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NEW collaborates at WMU Food Marketing Conference

Thursday, March 29, 2012  
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The Network of Executive Women's Western Michigan group was front and center at Western Michigan University's 47th Annual Food Marketing Conference. The conference, held March 26-27, 2012 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo, featured NEW members and other speakers from Network sponsor companies.

The program, which attracted more than 475 students, educators and industry leaders, included executive panels and educational breakout sessions on food retailing trends, digital media and selling to the Millennial generation.

"Having such great collaboration between WMU and NEW resulted in a very successful event for both groups,” said Joy Nicholas, vice president of business development for Balance Innovations and chair of the Network’s scholarship committee. "Only positive opportunities can come from supporting the women and students who represent our industry in the western Michigan market, and I am very proud to be involved with both organizations.”

During the conference’s opening session, John Phillips, senior vice president, customer supply chain and logistics for PepsiCo Inc., offered 12 trends that will affect society, shopper behavior, the environment and technology. Among the trends identified as changing the way consumers shop: increased urbanization, an aging population, increased spread of wealth, escalated need for technology, a greater demand for customer service and a heavy focus on health and wellness. Phillips also focused on a growing concern about sustainability, a shift in economic power, a scarcity of natural resources, an increase in regulatory pressure, rapid adoption of supply chain resources and the impact of next generation technologies.

A group of industry veterans explored the topic further. Panelists Carla Cooper, president and CEO of Daymon Worldwide; Rob Bartles, president and CEO of Martins Supermarkets; J.K. Symancyk, executive vice president forMeijer Inc.; Darcey Macken, senior vice president, customer development for Kellogg Company; and Monica Hysell, vice president of Abbott Nutrition, offered practical insights, tips and strategies on how they are managing industry trends to gain a competitive advantage. The panel was moderated by NEW Board member Trudy Bourgeois, founder of the Center for Workforce Excellence.

"Every leader will be impacted by globalization, technology, the aging population, social media, and increasing spread of wealth,” Bourgeois said. "The leaders who will act now will be the winners. They will be the ones to help their organizations make the changes needed to experience breakthrough success and sustainability.”

Leadership lessons

Morning speakers March 27 included retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, who offered her experiences in leadership, and Todd Hale, senior vice president for Consumer & Shopper Insights, who revealed critical trends as food competition heats up.

Breakout sessions featured Kevin Weisberg, chief marketing officer for Lunchbox: Shopper Engagement Solutions, who addressed the role of digital and social media in shopper engagement; Craig Rosenblum, a partner at Willard Bishop Consulting, who offered winning retail strategies; and diversity expert Marilyn Moats Kennedy, who discussed how the Millennial generation will change food shopping.

"If you don’t highlight the number of calories in your product, you do not win with the younger audience,” Moats Kennedy said. "You must be upfront, transparent and completely honest when you deal with the younger generation.”

A panel of retail leaders -- Sheila Laing, vice president of human resources for Hy-Vee; Dona Kotzur, regional director, customer service for H-E-B; Diana Copland, vice president of operations for Busch's Fresh Food Market; and David Figurelli, president of ShopRite Supermarkets — engaged in a lively discussion on how to create great customer experiences. The panel was moderated by Paul Madura, senior advisor of Endeavor Management.

"We all serve customers,” Madura said. "Whether daily, weekly or monthly, every interaction allows us to get a rating with our customers. The customer is in control today more than ever before. Good news travels fast, bad news even faster.”

Other conference highlights included Susan O'Malley, former president of the NBA's Washington Wizards Sports and Entertainment, who offered advice on connecting with others; and Bill Dankworth, vice president of grocery merchandising, natural foods and procurement for The Kroger Company, who gave his insights on engaging customers in today's marketplace.

NEW Western Michigan Treasurer Erica Plummer of 
Abbott Nutrition and NEW Western Michigan Secretary
Amy Goodrow of Colgate-Palmolive participated in the
47th Annual WMU Food Marketing Conference in Kalamazoo.

NEW Western Michigan committee members (from left) Amy
 Goodrow, Jaynee Sherman, Erica Plummer, Ashleigh Gage and Jody
 Hartson join U.S. Army Lt. Col (retired) Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch.


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