Walmart names chief US merchant, PepsiCo exec joins Sephora
On the Move has the latest hiring updates from Honest, Mondelez and more.
On the Move has the latest hiring updates from Honest, Mondelez and more.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Ask Instacart answers prompts with personalized recommendations.
A pair of recent launches from Instacart highlight how the grocery ecommerce company is integrating two of the key emerging areas of technology into its offerings: Generative AI and marketplaces.
Let’s take a look:
Instacart is seeking to harness generative AI to create a more personalized shopping experience.
A new tool called Ask Instacart that is launching this week is designed to allow customers to type in questions about specific recipes or general recommendations for an occasion. Embedded in the search bar, Ask Instacart also provides personalized questions to be asked by customers. In addition to specific items, it provides information about food preparation, product attributes and dietary considerations.
For those eying how generative AI will play a role in the shopping experience, Ask Instacart shows how search can be transformed into a place for discovery. Instacart is aiming to provide answers to the more open-ended questions that people would naturally ask, not just simply provide info in response to a question that has one answer. It shared the following sample prompts:
The tool is also showing the way for generative AI to integrate with retail media. Ask Instacart is designed to integrate with a brand's sponsored products campaign, so that the answers to questions that match consumer needs can also provide a way for brands to stand out.
To create the tool, Instacart combined the language understanding of ChatGPT with its own AI models. It added in catalog data from 80,000 retail partner locations around the country, which together have more than one billion shoppable items.
Beyond mission: Ecommerce marketplaces have honed a shopping experience where it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. But if shoppers want to happen upon something they didn’t know they needed, social media or the store is still the best place to visit. Instacart is showing how generative AI can make discovery a marketplace function. It also signals that advertising will come to generative AI by way of retail media. Going forward, the growth of discovery could make retail media more valuable as a tool for advertising that raises brand awareness, not just lower-funnel conversions.
Instacart will power a new virtual convenience store for the grocery chain Aldi.
Aldi Express will feature 2,000 of the most-shopped Aldi items, ranging from prepared food and snacks to grocery staples.
Drawing on 2,100 Aldi locations around the country, items will be delivered as fast as 30 minutes, the companies said.
“Through ALDI Express, we’re making shopping more convenient so you can satisfy a craving or get a missing ingredient in minutes,” said Scott Patton, VP of National Buying at ALDI, in a statement. “Together with Instacart, we’ll continue to find ways to innovate and make the online grocery experience even more effortless and accessible.”
Aldi began offering delivery via Instacart in 2017, and has since expanded services to include pickup as well as alcohol delivery.
Aldi’s marketplace moment? While Aldi previously offered delivery, making the assortment available through a virtual store offers the opportunity to create a marketplace for its goods. With the virtual store, it will more closely resemble DoorDash and Uber Eats, which have been expanding their grocery assortment. With a marketplace, additional revenue opportunities could open up for the grocer, such as advertising through retail media.