Coke Solutions

Coca-Cola’s Jessica Fister Johnson Reveals What Retail Store Operators Need to Know

Marketing and operating best practices to maximize grocery sales

For Jessica Fister Johnson, shoppers are key. As a vice president at The Coca-Cola Company, Fister Johnson leads the national retail sales and customer development team for 80 large-store retail partners in the central region of the United States. She has been with The Company for 18 years, and her experience includes commercialization of marketing programs, innovation launches, media purchasing, and asset negotiations and activations. Earlier this year, she was named one of Progressive Grocer's Top Women in Grocery for 2015.

Fister Johnson took the time to talk with CokeSolutions about recent industry trends, the importance of empowering employees to become brand ambassadors, and what grocery store operators can do to grow their businesses.

Q: What's the No. 1 thing a grocery store operator needs to consider in today's market?

A: An operator's most pressing concern is to understand shoppers' needs and then provide the solutions to meet these needs. Shoppers are the cornerstone of a grocery operator's business, and providing solutions for shoppers builds loyalty, which in turn increases retail sales.

Q: In your opinion, what easy ways to increase overall beverage sales are many operators missing?

A: It's important to provide customers with complete meal and snacking solutions that include beverages. Consumer eating behavior patterns are changing, and I believe that retail operators understand this, but many struggle with providing consistent in-store merchandising and messaging to make the solution easy and complete.

Q: Is it important to have brand ambassadors for a grocery store?

A: Yes, and every employee should serve as a brand ambassador for his or her retailer. Implementing this goes beyond typical training programs. Validate employees who live the company's values in the store by initiating a rewards and recognition system that supports the desired behavior. A cashier isn't just a cashier but is more often the retailer's last impression on shoppers as they leave the store.

Q: What are best practices with regard to loyalty programs?

A: Your loyalty program should be digitally enabled with an opt-in feature and should be easy to navigate, personalized and relevant to the retailers' shoppers. When a shopper opts in, the retailer can have a dialogue with the shopper.

Q: How can a retailer optimize peak hours?

A: Offer relevant, segmented solutions and tailor your offerings to reflect your peak hours. Doing so will increase the basket size. If an outlet experiences peak hours in the morning, then highlight breakfast solutions.

Q: What tips do you have for creating promotional events that really stand out?

A: Promotions that reflect shopper insights and help the retailer differentiate itself include 360 messaging (pre-, during and post-shop) that incorporates humanity and leverages CPG (consumer packaged goods) and retailer brand equities. In outlet merchandising, try to deliver on our mission to inspire moments of optimism.

Published: November 25, 2015