The SVP of industry relations and multicultural development at PepsiCo shares his thoughts about the state of the industry for independent grocers and his outlook for the coming months.
- Challenges of the past year continue to linger into 2023, and despite a gradual easing of inflation, operators as well as consumers are still feeling the pressure. What are your expectations for the coming months?
Although there have continued to be challenges throughout the grocery industry, we’re optimistic about the coming months. As a business, we have continued to invest in new sites, capabilities and production lines that help us continue to offer the great food and beverage products we make, move and sell across the nation.
We’re proud to work with our grocery partners to deliver the products their consumers want most and help them unlock growth. So far this year (during Q1) at PepsiCo, we’ve had an especially strong start. Our performance highlights the results of our investment in faster product innovation, stronger data and better CSR, but we’re especially doubling down on sustainable growth.
We see a growing demand for a modernized supply chain, strong digital capabilities, flexible go-to-market distribution systems and the ability to offer personalization at scale throughout our diverse markets to meet the needs of local consumers and customers.
- What should policymakers understand about independent grocers as they consider legislation that will impact your business?
We believe things like navigating the ongoing changes, the new rules and regulations throughout the industry are definitely key to ensure alignment and success. Large national corporations often have the benefit of in-house teams to provide guidance on emerging laws, policy engagement and political activities.
At PepsiCo, we’re committed to using our resources to help support independent grocers both directly and through our involvement and investment in trade organizations like NGA. It’s no secret that there is a need for better standardization across the entire food, beverage and grocery industry, but it is especially important for independent grocers. During the pandemic, we celebrated the essential role of the grocery industry and its frontline employees, and it’s imperative that the support continue as we enter this new, post-pandemic economy.
- More than three years after the pandemic began, how is your business different today?
Our business has become faster, more agile and flexible than we had expected.
For example, the emergence of e-commerce is here to stay, and retailers must manage inventory across click-and-collect business as well as in-store to deliver on how, what, when and where consumers want. The way shoppers experience brands starts well before they enter the store, and from having updated social media pages and websites to in-store solutions like unattended checkout, technology enables people to shop at their own pace.
Going beyond just the shopping experience, we also know that consumers are increasingly demanding that companies share their commitment to a better, more sustainable future. That’s why we launched Pep+, our end-to-end transformation that drives positive action for the planet and people to create growth and value. This includes working to build a more sustainable food system, building a more circular and inclusive value chain, as well as community initiatives.
We’ve also expanded our multicultural business unit and in my new role, I’m proudly working to further our dedication to uplifting the communities where we operate. We have made it a leadership directive to better serve our increasingly diverse customers and create positive change for marginalized communities.
- What must independent operators do to ensure growth and success?
The very definition of value is changing, and stronger consumer insights can help find the balance between stocking the right products in the right places and then connecting with customers in the right moments and ways.
An example of this is Pepviz, our proprietary data practice that helps grocers know which stores their shoppers visit and how they satisfy their food and beverage needs and what they’re buying, even when not in their stores.
By leveraging Pepviz, we’re helping our grocery partners unlock growth like never before. The tool helps identify targets and win new cohorts, helps expand into multicultural markets, helps grocers win locally with hyper-targeted customer data and find the shoppers they’re missing.
- If you weren’t in the grocery industry, what would you be doing?
I’d be a head football coach in the NFL or college. Preferred teams would be the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns. Both are dream jobs!
Read more 5 Questions from NGA at The Shelby Report.