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March 2011 Archives

2011 National Grocers Association Convention


Representing the University of Minnesota at the 2011 National Grocers Association Convention was a rewarding and valuable experience to my education and career path.

Competing in the case study competition in Las Vegas was a proud experience for my fellow classmates and me since we spent a great deal of time preparing. I personally found it intriguing to study how various food industries and grocers use social media effectively depending on their company's size, goals, and brand values. It was a rewarding experience to be able to share our ideas and research to professionals in the industry while also observing other universities' perspectives on the topic.

I personally found the mentor program the most enlightening aspect of the internship because it was a great opportunity to mingle with professionals in the industry and partake in meetings. Since my mentor was head of sales at Coborn's, it was very beneficial to my food industries marketing major to be able to sit in on meetings concerning marketing and sales strategy between grocer and vendor.

In regards to the array of workshops topics, speakers, and number of vendors, the NGA convention was very impressive. Though, a significant aspect of the convention that I recognized was the unique relationship between independent grocers and other grocers or between grocer and vendor. It was obvious to notice throughout the convention that the independent grocers were willing to share their story and lend advice to others, especially during a time of economic recovery. Independent grocers are a special part of the industry because they implement a business culture that's unique from the rest. In that, meeting people that share a similar vision was interesting and insightful in understanding the industry in its entirety. I greatly appreciate and value the privilege of representing the University of Minnesota at the 2011 National Grocers Association Convention.
- Annette Gooch

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N.G.A. Conference Intern Experience

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This February I had the opportunity to attend the N.G.A. Convention as a social media intern with three other Applied Economic / Agriculture and Food Business Management students. The internship included presenting for a case competition about social media to a panel of industry professionals and being paired with a mentor working in independent retailing. The case presentation was a fantastic experience of working with peers not in my University of Minnesota classes and talking to faculty and industry professionals about a hot topic in business. It was exciting to attend workshops at the conference and hear presenters emphasize that social media is becoming necessary for independent retailers.

The most exciting part of the convention for me was sitting in on meetings between my assigned mentor, Andy Knoblauch from Coborns Inc., and suppliers. It was extremely interesting to learn about the relationship between retailer and supplier, sales performance metrics reviewed annually, and current marketing strategies and promotional tools.

The convention was a wonderful learning and networking experience and a great compliment to the many events and programs I have attended through CFANS in my time at the University of Minnesota. What a great experience!

Anna Eggen

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National Grocers Association Convention 2011

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Andre Gordillo, Anna Eggan and Annette Gooch
in Las Vegas for the 2011 N.G.A. Convention

Having the opportunity to participate in the National Grocers Association convention this February was a great thrill. We were excited to meet our mentors and to find out what the convention would be like. We had been working hard on our case presentation on Social Media in the Grocery Industry, and we were looking forward to one more day of practice before showtime. We were confident in our presentation, and felt like we engaged the judges' questions imaginatively and well. While we didn't win, the experience was a great one.

The workshops at the convention were interesting and the presenters were exceptionally well prepared. One of the few breakout sessions that was poorly attended was the PCI compliance workshop. The panelists were an executive from a large grocery chain in the eastern US and a compliance specialist from a compliance consultancy firm. The depth of information offered in the session was very impressive, and the subject seems like one that any retailer would be careless to ignore. A market research group presented on shopper experience data trends and some of the ways that grocers have used shopper experience data to improve both the guest experience and their bottom line. The session was standing-room only, and retailers were taking extensive notes. Product pairings and synergistic sales seemed to be of particular interest. After our group's work on the Social Media case, I was especially excited to be able to attend the Social Media presentation given by Gregg Zimprich of General Mills. He was clear that a brand's use of social media requires complete transparency and a loss of control over the brand - that the brand belongs to the consumers. There was also a sense that engaging meaningfully using social media can result in increased intimacy in consumers' relationships with the brand, and increased opportunities to reach out to influencers.

The highlight of my convention experience was walking around the convention floor with my assigned industry mentor, Bill Chew of Supervalu Foods. Bill has been with Supervalu for over 27 years. He is the President of the Midwest/SouthWest Region in Supply Chain. He was a great person to walk the convention floor with - he knew almost everyone there, and he was able to describe how each vendor and participant fit into the overall grocery industry picture. It was especially interesting to hear about Bill's own career trajectory - he has moved around the country with Supervalu over the years, and has performed numerous roles within the company during that time. He introduced us to quite a few people at the convention. I can't stress strongly how valuable having an industry mentor of this caliber was. Bill introduced me to several people who invited me to contact them as a part of my career search. I have contacted them, and have one very promising job lead that I am following as a direct result of being at the convention.

The opening session, America at a Crossroads, with Jeb Bush and James Carvelle, was entertaining and enjoyable. Saturday night's entertainment, the Fab Four, was also great fun. The entire convention was well-paced and well organized. As a newcomer to the industry at the N.G.A. convention, I was given a very positive impression of the grocery business and all of the ancillary services that support it.

I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the convention. I look forward to possibly attending in future years as a member.

-Duane McDowell
Food and Agriculture Business Managment, University of Minnesota
Anna Eggan, Andre Gordillo and Annette Gooch in front of Ceasar's Palace
after the day's activities at the 2011 N.G.A. Convention

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Land O'Lakes makes case for more food |

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TFIC Sponsor Land O'Lakes discusses global food production in this business section article from the Star Tribune. It also features insight from Director Emeritus Jean Kinsey.

Recently, 3 other students and myself had the privilege of being able to participate and represent the U in the National Grocers Association annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. As student interns representing the university, we were given a case study in which we studied the relationship between social media and a hypothetical, independent grocery store chain. As a group, we put many hours of work and research into our case study, and the experience we went through working as a group on a real world problem was invaluable.

My participation at the trade show was also a real unique experience. Each one of was paired up with a mentor from the food industry and they showed us around the trade floor and introduced us to other fellow industry professionals. Throughout this session, I met many people throughout so many areas of the grocery industry and was able to establish relationships and network. I never would have imagined how many companies and people play a role in the grocery industry, yet the NGA Convention opened my eyes and further sparked my interest to join such an exciting industry upon my graduation. I'd like to thank The Food Industry Center for the opportunity to participate in such an unmatched experience in my college career!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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