Profile: Karen Sales, Vice President of Digital Partnerships & Shopper Marketing, Albertsons Cos.
Karen Sales first came to Boise, Idaho, more than 10 years ago when she was charged with helping to run Sara Lee’s Albertsons team, shifting from team, trade and category management work to co-marketing for national accounts. She has been in shopper and customer collaboration roles since, including a stint at Coupons.com (now Quotient) in Bentonville, Arkansas.
In 2014, she joined the team at Albertsons’ HQ, jumping into her dream job of building the shopper marketing department from the ground up. At the close of the merger with Safeway in January 2015, she was selected to lead the larger, company-wide team.
She is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Collaboration” category.
What are your current responsibilities?
Sales: I manage a team of shopper marketers and agencies tasked with supporting our CPG partnerships in their efforts to amplify targeted marketing efforts at our 20 banners, across 14 divisions and 35 states. We jointly plan, execute and evaluate across e-commerce, digital and social media, loyalty and coupon events, in-store demos, POS and print – in coordination with national and regional merchandising activity.
How important is collaboration to you?
Sales: When I originally built this team, I intentionally focused on collaboration – creating joint winning solutions with our CPG partners. My background in sales and shopper marketing on the other side of the desk was my guide to build programs in a way I would have wanted to invest in with a retailer. If we provide our partners avenues to target and activate marketing efforts that are co-developed around consumer needs – to meet both the brand and merchandising goals – the partnership will be successful and result in positive momentum.
How have you been able to move shopper marketing initiatives forward at Albertsons in recent years?
Sales: With the addition of the legacy Safeway stores two and a half years ago, we leveraged Monopoly and three other national events at scale across the combined organization with great success. We’ve recently completed rolling out our loyalty platform, Just for U, to all remaining stores in the organization, which now includes gas and grocery rewards for select stores. We built a nationwide in-store demo solution that includes procurement solutions and reporting from our “Shopper 360” segmentation data. Our data partnership with Quotient/Crisp enables us to build out sales attribution and prove ROI for our digital and social CPG campaigns.
What are your team’s main goals?
Sales: Being hyper-focused on building solutions with our partners that will resonate with our shoppers, with a goal of building the basket. We personalize and target content that helps make our shoppers feel smart and good about the value they’re getting while shopping at our stores. We’re always looking for ways to make the shopper’s experience better, smoother and easier while activating the solutions we bring to them.
And what are you looking to next?
Sales: Additional ways to provide personalized value, convenience and choice to our shoppers. We look at what we can do to better reach our shoppers on mobile and even interacting digitally in stores and at the shelf, and what information we can collect and share from our loyal shopper influencers to help spread the word about the categories and brands they’re passionate about. The combination of data and continuously increased shopper interaction with technology are rapidly shifting the way we all shop.