Company: Mars Wrigley
Title: Associate Shopper Marketing Manager
Education: St. Joseph’s University (bachelor’s, food marketing and leadership, ethics and organizational sustainability)
Finding a passion around food as both an essential need and something that consumers have an innate emotional connection with, Catie Hoffman entered into the world of food marketing while at St. Joseph’s University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the school’s esteemed program while also studying in its Leadership, Ethics and Organizational Sustainability major.
Frequent interaction with the CPG companies that worked with students to solve real-life problems in their businesses sparked how she wanted to shape her career path. And an internship program through Mars Wrigley – in which she was placed on an actual team and in the office every day working on real solutions – gave her the ultimate preparation for what a full-time role would require at the confectionery giant.
Hired as an associate shopper marketing manager in August 2019, Hoffman has been backfilling a manager for several months, with a focus on program strategy, planning and execution for key grocery customers. Working with the sales teams and cross-functional partners on customer strategy, she strives to determine how shopper marketing can be a strategic lever to pull when trying to accomplish overall customer goals. “We look at our retailer’s priorities and how those intersect with our priorities so that we can identify the right levers to drive an intended outcome,” she says. “Shopper marketing plays a critical role in how we bring our brands to life in-store and online and drives conversion with shoppers.”
Day to day, Hoffman concentrates on building omnichannel approaches to hitting overall company business goals, managing the grocery shopper budget as well as the team of agency partners, and communicating with internal stakeholders on how to execute shopper-facing systems more efficiently. “I’m planning our overall strategy, the programming that ladders back to the strategy and then executing all the programs at six major grocery retailers,” she explains.
Hoffman says three individuals have already influenced her during her time at Mars. Hannah McKee, former shopper marketing manager, taught her to be tenacious and have confidence with internal and external stakeholders. “She ensured we had that North Star of where Mars Wrigley is moving and how that affects shopper marketing,” she says.
Darren DeVleeschouwer, Mars’ director of shopper marketing and consumer promotions, has helped her understand the importance of bringing the full vision of the organization down to a shopper marketing level. And Sue Barkalow, head of strategic channel solutions, has been a role model for how to balance work and family. “Having a really strong woman in a leadership position has been so important for me as I’m trying to see what my future could look like,” she says.
Hoffman says she’s pleased with her ability to balance the challenges of growing the Mars Wrigley business while simultaneously working with new retailer media groups to drive shopper marketing initiatives and how those two go hand in hand. “I’m proud of how we’ve been able to grow those relationships with our retailer media groups across the grocery landscape,” she says. “The results of that have been really driving the Mars Wrigley business.” She also works closely with cross-functional teams internally and with third-party groups to bring thought leadership to retailers in the digital space, which has been pivotal during the pandemic, she notes.
In an effort that DeVleeschouwer says has brought clarity to the importance and value of the shopper marketing team, Hoffman partnered with another associate to create Mars’ Shopper Marketing Playbook, a set of guiding principles that ladder back to the overall team strategy. “We saw the gap for the shopper marketing ethos and the pillars of shopper marketing to be explained to the overall organization,” she says. The playbook is used to inform planning, strategy and execution and as a reference during annual planning.