Profile: Charles White, Vice President, Brands & Marketing, DAS Cos.
Charles White transitioned to his current position as the result of what he calls a “blind date.” He first spent two decades with hard surface flooring manufacturer Armstrong World Industries. He had successive go-to-market leadership roles in sales, marketing, product management and new business development. Then a friend introduced him to the president of DAS Cos., believing they had complementary capabilities that would make for a great “marriage.” DAS Cos. is a global supply chain portfolio company that primarily distributes general merchandise to retailers along U.S. highways. The company globally sourced thousands of proprietary products but needed expertise creating a consumer market for them.
Describe your current role.
WHITE: I serve in two primary capacities. First, I lead our proprietary, consumer brand portfolio – building brands, driving product innovation and nurturing communities to affect loyalty and conversion. Second, I lead our in-house, full-service marketing team. This includes capturing insights, deploying channel marketing, developing loyal audiences, integrating retail media and creating engaging in-store shopper experiences.
How does your company organize its shopper marketing function?
WHITE: Our shopper marketing function is a small team, primarily working from shelf-back on in-store shopper experiences, tied to promotion. They work in sync with our marketing communications team, which focuses pre-store to nurture social communities, engage audiences with content and advertising, and integrate to our retailers’ in-store media.
What motivates you most in your work?
WHITE: I love solving strategic marketing riddles – particularly on a white board with lots of colored markers. I thrive on leading and developing teams that productively bring the strategies to life – providing great consumer experiences and helping our partners win.
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What was your biggest professional challenge, and how did you overcome it?
WHITE: Amid the excitement of my “blind date,” I came to realize that my vision was grander than the resources available to deliver upon it. So, I went to work – benchmarking great brands, hiring capable resources, developing team skills, providing tools and technology, and fostering a positive, innovative culture.
What about shopper marketing concerns you?
WHITE: The always-on digital world has seduced marketers to bombard our audiences with messages. And the promise of data-driven personalization often feels more like stalking than service. Unfortunately, more is more, not less. So our challenge is to cut through the clutter with clear, concise, compelling communication – served to the right person at the right time to ease her shopping experience.
What is the shopper’s greatest need today? How is your team or organization working to meet that need?
WHITE: Time. Particularly in our primary market, we must ensure convenience. We do so by delivering an integrated, on-the-go products experience. In-store, we align messaging along the shopper’s path to purchase that rapidly attracts, engages, informs and converts. For our loyal customers, we offer pre-store digital experiences that include social gamification, relevant editorial, highly interactive content and related promotions that drive shoppers to the store, ready to buy.
WHITE: In late 2018, we upgraded our PowerDrive power inverters brand with enhanced features and technology. With a three-part objective, we first devised a pre-store digital campaign to reward customers with a “Watch & Win” social game to educate customers. Then we digitized retail circulars, embedded them with video and placed them next to relevant editorial articles. Finally, we launched a LED-lit, showcase endcap in our largest retail partner, complete with a consistent P-O-P kit across the channel.