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Wakefern, Kraft and Advantage Sales Honored for Consumer Insights

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Wakefern Food Corporation, Kraft Foods and Advantage Sales & Marketing Company were named winners of this year's Consumer 360 awards, co-sponsored by three VNU Business Media magazines: Brandweek, Progressive Grocer and Retail Merchandiser. The awards were presented here this morning at the Consumer 360 conference hosted by ACNielsen U.S. and Spectra Marketing.

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, Retail Merchandiser and Convenience Store News (another VNU Business Media magazine). Retailers were asked to choose the manufacturer winner and manufacturers picked the retailer winner. Both manufacturers and retailers voted on the sales agency.

Wakefern Food Corporation

Wakefern Food Corporation, a successful retailer-owned supermarket cooperative that operates almost 200 ShopRite stores in the Northeast, utilizes data from its Price Plus Card loyalty card program to help shape invaluable promotions and programs, which it creates in conjunction with the vendor community.

"The depth and breath of our data allows us to use marketing resources more efficiently and provides our vendors with a rich database of consumer profiles," said Wakefern e.v.p. Joseph Sheridan. "Our goal is to combine our knowledge of assortment and pricing with consumer insights, that at the end of the day result in a better offering for our customers and a better spend for our vendors."

Kraft Foods

Kraft Foods was honored twice with the Category Master of the Year award, so it's no wonder that the leading consumer packaged goods manufacturer is a winner of this year's Consumer 360 Awards. Its successful strategy includes in-depth analyses of consumer shopping patterns, which in turn are used to create programs to help its retail customers build their businesses.

"Using our proprietary applications, we do research to understand shopping attitudes and behavior-looking at where customers are shopping, how they're shopping, what they spend in various channels, and what they buy in various channels," said Chris Hogan, Kraft's v.p. of sales information. "It's important to understand shoppers' attitudes, because those attitudes translate into behavior, which translates into category performance.

"There are many places where consumers can shop for food, and those choices are ever expanding," Hogan added. "We'll continue to do this research, because we believe it will also be important in the future." With 63 categories being marketed across various retail channels, Kraft is in an ideal spot to do so.

Advantage Sales & Marketing

Peter Holton, chief information officer for Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Sales & Marketing, cites three areas where his company excels in turning data into valuable consumer insights for his retailer and manufacturer clients.
"It starts with a commitment to people resources in category management," said Holton. "Nationally, we have over 500 people devoted to category and space management. We invested early and heavily in developing a core competency in category management and having people with the right skill sets."

Advantage took the plunge into category management five or six years ago, adopting a Best Practices Approach to Category Management and training its employees do that it became one of the first sales organizations to develop these critical skill sets.

Advantage also maintains a leading edge decision support platform, incorporating consumption, consumer household panel, retailer and demographic data into one tool for business managers to use to make actionable decisions. With its manufacturer clients - including Pepsico, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, GSK -- representing the full range of products sold in most stores, Advantage is uniquely positioned to offer a keen understanding of the retailer's entire business.

Finally, Holton points to the tremendous alignment of Advantage's customer teams with all the major retailers across the country -- including Kroger, Safeway, Albertsons, Meijer, Winn Dixie, Publix, Ahold, etc.

"The key is delivering insights, not merely data to our customers," said Holton.
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