Profile: Hannah McKee, Shopper Marketing Manager, Mars Wrigley Confectionery
Hannah McKee was looking to get back to the U.S. after spending several years working in corporate marketing for Nestle in Santiago, Chile. She gained experience in different functional areas including brand, digital and social and sought a way to broaden her marketing knowledge and skill set. Once she realized she needed more experience on the retail side, shopper marketing seemed like the perfect fit. The stars aligned with a Mars Chocolate opportunity in Cincinnati, and she took it.
Please describe your current role and your company’s digital initiative.
McKee: I am the shopper marketing manager for key grocery accounts at Mars Wrigley Confectionery. I am tasked with driving growth during the four traditional seasons, supporting new item launches and leveraging retailer moments to contribute to overall sales increases and category growth. Mars Wrigley Confectionery has a large focus on digital as we have a number of teams that work together to ensure the digital path to purchase is covered from consumer to shopper including brand marketing, shopper marketing and the digital commerce team. We regularly see high performance with digital, social and mobile tactics. We are constantly testing and learning with retailers and third-party vendors to stay on the leading edge.
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Can you share a recent example of your team’s work that stands out?
McKee: In 2017, we launched one of our biggest innovations to date – M&M’s Caramel. The shopper marketing team was tasked with customizing the national launch across our top channels and retailers to bring unique excitement to each. In order to ensure a cohesive look across the U.S., the brand team provided the shopper marketing team with select strategic assets. For the first time ever, we drove synergies and created one brief that included the needs and requests of each key retailer. By doing this, we were able to pool our dollars and drive more efficient spends with our third-party vendors. We worked with our agency partners to customize plans based on each retailer’s look and feel, flighting times, digital/mobile/social vendors used and more to ensure each retailer had something special when they launched the new item. Overall, the launch exceeded expectations and retailers were happy with the level of customization and excitement they received to drive sales. We plan to recreate this approach for key innovation launches in the future.
Where do you see digital shopper marketing headed in the next few years?
McKee: From augmented reality to artificial intelligence to the next big social media platform, many retailers are interested in knowing what’s the next big thing (other than pricing promotions) in the digital space. They know their shoppers are moving to the digital space to make their routine purchases, and retailers know they need CPGs to help them be on the cusp of what’s next with their shoppers.
How can brands take better advantage of the opportunities in digital?
McKee: Brand teams should look to partner more closely with their shopper marketing and sales counterparts to drive the most awareness and relevance with the shopper at key retailers. Many retailers have their own digital toolboxes that CPGs can leverage. If brand teams are willing to invest at strategic retailers, they may see exponential results versus investing in the national, overarching reach plans. Also, we see a lot of overlap in the tools and tactics each different marketing function might use to drive purchase intent. By working together with the brand teams, we can drive synergies in shopper targeting and investment levels to ensure more bases are covered instead of overlapping spends and targeting with mixed messaging.
How do you keep an ear to the ground in such an ever-changing digital landscape?
McKee: I download the latest mobile shopping apps to my phone, get on social media and play around on retailer sites to keep pace with how shoppers purchase these days. There are so many apps, retailers and information sources that it can be overwhelming, but having first-hand experience is the best way to come up with that next big idea.