some that you’ve seen that you see in the stores yourself go to our website.

You can look at some of the case studies. Specifically, me feel free to reach out. I think in the business world, I’m mostly in LinkedIn. I think it’s pretty easy to find Michael Keplinger or Smash Brand and follow or connect with me there.

Mary: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming. It’s been a treat talking about all this stuff that I really, really love, and I hope to have you back on the show sometime. Thank you.

Michael: Thanks, Mary has been great.

Mary: That’s our show. Thanks for joining us. We hope we’ve brought you one step closer to leading through empathy. It’s our way of making the world a better place, one business at a time. Voices of CX is brought to you by Worthix. I’m Mary Drumond. This podcast is hosted and produced by me, edited and co-produced by Steve Berry.

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Mary Drumond

Mary Drumond

Mary Drumond is Chief Marketing Officer at Worthix, the world's first cognitive dialogue technology, and host of the Voices of Customer Experience Podcast. Originally a passion project, the podcast runs weekly and features some of the most influential CX thought-leaders, practitioners and academia on challenges, development and the evolution of CX.



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