Profile: Randi Slusky, Retail Activation Lead, Campbell U.S. Sales
Randi Slusky began her career after graduating with a degree in theatre production, starting as a costumer working behind the scenes. After some time, her path took a turn into magazine and catalog production before transitioning into agency work.
Slusky spent five years at TracyLocke working on programs with clients such as Pepsi. As the promotional agency for mainstream brands, she managed procurement, production and the development of innovative merchandising displays, experiential opportunities, exploring the emerging digital world and producing and executing kiosks and store windows in New York.
Joining the Campbell Soup Co. more than 11 years ago gave Slusky the opportunity to take a simple idea or concept through various stages – creative, structural development, financial review, production and ultimately in-store POS execution.
What are your current responsibilities?
SLUSKY: I am the retail activation lead for Campbell U.S. Sales, focusing on the Pepperidge Farm Independent Distributor Network and on the development of permanent display solutions for the organization.
Describe the structure of your organization as it relates to merchandising, including how you interact with shopper marketing and with insights.
SLUSKY: It is a three-part, insight-focused approach. The first part encompasses retail activation, category management and shopper marketing. Insight-driven activation comes from our team in conjunction with our strategic/account lead to produce relevant merchandising opportunities for both our shoppers and retail customers. The second part is marketing/brand partners. Collaboration is key and in-store merchandising displays are brand builders. We must represent our brands using consistent messaging and maintain our visual equity in a diverse multimedia environment. The third part is the field sales force providing invaluable customer insights. These teams are actively in-store daily and are selling at the ground level. They are always happy to voice an opinion, share pictures, provide ideas to solve a retailer’s challenge and collaborate with the development of new tools and displays.
How does your company define success for its in-store marketing programs?
SLUSKY: Our shoppers, our retailers and our sales teams are key to the definition of success for our in-store programs. It is imperative that we constantly connect our brand portfolio with our shoppers, providing innovative merchandising displays that offer every day or event-driven solutions, give them a reason to believe by educating them on our point of difference and enable them to connect with our products. Our retailers look to us and our brands to drive consumers into stores. They too want displays that generate excitement, seasonally dress their stores and have programming that will drive basket ring. The account and field sales teams look to us for what’s new, something that will drive conversation with their buyers, something our competitors can’t offer. I can also never lose sight of developing flexible tools that are simple to set up and drive execution.
How has the emergence of the omnichannel shopper influenced your overall approach to merchandising?
SLUSKY: Today we need to create a synergistic 360-degree shopper experience across all points of purchase, online and in-store. The ease of online shopping pushes us to step up our game in-store. Providing an interruptive surprise and delight experience encourages immediate engagement with our brands and drives purchase.
What are the important characteristics of a mutually beneficial merchandising collaboration between a manufacturer and retailer?
SLUSKY: Trust, collaboration and execution with excellence are the building blocks of a mutually beneficial relationship between us and our retail partners. Understanding our retail customers’ objectives and knowing how they measure success enables us to provide insight-driven programs for both sides to win in-store.
How has merchandising changed in recent years? What trends are happening now?
SLUSKY: We are no longer working in a cookie-cutter, “stack it high and let it fly” retail environment. We must always be relevant, providing breakthrough solutions to solve both our shoppers’ and our retailers’ evolving needs. By taking advantage of the significant advances in digital printing we can more readily customize displays for retailers. We can also maximize our creative development by versioning our messaging for shopper programs by retailer and regional focus. The ability to order POS on demand, with no minimum run sizes supports our company’s sustainability efforts to better manage inventory and reduce waste.
SLUSKY: Pepsi-branded lounges in malls connecting teens to the beverage, store windows and merchandising kiosks for AOL in New York City and, more recently, developing a new endcap for Pepperidge Farm are several of my success stories. Beyond these individual success stories, I would consider the work that I have done for our Pepperidge Farm in-store holiday events over the past 12 years to be my most successful merchandising achievement. This project brings my range of experience together and inspires me every year to be best in class at retail. Our innovative premium merchandising displays must all come together to win in-store from October to December. Our retailers are looking for interruptive, seasonally relevant displays to dress their store, while our shoppers are looking to us to bring solutions and convenience during this busy time of the year.
SLUSKY: Our semi-permanent bakery grill display has been driving a great deal of excitement in-store. Although it is on the higher end of displays, it’s holding power and popularity continues to grow. Our teams have been able to keep it on the floor for more than five months. It provides cross-merchandising opportunities for our retailers, it is seasonally relevant and works in a variety of high traffic locations in-store. The entire unit is shipped flat-packed and goes together in 10 to 15 minutes. It is easily disassembled and stored in its original case for use over multiple years. The returns on this display are considerable and the demand for units continues to increase. Last year I started receiving feedback that in some stores they are transitioning the grills from summer BBQ to fall football tailgating event windows.