Stacey Riecks has built her career on what she likes to call her “building blocks,” where each role provided unique experiences that she brings to her current role. Starting in sales with The Quaker Oats Co., Riecks developed skills in identifying opportunities and implementing actionable solutions to drive sales and profit. She later took on roles in trade, shopper and commercial marketing, developing skills in bringing products and programs to market that make an impact. Category management and shopper insights roles with Conagra Foods, PepsiCo and Keurig Green Mountain rounded out her experiences and further influenced the bias for action that guides her today. Insights without action are just “interesting,” she says.
Please describe your current work duties.
RIECKS: My responsibilities focus on three distinct pillars: Data analytics (understanding what and where), consumer and shopper insights (understanding who, how and why), and category management (bringing it all together). The work my team and I conduct influences corporate strategy, product innovation and retailer activation.
How does the Market Intelligence team fit into your larger organization?
RIECKS: Market Intelligence is part of the marketing organization, reporting to our CMO. My team plays a critical role across almost every function within the organization, from influencing corporate strategy to new product development. We also predict supply chain/demand planning changes, optimize commercial activations, elevate execution via e-commerce and measure brand health. The category managers/advisors have a vital function with their respective retailer’s cross-functional teams for optimizing their sales and margin.
What emerging technology and techniques does your team leverage at GE Lighting?
RIECKS: We are in a unique position, as much of our sales are in non-measured channels – unlike consumable manufacturers. This requires partnerships with multiple data suppliers, industry associations and consultative groups to inform our proprietary look at the market, trends and outlook informing our actions. We employ a variety of methods including online, in-person, AR/VR and other traditional methodologies to gain a comprehensive understanding of our business and consumers.
We have seen smart home products really expand in the last few years. What are some of the key consumer insights related to this category?
RIECKS: Home automation adoption has grown significantly this past year for a variety of reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic and spending more time at home were certainly a factor. Consumers used this time to finish home improvement projects to create more functional spaces and upgrade to a smart home. More affordable technology has allowed more households to enter the market and reach an expanded demographic. Users want simplification and are frustrated by having multiple apps to control their smart home devices. GE Lighting is leveraging this insight with our upcoming Cync App launch, which we believe will be a game changer.
What’s the biggest challenge facing CPG companies related to insights and analytics?
RIECKS: Data is becoming and/or has become a commodity. The cost of data acquisition is increasing from a cost-to-sale perspective. Syndicated data providers, e-commerce insights suppliers, retailers and consultative groups are vying for those critical dollars. This puts pressure on manufacturers to identify non-duplicative methods to show value and maximize return on investment.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I thrive on building diverse teams, developing talent and making an impact on the business. My team has a healthy blend of lighting industry experts (20-plus years with GE Lighting) and category management superstars with a variety of retailer and manufacturer work experience. Each person brings unique talents to the team, which helps to elevate the whole. Capitalizing on their hip-pocket strengths allows each subject matter expert to own a critical function within the team. I am rewarded by seeing their work product influence the strategic direction of the company and deliver growth results for our retailers.