Profile: Colleen Kelly, Head of Trade and Shopper Marketing, Anheuser-Busch

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Colleen Kelly has been fortunate to grow over the past 10 years in various roles at Anheuser-Busch. After completing the company’s global management trainee program, she had the opportunity to work in a strategy role and then move into distributor and field roles to better learn the inner workings of the business with retailers as well as the distributor network. After that, she moved into a regional position in the Southeast where she ran both trade and regional marketing. This path prepared her for where she is today — leading trade and shopper at a national level.

How have your team’s job responsibilities and skill sets changed since the beginning of the pandemic?

Kelly: The biggest transformation has been the acceleration toward digital, both digital programming and media. We have had to flex different planning muscles as timelines shifted while we learned to deploy new tactics to engage shoppers along their journeys. Our agility and responsiveness have increased exponentially.

What is your team’s best accomplishment this year so far?

Kelly: To date, I’m most proud of the integrated digital shopper campaigns we have launched. We’ve done some amazing work behind brands like Cacti, Bud Light Seltzer and Michelob Ultra to engage shoppers digitally before they enter the store and at the point of purchase. With digital app and wallet integration to social and e-commerce purchase opportunities, we’re really talking to shoppers differently this year.

What’s the biggest challenge your team has faced during this pandemic?

Kelly: The biggest challenge, but silver lining, was that our agenda accelerated essentially overnight. Things we had been piloting and learning from, like digital demos and connected shopper media, became front and center of our plans as in-store trips and merchandising came to a halt. This acceleration, while intense at the time, better positions us as we move forward to win with our retail and wholesaler partners.

What do you think is the future of shopper marketing?

Kelly: The future of shopper marketing is bright but complex. I think you will see retail become a much stronger pillar in brand campaigns and planning, particularly in the adult beverage space. There will be a shift in expectations of how we sell to shoppers, focused more on selling them solutions than products. I’m looking forward to helping shape the future for us.