People to Watch 2017: TJ Barton
Company: Keurig Green Mountain
Title: Manager, Revenue Growth Management Insights and Capabilities
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (bachelor’s, physics)
Ten individuals represent the People to Watch Class of 2017. Nominated by their respective companies’ representatives in the Path to Purchase Institute’s League of Leaders, these rising stars are making a name for themselves by doing work for their brands that is worthy of attention.
A 2013 MIT graduate with a degree in physics, TJ Barton has always enjoyed analytics and problem solving. But after a stint doing research and publishing papers, he decided to take a turn into the business world.
Barton grew up knowing the CPG industry. His father is an executive recruiter, and it was at his dad’s company, Barton Executive Search, that he worked as a research analyst before joining Keurig in March 2014 as a category analyst. “I was brought into Keurig as a contractor and fell in love with the culture and organization.”
He found his “obvious fit” when Eric Gorli came to the organization and split off the revenue growth management (RGM) group. Barton now reports to Gorli, vice president of commercial leadership. “He completely changed my perspective in terms of how I think of the business,” Barton says. “He helped develop my strategic thinking and how I put a story together, and also how I look at different business problems.”
Today, as the manager of insights and capabilities within the RGM group, Barton supports the group with insights in terms of promotional testing, optimization and analytics. “That’s where I touch shopper marketing from one angle as far as ROI and optimization, which is part of our holistic trade approach,” he says.
Barton is involved in some of Keurig’s top-line forecasting and organizational reporting as well as building broader commercial insights that support the company’s organizational strategy. “Within the strategy work I’ve been a part of, targeting activities and shopper marketing activities have been the key element of our approach,” he says. He also manages and helps to optimize the company’s national coupon budget management strategy.
Barton points to a targeting strategy the group developed since he assumed his post in April 2016. “We’ve uncovered some key insights on who our shoppers are, and we’re a business that looks at things very much from a long-term value perspective, so it’s well-suited for targeting and personalization,” he says. The team has spent a lot of time working – from a shopper marketing perspective – on how to bring new people into the system in a targeted way, while developing things with test and learns, direct mail, printed coupons and digital approaches.
“A year later we’re sitting at a point where we have a pretty clear sense of what works and what doesn’t and how to move forward on that,” he says, adding that he takes pride in having developed it from insights all the way through to execution. “We now have a general coupon and shopper marketing strategy that helps support that initiative.”
Another mentor for Barton is Patrick Minogue, senior vice president of e-commerce at Keurig. Minogue previously headed the customer marketing department. “I worked with him on some of our commercial strategy and that helped me really understand how insights can help drive action,” Barton says.
With an eye on the digital space for his own career, Barton sees shopper marketing in a transitory moment where traditional methods continue to be successful, but the shift to digital continues. “The details and development of the digital space is so young and new that figuring out how to best activate and really get good ROIs and strong performance continues to be a key question, as well as how to best integrate it into a portfolio of programs.”
He predicts e-commerce becoming a much larger portion of the everyday shopper’s life. There will be new things popping up that extend beyond just regular shopping that are transforming the ways we interact with buying things, he says. And the tie between e-commerce and the physical store will be stronger. “There will be more integration and it will become more seamless, whether through pickup or more ways to interact with a store digitally.”