New consumer segmentation data presented at Mack Elevation Forum

Only 1-in-5 executives are fully confident they have the right to win in their businesses; and 64% agree that their company has too many conflicting priorities. That was a key message for attendees of a Nov. 9 Insights Forum hosted by Mack Elevation Forum managing director Dan Mack. “Lack of corporate clarity can kill, and you may not even be aware of it,” Mack said.

Now in its second year, the Insights Forum, which is aimed at marketing and category management leaders at small to large consumer packaged goods companies, grew out of the Mack Elevation Forum program, a series of high-level executive share group sessions developed by Mack in 2008 for senior sales leaders. In all, about 20 senior executives attended the November Insights Forum, which focused on creating a winning business at Walmart, creating meaningful strategy and staying ahead of the changing consumer.

Special guest keynote speaker Larry Levin, SymphonyIRI’s general manager and VP global insights, presented research from a recent study, “Channel Migration and How to Win Today’s Shopper in Today’s Turbulent Economy.” The research examined consumer attitudes and shopping patterns across six segments, grouped by financial outlook and behavior, and it provided new insight into how different categories, brands and stores are performing with these groups, and how companies can better leverage future growth opportunities. “The core consumer with most retailers is motivated and shops differently than their cross-over shoppers,” Levin said. “Our job is to reach out to them and inspire them household by household.”

The segments SymphonyIRI identified include:

  • Downtrodden: Median annual income of $41,000; very pessimistic about their financial situations; tend to shop at mass merchandisers, dollar and convenience stores;

  • Cautious and worried: Median income of $42,000; bleak financial outlook; often shop at mass merchandisers;

  • Startups: Median income of $44,000; impacted by the recession but maintain positive outlook; shop at grocery, drug and convenience stores;

  • Optimistics: Median income of $48,000; positive outlook; favor supercenters, drug and convenience stores;

  • Carefree: Median income of $59,000 and financially stable; skew toward club stores and tend to be brand-loyal; and

  • Savvy shoppers: Median income of $81,000 and financially stable; enjoy shopping and the quest for value; favor grocery, drug and mass merchandisers.

Overall, all segments demonstrated a generally positive outlook for the future for most groups with the exception, somewhat predictably, of the “Downtrodden” segment. In general, attitudes regarding the strength and direction of the economy have seen slight improvement over the past year, Levin explained, but shoppers remain extremely cautious.

“That ties into a key theme of the forum,” Mack noted. “The best companies deliver more value to their retail partners and their consumers by thinking of every engagement as a unique opportunity to be different and special, household by household.”

The forum kicked off with a robust discussion among attendees around effective business presentations and better meeting engagement with customers. “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, that’s creativity,” Mack noted. “The key to presentation effectiveness is eliminating unnecessary complexity. The most effective presentations are exceptionally concise, with a rich understanding of the audience’s needs; the best meeting engagements center around a deep understanding of the larger industry/retailing environment context.”

“One of the largest blind spots for most companies is not having perfect clarity of the role and goal of customer engagement,” he added. “Often, there is too much time spent on noncritical discussion points that waste time and do not create value.”

“Prior to a key customer engagement, we simulate the call dynamics so everyone can flush out the key problems and ideas prior to the discussion,” John Rizzo, Pacific World director of category management, shared with the group. “It’s easier to create meeting or presentation clarity when you can create discovery business meetings while walking a store with the retailer’s buying team.”

“When you can make the charts and insights come to life in front of a shelf, you can create a sales experience,” noted Amanda Burris, Beiersdorf global business development analyst for Walmart.

“We’ve all got to start thinking more creatively about how to engage our customers in ways that show them ‘I understand you and your agenda,’” noted Wahl Home Products’ director of marketing Steve Yde.

The Insights Forum will meet twice in 2013. For more information, visit

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