Independent Grocers Alliance has named John Ross the new president and CEO of IGA, succeeding Mark Batenic effective in mid-October. Batenic will remain chairman of the board until his retirement Dec. 31, 2018 and transition to a non-executive chairman role in 2019.
Ross, 54, is currently president of Inmar, the software, data services and analytics firm serving retailers and manufacturers. IGA officials said his experience with data-driven solutions would “reinvigorate” the network of nearly 5,000 supermarkets in more than 30 countries, representing $36 billion in annual sales.
“John Ross [left] has dedicated his career to listening to shoppers, understanding their evolving needs, and delivering differentiated experiences that inspire loyalty both in-store and online,” Batenic said in a statement. “He’s revolutionized countless brands—and even shopping as we know it—by using data-driven insight to market to shoppers in a way that makes them feel special, unique and heard. It’s a skill that will serve him well with IGA, a historic brand built around the unique and special bond that exists between IGA’s local, community-focused grocers and the friends and neighbors they serve.
“In a radically changing marketplace where retail is becoming more complex and shoppers more diverse every passing day, John sees change as an opportunity rather than a problem,” Betanic added. “There is no better person to work with IGA’s alliance of independent retailers, licensed wholesalers and manufacturing/service provider partners to reinvigorate this brand, and guide IGA retailers to a prosperous future.”
At Inmar, Ross championed the rise of the technology-empowered shopper and advanced the role data analytics play in marketing and retail, IGA said. Foremost in his accomplishments was pioneering new customer scoring and analytics tools to parse shopper data and manage loyalty for retail clients in categories ranging from specialty pharmacy and health to traditional grocery, convenience, discount and mass merchandising.
Prior to joining Inmar, Ross headed the Emerging Media Lab for global agency holding company Interpublic Group, and also founded and served as CEO of IPG’s Shopper Sciences, where he led the media brands retail practice. Ross also has 11 years of experience with Home Depot in various marketing roles, including e-commerce, branding, global marketing and advertising and global CMO.
Ross is the author of the book “Fire in the Zoo”, covering retail marketing science, shopper marketing and the value of data-driven listening and co-authored the Google shopper marketing book, “The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).” He founded both IPG’s Shopper Sciences and the “Neural Shopping Matrix” path-to-purchase research methodology.
“I am an independent retailer by DNA,” Ross said in a statement. “My grandfather owned an independent grocery store in West Virginia, and I worked retail from the age of 16 on. From lot boy to store manager, from merchant to CMO, I’ve been fortunate to experience operations, merchandising and marketing for independent, regional, national and international chains. I even was a fill-in route salesman for Holsum bakery as a teenager. My five years at Inmar have allowed me to be around the industry’s finest professionals in analytics and retail tech-enabled services and have prepared me wonderfully for this role. I couldn’t be more excited to join the IGA family—it feels like a job I’ve been preparing for all my life.”
Batenic joined IGA in 2006 as president and CEO and has worked aggressively with his team to better position IGA retailers in the modern retail environment.