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Welcome to On the Move. Every week, The Current is rounding up the comings and goings of leaders at brands and retailers across the ecommerce, retail and CPG landscape.
This week, Walmart has a new top US merchant, Sephora has a new CMO and The Honest Company is bringing on a chief growth officer. Plus, Mondelez makes a key promotion and a digitally native scalp brand taps a new leader for retail expansion.
Walmart names chief US merchant
Latriece Watkins was named chief merchandising officer at Walmart US. The 24-year veteran of the company was previously EVP of consumables, and held a variety of senior leadership roles in merchandising, store operations and human resources. Now, she will succeed Charles Redfield.
“Her enthusiasm, talent and deep experience helped establish the omni merchandising strategy we have today, and her focus on customers and members will only strengthen our position in the future,” Walmart US President John Furner wrote in a company-wide email.
Sephora brings on PepsiCo exec as CMO
Zena Srivatsa Arnold will become chief marketing officer at Sephora US. Succeeding Deborah Yeh upon her transition to chief purpose officer, Arnold most recently served as VP of carbonated soft drinks at PepsiCo, and previously served in leadership roles at Kimberly-Clark, Google, Kellogg Company and Proctor & Gamble.
“With a knack for disruption, Zena brings extensive experience in not only building and growing brands but driving initiatives that reach clients digitally,” a post from Sephora on LinkedIn states. “We’re thrilled to have Zena bringing her expertise to Sephora and helping us shape the future of beauty.”
The Honest Company names chief growth officer
Digitally native consumer products company The Honest Company hired Kate Barton as chief growth officer, filling a key role under recently-appointed CEO Carla Vernón. Barton will work directly with the Honest leadership team on a new transformation initiative.
Barton was previously the chief brand officer at Magnolia, the lifestyle brand founded by Chip and Joanna Gaines. She also served as executive director of marketing at Estee Lauder’s Aveda, and worked at Procter & Gamble and General Mills.
“As someone passionate about building brands with story and impact, I could not be more thrilled to join The Honest Company,” said Barton, Chief Growth Officer of The Honest Company, in a statement.
Mondelez promotes AMEA VP
Deepak Iyer was promoted to the role of VP of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa at Mondelez International. Iyer is rising from a previous role as president of India and Southeast Asia.
The AMEA business generates $6.8 billion for Mondelez. With the promotion, Maurizio Brusadelli is transitioning out of the company for another opportunity.
“With close to three decades of leadership experience and a strong track record of success driving the growth of brands in emerging markets across Asia and Africa, Deepak is the ideal leader to continue our strong and sustained growth across the AMEA region,” said Mondelez CEO Dirk Van de Put, in a statement. “Under his leadership these past six and a half years, India has delivered strong, profitable growth and become a consistent exporter of talent and best practices across our global network.”
Foot Locker names head of WSS
Bianca Gonzalez was named the next general manager of WSS, a retailer focused on Latino communities.
Gonzalez is joining Foot Locker from Nike, Inc., where she previously served as VP of North America Product Merchandising and held leadership roles in marketing, merchandising and sales.
"Blanca's vast knowledge of the sneaker industry attained throughout her tenure with our great partner Nike will be an incredible asset to our WSS business, which has tremendous potential," said Chief Commercial Officer Frank Bracken. "Blanca's remarkable experience, understanding of our diverse customers, and personal roots within WSS's home turf will help deepen our relationships within communities and expand WSS's unique offering of culturally connected experiences.
Divi hires VP of retail
Caroline Scharton was named vice president of retail at Divi as the scalp health brand looks to expand to more brick-and-mortar locations around the country.
Scharton has previously led sales and retail strategies at Neutrogena, Exuviance, Marc Jacobs Fragrances, and Calvin Klein cosmetics. Most recently, she served as director of sales at the cosmetics brand Babe Original, and previously served as national sales director at ~Pourri.
“Over the past year, there has been increasing interest from consumers in hair care products made with clean ingredients, which has caused retailers to make space for a wider variety of offerings,” said Scharton, in a statement. “There are incredible opportunities in this space and I look forward to working with the talented Divi team to drive growth and successfully expand the brand into new retail locations. Divi's powerful scalp health and hair care products are truly game-changers for your wellness routine, and I am thrilled to introduce them to even more consumers.”
Optimizely names chief product officer
Rupali Jain joined digital experience platform Optimizely as chief product officer.
Jain brings experience in leadership roles at software companies including Microsoft and Qualtrics. In the new role, Jain will focus on advancing new applications of AI and machine learning for marketers.
“Optimizely has an incredible portfolio of best-in-class solutions, and we needed a product leader who has the experience to scale market-leading SaaS platforms. We found that leader in Rupali,” said Alex Atzberger, CEO of Optimizely, in a statement. "With Rupali’s history of championing user needs and prioritizing innovation that creates tangible customer value, we’re confident that she will play a vital role in our mission to redefine how marketing and product teams work together to create and optimize digital experiences.”
Optimizely serves brands such as Glossier, Nike and Saks.
Trending in Careers
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.