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NEW Mid-Atlantic and GMA explore evolving cpg/retail industry

Tuesday, December 20, 2011  
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More than 100 Network of Executive Women members and industry guests explored what the next decade would bring to the cpg/retail industry at a luncheon Dec. 13 in Washington, D.C. The event, held at the Willard InterContinental, was cosponsored by NEW Mid-Atlantic and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Thom Blischok, president, consulting and innovation for SymphonyIRI Group Inc., said the industry should not expect significant change in spending through 2013. "This is not about a recession, this is about a transformation,” he said, advising attendees to "be the one in your company that knows most about the shopper.”

Panelists Beverly Grant, vice president customer business development, Procter & Gamble; John Rand, senior vice president of Retail Insights for Kantar Retail; Al Soricelli, CEO of True Citrus; and Marla Thompson, group vice president, marketing and innovation for Catalina Marketing spoke about the industry’s future. The panel discussion was moderated by Judy Spires, CEO of Angelo Gordon Supermarket Holdings.

"Consumers tell the industry what they want -- and want to be a part of the products’ creation," Grant said. "Research is required as quick as possible to remain relevant in the industry. We focus on wants, needs, desires and aspirations.”

Rand said one of his biggest fears for the industry is "The Goldilocks Fallacy -- the belief that we look for one right answer to the problem. This is not our world. There are different temperatures of porridge that work for different people.”

Soricelli stressed the importance of having a vision and communicating it. "[We need to create] an understanding of where we want to go and be able to prioritize and use the tools we have to succeed and move forward.”

Women will advance to leadership roles when women "reach up and management is willing to pull [them] up,” Thompson noted. "If a company isn’t doing it, start it on your own.”

Joan Toth, NEW president and CEO, welcomed the group. Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO, and Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Food Marketing Institute also participated in the event.

"Today's event was both enlightening and extremely relevant to NEW members, because having a better understanding of the customers we serve allows all of us to make more strategic contributions to our organizations,” said NEW Mid-Atlantic Co-Chair Jeanine Jones, project manager for Oracle implementation at Ahold USA.

NEW Mid-Atlantic recognized Sunday Council-Baker, director of human resources for Safeway’s Eastern & Genuardi's division, who received the region's "Best of the Best” award for her efforts to advance the Network’s mission.

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GMA President and CEO Pamela Bailey
welcomed guests to the networking event.

Thom Blischok of IRISymphony Group
gave an overview of the industry landscape.

Panelists (from left): Al Soricelli of The True Citrus Co., Beverly Grant of Procter &
Gamble, Marla Thompson of Catalina and John Rand of Kantar Retail shared their
thoughts on the future of the cpg/retail industry.

Lisa Ford of Kraft Foods (left) and Jeanine Jones of Ahold USA joined NEW Mid-
Atlantic Best of the Best Award recipient Sunday Council-Baker of Safeway, Yvette
Seoane of  Arch Capital Group and Bobbie O'Hare of JOH at the region's Dec. 13 event. 

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