Sidebar: Parallels Between CPG, Retail
Diane Dietz, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Safeway, and SN’s 2013 Marketer of the Year, said she learned about the importance of having a strong customer focus in her 19 years spent at Procter & Gamble.
“Probably my more formative time there was when A.G. Lafley was CEO, and his mantra really was, ‘The consumer is boss,’” she said. “He really took the focus out from behind the desk and got to know the consumer and what her needs were.”
Dietz said Safeway has a similar consumer-centric focus, whether it involves its Just for U marketing platform or the in-store experience.
P&G is also known for product innovation, and at Safeway she said the company is focused not only on product innovation with private label, but also on technological innovation.
The other significant parallel between Safeway and P&G is the focus on building a team and being a part of a team.
“I have a fabulous team at Safeway, and I had a fantastic team at P&G,” she said.
One key macro-level difference between retail and CPG, she pointed out, is the breadth of the product variety.
“At P&G, I was a mile deep,” she said. “I worked with a small number of categories, but I had to know all the detail there was to know about those categories, looking 10 years into the future, across all retailers in all channels in all countries around the world.
“At Safeway my responsibilities are more a mile wide. I manage the merchandising for all products, I manage the marketing across the company, and even from the private label standpoint, we look at every single category, looking for opportunities where consumers needs aren’t being met, and looking for ways to innovate.”
On the micro-level, she said the speed at which things can be put out into market and tested is much faster at retail.
“In the CPG environment, there are much longer time horizons that you deal with in terms of making new products and developing products,” she said.
“One thing I tell my team [at Safeway] is that it is better to be fast and first than last and perfect. We try out an idea, we get it out there and we learn, and we will have the consumer with us when we learn.”
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