People to Watch 2018: Alexa Spanier
Company: Kellogg Co.
Title: Senior Manager, Shopper Marketing
Education: Colorado State University (bachelor’s, journalism, public relations); Murray State University (master’s)
Alexa Spanier landed at a small agency right out of college, doing work in public relations and marketing and following the career path she always intended to take. That was where she realized that marketing was her true passion, and she moved to another agency, focusing solely on CPG marketing. “I fell in love with the agency side, where you can be so creative,” she says. “When you’re young, that agency culture is extremely appealing.” She kept moving up in the agency world, gaining exposure to a wide range of marketing disciplines while pursuing her MBA, knowing that ultimately she’d make the jump to the client side.
Her most recent agency role was at TracyLocke working on the Pepsi field business out of a regional office. “I was almost acting as more of a Pepsi employee than an agency employee,” she says. In November 2017, she joined Kellogg as a marketing manager responsible for setting the strategy and driving the execution of shopper marketing programs at Albertsons-Safeway across all of the company’s brands.
“My ultimate goal is to deliver insight-driven programs that resonate and engage the shopper while aligning to the retailer’s goals and objectives because it’s at that intercept where we can grow our brands,” she says. Spanier has filled a sizeable void through her work developing relationships with the Albertsons shopper marketing team. “It has opened doors for us to be able to leverage more of their capabilities that we hadn’t necessarily tapped into as an organization until now,” she says. “As a company we’re positioning ourselves in a way that is more customer first – and as a result, shopper first – than it ever has been.”
She credits her father with her early success because he instilled in her a passion and interest in business since childhood. “He also taught me about work ethic and like many parents has been my cheerleader and sounding board at every step of my career,” she says. Mike Finney, her first boss out of college, also had a big role in shaping her career. “He encouraged me to think out of the box to deliver interesting, effective solutions for our clients and gave me the latitude to make big, impactful decisions at a very early stage in my career.”
Spanier is proud of one of the first programs she worked on when she joined Kellogg. The company’s iconic Pop-Tart brand had seen a decline in sales at the retailer. The team’s objective was to engage lapsed households to bring them back to the brand as well as inspire loyal buyers to increase buy rate. “We understood through insights that our target shopper likes to explore different taste profiles and experiment with versatile ways to eat Pop-Tarts,” she says. Using this insight, they built a program around versatility – Pop-Tart and ice cream combinations.
Spanier sees emerging technology, e-commerce, retailer dynamics and shopper behavior all changing at an extremely fast pace, making it hard to be nimble and flexible enough to reach shoppers with the right message at the right time. A big piece Kellogg is working through as a company right now is how to better leverage insights to develop shopper programs.
E-commerce and shopper marketing have to be integrated, she argues, so figuring out that dynamic especially as it relates to specific customers is going to be very important. She sees a shift coming that will move efforts more from the in-store presence Kellogg has had in the past to really honing how it utilizes digital, especially retail-specific digital. “That’s something that is going to be really important to us moving forward.”