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Sales & Marketing Symposium: Vision 2020
Created on 5/17/2019 12:45:01 PM

FCPC’S Sales & Marketing Symposium: Vision 2020, today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities

On the cusp of a new decade, it is imperative for sales & marketing CPG professionals to not only focus on the challenges of today, but to consider tomorrow’s opportunities as well. In an ever-changing digital world, the CPG industry can anticipate innovation and evolution as the sales & marketing focus shifts to employing developing technologies.

Tackling the future was a series of fifteen, masterful guest speakers at the FCPC Sales & Marketing Symposium on May 15th. Over 150 industry professionals gathered for the dynamic conference aptly titled, “Vision 2020” to evaluate today’s obstacles and contextualize the landscape ahead.

“The world is changing—are you?”

Celebrated speaker Tanya Chernova opened the day, presenting a case for embracing change. Business leaders have tremendous blind spots that prevent them from welcoming the future, and from creating new opportunities. Fear of failure, of rejection, and of the unknown cause blind spots, Chernova explained.

Regardless, she added that willing oneself to be open-minded can improve blind spots. “Your beliefs reflect your life”, said Chernova, “it’s not about being the smartest or strongest leader, it’s about being the most responsive to change.” To be open to the future is to be open to each and every opportunity.


Where Leadership in CPG is headed...

Next, executive coach Christi Scarrow introduced a panel of business leaders, Todd Kelly, Liz Beemer, and Todd Cooney to share insights into where the CPG industry is headed, and how sales & marketing can be more collaborative.

When asked about business barriers, Beemer attributed that financial and consumer insight is as valuable as sales & marketing collaboration, and that, “having common goals and aspirations to bring the team [together]” is critical. In contrast, Cooney proposed that, “how we structured companies before isn’t really relevant anymore, we need to consider [new ways to overcome obstacles] moving forward,” touching on the fast-paced industry and its changing barriers

Kelly, Beemer, and Cooney agreed that diversity is integral to a successful team. “We need to transcend beyond diversity being the objective […] what diversity creates should be the objective,” said Kelly.

The panel closed with Beemer describing the value of reverse mentoring in the tech-oriented future, and Kelly reiterating that, with a fast-paced world ahead, “the most important thing you do as a leader is set the definition of success.” 

(Panel guests left to right: Todd Kelly, General Manager of KIND Healthy Snacks; Liz Beemer, SVP & Country Division Head of Consumer Health, Bayer Inc.; Todd Cooney, President of Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada; moderator Christi Scarrow, Lighthouse NINE Group.)

Through the Lens of Gen Z

The perfect juxtaposition to the previous speakers, teen entrepreneur sisters Ella & Peyton Verhoeven of Think GenZ then took to the stage.

Canada’s first Gen Z thought leaders, the Verhoevens gave insight on how CPG industry professionals can attract the attention of this fast-emerging generation, both as consumers and employees.

One in five Canadians is Gen Z, spending $15.4 billion annually with 81% influencing their family’s spending. Further, Gen Z is a highly motivated, digital native generation with the skills and tools to overcome the challenges of the future.

The Verhoevens advised business leaders to maintain transparency initiatives, and to have a strong, social media presence if they want to successfully engage Gen Z'ders.

Bringing A.I to CPG

From Daisy Intelligence, founder & CEO Gary Saarenvirta provided a practical perspective on the impact of A.I in retail and CPG.

“Let people focus on what they’re good at […] A.I will positively augment our world, not change it,” said Saarenvirta, smashing misconceptions about A.I.

A.I is accessible, autonomous, self-learning, and self-adjusting. It can streamline retail processes and allow people to work on less tedious tasks at work. Saarenvirta explained that A.I is an, “invisible advantage”, and has the power to minimize poverty, shrinking the cost of living.

“There needs to be more support for A.I through the future’s transformation,” Saarenvirta concluded, “the stakes should be high.”


Networking Tomorrow

“Relationships in life and in business are the most important—they are intrinsic.”

Networking expert Michael Hughes tied off the morning with an empowering and interactive session addressing business networks, and the impact of successful relationships.

The average networking encounter is around three minutes long; Hughes suggested that letting go of insecurity can open up opportunities to develop relationships with powerful leverage.

“Deep, meaningful relationships don’t grow overnight,” Hughes said. “Help yourself by understanding the process of how you interact in networking conversations.



Vision 2020 Solutions 

One of the great demands of the future will be answering to a generation of CPG consumers and regulators that demand transparency. Jim Flannery shared the industry's technology solution, brand initiative SmartLabel™.

“Consumers have every right to know what’s in their food,” Flannery said, adding that the SmartLabel™ program is a digital agent that will provide information about CPG products that is required by law, and as told by the brand. For all industry professionals, transparency initiatives such as SmartLabel™ are crucial to surviving the accelerating world.




The afternoon was stacked with more provoking, future-forward discussions. Futurist and thought-leader, Sanjay Khanna explained the precarious climate CPG industry professionals are entering. Between shifting consumer demands, sustainability needs, technology developments, and ever-intimidating competition, Khanna detailed how to make sense of it all.

From Bite Me Creative, Julie Albert exposed social media secrets, demonstrating the power of social media when utilized efficiently. “Social media is your best listening tool,” said Albert. Various platforms offer a direct communication channel between the business and the consumer; being open and responsive online can help a brand enforce a higher level of transparency.

In a similar manner, business architect Asad Joheb revolutionized the conversation, speaking to the prospective, cashless society. Joheb shared insights into the future of cashless transactions with his experiences learned from daily interactions across industries, regulators and customers.

“We need digital solutions that illuminate, re-imagine, and transform the supply chain,” said Tom Cometa during his session about using A.I and new tech to move products faster, and to ensure those products arrive at the right time, to the right place.

Coming from a world-leading CPG company, Cometa shared that using state-of-the-art technology on pooled platforms can generate real-time data needed to reduce labour time and costs, while enhancing product execution.



Relentless Adaptation

“Why is it that we don’t embrace new technology? We’re afraid of making mistakes.”

Acclaimed keynote speaker and entrepreneur Amber Mac delivered a captivating session on how great businesses are innovating to win.

Speaking to the day's theme, Mac discussed leading organizations who embrace new technologies and "relentless adaptation". In a world of hyper-adoption—in which consumers are exploring new technologies and moving onto the next at an accelerated pace—it is necessary for businesses to try new technology. “Stay open to crazy ideas,” she said.

As the FCPC Sales & Marketing Symposium came to a close, it was evident that the new decade would be dynamic, bright, and driven by innovative, ground-breaking technology. Above all, Vision 2020 is a promise for tomorrow’s opportunities; the CPG industry can and should, without a doubt, anticipate vast changes to the landscape ahead.