PG Launches Connected Consumer Summit


Progressive Grocer wrapped up its first Connected Consumer Summit last month, confirming the need for an event dedicated to bringing together grocery retailers, CPG marketers and technology companies. The exclusive, invitation-only event featured four keynote presentations, boardroom briefings presented by technology companies, and one-on-one meetings.

The goal of the Connected Consumer Summit was to focus on the topics and issues that will help retailers and CPG companies collaborate more effectively to drive increased store traffic and increased basket size by leveraging digital marketing and media programs.

The program kicked off Sept. 9 with a presentation by John Burchard, SVP and CIO/CAO of Skokie, Ill.-based Peapod, an Ahold company. Burchard gave a refreshingly candid view of the Peapod online grocery business, including the recent unveiling of the company?s new 350,000-square-foot automated warehouse in Jersey City, N.J., which greatly expands the internet retailer?s ability to serve the New York metropolitan area.

Attendees heard from Chris Surdak, author of ?Data Crush: How the Information Tidal Wave is Driving New Business Opportunities,? and current global subject matter expert for analytics, information governance and e-discovery for San Francisco-based HP Autonomy. Surdak not only wowed the audience with examples of recognition technologies currently in place, but also made them squirm a bit by driving home that consumers ? everyday people ? are among the biggest ?products? driving market capitalization.

According to Surdak, there?s a fine line that companies must walk between intimacy (needs anticipation, reverse Grouponing, e-coupons, ?liking? and suggestion lists) and creepiness (behavior manipulation, behavior modeling, iCoupons, geo-tracking, cookies). But for those who can successfully navigate them, predictive technologies ? getting consumers to push ?buy? ? are generating billions of dollars.

Lindsay Mikos, senior manager of omni-channel at Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, kicked off the Sept. 10 session by describing the global drug chain?s strategy to provide an integrated and seamless experience for customers across retail stores and digital channels. An overriding goal for Walgreens is to focus on an ever-changing customer who lives in a world in which digital channels have surpassed traditional media. But, Mikos said, all channels need to work together as one voice.

The summit?s final keynote address introduced the role of CPG partners in the retail and technology loop. Laura Houghton, director of digital shopper marketing at The Coca-Cola Co., in Atlanta, said that while many marketers are tempted to focus only on Millennials, Baby Boomers shouldn?t be overlooked. After all, Boomers are also ?leaning in? to change, and consumers? engagement with offline marketing isn?t going away any time soon.

Coca-Cola?s current go-to-market strategy is co-creation and collaboration with other products, services and programs. ?We have to make it easy to convert shoppers to buyers in-store,? said Houghton, adding that such a strategy creates a ?sharing loop? giving shoppers a reason to impart a great experience via digital channels.

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