Company: J.M. Smucker Co.
Title: Manager, Commerce Marketing, Walmart & Sam’s Club Pet
Education: University of Arkansas, Walton College of Business (bachelor’s, retail marketing)
A native of Bentonville, Arkansas, Hannah Manchester understands what the growth of Walmart has meant to her hometown. She watched it happen during her younger years, and when it came time to go to college, she looked no further than the business school in which the Walton family had invested so much. “The Walton College of Business emphasized the importance of hands-on application, real-life experience and learning from industry leaders,” she says, thinking back to courses that brought in executives from the community working in and for the Walmart ecosystem.
Having topics brought to life by leadership in the business community across Northwest Arkansas gave them a tangibility that would have otherwise been lost, she says. “I also couldn’t do what I do today without the knowledge of how to work across a team, united to the common goal and drawing upon each person’s individual strengths to drive the business forward in a meaningful way.”
Manchester’s career began at Tyson Foods as an intern while still attending the University of Arkansas. The position was important to her not only for the career potential but also because the company had deep roots in Arkansas. After she graduated, she became a Tyson marketing assistant and ultimately worked her way up to associate product manager on the innovation team. After five years at Tyson, she moved to Sam’s Club and led the retailer’s Tier 1 national programming and co-led holiday executions and campaigns for Easter and summer grilling.
Following time off to have her first child, Manchester became a marketing manager focused on corporate marketing and insights for George’s, a local family-owned and operated food business. Less than a year later, with the desire to get back to shopper marketing, she transitioned to J.M. Smucker Co. as manager of commerce marketing for pet at Walmart & Sam’s Club.
Manchester is responsible for collaborating across sales, merchants and retailer media groups to build marketing campaigns that foster emotional connections between shoppers and Smucker pet brands such as Rachael Ray Nutrish, Meow Mix and Milk-Bone. The ultimate goal is driving conversion and delivering against the joint business plans for the Walmart and Sam’s Club accounts. “I own all phases of the planning process, including analyzing shopper, category and POS trends, aligning key brand and customer priorities, and executing best-in-class marketing campaigns that drive traffic and conversion for my accounts,” she says.
Campaigns such as “Doggie Days of Summer” and “Treat the Snuggle Season” have proven to drive demand in white space seasons, and programs for new innovation like Meow Mix Tasty Layers and Rachael Ray Nutrish Savory Bites have aligned to national media for maximum reach and efficiency.
The Doggie Days of Summer program recognized that dog food treats aren’t the consumable categories that likely come to mind when someone thinks “summertime,” Manchester says. So the team wanted to create a program that would capitalize on a seasonal opportunity to drive sales and share of Smucker brands at Walmart.
“The program had an amazing inaugural year [in 2019], pairing each dog food brand with social influencers who could best bring the specific brand promises to life,” she says. Video and static visual content was featured both on Walmart.com and off-site, leading to curated, shoppable experiences that allowed shoppers to connect to each brand in a meaningful way.
“After seeing how the campaign drove conversion and [brand share] at Walmart during this time, we decided to expand year two to include dog treats,” Manchester says. The effort paired food and treat brands together based on target audience and messaging, creating a total solution for Walmart dog owners. “We were able to capitalize on a season that didn’t have a lot of pet talk,” she says. “We were able to own that timeframe at Walmart.”