Happiness, Spaghetti Sauce and Howard Moskowitz

Happiness, Spaghetti Sauce and Howard Moskowitz

I had the privilege and honor to work with Howard Moskowitz this past week as he was a keynote speaker at Nomacorc’s Wine Marketing Exchange Conference at Bardesonno in Yountville, California. If you don’t know of Howard’s reputation and influence in the food, beverage and several other industry, watch Malcolm Gladwell’s Ted Talk embedded below.

Dr. Moskowitz has his Ph.D. from Harvard. He could easily work the Borscht Belt circuit telling stories in the Catskills. Instead he has been influencing the food and beverage industry for more than 50 years. He is responsible for a brand like Prego finding a new segment (Chunky) that bubbled up into $600 million dollars of revenue over a decade. Through his scientific methods, he found an opportunity for Tropicana with Grovestand that was a remarkable success. He understood that there wasn’t THE perfect Pepsi but perfect Pepsis. He is responsible for the world having 17 olive oils, 32 mustards and all of the bazillion choices in the food aisle.

“The mind knows not what the tongue wants.”

Dr. Moskowitz is a well-known experimental psychologist in the field of psychophysics and creator of world-class market research technology. In 1969, Dr. Moskowitz earned a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Harvard University and founded Mind Genomics Associates in 2014 to promote the development and use of the new science that creates an archival and action-oriented database for knowledge about how people think about the aspects of their daily life.

The science is used in business to drive 1:1 sales and marketing, and in social research to understand what is important, and what should be communicated to citizens of a country for socially relevant issues. Dr. Howard Moskowitz is also a distinguished author, speaker, and mentor to students world-wide. He has written/edited 26 books and over 400 scientific publications on the mind of the consumer. His books span a wide range of topics, ranging from business, poetry and the importance of mentoring students.

Howard and Happiness


Howard is an art form unto himself.

He is that rare human that no one will forget if they meet him once. He will rap and rhyme spontaneously when he see a pretty woman and bring in references as far and wide as Jussi Bjorling, a famous opera star from the 1950’s, to the last King of Lithuania. His memory is scary wild. He is the King of Jewish geography making connections with EVERYONE he meets and he delivers his shpiel like a proud New York Jew.

He spoke Swedish with the CEO of our company and insisted that the chef at Bouchon come out from the kitchen to be praised in rap. He needs to ask everyone their name and where they went to school. He is always in the moment, alive and celebrating life. He has no filter or censor either which is part of his allure and attraction.

With each person he meets, he will find a common connection to anyone and will do it with humor, wit and abstract references. He is like Jackie Mason meets Kevin Bacon. Why Google something when you could just ask Howard.

Howard and Steve Rappaport are collaborators working on a research project called Millennials, Mindsets and Money. Steve and I went to graduate school together in the 1970’s at Annenberg at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He is a noted author, speaker and consultant who helps brands grow through keen and critical insights.

Through the happenstance of Mitch Joel’s fabulous podcast, I heard Howard and Steve speaking about their new research. They are looking across multiple categories to analyze mindsets of millennials.  They wanted to find a sponsor for the wine segment which is what brought us together. The project’s goal is to analyzing mindsets to help provide the right message to a consumer who has a unique set of interests as it relates to a particular product category like wine, craft beer or insurance.

If a marketer communicates to you about how well their wine goes with lamb, yet you prefer wine by itself or, you don’t eat meat, the message may turn you off. But if you are looking for the perfect wine to drink and enjoy on its own that meets other criteria of purchase a different message can influence your actions.  Howard’s big vision is to map the mindset of consumers for all categories and connect it to the extensive databases with consumer purchases. Their work is both simple and complex in the search for some common mindset clusters. Actually, his even bigger vision is world peace enabled through his scientific approach called Cognitive Economics.

And here is a hint should you ever be fortunate enough to meet Howard- bring a bottle of Slivowitz, a  plum brandy from the Czech Republic. And then sit back and enjoy the show.

So as the last King of a Lithuanian Prince of Slivivitz said, “Don’t worry, be Howard.”

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