Celebrating the ARCast: Highlights from the First 15 Episodes

June 14, 2023
By Mike Wilkening, Communications Manager, ARC (CMA | SIMA)

“We’re going to go into the trenches and find compelling stories with compelling people.”

That’s what our James Jackson promised in the first minute of the ARC’s first-ever podcast, and James and our esteemed guests have lived up to those words, time and again, for 15 editions of the “ARCast.” Every two weeks, James and a range of retailer and supplier experts spend 30 minutes exploring category management and related issues in a relaxed setting, using that time and that space to really dive deep on a fast-changing business.

If you’re new to the ARCast or want to just catch up on some of your favorite episodes thus far, we’ve got you covered. Below, we share a memorable quote from each of the first 15 editions of the ARCast,  as well as link to the full episode. Be sure to bookmark the ARCast page to never miss an upcoming edition, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a topic you would like to see covered.


Brian Hoffstedder headshot

Episode #1: “Data Is Just Humans In Disguise

Insights From:
Brian Hoffstedder, Vice President, Category Leadership, Pet Division
Central Garden & Pet

“Over the course of my career, what I’ve observed, and what I feel and I believe, is as much data is produced on a day-in, day-out basis, and as much as humans try to wrap their head, their heart and their arms and their brains around the data, losing sight of the humans that are generating that data is a pretty slippery slope, and it’s a big risk.”

Matt Adelmann headshot

Episode #2: “The Private Lives of Private Label

Insights From:
Matt Adelmann, General Manager
Chiodo Consulting

”If you’re going to really sit down and partner with the retailer and you really want to be a part of what they’re doing, you need to have meetings together. You need to have their product scientists with your product scientists, your R&D people. (You) really need to create a program together with input back and forth, right? The retailer has an idea of what they want, but you’re the expert in manufacturing. You should be able to then tell them if that’s going to work or not.”

Sylvia Wulf headshot

Episode #3: “A View From the C-Suite

Insights From:
Sylvia Wulf, Chair & CEO
AquaBounty Technologies, Inc.

“Let me start with what I believe is fundamental to the success of category management, and that really is customer-centricity and, you know, customer- and consumer-centricity, right? You need to make sure that you understand your customer and you need to understand the consumer and the shopper that is interacting with that customer. And if you lose that, you will never be successful in category management.”

Arcast - Dan Thaler guest

Episode #4: “Category Management & the Art of Telling Stories

Insights From:
Dan Thaler, Category Development Manager
Simply Good Foods

“My mom helped foster this creative spirit. I took art classes, I almost considered majoring in art when I was in college, but it didn’t work out. I think that helped me understand, like being creative, telling stories, using visuals to tell stories. I think storytelling helped me, because in the world of data, data points, insights, we can all get insights, we can all look at numbers. But when you can actually set them up in a really easy fashion and tell a story, that just goes a long way, especially when you’re working with different buyers and different people.”

Ryan Dow

Episode #5: “Insights: An Unconstrained View of the World

Insights From:
Ryan Dow, Director, Consumer & Market Insights

“(If) you really force yourself to examine what the audience needs when it comes to any of the insights you’re providing no matter how mundane or simple, you’ll be able to drive to the most concise, simple, clean insight if you really keep your mind on the audience and what it is that they need to do to do the work that you’re (supporting).”

Kate Berg headshot

Episode #6: “The Voice of Category

Insights From:
Kate Berg, Customer Category Manager
Tyson Foods

“I pride myself in always presenting the voice of the category and the consumer, because if the category wins, then in most cases the retailer is winning. And as a vendor partner, we are most likely seeing growth.”

Justin Bontrager ARCast

Episode #7: “Riding the White Claw Rocketship

Insights From:
Justin Bontrager, Director, Category Insights
Mike’s Hard Lemonade / Mark Anthony Brands

“You can’t stop an idea whose time has come. And I think White Claw hit on some major macro trends that have been plaguing the beer industry for so long. You know, trends that we’re seeing in other categories like full-flavored items, better for you, premiumization, you know, all these things converged in White Claw, and it was done in a way that was superior. The liquid itself, I think, was superior to what else was on the market at the time. And that’s really what drove it, you know. And then it hit cultural status, and that was nothing that we did. I mean, that was just fans found it and loved it, and they were active and it hit that younger demographic that makes things go viral. And, you know, it really was lightning in a can.”

Pearl Park headshot

Episode #8: “Pearl Park and Her Pareto Partners

Insights From:
Pearl Park, Senior Manager, Strategic Capabilities and Omni Insights
Johnson & Johnson

“When I see Catman I love coining new terms. I call it the four ‘Ts’ and how we do ROI as a team. The first is time savings, the second is talent development, the third is tools and capabilities. And lastly, thought leadership.”

Episode #9: “It All Starts With a Conversation

Insights From:
Stephanie Schultz, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives
Retail Dietitians Business Alliance  / ARC

“I had an individual who came to me when I was doing store tours early in my career, and it was the most touching store walk we did. She had been recently diagnosed with cancer. And one of the things I would say is she was looking for a personal connection. And we always said that, at retail, we all sell the same products, and you never know what people are going through. So, she walked through the store. We talked about some ways to get additional nutrients. And this means talking how to be plant-forward before it was a thing. And so fast forward, I was doing my personal shopping probably three months later, and she saw me and came up to me and gave me a hug and said, “I want you to know that my treatment is going really well”. And she actually was very fortunate to have a great outcome on the other side of her initial treatments.”

ARCast James Jackson

Episode #10: “Live From 2023 CMA/SIMA Annual Conference

Insights From:
Chrissy Love, Shopper Space Management Director
Mondelēz International

“(My) team is focused on space management more so and this past year we were more focused on building that thought leadership of how we needed to show up in store. And I think our charge this year is how do we have more of that (omnichannel) lens? So even if you think about brick and mortar, everybody’s suffering from supply issues. But is some of that supply issue because we can’t get the product there? Are we calculating days of supply incorrectly? Because now we have so many people purchasing online and you have pickers going to that shelf and picking up maybe product X, Y and Z at such a faster rate and sometimes those sales are not accounted for in your POS data.”


Dave Kink headshot

Episode #11: “The Forrest Gump of Space Management

Insights From:
Dave King, Director of Space Management and Field Implementation
Rite Aid

“I think working in retail, you’ve got to be good (at) math. And I’m not talking about trigonometry or anything, but you just got to be good with numbers because you’re going to see a lot of them. And don’t be afraid of math. Use Excel. Find out more about how you can do pivot tables and formulas in Excel. Computers will help you with the math. You don’t have to do it all in your head anymore, but people want snappy answers in this business. And if you’re able to use tools that turn numbers into stories or help you put a story together from a lot of data, I think that’s really important today.”


Dorene Pittman

Episode #12: “Do You Know the Five Ps?

Insights From:
Dorene Pittman, Senior Marketing and Analytics
Niagara Bottling

“I’m a data guru kind of person. I can look at data and tell you right off like, OK, there’s something wrong because I’m in the data so much. (Being) a geek now is a good thing. So I will embrace it. And then the other thing I would say is that I’m really a people person. I love to talk to people. I have three boys and they’re always like, oh, we go anywhere with mom and she’s going to start talking to people. … When we’re in line for (COVID) vaccinations, I’m talking to people and they’re like, why would you talk to me? I’m like, well, we’re here for two hours, might as well talk.”


Eric Luebke headshot

Episode #13: “In The Trenches At This Moment

Insights From:
Eric Luebke, Director Category Leadership, U.S. Grocery and Channels
Tyson Foods

“We did a shopper insight study our team did called “The Changing Landscape of Proteins,’ of a few thousand shoppers across all refrigerated, frozen, and fresh proteins, to understand how they’re changing their behavior. And while we’re seeing people trading down and switching, even more what we’re seeing is they’re stretching their protein spend and consumption. So they’re trying to get more out of a meal or they’re switching, adding filler ingredients. They’re using one meal that used to be one for two and vice versa.”

Heather Riedinger headshot

Episode #14: “The Power of Sharing

Insights From:
Heather Riedinger, Senior National Category Manager and Sales Insights Team Leader
Beech-Nut Nutrition Company

“(You) have to put yourself out there and early on in your career. … Make sure people know what you’re looking for. Make sure it’s known that you’re looking for this next step. And what exactly are you looking for? You have to know that so that the organization, your manager, people can help you. And a lot of my roles actually didn’t exist prior, so not that they were necessarily created for me, but as they were created, I was able to, since they knew I was available, slide into those roles.”

Frank Castaneda headshot

Episode #15: “Everything Ends on a Shelf

Insights From:
Frank Castaneda, Director Category Management, Space Strategy
Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have had experiences where I’ve managed to establish credibility with a customer in a way that a salesperson or other parts of the business have never been able to break through. And I’ve had the good opportunity, the good luck of being in a room where a buyer has said, the reason you guys are here is because I can trust this person’s information. And that is more valuable than gold. Being part of category management, you don’t have access to marketing funds or all the fun stuff that comes with being in the business. I don’t have tickets, I don’t have t-shirts, I don’t have anything. I have data. That’s what I do. So I put a lot of value in that data, having integrity. … I would say that your reputation follows you wherever you go. And you never know. The person that you used to call on back in 1996 is now a vice president of merchandising in 2023. And they say, hey, do you know this person? And they say, yes, that person is solid.”