More Sights, Sounds from the 2024 CMA-SIMA Conference

March 13, 2024
By Mike Wilkening, Communications Manager, ARC (CMA | SIMA)

So action-packed was the 2024 CMA-SIMA Conference that we couldn’t run just one recap. With that in mind, it’s time to empty the notebook and put one final bow on the 2024 event. Here’s more of the highlights more review of some of the highlights of our signature three-day event in Dallas:

Beating the “Status Quo” Bias

Jonah Berger’s keynote “Returning to Growth in the New World” capped the third and final day of the conference and gave attendees much to ponder. Berger, a best-selling author and associate professor at the Wharton School of Business, shared his insights on how individuals and organizations can thrive amidst disruption and change.

One of the first elements, as Berger noted, was overcoming the “status quo bias,” a series of factors holding people back from changing even when alternatives may be better.  Three reasons stand out, he said.

The first is ease,” Berger said. “It’s just easier to do things like we’ve done before. It’s easier to buy the same products, use the same services.

“The second is equally important, and that is attachment. Products, services, ideas, ways of doing things aren’t just ways of doing things. They’re someone’s way of doing things and people become attached to the way they’ve done things in the past. There’s some really nice research, for example, that looks at home selling that shows the longer someone’s lived in a home, the more they value that home above and beyond the marketplace.

“The third barrier, the third sort of portion of inertia here, is that all [old] things feel safe, and new things feel risky. And what do I mean by that? We know the issue with the old way of doing things, because new things could be better, but it could also be worse. And most people don’t want to take that risk. They say, you know what? I’ll just stick with the old thing.”

For brands and retailers, the trick is finding ways to open hearts and win minds while knowing that the old ways of selling aren’t always effective.

One of Berger’s more interesting observations was around the word “catalyst,” which he suggested needs to be broadened.

“It doesn’t just mean creating change,” Berger said. “It’s lowering the barriers to change, allowing change to have less energy, not more.”

Breakout Sessions Recap

In addition to the seven keynotes at 2024 Conference, we were proud to offer 14 breakout sessions bundled into four “tracks” focused on key industry issues. We reviewed our “Space Planning of the Future” track over at our Space Planning Community site; you can check out that recap here.

Below is a quick summary of the tracks:

Harnessing the Power of Data-Driven Storytelling

  • Elevate Your Data Story with Powerful Visuals | Janine Kurnoff, The Presentation Company & Hasan Issa and Kevin Carrington, Kraft Heinz. Follow-up to The Presentation Company’s smashing 2023 Conference presentation on storytelling with data.
  • Just Tell Me What I Need to Know: Real-Life Examples of Death by PowerPoint | Ben James, Nestle Purina. Tips on giving fact-based, analytic presentations that get your point across without bludgeoning your audience with information.
  • The Three Steps to Great Category Selling Stories | Estrella Ho-Looney & Scott Hanbury, The Clorox Company. Reviewed key principles in telling a great story, moving data to insights in a systematic, simple way, and encouraging discussion with retailers.
  • Retail Media Insights Informing Category Strategies Pegasus Liran Hirschkorn, Incrementum Digital and Ethelbert Williams, Commerce & Retail Media Advisor. This highly rated presentation reviewed industry trends and the role of category management in supporting retail media strategies and outcomes.

Space Planning of the Future

  • Collaborative Macro Space Planning for Suppliers and Retailers | Scott Taylor and Erin Cathey, PepsiCo. Overview of Pepsi’s work to help retailers at shelf, including a case study on stopping category leakage. 
  • Creating a Space Scorecard Horizon: Current Location vs. Future Destination | Kent Rodina, O’Reilly Auto Parts Tom Tester, Peapod Digital Labs, and Flora Delaney of Delaney Consulting.  This lively panel took attendees through the key issues in building the right space scorecard, including the question of whether to build one internally or purchase one externally.
  • Shaping Tomorrow: A Roadmap for Virtual Twin Stores | Meriyem Kaf, Home Hardware. Review of how to execute virtual twin stores, and the advantages thereof.

Driving Cross-Functional Collaboration

  • RGM is a Team Sport: Using the Power of Collaboration with RGM to Unlock Profitable Growth | Kelly Rolader, BIC. Provided a blueprint for getting buy-in for RGM throughout an organization – no small feat.
  • Integrating Category & Shopper Insights to Inform CPG Innovation | Shivani Shah, Church & Dwight Co., Inc. Interesting look at the intersection of CatMan, Shopper Insights, and New Product Development.
  • A Healthy Balance: The Convergence of Merchandising, Marketing, and CatMan | Emily Massi, RDN, LDN, Giant Food. Review of the benefits of retail dietitian-led partnerships within Merchandising, Marketing, and CatMan.
  • Deepening Retailer/Supplier Relationships on SNAP | Justin Rezac & Danny Bowers, Kraft Heinz. A look at Kraft Heinz provided more value-added support, unlocked greater collaboration, and opened new doors of partnership with a major retailer.

Embracing AI & Machine Learning

  • Bringing AI/ML to Assortment Planning – A Case Study | Russell Gilmore, WK Kellogg Co. A closer look at a major CPG’s assortment analytics evolution over time.
  • Thinking Beyond Dashboards: Creating Competitive Advantage Through AI & ML | Xiao Yang, The Hershey Co. This well-regarded session reviewed strategic AI and ML opportunities CPG companies should embrace as part of their innovation strategy; as well as a few best practices to navigate through the AI and ML space effectively.
  • Blending the Art and the Science of Artificial Intelligence | Todd Bollig, Boston Beer. How a major brewer uses AI to help guide its retailer-focused segment forecast.

Conference attendees can access most of these presentation decks, as well as several other workshop decks, by filling out the 2024 CMA-SIMA Conference survey. If you attended, have yet to fill out a survey and want the link, please let us know here, but please note: non-attendees will not be provided the link.

Looking Ahead to 2025

The 2025 CMA-SIMA Conference is set for Feb. 17-19, 2025 at the J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. Fun fact: the average temperature in February in San Antonio is 68 degrees. Interested but not yet a member? Click here to learn more about membership and sponsorship opportunities for this major industry networking event.

See you there!