• Conference graphic
    Retail Reinvention
    Making the Customer Hero
    March 19 and 20, 2018
  • 2016 panel speakers
    Retail Reinvention
    Making the Customer Hero
    March 19 and 20, 2018
  • background texture
    Retail Reinvention
    Making the Customer Hero
    March 19 and 20, 2018

53rd Annual Food Marketing Conference

DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Conference Hotel: Amway Grand Plaza Reservations

Conference Hotline: (269) 387-2132

Why Attend the WMU Food Marketing Conference?

The top 2 reasons attendees give for attending the Food Marketing Conference are the high quality educational content and the exceptional networking opportunities with industry partners.

  • 100% of conference survey respondents rated the WMU Food Marketing Conference as Exceptional or Above Average compared with other industry conferences they have attended.
  • 95% of conference survey respondents said they would recommend the Food Marketing Conference to someone they know.
See Event Schedule Register Now
Networking scene
Jayne Homco speaking at 2017 conference
Three people networking during conference

Event Schedule

Time Schedule Venue

Monday, March 19

11 a.m. to Noon Kevin Coupe
Retail Reinvention: The Innovation Imperative
Kevin Coupe
Founder, Morningnewsbeat.com

Nothing is what it was. Nothing is as it seems. And nobody really “knows” anything. One thing is for sure, though - that at a time of cutthroat competition and incessant disruption, retailers and suppliers must bring their “A-game” every hour of every day, innovating constantly as they seek both relevance and resonance. That’s just the starting premise for MorningNewsBeat “Content Guy” Kevin Coupe, as he offers a compelling perspective and real-world examples of the enormous challenges facing every retailer and supplier, how to navigate the deadly shoals of 2018-style competition. Kevin’s presentation is laced with what he calls “serious levity,” focusing on the need to act strategically, move swiftly, think differently, and take “big swings” … all of which he believes are absolutely necessary to survive in a fast-changing, revolutionary business environment.

Ballroom BCD
Noon to 2 p.m. General Ann Dunwoody
A Higher Standard: Leadership Lessons from America's First Female 4-Star General
General Ann Dunwoody (U.S. Army Retired)Sponsored by the Network of Executive Women
America's First Female 4-Star General

Meeting the standard will always suffice if you want to be average or just get by. Exceeding the standard and living to a higher standard can lead to success and the achievement of your dreams. Be disciplined. Know what right looks like. Provide a strategic vision. Visualize where you want your team to be in the future and then design a roadmap to get there. It is key that every individual in your organization understands how important he or she is to accomplish the vision. General Ann Dunwoody, is the author of “A Higher Standard”, she will share what nearly four decades in the military taught her about effective leadership, revealing the core principles that guided her to her historic appointment. With engaging stories and battle-tested insights, General Dunwoody will offer practical, tactical advice to lead and achieve with maximum success – no matter the size or scope of your organization.

Ballroom BCD
2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Networking Break Seccia Lobby
3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Michael Sansolo
Executive Forum
Moderator Michael Sansolo Speaker and Retail Food Expert

We are in the midst of a retailing revolution that promises to change the face of retailing as we know it. Convenience and ease of shopping are essential ingredients for the on-the-go consumer. New disruptive business models are bringing levels of convenience consumers are looking for, from direct-to-consumer models to front door convenience. Small box retailers are expanding rapidly offering high value propositions as well as differentiated consumer experiences. Michael Sansolo, along with an expert panel of industry executives will examine the current retail shakeup taking place as well as explore other disruptive forces surely to impact or reshape our industry.

Chris Skyers headshotChris Skyers, Vice President, Merchandising and Marketing, Wakefern Food Corp

Carmela Cugini headshotCarmela Cugini, Vice President US eCommerce, Walmart.com/Jet.com

Tod Pepin headshot
Tod Pepin, Senior Vice President of Foods Merchandising for Meijer

Dave Jones headshot
Dave Jones, Vice President, Industry Initiatives, The Kellogg Company

Robert Tomei
Robert Tomei, President, Consumer Marketing, IRI Global

Fadi Karam

Fadi Karam, Vice President of Marketing, Strategy and Business Development, Nestle Waters North America

Ballroom BCD
4 p.m. to 5 p.m. John Phillips
Retail Reinvention: Bits and Bytes That Will Disrupt Your Supply Chain
John Phillips
Senior Vice President of Customer Supply Chain and Global Go-To-Market, Pepsico

Every week we read news articles, tweets or blogs about new technologies that have the potential to disrupt our business and personal lives in profound ways. Many of these new technologies are impacting the CPG industry and dramatically changing the way consumers research and shop for products. These changes are also impacting CPG supply chains and the methods in which manufacturers and retailers get their goods to market. The digital revolution that we have the opportunity to experience presents enormous opportunities and challenges across the end-to-end consumer value chain. John will share his perspective and insights on some of the technologies that have the greatest potential to drive dramatic change across the CPG consumer value chain. These technologies include augmented reality, smart shelves, autonomous in-store robots, wearables, image recognition, self-driving vehicles, IoT devices, drones and many others. Rated the best presentation of the year by Supply Chain Digest, this will be an exciting and thought-provoking session exploring how supply chain leaders can leverage these technologies to be at the forefront of driving transformational change in their organizations.

Ballroom BCD
5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Welcome Reception Seccia Lobby
6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Networking Dinner Ballroom BCD

Tuesday, March 20

7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Breakfast Ballroom BCD
8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. David Marcotte
From Dinosaurs to Mammals: How eCommerce is Reshaping Brick and Mortar
David Marcotte,
Director of Retail Insights, Kantar Retail

For decades, big box stores were the dominant species in the retail landscape, attracting shoppers with their expansive assortment and “one stop shop” convenience. The emergence of Amazon and other eCommerce players, however, has turned big box retail upside down with lower prices, more relevant assortment, and greater convenience. Many traditional retailers which were once market leaders have disappeared, and those who remain are scrambling to evolve. In the midst of this disruption, a new “species” of brick & mortar retail has emerged that represents the next big growth opportunity for retailers and suppliers: small box retail. Retailers poised to grow over the next several years are those that operate small format stores that offer highly curated value propositions targeted at specific shopper groups. Working and growing with these retailers requires a new set of capabilities, skillsets, and strategic approaches. We’ll discuss not only what the future of a digitally enabled, brick & mortar retail landscape looks like, but also what retailers and suppliers need to do in order to respond effectively.

Ballroom BCD
9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Simon T. Bailey
Brand the Moment – Create Customers for Life
Simon Bailey
Speaker Hall of Fame

90% of American consumers form their perception of companies based primarily on their service experience. Customers buy more frequently, make more transactions and are willing to pay more per transaction when they deal with companies who provide them with a superior service experience. On the other hand, we all know what happens when a business disappoints a customer! To become a brilliant brand, every team member must feel a signfiicant sense of personal ownership. From the front line to the executive suite, Customer Love is all about re-enlisting heads, hearts and hands to create internal alignment, brand longevity, and customer loyalty. Simon T. Bailey leads this inspiring session in which participants will learn how to accept personal responsibility for delivering exceptional service, doing the right thing for customers not because one has to, but because one wants to. You will learn how to unleash a fresh way of thinking about the customer experience and start a process that will transform your organization’s culture into one that consistently delivers platinum service. Simon Bailey began his career in hospitality where he worked at the Disney Institute for the Walt Disney Company.

Ballroom BCD
9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Coffee and Networking Break Seccia Lobby
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Breakout Session I

Innovation: The Rise of The Dark Horse
Larry Levin, Executive Vice President, Consumer and Shopper Insights, IRI Global
Dan Mack, Managing Partner, Mack Elevation

Many companies rely on as much as 10% of their annual sales coming from new product launches. The trend of smaller companies quickly winning in today’s CPG environment has created a new mantra for “failing fast” so that time is not wasted getting new products to market. In IRI’s most recent New Product Pacesetters, 40% of new brands were from small, or “dark horse”, companies. These companies are surprising and delighting consumers across the country with new products that are “designed for me”. These small companies are breaking through with innovation and sparking a consumer innovation revolution. This session will delve into the highly rewarding world of innovation sparked by small, “dark horse” brands.

The New Personalization Playbook
Marta Cyhan, Head of Marketing, Catalina Marketing

Today’s consumers are more selective and their shopping trips more fragmented than ever before.  Consumers now value healthy ingredients four times more than brand recognition—even more so for millennials. Three-fourths of consumers read ingredients on product packaging, and 99 percent ignore many products in the grocery store—and are far more likely to shop multiple outlets.  Given the changing nature of consumers, it’s essential to engage shoppers based on their individual behavior, preferences and motivations. In the era of hyper-selective shoppers, hyper-targeting is a must.  This session will explore the importance of personalization and individualized marketing in the context of evolving consumer behaviors and motivations. It will also look at new breakthroughs in personalization, including the ability to understand and engage shoppers based not only on the products they buy, but also on the ingredients in the products and the motivations behind the purchases.  

Make Way for Meal Kits
 Jay Whitney, President, FoodStory Brands

The growth in the perimeter of grocery continues to outpace center of store.  Retailers and suppliers who continue to evolve to meet the needs of consumers for expanded offerings on the perimeter will win.  One high-growth opportunity is to capitalize on the proven success of online home meal kits.  This business generated $1.5 billion the last 5 years and continues to grow.  Retailers and suppliers have quickly adapted to the trend.  This session will look at the overall landscape, key trends driving the business, current examples online / retail, and best practices in the category.  Jay Whitney has had a very diverse career the last decade in food marketing, promotion and commercial development, launching brands such as Fresh Cravings® Salsa, Cocktail Artist® and a number of unique food licensing programs.

Why America is Winning the New Normal: An Economic Perspective
Dan French, CEO, Brownfield Listings

The new century is still young, but it’s already marked by many substantial changes coming in quick succession. Major structural shifts in the economy, environment, energy markets and our everyday lives are remaking the entire world. This full-spectrum shakeup is impacting decision-making at every level and reshaping the competitive landscape of the global economy once again. Such comprehensive change coming in such a compact period is the world’s hard pivot away from the ‘Old Normal’. But what is the ‘New Normal’? And how is North America benefitting from this global rebalance? Think big about sustainability’s past, present and future in this engaging discussion on the economy, environment, energy, resilience and abundance. These key takeaways are essential for operating in today’s environment and useful in positioning yourself ahead of the fast-approaching future.

How to Be Cool in Social Media Without Really (Looking Like You’re) Trying”
Christina Miller, Associate Channel Director Social Media for VML
Matt Keck, Senior Channel Manager for VML

Almost every brand wants to be a cool teen and culturally relevant on social, but not every brand can master it … and definitely not overnight. It takes a strong strategy, a steady brand voice and a consistent presence over time to win hearts on the inter-webs. Come see how the team behind the most retweeted tweet of all time (#NuggsForCarter) helped Wendy’s become a cool brand in social media, and a nine-time Cannes Lion winner in three easy steps. VML is a full-service marketing agency with offices around the globe, they transform brands through a connected consumer experience.

Thinking Differently the Disney Way (This Session runs from 10:30 – 12:45 p.m.)
Duncan Wardle, former Vice President of Innovation and Creativity, Walt Disney Company

Thinking Differently – Do you ever wonder why most of your best ideas come to you in the shower? Have you ever pitched a new idea only to watch it diluted or killed as it moves through the processes? Ever wanted to know how Walt Disney came up with the idea for a Disneyland or how Netflix completely revolutionized the movie rental industry? Or perhaps you found yourself amazed at how some companies develop killer insights that enabled them to break into major new categories. Building on some 25 years of experience with the Walt Disney Co. around the globe, Duncan Wardle, will create an immersive, engaging workshop that will not only answer these questions but leave you with the tools to take on your challenges in new and different ways that deliver tangible results.

What's Next for Food Retail
Jordan Rost, Vice President of Consumer Insights, Nielsen

Consumers shop everywhere and all the time, which means you have to think bigger and broader in order to capture ever-elusive growth opportunities. We'll explore critical industry factors that have the potential to challenge, but also drive growth for brands and retailers - and what you should do to respond. In his role at Nielsen, Jordan Rost explores emerging trends, shifting buying and media consumption behaviors and helps manufacturers and retailers make more informed decisions. In this session Jordan will examine: How FMCG disruptors will reshape future growth; the impact digitally-engaged shoppers are having on the traditional retail model and the path to purchase and how new entrants are shaking up the U.S. retail and brand landscape.

Leveraging Big Data and Predictive Analytics
Ken Cassar, Principal Analyst and Vice President, Slice Intelligence

Online shoppers initially started shopping because they could get better prices across a broad selection of products than in brick and mortar stores. Over time, the convenience of the channel has risen to the top. In this session learn how you can leverage big data and predictive analytics into actionable insights, giving brands and retailers unprecedented visibility to the modern online shopper. Ken Cassar oversees Slice Intelligence’s research agenda, identifying and contextualizing e-commerce trends from a panel of more than 4.5 million U.S. online consumers. Cassar previously was SVP, media analytic solutions, at Nielsen, where he developed innovative digital commerce measurements and advertising effectiveness solutions. Prior to Nielsen, Cassar was an analyst at Jupiter Research, where he was an early thought leader, trusted adviser and media source on e-commerce.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Breakout Session II

Home Shopping: Convenience is the New Price
Justin Sessink, Manager, Digital Shopping and Program Development, Meijer Stores Lindsey Seal, Director of Partner Success for Shipt

Technology advancements, artificial intelligence (AI), new service offerings, and heightened focus on digital UX are changing the Retail industry at a faster pace than ever before. New experiences are constantly raising the bar for consumer expectations, and disruptive business models are transforming entire industries. Companies who aren’t focused on rapidly evolving digital experiences and convenient solutions will quickly face challenges against their competition. Meijer has been a consistent leader in the area of digital engagement and shopping solutions. In this breakout session, you will learn about Meijer’s digital strategy, and how programs like Curbside pickup, Home Delivery, M-Perks, mobile shopping and more are changing the way customers engage with our stores and brands.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Uncover the Subconscious Motivations Driving Health and Wellness
Dr. A.K. Pradeep, CEO of MachineVantage

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can help marketers understand the non-conscious aspects that motivate and drive consumers. This understanding can help create healthy products that truly resonate with consumer’s desires, and messaging that persuades them to prefer healthier choices. Consumer-driven health care is at the forefront of everyone’s minds today. Living a healthy and vibrant life is the goal of consumers across the globe. In fact, in a recent IRI study, “37% of consumers agree that food is a better remedy for their healthcare than medicine.” Opportunities are abundant for marketers to better understand the conscious and non-conscious motivations offering challenges and opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to bring relevant products and services that resonate with both their hearts and minds.

And Now What?
Lori Stillman, Executive Vice President, Analytics, Insights and Intelligence, Advantage Solutions

In today’s dynamic retail landscape, it seems like the ink is barely dry on strategies and tactics before another wave of change sends planners back to the whiteboard. Our world has become a juggling act of balancing a flurry of M&A activity, retail consolidation, store closures, transformative digital technology, new data sets and more!  Toss in the impacts of politics, diversity, regulations and financial pressures and it’s no surprise that defining growth plans and mapping your shoppers’ path to purchase requires the very best of your organization.  No one can predict – or control – the changes that are reshaping today’s retail landscape.  In this interactive session, Lori will highlight some of the biggest changes our industry is facing and lead a conversation on how we must all embrace, plan and be prepared to win in the midst of the transformative disruption all around us.

Beyond Change Management: Change Leadership Skills for Work and Life
Bryan Yager, Founder of the Bryan Yager Group, LLC

This breakout session is ideal for people who have the responsibility, or opportunity, to lead people through change of any kind. Beyond Change Management focuses on four primary leadership responsibilities in times of transformation. The ideas are simple, practical and actionable, not theoretical or academic. Everyone from entry-level supervisors; department heads; to those in senior management positions will benefit from this message and experience. Not only will people enjoy the message and Bryan’s engaging delivery style, they will also “use the language” and principles personally and professionally for years to come. Bryan is a 20+ year industry veteran specializing in leadership and organizational development. He now supports Fortune 50 companies around the globe as an executive coach, leadership advisor, consultant and workshop facilitator.

Are You on Trend with Your Foodservice Offering?
Dave West, Senior Director, Category Assortment and Strategy, Sysco Foodservice Jody Hartson, Sales Lead, Sysco Foodservice

As the trend toward prepared foods consumed at home grows, the battle for the share of stomach between food retailers and restaurants continue.  Today, more than ever, consumers have multiple choices when considering what’s for dinner including the what’s in the refrigerator or pantry, a meal kit, delivery, and take-out.   As traditional grocery retailers look to remain relevant in the prepared meals space, in-store and carry-out foodservice solutions will continue to rise in importance.  In this session, the presenters will review current foodservice trends, changing consumer palates and the continued evolution of grocerants.  Dave and Jody will also cover how Sysco is partnering with several grocery customers in an effort to keep these retailers competitive and profitable within the foodservice space.

Nathan W. Steed, Partner, Warner-Norcross and Judd

As more companies seek to advance their cybersecurity measures and protect their data and customers, there’s a lot we as end users can do as it relates to personal cybersecurity. Personal cybersecurity plays a critical role in an organization’s overall protection. For employers, helping workers understand personal security online will significantly improve organizational security. Data breaches are becoming a serious issue in the grocery industry, with close to 1,000 breaches occurring in the supermarket space alone last year. One of the biggest threats are malware-type breaches. This presentation will include a description of typical malware attacks and other recent data breaches in the grocery industry with the goal of understanding how they work and what protections you can put in place to protect yourself in the future.

What ‘Real Millennials’ Want and How They are Rapidly Transforming Our Industry
Moderator: Kevin Coupe

There are no white-haired panelists here talking about Millennials, except possibly our moderator who thinks of himself as a Millennial! Just real Millennials talking Millennial issues. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips. Some might even say they live on their smart phones, shop online (constantly), multi-task (always) and are driven by experiences and convenience; What do you expect from the first generation to enter the workplace having grown up right alongside technology, a crucial asset their current senior leadership didn’t grow up with? In this breakout, 5 millennials will share their perspective on the micro and macro challenges they face during a generational shift in a historically traditional industry that is now being disrupted more than ever.

Millenial Panel: Brianna Amat, SC Johnson; Alex Juday, P&G; Katie Hale, Meijer; George DeGrella, General Mills; Carlye Cordes, SpartanNash

1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Luncheon Program and Awards Ballroom BCD
2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Fred Morganthall
Retail Reinvention: Making the Customer Hero
Fred Morganthall
Industry Statesman

Fred Morganthall will draw on his 31-year career in the Food and CPG Industry to provide a perspective on the challenges facing the retailing industry. Fred began his career in 1973 as a sales representative for Proctor & Gamble. He also held management positions at Spartan Stores in Grand Rapids, Michigan. where he was responsible for grocery, frozen and dairy, procurement, general merchandise and health and beauty care from 1978 to 1986. In 1986, he joined Harris Teeter of Charlotte, N.C. where he held various managerial positions before ascending to the role of President and CEO, a position he held until the acquisition of Harris Teeter by the Kroger Company in 2013. After the acquisition by Kroger, Fred was named Kroger’s senior vice president of Retail Operations, and then promoted to his most recent role as Executive Vice President of Retail Operations a position he held until his retirement at the end of 2017. Upon Fred’s retirement, Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger stated, “There are few people in our industry as widely respected as Fred. He worked tirelessly to establish the Harris Teeter brand and, after our merger, helped position Kroger for future success. We’ve all benefited from Fred’s passion for grocery retail and operational excellence.”

Ballroom BCD



Access to all meals and sessions at the 2018 Food Marketing Conference for one person.

Table for 10

10 full registrations include access to all speakers and meals. You may bring 10 guests, or have open seats for students.

Reserve a Table

Benefits vary. Please review the sponsor packet or contact Lisa Youtzy at (269) 387-2132.

Sponsor Sponsor Packet
Sponsor a Student

Students are able to attend the 2018 Food Marketing Conference at no cost to them. If you would like to help offset the cost of students attending the conference, please consider sponsoring a student.

Sponsor a Student

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WMU's campus in Kalamazoo

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Kalamazoo, the home of WMU’s main campus is one hour south of Grand Rapids. WMU also two Grand Rapids locations. If you would like to tour a campus, please call the conference hotline.

(269) 387-2132

2018 Platinum Sponsors

Advantages Solutions Logo
Daymon Logo
EJ Gallo Logo
Hormel Logo
KeHe Logo
Kellogg's Logo
Kroger Logo
Learning Evolution Logo
Meijer Logo
Mondelez Logo
Pepsi Co. Logo
Smucker's Logo
Spartan Nash Logo

2018 Diamond Sponsors

Bel Brands Logo
Constellation Logo
IRi Worldwide Logo
McLane Logo
Pinnacle Foods Logo

2018 Gold Sponsors

Abbott Nutrition Logo
Acosta Logo
Alliance Logo
Bayer Logo
Catalina Logo
Conagra Logo
Dawn Foods Logo
Georgie Pacific Logo
Hershey's Logo
IGA Logo
Jewel Osco Logo
Kimberly Clark Logo
Masterpiece Logo
McCain Logo
NGA Logo
Nestle Water Logo
Nielsen Logo
Prevedere Logo
SAP Run Simple Logo
Sargento Logo
Shipt Logo
Valassis Logo
Unilever Logo

2018 Silver Sponsors

Aunt Millie's Logo
Bell's Brewery Logo
Burnette Foods Logo
CocaCola Global Logo
Cocktail Artist Logo
Country Fresh Logo
Crossmark Logo
Evolocity Logo
Fresh Thyme Logo
Great Lakes Wine and Spirits Logo
Hackney Logo
Impact Group Logo
Imperial Beverage Logo
Insignia Logo
Litehouse Logo
Magnum Coffee Logo
Mars Wrigley Logo
Martin's Logo
Paramount Coffee Logo
Proctor and Gamble Logo
Starbucks Logo
Sysco Logo
Clorox Logo
The Gluten Free Bar Logo
VML Logo