My interest in attending the National Grocers Association Convention started at the early age of 14 as a bagger at Lunds when I aspired to compete in the National Best Bagger Competition in Las Vegas. Fate had its own way of presenting an even more prestigious opportunity to attend the NGA Convention through the College Case Study Competition. I am proud to say that I was on the talented team of four women who competed in the 2013 competition.
I am not your typical student representing the Food Industry Center. I am a student at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications studying strategic communications with an advertising focus. I believe my background in marketing strategy gave our team an edge in the competition. The case we were faced with focused on increasing the market share through fulfilling the mission of Chief and Rays Supermarkets in Ohio. The company faced many challenges such as tough low price competitors and a diverse community of customers. It became clear throughout the competition that independent grocers are facing big box retailers who are heavily saturated in the market. There is an increasing need to differentiate themselves in order to stay relevant to the customer.
Through collaborating with executives at Supervalu and Lunds, professors, and our advisors, our team developed a three-part strategy based on two target markets. We saw opportunity in developing new signage, highlighting the signature products, and remodeling the produce department.
A valuable part of my experience at the competition was meeting industry professionals through the mentor program. My mentor Tony Ortega interviewed us just as much as we interviewed him. He believes in inspiring young people to become involved in the grocery industry because of the great sense of community. I had a chance to walk through the trade show booths to see the latest products and services being offered in the industry. This was an eye opening experience to how significant the food industry is to our economy.
This memorable experience is one I hope to share with others and in future job interviews to showcase my passion for the food industry. I hope to stay connected with all of the industry professionals I met through attending the NGA Case Competition. Teresa Chipps from Supervalu was especially supportive throughout the preparation and competition.
I would like to send a special thanks to Lisa Jore, who was key to our successful preparation and travel logistics. Furthermore, Dr. Boland provided excellent guidance in creating our strategy and presentation. His support throughout the competition gave us confidence in our work. Thank you for your dedication to our team.