Merchandising Innovator of the Year: Elisa Gurevich

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06/23/2021
Tim Binder
Executive Editor | profile
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Elisa Gurevich

Director, Global Shaver Portfolio
Bic
Years in current position: Spent 3½ years as senior brand manager for Shavers in North America. Promoted in March to marketing director for the Global Shaver portfolio.
Previous work experience: Prior to joining Bic, worked at Sun Products then Henkel, holding multiple roles in marketing, starting as associate brand manager in 2003 and evolving to marketing director in 2016. Began career in marketing at Unilever in 2003 after initially starting there two years earlier in logistics.
Education: Bachelor’s in Logistics from the University of Maryland

 

Why?

Gurevich launched a category-busting new brand at retail as the pandemic raged.

When Bic set out to understand the tension points among its consumers, the company identified a yearning for brands that weren’t positioned as “for men” or “for women” but rather focused on the end benefit, no matter the gender.

Bic-commissioned research found that 69% of consumers 18-34 years old believed that companies should create more unisex personal care products, and 75% of consumers under 34 were interested in using a razor marketed for both men and women.

With that knowledge, Bic launched Us., a unisex grooming line.

Elisa Gurevich, then senior brand manager, led the line’s creation and strategy, from its inception to launch. “We started with a brand name and, from there, created a positioning with a brand manifesto that inspired the pack design, which led to the communication campaign and to the assets we executed,” she says.

 

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Bic was agile as a company in seeing the need and then creating a solution. Gurevich says the approach was “basically undoing the rules” that had been in place.

“We wrote our manifesto from the voice of the consumer not the manufacturer,” she says. “The packaging was designed to be no-frills because the story was in the product, not in an overly fancy design. We also knew we needed to partner with customers who shared the same values of inclusivity and authenticity.”

To reach the shopper target (“Genzennials” ages 18-34), Bic partnered with Inspira Marketing Group for brand strategy work, hero creative development and omnichannel planning focused on key retailers.

“We knew it was essential to show our customer partners how we would disrupt shoppers and educate on the role this innovative category and product would play in their lives,” Gurevich says. “We created a ‘push-pull-repeat’ shopper journey to design the omnichannel execution. Push was focused on driving to the store with digital advertising and co-op radio depending on the market; pull from the shelf with breakthrough merchandising and compelling offers; and repeat driven by the great product performance coupled with incentives to come back.”

The result: The brand is changing the category paradigms, leading the future for a more inclusive grooming category, according to Gurevich. Us. is building trial and growing market share every week, reaching an all-time share high of 60% and becoming the No. 2 razor system at Dollar General, she says.

Furthermore, Us. brought new shoppers into the shaver category, with key customers posting 62% category growth and 30% in incremental sales. And by offering the utility of two SKUs (male and female) in one package, the razors help retailers manage limited space as well.

“From a consumer perspective, purchase intent has remained high at 87% among the target audience,” Gurevich says. “And consumers love the product. More than 1,000 online reviews gave Us. a 4.6 out of 5 star rating.”

Given the June 2020 launch of Us., the pandemic created a major challenge as much of the activation was in-store and around-the-store.

“We had to pivot our plans,” Gurevich says. “Luckily, our customer partners, agencies and internal teams were agile and quick to respond. We also recognized how challenging it was for the store employees – going to work during the pandemic. So, for one of our major Us. customers, we offered free coupons for the brand to all employees and publicly thanked them on their employee intranet.”

Gurevich says a team of top internal members and “world-class agencies” helped bring the launch to life, led by Inspira Marketing. She also credits Merkley + Partners (for advertising) and MWW (PR).

“I like to say ‘Us. couldn’t have been Us. without You’ because it was truly the best team working on this launch,” Gurevich adds.

Gurevich has moved on from the senior brand manager role and is now director of the Global Shaver Portfolio. She’s responsible for developing global strategy, innovation roadmap, brand positioning, brand architecture and global communication for shavers around the world.

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FINALISTS

 

Debbie Brooks
Associate Sales Promotion Manager
Brown-Forman

Brooks leads creative in-store design, development and logistics for the national accounts team in the grocery channel across Brown- Forman’s portfolio of brands. With COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions in place last year, the company shifted to developing tools and resources that retailers, restaurants/bars and shoppers needed. “Merchandising became more solution-focused and required a great deal of flexibility,” Brooks says. “We developed social distancing and directional signage for retailers, cocktail kits and to-go cups for restaurants/bars, and online alcohol delivery options in participating states.” B-F also evaluated existing in-store materials and adjusted its planned programming to ensure that it was being sensitive to the situation. Many program themes changed from large gatherings to “at-home” everyday occasions. “Consumers altered many of their routines and traditions,” Brooks says. “Spending and shopping habits have also changed. These are behaviors that will likely remain in place post-pandemic. Our goal is to remain customer-focused and to provide relevant retail solutions that meet shopper needs.”

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Jana Gabe Masone
On-Premise Channel Marketing Manager
Diageo North America

As the COVID-19 pandemic devastated restaurants and bars across the U.S. in 2020, Diageo took the opportunity to rethink the way to win with customers. The big but simple idea it hatched was to shift from creating assets for passive menus to creating profit-driving menu playbooks for the future – including experiential menus that utilize motion, video and new technologies – across 50,000 on-premise accounts. Masone worked to build the foundational elements of the menu strategy and challenged Diageo’s “status quo” use of tools and resources. She developed a suite of tools that allowed Diageo to be better positioned with customers and take a consultative position to growing their businesses. She led the development and implementation of an innovative, downloadable digital menu engineering tool that was made accessible to Diageo’s sales, distributors and key account managers. Her leadership provided valuable resources to Diageo’s on-premise customers, revolutionized merchandising/menus, improved the experience for consumers and increased profits for partnering restaurants and bars.

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