Profile: Donna Zambo, Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Allegiance Retail Services
Donna Zambo started her career in grocery 30 years ago at Pathmark, working in market research and manually coding customer survey responses. She held various positions – procurement, sales and advertising, and customer loyalty marketing among them – during her 20-year tenure there before leaving as senior director of marketing. She spent the last nine years at Wakefern Food Corp. serving in several leadership roles including digital marketing, e-commerce and analytics before leaving as director, e-commerce and analytics this year to join Allegiance Retail Services, parent company of the Foodtown cooperative.
Describe your current role.
Zambo: As vice president and chief marketing officer, I oversee the information technology, marketing and advertising, digital marketing, and insights and analytics divisions. I believe that starting my career in consumer research has enabled me all these years to stay close to our shoppers’ wants and needs. It has made me a better marketer.
What is something you would like to accomplish this year with your new team?
Zambo: The focus is on integrating our teams and leveraging our talents across the cooperative. Specifically, we will lean in and leverage our analytical capabilities, which will optimize all our digital and marketing executions as well as drive our overall merchandising and business strategy.
How does your organization go to market digitally?
Zambo: I am fortunate to join an organization with a strong and sophisticated digital go-to-market strategy, backed and supported by our leadership and owners. Our digital executions include a compelling digital coupon program, email and digital display marketing, social media marketing and of course e-commerce. Most importantly, we have moved to more personalized executions.
How do shopper and digital marketing intersect at your company? How has shopper marketing evolved over the years?
Zambo: All our digital executions integrate with our brick-and-mortar experience, with a strong emphasis on bringing value to our shoppers by saving money or saving time. The shopper marketing toolkits have evolved quite a bit over the years, and the rate of change has been tremendous. In the next year or so, it will be critical to have the technical and analytical capabilities to adapt to this rapid change and allow us to execute and evaluate with agility.
Where do you see digital shopper marketing headed in the next few years?
Zambo: Digital marketing needs to be where the shopper is, and in the future our shoppers will continue to be more transient, more diverse and have more options. Shopper marketing must continue to get better at understanding the shopper to ensure that we reach, connect and bring material value to our shoppers. Leveraging our analytics will enable us to give our shoppers a more personalized and relevant experience.
What will be the next big trend to disrupt the digital shopper marketing field?
Zambo: Marketers that obtain or learn the technical capabilities to personalize every aspect of the shopper’s path to purchase in a meaningful manner will emerge as winners. Personalization means different things to different marketers, but those that get it right from the consumers’ perspective will lead and stand out.
How can brands take better advantage of the opportunities in digital?
Zambo: Brands need to leverage resources and commit to providing shoppers a fully integrated digital experience. Not only test and learn but also evolve and optimize those digital strategies and tactics that are proven effective.
What does omnichannel mean to you as a marketer and a shopper?
Zambo: An omnichannel experience for our shoppers is about expecting an integrated and frictionless experience with our brand, whether it is online, in-store or via mobile. As marketers, it’s our job to deliver this experience among all our touchpoints consistently and seamlessly along the entire path-to-purchase journey.
What digital devices and services do you use most often, and how much of an omnichannel shopper are you?
Zambo: I love using my Foodtown mobile app for list-making, coupon savings and to see my personalized offers before I shop. I do order my groceries online, but I also like to shop the brick-and-mortar store at least once or twice a week. Having been in the supermarket business for more than 30 years; I just can’t stay away from the physical store.
How do you keep an ear to the ground in such an ever-changing digital landscape?
Zambo: In addition to reading various news and trade publications, I find that my family is a great resource. Between my two daughters and 12 nieces and nephews, I don’t need to go far to learn about the latest and greatest technologies that resonate with Millennials.