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Relevance in Retail a Hot Topic at WMU Food Marketing Conference

Springboarding off findings from a new industry study, a panel of esteemed retail and CPG executives will delve into “The Struggle for Relevance” at Western Michigan University’s Food Marketing Conference, March 21-22, 2017, in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Michael Sansolo, research director for the Coca-Cola Research Council North America, uses findings from the “Surviving the Brave New World of Food Retailing” report to explore how the food retail industry will remain relevant through changes in competition, technology and how people are shopping. “Fundamental strengths are under assault,” says Sansolo. “Location, once the cornerstone of retail, is becoming decreasingly important. People can shop wherever they are.”

While there is no prescription for a quick fix, Sansolo will share a “diagnostic quiz” that will help attendees start the conversation and ask the right questions both internally and with trading partners. Panelists include Peter J. Whitsett, EVP, Merchandising & Marketing, Meijer, Judy Spires, Chairman and CEO, Kings Supermarket, and Denny Belcastro, VP Industry Affairs, Kimberly-Clark.

Given the FMC’s unique mix of retail and CPG executives, along with students of WMU’s Food/CPG Marketing Program, the session offers a unique opportunity to start tough conversations and explore cross-generational shopping motivations and patterns. Attendees will learn the action steps for creating priorities, how to start the process and key topics and questions to discuss.

“Leading with Change” is the theme for the 52nd annual conference, which supports students of the University’s Food/CPG Marketing program. For the full agenda and registration, visit

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