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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, VF Corporation’s CEO decides to retire, while Amazon’s S-team has four new members. Plus, C-level executives are joining Tyson Foods, dunnhumby and Fetch Rewards.
Steve Rendle will retire as CEO of VF Corporation, which is the owner of apparel brands Vans, The North Face, Timberland and Dickies. Rendle served as CEO for the last five years, and worked at VF Corp. for nearly 25 years. Benno Dorer, a lead independent director of the company’s board, will serve as interim CEO with a search is commenced. The news came as VF Corp. cut its outlook for fiscal year 2023, owing to weaker than anticipated consumer demand, a more elevated promotional environment, inventory issues, the impact of inflation in Europe and COVID disruptions in China.
Gianfranco D’Attis was appointed CEO of the Prada brand, effective Jan. 2, 2023. D’Attis comes to Prada from Christian Dior Americas, where he served as president. The move follows last week’s news that Andrea Guerra will become the next CEO of The Prada Group, which oversees a luxury portfolio that includes the Prada brand.
Melanie Boulden. (Courtesy photo)
Melanie Boulden was appointed EVP and chief growth officer at Tyson Foods, effective Feb. 6, 2023. In this role, Boulden will oversee consumer and corporate branding, innovation, R&D, communications, and consumer insights and analytics. Boulden previously held leadership positions at Coca-Cola, most recently serving as CEO of Coca-Cola North America. She is also a board member of Adobe, and has held marketing leadership roles at Reebok, Crayola, Kraft Foods and Henkel Consumer Goods.
Amazon made a series of promotions to its vaunted S-Team (or, Steam, as it is known internally), which is the senior leadership core of the ecommerce giant. Leaders joining the decisionmaking unit include:
- Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music
- Candi Castleberry, VP of Global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
- Udit Madan, VP of transportation
- Rob Williams, AWS
Matt O’Gradywas hired by customer data science firm dunnhumby as president of the Americas, driving growth in North and South America. O’Grady previously served as executive media consultant at media and data consulting firm 12th Street Measurement. He previously served in a number of leadership roles at Nielsen, including CEO of Nielsen Catalina Solutions.
Jordin Sparks. (Courtesy photo)
Jordin Sparks, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, was named brand ambassador of haircare brand Cantu Beauty. Sparks will help to spotlight Cantu’s community initiatives, including a partnership with Women Empowering Nations. "It's a dream to be working with Cantu to help uplift the next generation of women who are on their own unique and powerful journeys to building their bright futures," Sparks said, in a statement.
Fetch Rewards, the rewards app and consumer engagement platform that works with CPG companies, added a pair of C-level executives that will provide leadership as the company scales tech and operational capacity. They are:
- Charles McColgan joined as chief information officer, bringing experience as CTO at communications platform TeleSign and Microsoft-acquired security platform FrontBridge Technologies.
- Wade Bruce was promoted to chief technology officer from principal engineering lead, and will now lead all software engineering and DevOps. Prior to Fetch, he held tech leadership roles at insurtech startup Bunker, social media management startup Spredfast (now Khoros) and State Farm.
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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.