People to Watch 2017: Baylie Kirts
Title: Shopper Marketing Manager
Education: Southeastern University (bachelor’s, broadcast communication)
Ten individuals represent the People to Watch Class of 2017. Nominated by their respective companies’ representatives in the Path to Purchase Institute’s League of Leaders, these rising stars are making a name for themselves by doing work for their brands that is worthy of attention.
Baylie Kirts likes to think of her work as part science and part art. Focus on the key facts but don’t lose sight of the story. She credits her education with solidly preparing her for a career in project management, which can be translated in many ways to the work she does today. As shopper marketing manager, she works on the Walmart business supporting GSK’s oral care, respiratory and pain/skin businesses – responsible for the 14 brands that ladder into each.
Kirts began her career at a local news station eager to make her mark in broadcast communications. An opportunity to become a project coordinator in visual merchandising at Walmart-iCreatives pulled her in a different direction two years later. And after a few months there, she went onboard with Walmart corporate, also in project management. “That was probably one of the most exciting and pivotal times in my early career,” she says. “We had an awesome team, we busted our tails and we got things done.”
Kirts says it was at Walmart where she cut her teeth. “That’s where I started learning this world of retail” and where she really honed her project management skills. But with a curiosity for what was going on outside of the walls of Walmart, she made a move to Match Marketing, ultimately supporting Novartis. Following the Novartis/GlaxoSmithKline merger, Kirts found herself poised to take on yet another new challenge, this time as shopper marketing manager at GSK, the position she’s held for nearly two years now.
She points to the Excedrin “Migraine Experience,” a national brand initiative that was based off a strong consumer insight, as work that she can reflect on proudly within her first year at GSK. “I was able to take the insight and everything the brand was doing and translate that down to a shopper marketing initiative for Walmart,” she says. A challenge, she adds, because the marketing campaign connected very emotionally with the shopper. “We were taking that insight of how migraine sufferers may feel isolated in their experience and then trying to translate that through a shopper marketing campaign that could be duplicated across all shopper touchpoints, including in-store.”
The solution: A robust 360-degree initiative at Walmart that included everything from digital, social and retargeting to print, in-store and displays. The work garnered Kirts a global shopper marketing award as a representative on the U.S. team, and it was shared back to GSK’s global organization. Her day-to-day work of uncovering new opportunities and developing solutions to help drive the business also keeps her motivated. “It’s satisfying when we can really see a lift from the work we’re doing.”
Kirts says she’ll continue to face the industry’s challenges head on. Namely, the rapid evolution of technology. “That’s a huge challenge and we’re always going to be on our toes.” Determining ROI on the marketing spend because of the fragmentation in the path to purchase poses more questions, but Kirts says she’ll continue to monitor the evolution in technology and the changes in shopper expectations from their shopping experiences – understanding that specific to Walmart – and find new ways to drive sales of GSK brands amongst those groups. “A lot of it will be done using the latest and greatest technologies available to us to target that shopper.”