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King Soopers president announces retirement

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI – Kroger on Wednesday announced that Russ Dispense, president of the company's King Soopers division, plans to retire on July 1, after 51 years with the company.

His successor will be announced at a later date, Kroger stated.

"Throughout his distinguished career, Russ has always been known for his passion for the community, King Soopers and for people," stated Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO, Kroger. "His desire to see those who work with him grow and develop has changed the lives of our associates and touched the lives of our customers," he said. "Under Russ's leadership King Soopers has grown significantly while remaining Colorado's favorite grocery store in a highly-competitive market. Russ will end his incredible career as our longest-serving King Soopers president. We are grateful for his many years of exceptional service and leadership, and wish him, Debbie and their family all the best in retirement."

A Colorado native, Dispense began his career in the supermarket industry in 1965, when he joined King Soopers as a courtesy clerk. He served in various leadership positions in stores and district management through the years, as well as at warehouses, manufacturing plants and administrative offices. Dispense was promoted to VP retail operations and merchandising for the King Soopers division in 1983. He also served as VP real estate. In 1999, he was promoted to president of Smith's Food and Drug Stores in Salt Lake City.

Dispense was named to his current role as president of King Soopers/City Market division in 2001.

Dispense currently serves on the board of directors for Western Association of Food Chains, Children's Hospital Colorado and the Colorado Health Foundation. He has served as the past chairman of the board for the Better Business Bureau, and on the board of directors for both the Mountain States Employers Council and the Rocky Mountain Food Dealers Association, as well as the State of Colorado Governor's Advisory Council.

He holds a degree in Business Administration from Western State College and is a graduate of the University of Southern California Food Industry Management Program.

Dispense has been married to his wife Debbie for 46 years. They are the proud parents of two grown children, Lisa and Marc, and have five grandsons.
 

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Edgewell: 360-degree perspective is key to consumer engagement

BY DSN STAFF

With its broad portfolio spanning shaving, skin, sun, infant and feminine care in the personal care segment, Edgewell tees up its message to the New General Market to match the audience.

(Click here to download the full New General Market report.)

Those carefully tweaked messages are evident at the retail shelf, where thought has been put into how to communicate at the point of decision. For example, as Jonathan Rhyan, senior shopper marketing manager for Edgewell Personal Care, noted, the manner in which messages are conveyed — and the content of these messages — is different depending on the shopper’s path to purchase.

With its powerful brand names — such as Playtex, Schick, Edge and Banana Boat — Edgewell has names consumers seek in stores. Still, Edgewell believes consumers must be given a 360-degree perspective of brands, with the digital shopping experience they experience from their couch being entirely cohesive with what happens when they are in store aisles — and vice versa. “We look at it as a holistic experience,” Rhyan said.

Just as significantly, the role of the shelf itself varies depending on customer needs and the particular brand in question. For instance, Rhyan said, women seek information about feminine hygiene products and usage in keeping with the particular life stage in which they happen to be. However, because of the nature of the product, they don’t want to look for answers to their questions while standing in the aisle at the local store.

“The aisle isn’t the right place to be delivering the message, in this case,” Rhyan noted. “So we look at how we deliver that information differently, and then synergize it at the shelf.”

On the other hand, sun care is a category where on-shelf information is paramount. Edgewell has tapped a myriad of technological tools to help shoppers make educated decisions, including what to select based on the weather that day or the activities they plan outside.

Casting an eye to the future, Rhyan said hyper-personalization and micro-targeting represent the next direction brands must take in order to cater to the needs of consumers within and beyond the New General Market. “In order to do that, you have to have a lot of insight and do your homework,” he asserted. “You have to know who your consumer is and how they use your products. Insight work can be expensive, but without it, a company is challenged to get down to that personalized authenticity.”

Edgewell also recognizes that social media has opened up avenues to target the New General Market. But again, the message must be fine-tuned, and marketers must remember that there is no “one-size fits all” solution for reaching millennials.

“What exactly is a millennial? Is it the younger millennial group of 18-24? With kids or without? Millennials are the most culturally diverse group,” Rhyan said. Another example is the Hispanic population, which also requires carefully curated social media approaches. “You really have to understand and shape your messages to speak to people in a meaningful way, particularly as it relates to product or category education. We are putting a lot of emphasis behind our insight work.”

Edgewell has many recent examples of using its toolbox to create relevant messages linked to products. The Rock Your Legs Campaign for its Schick and Skintimate brands features its own emojis. Schick and Skintimate Rock Your Legs emoji displays appeared in major grocery stores and drug stores.

Similarly, Edgewell’s Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Lotion Sunscreen was featured in seven episodes of actress Shay Mitchell’s YouTube series, Shaycation. Mitchell has more than 21 million followers across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and will promote Hawaiian Tropic across her social media channels.

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Hello products gets up close and personal

BY DSN STAFF

A twenty-something consumer walks into a drug store and heads to the oral care aisle, where she begins looking at the toothpaste selection. She quickly picks up and puts down boxes containing offerings from a few mainstream brands, but when she sees the hello products package, she not only grabs it, she spends several minutes reading the copy. Smiling and laughing to herself, she places the box into her basket.

(Click here to download the full New General Market report.)

This is exactly the reaction Craig Dubitsky, hello products’ founder and CEO, wants to see from New General Market consumers like the one in the above scenario — and from all consumers, in fact. “It’s all about being thoughtful and delighting the customer — not only digitally, but at the store shelf,” Dubitsky said.

With this in mind, hello products’ packaging features no oversized tooth images; rather, the stylish hello logo commands attention. The tone of the copy — written by Dubitsky himself for a more personal touch that is the company’s cornerstone — is tongue-in-cheek. A list of all ingredients — with the purpose and benefits of each one clearly spelled out — is accompanied by a list of all the artificial ingredients that are not in there — making hello “a no-brainer.” Near the UPC code are such smile-inducing one-liners as, “Hello, Tiger” and “Meet your new squeeze,” accompanied by a “wink” emoticon.

People now look for brands that reflect and share their values. “Our formulas are vegan and never tested on animals, and we invest in recycled materials for our cartons,” Dubitsky continued, “and this stuff really matters to us.” Despite digital marketing and apps, “the decision to purchase is generally made at the shelf,” Dubitsky stated. “That’s why it’s important for the brand to have a voice. Our packaging, copy and tone gives hello a unique voice.”

Getting up close and personal with customers is so important to Dubitsky and hello products that he makes his contact information, including his cell phone number, readily available to consumers. He spends several hours in the very early morning responding to consumers’ emails, and in the evening, he can be found conducting one-on-one conversations via Skype with customers who ping him there via a link on the company’s website (HelloProducts.com).

“We need to be personal, and we need to be transparent — and that means doing everything from telling customers what every ingredient in their toothpaste does, to listening and responding to what they have to say even if for some reason, they aren’t happy,” Dubitsky said. “You can’t really outsource soul to a call center, and you can’t outsource transparency. You can’t say you’re a friendly brand and company — as we imply on our packaging — and not be reachable. Authenticity is everything, and people can tell if you’ve got it or your faking it in an instant.”

While hello’s oral care offerings are loved by millennials, Dubitsky believes the New General Market consumer is a psychographic, not a demographic. “All consumers want to be part of something — no matter their age. “Our job is to create brands that people want to join, not buy. When people choose hello, they’re joining something special, a ‘movemint,’ finally making personal care, personal.”

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