Taking the Institute to a New Level
As we reported in the May issue, RFE Investment Partners recently acquired the Path to Purchase Institute, publisher of Shopper Marketing magazine.
The Institute now operates in close collaboration with Stagnito Business Information + Edgell Communications, which also was acquired by RFE.
To understand what this change means going forward, we sat down with Institute founder and CEO Peter Hoyt. Here is the edited interview:
Why was the decision reached to sell the Institute?
Hoyt: We didn’t set out to sell the Institute. What we decided to do was to look around for a partner to help us take the organization to a new level. In fact, until we found RFE and heard its proposal, it was very unlikely that we would have sold.
Why did you need a partner?
Hoyt: Our work – the work of the Institute – focuses on the future of consumer marketing and the future of retail. We have helped bring clarity to the market, but with more resources and a few bold strokes, we believed we could have significantly more positive impact on the industry. We discussed combining the future of the Institute with several interested parties. Only one suitor, RFE with Stagnito + Edgell, had everything we were looking for. As a result, the deal was done in record time. In situations like this, I think you know right away when you’ve found a match.
How will the acquisition and merger affect the Institute going forward?
Hoyt: RFE is offering us substantial economic support and professional expertise that goes beyond anything we could have imagined. The people at our new sister companies are resourceful, creative and as dedicated to serving their markets as we are. So, the biggest difference is that we have much greater reach, much greater influence and much greater access to more retailers of every kind.
What does the acquisition/merger mean particularly for the Institute’s members?
Hoyt: We’re going to need some time before we can fully answer the question of how to best unleash the synergies that will result from this marriage, but that’s the whole idea – rapid, dramatic and sustained expansion in the breadth and scope of services that we can offer our members and the market at large.
At the very least, this alliance will usher forth a whole new era in the development of more cutting edge digital products, data resources and publications to help keep our members informed of market developments.
In the immediate future, our new reality will have a dramatic and exciting impact on the vitality of the Path to Purchase Expo. We are in deep collaboration mode with our new partners working on seminars, symposiums and a promotion strategy that will bear incredible fruit for our guests and exhibitors alike. In time, our objective is to build an organization that can serve the market – retailers, manufacturers, agencies and the entire ecosystem of touchpoints on the path to purchase – in new, different and better ways than have ever been offered before.
What does the acquisition/merger mean particularly for Institute and Shopper Marketing sponsors and advertisers?
Hoyt: Among other things, the Institute is widely acknowledged as a great platform through which to raise awareness and drive sales of relevant products and services. We have been offering a fully integrated suite of superior vehicles for years. But that was primarily for reaching manufacturers and agencies. This new deal brings us reach and readership among thousands, actually tens of thousands of retail executives as well. Senior management, merchants, store managers, category management – you name it. It’s just incredible.
You’ve never been shy about changing the names of the Institute’s events and publications, and even the Institute itself. Why the change to “Path to Purchase Expo?”
Hoyt: Shopper marketing has become a very big deal over the past 10-12 years. But it is still very much manufacturer led. Our merger with Stagnito + Edgell has brought us unbelievable reach into the retail community. Our sense is that the term “path to purchase” just makes more sense to retailers than the term “shopper marketing.” There’s not much more to it than that. We believe that whether you are trying to influence shoppers to come to your store, or to plan to select your products or to close the sale online or in-store, understanding winning strategies and tactics for influencing target segments along the entire path to purchase has broad reaching relevance.
Will you be changing the name of this magazine to follow suit?
Hoyt: That is not currently under consideration.
The Expo is returning to the Chicago area after two years in Minneapolis. What opportunity does that present?
Hoyt: The Expo had been in Chicago for many years before we decamped for Minneapolis. Chicago had been an incredibly dynamic market and was very healthy for the Expo for a long time. But attendance was beginning to taper off, just a little. We went to Minnesota for many reasons, but chief among them was to let Chicago “lay fallow,” just as farmers rotate their fields so the nutrients in the soil can be restored. By September, it will have been three years since this show, or any related show, has been in Chicago. So we think our return will lead to a triumphant homecoming with a huge surge in interest and attendance. Throw in all the new energy and vitality that will be added to the mix by our new sister companies, and I think it’s safe to say that this year’s show will be among the most successful we have ever hosted.
Any final comments?
Hoyt: I can only say, stay tuned. Merging three companies takes a little doing. But as Master Yoda would say, “The force is strong with this one.”