People to Watch 2020: Jennifer Farver
Company: J.M. Smucker Co.
Title: Manager, Omnichannel Customer Marketing
Education: Kent State University (bachelor’s, business administration/managerial marketing)
Jennifer Farver was, by all accounts, heading down the agency path early in her career. Armed with a managerial marketing degree, she spent a brief stint at Shearer’s Foods as a marketing analyst just out of college. But over wine one night with a friend, she saw a job posting at Geometry Global and remembers now how fascinating and enticing agency life quickly became.
She spent the next seven years at Geometry, working on the Nestle business and developing her passion for omnichannel marketing. “What I loved most about starting my career on the agency side was really getting a strong foundation of what it takes to get a piece of media out the door,” she says, noting she was always fully engrained in all of the details from insight to execution.
“It gives you an appreciation for and understanding of the time and energy it takes to get the right message out to consumers at the right time and the right place,” Farver says. “It also makes you aware of opportunities to drive efficiency and where progress should be valued over perfection.” At some point, though, Farver began yearning for more access to the client data that was driving their strategies, while asking questions such as, “What shopper behavior are we trying to change?,” “What is the problem we are trying to solve?” and “What’s the objective?”
That’s when she made the switch to CPG, joining J.M. Smucker as omnichannel customer marketing manager in November 2018. In this role, Farver builds customer-specific activation strategies focused on the dollar channel and East grocery across all areas of the company’s business including pet, coffee and consumer. Through real-time and annual planning, Farver and her team identify shopper challenges or opportunities based on several key factors, including brand objectives, business acumen, core understanding of the customer, and program marketing performance.
“All of these decisions are made with connectivity to our sales teams and consumer engagement pods to ensure alignment,” she says. “Our role is to drive conversion and behavior change among shoppers at our key customers. By leveraging customer data and technology, we work with our activation agency to design programming that has clear KPIs and a targeting strategy.”
The role of omnichannel is constantly evolving, but perhaps never as quickly as the grocery industry did with its major shift during COVID-19. “Projections show we’ve leaped five years ahead in just a few months’ time,” Farver says, adding that Instacart has been a growing customer for Smucker and was placed under her umbrella earlier in the year. “Due to the rapid growth of this click-and-collect customer throughout COVID, I helped to lead strategy and execution during this critical time of shopper behavior change,” she says.
Farver relishes the abundance of data at her fingertips as a CPG marketer: IRI, Nielsen panel data, sales and customer data, retailer media networks, vendor data, etc. “Being able to identify the problem or opportunity we want to solve for each of our brands at each retail customer is the ultimate goal we achieve through the intersection of these data points. Once we know the problem/opportunity, we can create our objective and review past program performance to establish the KPI. We have so much data at our fingertips.”
Farver can see herself continuing on the omnichannel path. “It’s an exciting role to be in. You must be flexible and agile with the changing retail environment by engaging with consumers whenever and wherever they’re buying.”