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Collaboration Begins With Customer Needs: Speakers

Retailer-supplier collaboration on marketing and merchandising begins with an understanding of consumer needs, according to presenters at Food Marketing Institute’s Future Connect conference here Thursday.

In a series of three joint presentations by retailers and manufacturers, the teams showed how they work across boundaries on issues of sustainability, health and wellness, and multicultural marketing.

“It has to be a three-way win,” said Subriana Pierce, senior vice president of sales and merchandising in Supervalu’s Albertsons chain, noting that retailers, suppliers and consumers all have to benefit for collaboration to work.

Pierce, along with Marie Quintana, senior VP of multicultural at Pepsico, explained how retailers and suppliers can collaborate on promotions targeting Hispanic consumers, leveraging research compiled by Pepsi.

The two partnered on a Hispanic Heritage Month promo that drove sales of beverages and salty snacks that tied in with an education theme in September.

Pierce said several elements are key to making the promotion work — the products, circular, the in-store experience and the community involvement.

“You need to tie in the community piece to capture this shopper,” she said.

In other presentations, Michael Hewett, manager of environmental services at Publix Super Markets, and Bob Branham, director of customer sustainability at General Mils, outlined various ways they collaborate with each other, with non-government organizations, and with others in the industry to improve sustainability.

Hewett noted that sustainability efforts cannot proceed if they lose money, citing bottle and can collection in stores as a cost center that Publix avoids.

“A practice is only sustainable if you can at least break even, if not get an ROI,” he said.

Also, Don Clark, VP of pharmacy operations at K-VA-T Food Stores, and Brian Fanning, team sales leader at The Clorox Co., discussed expanding the reach of the pharmacy department to a more comprehensive health and wellness role through collaboration.

“The better we can fulfill the self-care need for customers, the better we can integrate the health care and pharmacy,” said Clark, who said there is an opportunity to create a “healthy living plan" for customers that tied together diet, pharmacy, and other store products.