Industry Professionals Gather to Activate Insights for a Dynamic Future

March 10, 2023

We were back in person for the 2023 CMA|SIMA Conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with over 850 industry professionals, nearly double the 2022 event. Category managers, space planners, shopper insights, and eCommerce executives gathered to learn industry content, share best practices, explore new technology, and most importantly, network with each other. We were thrilled to welcome so many first-time attendees, as well as many back to our event for the first time since the pandemic.  Over 90% of attendees reported they networked with a least one individual who can be a resource or partner for them going forward.

Attendees getting hands on during a Space Planning workshop.

Attendees getting hands on during a Space Planning workshop.

This year’s conference theme was “Activating Insights for a Dynamic Future” to reflect the proliferation of data and insights in our industry, and the importance of making it all actionable in an ever-changing retail landscape.

Our Conference began with an insightful keynote by economic futurist Andy Busch, who stressed the importance of planning for what he calls ‘X’ factors, or extraneous global or local events that can disrupt business or the economy. His examples include a joint cyber attack, bird flu, US default, China invading Taiwan, and more. Attendees were encouraged to anticipate some of these ‘X’ factors for their business and proactively plan for them.

Other keynote speakers included executives from Target, Hy-Vee, Kroger, 84.51, and ARC President Emily Callahan who reviewed the state of the CMA and SIMA, and more importantly where the associations are headed with content and events in 2023. Phil Lempert’s fireside chat with Executive Chairmen Randy Edeker of Hy-Vee highlighted the pressures on the grocery industry over the next few years. Robert Bunchek of Target thoughtfully observed that “category managers tend to look under a lot of rocks, and tell you about every rock they looked under,” challenging us to be clearer and more concise in our recommendations.

SupermarketGURU Phil Lempert and Chairman of Hy-Vee Randy Edeker wrap up their keynote presentation.

SupermarketGURU Phil Lempert and Chairman of Hy-Vee Randy Edeker wrap up their keynote presentation.

From there content was divided into 5 tracks dedicated to helping attendees hone their skills, run better teams, and more effectively activate insights.

  • Our Category Management and Shopper Insights Fundamentals track kicked off with an overview of the state of retail and eCommerce which included shopper research around inflation perceptions and trust from Morning Consult. We also heard tips from Maruchan on running lean CatMan teams, and key components of a successful line review, which include what has changed with your shoppers, how you stand out, and where you are most likely to win.
  • Advanced eCommerce offered deep-dive sessions on omnichannel best practices from experts in the space – Profitero, Allume Group, and Stratably on Amazon. Mike Black took us through CatMan’s role in translating the 4Ps to digital, one of the conference’s highest rated sessions.
  • Retailers and manufacturers could then choose from sessions geared specifically to specific channels in our Retail Channel Specific track, including Natural (SPINS and Daiya), Small Format, and C-stores. We learned that pureplay eCommerce is unlikely to ever take hold for dollar and value stores, but mobile will likely play a large role with redeemable offers in physical stores.
  • The conference always features sessions around Building the Skillsets of Tomorrow. This year we explored how to build an optimal shopper insights team (Reckitt), integrating customer insights into CatMan teams (Kellogg), harnessing data for one source of the truth (Bush Bros), and articulating the value of AI and ML to senior leaderships (Hormel). This best in class group of CPGs shared numerous best practices that can be implemented immediately.
  • Finally, our Space Planning sessions spotlighted ARC’s Space Planning Charter’s work to build standards and scorecards for a specific function that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Industry thought leader Flora Delaney also lead a workshop for non-space planning professionals to learn about space planning, as well as a breakfast for ARC members to learn more about the Charter.

Various sessions were graphically recorded live and shared with conference attendees.

The Tech Expo Hall was also back in full force this year with over 40 solution providers featuring cutting edge space and assortment planning solutions, AI/ML (Machine Learning) and VR (Virtual Reality) use cases in retail, and showcased the conference’s premier sponsors Nailbiter, Nuqleous, The Vision Group, 345, Nielsen IQ and Hivery.

Attendees explore solutions and network in the Expo Hall.

Attendees explore solutions and network in the Expo Hall.

Our conference also featured all-new interactive workshops led by industry experts for attendees to get ‘hands on’ with data, shopper insights, shelving, and more. Over 150 conference goers took a ‘shopper mythbusting’ quiz prior to a workshop on Day 3 that addressed a variety of commonly accepted myths about shopper behavior. Turns out shoppers’ faces do not actually tell us how they feel about our products. Also, back by popular demand the inspiring Women in Leaderships Luncheon took place on Day 2 with panelists from Kellogg, Amazon, Home Hardware, Red Bull and more.

Presentations are now available to access on-demand by conference attendees, contact member services (memberservices@catman.global) for more information today. And mark your calendars for next year’s conference in Dallas, Texas from February 26th to February 28th.