NAME: Renee Balliet
CURRENT POSITION: Head of Insights
COMPANY: Wells Enterprises
TENURE WITH CURRENT COMPANY: 7 months
YEARS OF INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE:  13 Years

GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY OF YOUR CAREER.

After graduating with a B.S. in Marketing, I spent some time in sales for a car dealership and realized that I was selling with data and understanding my consumers’ needs when pitching to them. My passion wasn’t in sales, and I transitioned into a market research role at Hershey’s. Over twelve years at Hershey’s I was able to work on brands, innovation, incubator style projects, new categories beyond candy, and shopper insights across multiple retailers and channels. That breadth of experience helped me on my newest adventure in building up the consumer, sensory, and shopper insights capabilities at Wells Enterprises. Wells makes iconic brands such as Blue Bunny®, Halo Top®, Bomb Pop® and Blue Ribbon Classics®. I joined Wells in September 2022 and I have to say it’s a pretty ‘sweet’ gig! My teams and I are able to lead and collaborate on strategic initiatives for brands, innovation, sales, category management, and research and development. I’m really excited for the year ahead!

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE OF YOUR CAREER?

Never assume anything! There’s always an opportunity to learn and being open to that creates so many possibilities.

WHY YOU’RE EXCITED TO BE PART OF THE SIMA BOARD:

I have a passion for insights, and I love being an advocate for a discipline that continues to gain traction after being relatively common for decades. Being a voice to young professionals to consider a role in insights and/or pique their interest for being naturally curious is a win for me!  Being on the SIMA board will help amplify that voice in the industry.

WHAT ROLE DO YOU SEE THE SIMA PLAYING IN THE CPG AND OVERALL RETAIL INDUSTRY?

SIMA leading the way for industry standards for job descriptions, trainings, core competencies is much needed for Shopper Insights.  Some organizations utilize the Shopper Insights function differently so creating a standardized approach can help individuals progress within their current organizations as well as make their expertise more translatable externally.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE SHOPPER INSIGHTS DISCIPLINE GOING FORWARD?

Integrating the why and the what.  By continuing to partner with category managers, shopper insights can collaborate on a cohesive story for internal and external business partners.  Coming in with a broader story tailored to the needs of your retailer immediately gives you more credibility.  Sometimes we can get too focused on one chapter versus the entire narrative, remembering to take the time to work together to answer not only what our business partners ask for but also what they need and don’t realize is the game changer.

HOW ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT THE NEXT 3-5 YEARS IN RETAIL?

If the past few years taught us anything it’s that change is constant. Seeing the acceleration of technology at retail, macroeconomic changes, and shopper behavior shifts. Manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers should evaluate their ability to be agile in an ever-changing environment. What are technology trends that are emerging at retail, how do they benefit the shopper and what positive or negative impacts does that have with your brands/products? Additionally, sustainability for products and retailers across every aspect of our respective businesses. Tackling sustainability can mean finding ways to effectively recycle old products and materials, creating new purpose with new materials and developing refillable packaging.