One of the sessions at the 2019 Food Marketing Institute Midwinter Executive Conference reminded me of an ‘80s perfume commercial: Between physical and digital lies obsession … with the customer …
With the rapid rise of digital retail disrupting the market, the past few confabs came across to me as perhaps a bit panicky, arms waving in the air, warning all to jump aboard the online express or be ground under its wheels.
Every winter, food retailing executives jet off to a sunny resort city to meet and discuss the most pressing issues facing their industry. Rain and colder-than-average temperatures, unfortunately, greeted conference goers for much of this year’s Food Marketing Institute’s Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami — a development that seemed appropriate, in one way, given the dark clouds hanging over the industry.
But the gloomy weather didn’t put a damper on the lively exchange of ideas. Indeed, whereas last year’s conference seemed to focus on the doom and gloom surrounding Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods and the daunting prospect of digital transformation, this year’s conference centered on solutions to the many challenges retailers face.