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Food industry leaders focus on reaching consumers

March 5, 2008

KALAMAZOO--What retailers can do to better serve their customers will be the focus of discussion as some of the nation's top food and consumer goods companies gather for Western Michigan University's 43rd Food Marketing Conference Wednesday and Thursday, March 12-13.

The conference, which annually draws more than 400 food industry executives to Kalamazoo, will be held at the Radisson Plaza Hotel downtown. The theme this year, "New Insights Into More Effectively Reaching Your Consumers," will be addressed by a lineup of industry leaders from companies such as Amazon.com, Campbell Soup, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, Nielsen and many more.

The conference will kick off with a Wednesday evening address by Linda G. Lieberman. Speaking at 8:30 p.m., Lieberman will discuss ways to more effectively reach customers and how to enhance the quality of the shopping experience. Lieberman is vice president and head of shopper insights and consumer and integrated marketing for Campbell USA, a $3.2 billion business unit of Campbell Soup Co.

The conference will resume Thursday morning with two major addresses. At 8:15 a.m., Thomas K. Zaucha will present his insights on "Making the Case for the Future of the Independent Retailer." Zaucha is president and chief executive officer of the National Grocers Association, the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. At 9 a.m., Kevin Coupe, president of MorningNewsBeat.com, will discuss a unique marketing philosophy in his discussion, "Tales of Tesco: Understanding the World's Third Largest Retailer."

Thursday's three concurrent, one-hour workshops will run from 10 to 11 a.m. and include the topics, "Emerging Technologies that Enhance the In-store Merchandising Experience," "Managing Change: Understanding the Demographics of the Evolving Workplace" and "U.S. Retailing and Consumer Trends: Winning at Retail Today."

At 11:30 a.m., "Using the Retail Store as a Marketing Medium," will be presented by Paul Lainis, vice president of in-store client service for Nielsen Company, and Ann Mooney, associate marketing director for global operations at Procter & Gamble. The session will present cutting-edge findings of in-store marketing efforts conducted by the two companies. Their talk will be followed by a luncheon at 12:30 p.m. and a presentation at 1:30 p.m. by Tom Furphy, vice president of Consumables & AmazonFresh at Amazon.com. In his remarks, Furphy will provide a close look at Amazon's grocery strategy and how its unique marketing and distribution capabilities are benefiting consumers and manufacturers alike.

At 2 p.m., the conference's closing speaker will be David Carmon, regional vice president for Wal-Mart Stores. In his discussion "Sustainability: Maintaining an Environmentally Friendly Community," Carmon will desdcribe Wal-Mart's plans to invest in energy-saving technologies, reduce solid waste by 25 percent during the next three years and encourage its suppliers to produce goods that are more environmentally friendly.

The annual Food Marketing Conference is presented by WMU's Food and Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing Program in the Haworth College of Business. All proceeds from the conference support Food and CPG Marketing scholarships and related program operations.

For more conference information, including cost and registration details, call the event hotline at (269) 387-2132 or visit www.hcob.wmich.edu/fmk/fmc.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

WMU News
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