Profile: Pat FitzSimons, U.S. Team Leader, Shopper Insights & Category Management, Bic
When Bic was in search of a leader for its new Center of Excellence for Category Management and Shopper Insights, the organization tapped Pat FitzSimons. Since taking on the challenge more than two years ago, she and her team have worked hard to help the organization meet the sales and marketing objectives in an ever-changing retail environment. The team serves the Bic USA lighter, shaver and stationery businesses. “My key responsibility,” FitzSimons says, “is to ensure the voice of the shopper is infused in everything we do in support of our retail partners and the Bic organization.”
Before Bic, she gained experience in shopper insights, category management, business development, pricing strategy and the development of shopper marketing programs. During her career, she’s worked for Prestige Brands, Kraft Foods, Information Resources Inc., and S.C. Johnson. “They all taught me something new and expanded my skill set,” FitzSimons says.
How do you help Bic’s sales organization?
FITZSIMONS: I deliver support and thought leadership on shopper-driven, fact-based sell-in presentation to ensure they have what they need to be successful at their customers.
FITZSIMONS: By conducting quantitative and qualitative research around shopper behavior and delivering category recommendations to support the KPIs of both the retailer and Bic.
Where do insights fit into the company?
FITZSIMONS: They are at the forefront of everything we do from developing sales strategies with our retail partners to identifying new merchandise opportunities.
How do insights impact new items?
FITZSIMONS: Shopper and consumer insights are the foundation for delivering the right products, in the right place and at the right time to ensure our retail partners maximize their category sales. Shopper insights ensure that the retailer delivers the products that their best shoppers look to find in their stores at a “value” the shopper expects.
What do you find gratifying about your role?
FITZSIMONS: Working with my team in the development of selling stories and delivering best-in-class category recommendations to support the sales and marketing teams. I truly enjoy being a team leader and mentor.
What do you consider a challenge to your discipline?
FITZSIMONS: Understanding the shoppers’ journey to purchase and developing predictable analytics to help our sales and retail partners maximize sales. One way to think about it is there is no longer a path to purchase to understand, but a journey to track. The challenge is there are no footprints to follow.
What can CPG companies do?
FITZSIMONS: We have to reinvent our thought process and tracking of our shopper so we can gain actionable insights for our companies and our retail partners.
What tools does Bic use to develop insights?
FITZSIMONS: Multiple vendors and resources. I don’t think there is one or two that can solve for all of the dynamic needs we have across our businesses and retailers.
Is there one you turn to the most?
FITZSIMONS: Online survey partners, seconded by mobile geo-targeting platforms for quick answers to retailer- or brand-specific questions. We use larger research partners for the more strategic, project-based research.
In addition to good partners, what does it take to excel in insights?
FITZSIMONS: You have to have the ability to use both sides of your brain equally. You need to understand the technical aspects of both qualitative and quantitative data but also have a creative mind to develop a presentation that tells a complete story. Insights are not always black and white; there is always a bit of art in finding the real insight to act upon.
Where is the discipline headed?
FITZSIMONS: I think what we will find is that there is not as big a divide between consumer insights and shopper insights as most CPG companies believe.
You see them merging?
FITZSIMONS: I think as the circle of influence becomes broader the lines between consumer and shopper become more blurred. There are more consumers or users that act as shoppers because of the ease of purchase.