Profile: Diane Wallace, Vice President, Retail Marketing & Strategy, Coca-Cola Co.
Diane Wallace has a diverse professional background, having worked for giants Quaker Oats, Eastman Kodak and, for the past seven years, The Coca-Cola Co. She has held multiple roles across the disciplines of sales, marketing, strategy and shopper marketing, and has also assumed leadership roles both at the corporate and field level, providing what she says is “a unique ability to understand a business model from multiple angles” to ultimately find success. Wallace is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Leadership” category.
You have been called a “true voice and advocate” for shopper marketing. How did you get that distinction?
Wallace: I’ve always listened to the shopper and placed value on active listening of the shopper, both qualitatively and quantitatively. I value the role the shopper plays with brands and the opportunity to create shopper experiences with connection and emotion as well as finding ways to encourage the shopper to take action with our brands. At the end of the day, we’re measured by our ability to portray our brands as irresistible to shoppers and to convert shoppers into buyers for our brands.
What are your current responsibilities?
Wallace: I have the privilege of leading the retail marketing and strategy team here at [Coca-Cola North America]. My team is focused on end-to-end with the shopper, starting with how shoppers shop and how that’s changing, understanding the shopper group that most advocates for a retailer, figuring out how to represent our brands in a retail outlet or online so the shopper connects to our brands and purchases them, and finally, how our brand and shopper connections/solutions are communicated to our customers and in the industry.
Would you consider yourself a natural born leader?
Wallace: Not really, but I have spent years studying leaders and working on my personal leadership style. I’m always trying to improve my leadership ability, constantly focusing on: 1) understanding my strengths and weaknesses so I can ensure I surround myself with people who are complementary to me; 2) balancing the engagement required in today’s business environment with good coaching so we’re building the next generation of leaders; and 3) seeking feedback from all levels in the organization to stay close to the pulse.
You are a mentor to many. Please explain.
Wallace: It’s critically important to me to mentor others in the area of shopper marketing. This is a difficult space to be in, between brand marketing and sales, so it takes a certain degree of brand acumen mixed with customer ability – with a strong dose of creativity, collaboration and project management. I’m very proud of several individuals I’ve worked with along the way who are now leading shopper marketing organizations throughout the industry.
What motivates you most in the shopping experience?
Wallace: Creating an experience in-store or online can be tough as we try to grab shoppers’ attention within seconds through relevant content or solutions, ensuring that the experience connects with the shopper and is memorable. I’m motivated by continuing to try and measure various approaches across different shopper types.
What about looking ahead?
Wallace: I’m excited to think about the possibilities. Shopper marketing is already in the future, where more interactions will occur in shorter time frames, traditionally and in many new forms enabled by technology.