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Notes & comments from the Content Guy

LAS VEGAS - The comments may not have qualified as wildly radical, but there were some comments made at various sessions at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Show here that certainly served as gentle nudges into a future in which the supermarket may have a different relationship with the shopper.

Some examples:

• During a panel discussion following the annual FMI Speaks presentation, John Rand, director of retail insights for Kantar Retail Americas, said that retailers need to find a way to provide the same kind of information on the shelf that is provided via the internet; customers need to be able to reach out and touch a price marker and get all sorts of additional data. “Give me the next page,” Rand said, suggesting that to not provide such info is to ignore the needs of an entire generation.

During the same discussion, Wendy Liebmann, founder/CEO/chief shopper with WSL Strategic Retail, said that retailers need to cater to “customers who do not know how to cook, but do know how to text.”

• Liebmann also cautioned retailers that are engaged in SKU rationalization, eliminating mid-level national brands in favor of private labels. She suggested that there is a “shopper in the middle” who will rebel when a favored national brand is eliminated, who does not want to or is not prepared to buy an equivalent private label, and that retailers have to be careful not to lose those shoppers.

• Both Rand and Liebmann made the point that they feel that supermarkets have not done a good enough job of teaching customers, who have cut back on dining out, about how to cook. “I don’t think we’ve taken advantage of this window,” Rand said. “It is amazing how little new cooking information is available in most grocery stores.

• Leslie Sarasin, president/CEO of FMI, said during the Speaks presentation that the trade association is revitalizing its brand logo and using a new tagline to reflect shifting priorities: Feeding Families and Enriching Lives.”

• During a workshop focusing on the work of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, David Mackay, president/CEO of Kellogg Co., said that if the food industry is to be effective in helping fight the childhood obesity issue, there needs be be “a level playing field,” and everybody needs to get on board. If only 70 percent of companies work to improve the nutritional content of their products, it will prompt government intervention...which happens to be pretty much what the White House said when it issued a new report on Tuesday. (See our second story today on MNB.)

One other note from FMI...

The Network of Executive Women (NEW) yesterday gave its Outstanding Champion Award to Delhaize America, honoring the company for its culture of “embracing differences, learning and development.”

In accepting the award, Ron Hodge, CEO of Delhaize America, said he was proud to have grown up “in a company that gave me the opportunity not to know the difference” between what men and women could bring to the company. “We just think we are doing the right thing for our business.”
KC's View:
Don’t forget...if you are going to be at the FMI show today in Las Vegas, Michael Sansolo will be at the MyWebGrocer booth (#2243) from 2-3 pm, talking about the implications and possibilities of mobile marketing. He’d love to see you.