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Retailers, Suppliers Emphasize Consumer Experience

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Trading partners need to refocus the lens on how the consumer is experiencing stores and products, and there's more than one way to do it.

That was the consensus of a panel of younger leaders at FMI Midwinter on Tuesday.

"Consumers see the store as one experience," said Diane Dietz, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Safeway. "We are creating more occasion- and theme-based marketing, involving partnering between marketing and merchandising groups. We need to start with the consumer's needs, and solve those, as opposed to starting with internal departments."

Mark Skogen, president and CEO, Festival Foods, said his stores, known for their larger formats, focus on a better shopping experience, and one of the key areas is meal solutions in the large deli departments. He said attracting great associates to the company makes a big difference.

"If you have the culture right and bring in the right type of individual with passion and energy, then it's a flywheel," he said. "We don't have extensive training programs; we have a culture that makes them feel appreciated."

Read more: Consumer Eating Preferences Shift Further

Glen Walter, president and chief operating officer, Coca-Cola Refreshments, said the need to focus on insights "requires all of us to challenge traditional paradigms." 

He pointed to a new shopper experience innovation center the company just launched in Atlanta, which will help the organization and its retail partners understand key challenges and create unique experiences.

The panel was led by Thom Blischok, chief retail strategist and senior executive advisor, Booz & Co. Another panelist who participated was Martin Arter, president and CEO, Affiliated Foods Midwest Cooperative.

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