With the 2022 NAMA conference fast approaching—it’s taking place in Chicago from April 6-8—we spoke with Malcolm McAlpine, business manager, branded snacks and confection at Mondelēz, to get tips and tricks on what to look out for this year and how to make the most of your time at the conference.
What are you most excited about for the conference?
I’m most excited about the fact that the vending and micro market industry is going through some really positive changes. It’s one of the few positive things to come out of COVID. A lot of cafeterias have been replaced with micro markets, so I think it’s an exciting time.
I’m also really excited about some of the new products that we’re featuring at our booth. The OREO Cakesters are back by popular demand, and we’re featuring new products from SOUR PATCH KIDS and SWEDISH FISH and Friends. The SWEDISH FISH and Friends is really awesome—the friends are a strawberry-flavored pink Amazon River Dolphin and a watermelon-flavored Green Sea Turtle. The bag is actually recyclable by TerraCycle, so you’ve got a great sustainability initiative there tied with focusing on two marine mammals that are endangered.
Finally, I’m excited to see all of the operators and all the people that I know in the industry as well. Not just to share ideas but also to catch up. I was in New Orleans last August for NAMA, which was for various reasons not very well-attended. I believe this year’s conference is going to be really well-attended. All the manufacturers are going to be back.
What advice would you give to conference attendees to help maximize their time?
There are two things I recommend.
First, there are a lot of good education sessions. Pick the ones that you’re really interested in; don’t try to go to all of them. NAMA always puts together really good content in the educational sessions that covers a variety of different topics from people in the industry. Consider which ones are the most applicable to you and what you need to learn more about.
Second, the show is three days, but it’s actually got quite a tight timeline; it’s not an all-day and all-night type of trade show. So it’s essential to prioritize who you want to meet with on the show floor from a supplier, vendor and manufacturer perspective. Decide who the top 10 people are that you really want to talk to and make sure that you talk to those people first. Then, if you have time left, which you probably will, you can wander the show and see what else is new and anything else that interests you.
What can attendees expect at the MDLZ booth?
Not only will we have the new products that we’ll be sampling there, but we’ll have three of our sister companies there as well: Perfect Snacks, Give & Go and Tate’s Bake Shop. These smaller companies under the Mondelēz umbrella have items that are really applicable in the channel, particularly in micro markets, and we have afforded them space and branding on our booth so that they can take advantage of our scale of the booth. There will be some fun interaction and the ability to enter and win some Mondelēz Branded Premiums.
Please come by our booth, understand the range and the breadth of our offering, taste and sample our new products, and understand how we can help you with planograms, category management and market insights. We have an absolute wealth of data, and I really wish operators would reach out to us more because we’re only too happy to share that kind of data to help them make informed, objective decisions about what products to put in their vending machines and their micro markets. We take a very objective approach to doing this as well. For example, I would never suggest in a 45-select vending machine that you have 45 OREO cookies! We use the data and insights to help operators put together very objective planograms that will maximize two things for them: turns and profitability, and customer satisfaction.
Can you give us a sneak preview of your session at NAMA, The Importance of Consumer-Facing Promotions in Micro Markets
As we know, micro markets are expanding at an incredible rate. Offices are never going to be the same, coming out of COVID; we’re never going to have the same number of people in offices as we did before, and, for that reason, micro markets make sense for a lot of smaller office locations where they can still get a full meal.
A lot of employers are trying to encourage people back with free or discounted food and snacks, according to what we’ve heard from people in the industry, so micro market operators really have to get into a retail mindset. It’s all about category management and having the right products, then promoting those products effectively to the consumer. Manufacturers would much rather promote to the consumers directly because it helps both the operators and us; they get the lift and we sell more. It’s a rising tide that lifts both our boats.
So, I’m going to talk about the importance of consumer promotions. The client is happy if their consumers are happy, and consumers expect promotions. The session will cover the three basic types of promotions and how each one of them skews toward a different demographic. I will then provide a case study example featuring the results of a cross-promotion that we ran with SOUR PATCH KIDS in micro markets and movie theaters in San Antonio.
My favorite quote is by C. Edward Deming, which is, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” I don’t have an opinion about consumer promotions; I have data to show that when you run these promotions, this is the lift you get and these are the results of the promotions. That’s what I’ll be demonstrating in my session at NAMA this year.
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