midwinetrwebads4fmiorg2-mbrjn“There are many ways for trading partners to help improve the consumer experience in stores.”  This was a consensus arrived at by a panel of leaders at the Food Marketing Institute Midwinter conference of 2013.

Safeway Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President Diane Dietz said that consumers saw stores as an experience. The retailer responded by creating theme-based and occasion-based marketing that involved collaboration between merchandising groups and the marketing departments. She emphasized the need to focus on the customer’s needs and how to solve them and not focusing all energy on internal departments.

Festival Foods CEO and President Mark Skogen said that his stores focused on giving consumers better shopping experiences by having meal solutions offered at their deli departments. Skogen further added that attracting the right associates who have energy and passion makes the difference. He further added that in order to get them to contribute, the right culture had to be in place in the company so that they feel appreciated.

Coca-Cola Refreshments Chief Operating Officer and President Glen Walter said that all industry players had to challenge the traditional paradigms to be able to focus on where they need to direct their attention. He gave an example of their company’s efforts by launching an innovation center for shopper experience in Atlanta that is expected to help the company and their retail partners to understand key challenges. The program is also meant to help to create more unique experiences for the shopper.

The panel of younger leaders was chaired by Senior Executive Advisor and Chief Retail Strategist of Booz & Co. Thom Blischok. Affiliated Foods Midwest Cooperative CEO and President Martin Arter was also one of the panelists.