Profile: Alysia Ross, Director, Shopper Marketing, Danone North America
Alysia Ross saw a dream job opportunity in Danone North America’s (then The Dannon Co.’s) opening for an experienced shopper marketer to establish and lead a headquarters-based shopper team. She had already held various shopper and foodservice roles in the food and beverage industry at PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group. She’s even worked on the agency side leading shopper teams and embracing the role of drug channel leadership. For Ross, establishing and socializing a strategic shopper discipline at a company like Dannon was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
Please describe your current role.
ROSS: I lead the yogurt business unit center shopper marketing team, acting as the liaison between the yogurt brand teams and the retail teams in the field. My role includes working with the brands on their shopper strategy and platforms, and disseminating that information to the field and helping them in customizing it for their retailers. My role also includes profit and loss responsibility for the field and agency budgets.
How does your company define shopper marketing?
ROSS: Create solutions that meet retailer objectives and shopper needs. Convert trips. Differentiate Danone brands from the competition. Drive awareness, trial and repeat. Grow the basket and enhance quality merchandising execution.
What motivates you most in your current position?
ROSS: When Danone joined with WhiteWave, we recognized the possibilities to make an impact through our impressive portfolio of brands. As we work to bring together our culture, systems and ways of working, what motivates me is being a part of the journey we have made over the past year, and watching these two purpose-driven companies come together.
How has shopper marketing moved forward in the past decade?
ROSS: Over the last decade, shopper has progressed from being considered a very tactical, executional function (often confused or even combined with trade marketing), to leading as an insight-based and strategic discipline. With the widespread acquisition of custom shopper data and its availability, personalization is a necessity to any campaign. Digital tools have also played a role in the customization of shopper communication – no longer an afterthought, but an essential part of any campaign that attempts to speak to the shopper across her journey.
What is the shopper’s greatest need today?
ROSS: Customized, convenient solutions are the core of the shopper’s needs. It boils down to making the shopper’s life a little easier. Whether it’s a merchandising solution that showcases the ingredients to a recipe, a customized email that provides coupons for the brands I use or an online grocery delivery system that knows the items I need, shoppers are hungry for ways to make their lives easier and use their time more efficiently.
How is your team or organization working to meet that need?
ROSS: As a leader in the dairy and plant-based offerings, Danone North America has a portfolio of brands that meets shoppers across seasons, occasions and need states. To capitalize on this, we are creating a series of portfolio events that both align with retailer calendars and showcase our brands under umbrella themes that make sense to our shoppers. For example, no other company can provide breakfast choices for the entire family and its varying tastes – from coffee to creamers to organic milk, dairy, nut and plant-based yogurts, our portfolio can help build the basket for our customers and provide solutions for our shoppers.
What’s your vision of retail and shopper marketing in 5-10 years?
ROSS: As shopping continues to migrate online, influencing purchase decisions will evolve. As the virtual shelf replaces the metal shelf, new approaches will need to be developed to disrupt the shopping experience across the path to purchase. Personalization will be key to this, and as our access to data grows, it will provide the opportunity to tailor communications to the shopper at the right time, with the right message, with the right vehicle.