CHICAGO -- DowBrands' trade marketing department, which had been shrinking fast since the beginning of the year, finally winked out of sight last month.
But most former members of the group continue to apply the learning they accumulated over its four-year existence in other roles within the company, said Mike Cooper, corporate account executive.
The company has adopted new structures, including what it now calls its account marketing group, to pursue more comprehensive strategies for brand and category management with its retail customers.
Although DowBrands' trade marketing department has been eliminated, its functions are still being executed within the updated business structure, said Cooper.
"Through the re-engineering of our trade promotion process and the re-engineering of our total business process, we have found a way to get that work done without an assigned trade marketing function," he said.
Cooper spoke with Brand Marketing during a Chicago conference sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, where he also delivered a talk outlining his company's approach toward category management.
"We got into trade marketing for much the same reason everybody else did," said Cooper. "Trade spending was out of control and nobody knew what the heck was happening to the money."
DowBrands formed its trade marketing department in 1990. It grew to encompass 14 people at the company's Indianapolis headquarters. The department succeeded in getting a handle on spending and disseminating this learning within the company. As recently as last January, then director of trade marketing Rick Fields had reported plans to reduce the size of the group by half this year. The process proceeded more quickly than that. Fields is already tackling a new assignment as director of packaging for the company.
"We were great early proponents of trade marketing," Cooper said. "We didn't eliminate the department because we were dissatisfied with it. We just progressed past it."
DowBrands' account marketing group will play a more "holistic" role than just managing promotion money, Cooper told the GMA audience.
"The mission of our account marketing group is to increase our effectiveness and efficiency to the consumer with and through our trading partners. They are to create a successful model of business re-engineering, concentrating on product replenishment, assortment, local promotion and advertising."
The group will mold DowBrands' category and brand objectives with the customers and also measure results. It may also help determine information technology needs, he said.
"Our account marketing group may be the ultimate in pushing decision making down. Within their target accounts they are charged with several promotional responsibilities, like marketing strategy, consumer advertising, promotion, category management, sales resource management," Cooper said.
"Suffice it to say, this is where all the action is. This is where our strategies and plans get executed. Not just our strategies, but those of the retailers."