Kroger, Unilever and Acosta Win Inaugural Consumer 360 Awards

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Kroger, Unilever and Acosta Sales & Marketing Company today were named winners of the inaugural Consumer 360 awards, co-sponsored by Progressive Grocer and two other VNU Business Media magazines, Brandweek and Retail Merchandiser.

The awards honor the retailer, manufacturer, and sales agency in the consumer packaged goods industry that have demonstrated the best understanding of the consumer in their year-round merchandising activities.

Winners were selected by a poll of readers of Brandweek, Progressive Grocer and Retail Merchandiser. Retailers were asked to choose the manufacturer winner, while manufacturers picked the retailer winner. Both manufacturers and retailers voted on the sales agency.

"At Unilever Bestfoods, we deeply appreciate the recognition of VNU Business Publications as the recipient of the Consumer 360 Award for the manufacturer community," said Art Drogue, senior VP, sales & customer development. "We've made a concerted effort over the last two years to more fully leverage consumer and shopper insights into our category and total business-building relationships with our trading partners."

Unilever's Home & Personal Care division takes a similar consumer-first view. "Our partnership with ACNielsen has been a significant contributor to assist us in delivering valuable insights to our customers to delight our shoppers in their outlets of choice," said Pat Peters, senior VP, customer & category development, for Unilever HPC-U.S.

John Steurer, senior VP of Acosta Sales & Marketing Company, said the Jacksonville, Fla.-based sales agency's success starts with a strategy to be recognized by its clients and customers for superior category development and space technology. Steurer listed three keys to success: people, technology and an understanding of the importance of the business process.

"It always starts with having the right people," said Steurer. "We have the critical mass of 400-plus resources in category development and space technology. And we have the most comprehensive training program in the market for both new associates and for veterans to upgrade their skill sets."

With proprietary technology, called Asset (Acosta Strategy Sales Evaluation Tools), Acosta provides the category development, space technology and business management teams with quick, easy-to-read analysis of clients and customers.

Mark Holdreith, retail group president, VNU Business Publications, said, "Today's leading marketers put the consumer at the center of all that they do, and the winners of this year's Consumer 360 awards exemplify that practice. Congratulations to each of these outstanding companies."
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