Profile: Sheila Bonner, Vice President, Shopper Marketing, Insights and Merchandising, Keurig Dr Pepper
Sheila Bonner started her career in finance with Morgan Stanley, and she acknowledges that’s a long way from shopper marketing and retail. But she moved to retail quickly, transitioning to expansion and strategic initiatives for FedEx Office retail services for more than four years. She has now been with Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) for 11 years, having initially joined Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which merged with Keurig Green Mountain in 2018. Her career path has since focused primarily on commercial and retail support through sales planning, merchandising, shopper insights and shopper/omnichannel marketing roles, and today she serves as the company’s vice president, shopper marketing, insights and merchandising. She is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Collaboration” category.
What are your current responsibilities?
Bonner: I lead the shopper marketing team, which includes digital shopper marketing, merchandising and shopper insights for our total portfolio. We support national and regional account activation for Keurig brewers and coffee brands like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and The Original Donut Shop; beloved beverage brands including Dr Pepper, Canada Dry and Mott’s; and new expansion opportunities for Core water and our partner portfolio of brands including Peet’s, Forto and AShoc – and everything in between.
How have you pushed for collaboration in such a large organization?
Bonner: It’s crucial for the shopper marketing function to be tightly integrated into the daily work of the full commercial selling and support teams, and it’s equally important for our organization to be connected to the upstream work with brand and media teams. When structures don’t naturally connect a team, clear process and collaborative behaviors become incredibly important to ensure open communication and aligned priorities. We, as shopper marketers, have the luxury of being able to work within the unique and dynamic space in between brands and retail, bringing knowledge and opportunities to both.
Discuss the merger of Keurig Green Mountain and Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
Bonner: The merger to form KDP created so much excitement and opportunity across the combined company. As it relates to the shopper marketing team, we helped to bring a new and expanded portfolio together to drive our vision of offering consumers a beverage for every need, everywhere they shop and consume. We now have the great fortune of working across a large and diverse portfolio to find brand, category and portfolio solutions for our retail partners and shoppers. As we’ve integrated the teams, we have been able to combine learnings and knowledge to form an even stronger team and, hopefully, a more successful partner to our customers along the way.
What makes a true collaborator?
Bonner: True collaboration requires building a foundational relationship between team members, grounded in mutual respect and trust. In order to drive the collective business together, there must be a healthy partnership developed by being authentic with your approach and clear with your intentions. I aspire to better understand my partners and their perspectives every day, and to be able to use those differences to drive to a better solution. I focus on engaging with an open mind and doing so from a place of positive intent and trust. If you take the time to build that foundation, the challenges are easier to work through and the celebrations are that much greater because you’re so connected in your efforts together.
What motivates you most in this space?
Bonner: Without question, the shortening of the path to purchase in the digital space is the most exciting for me, both as a shopper professional and as my household’s primary shopper. In past years, we were resigned to digital elements that just brought awareness or drove to an information-based site. Now, the ability to drive directly to cart means we can read the impact of digital more clearly, drive to conversion more quickly and integrate on- and offline shopping patterns better. We’re focused on providing brands that have a defined job in consumers’ lives by setting up clear occasions and easy solutions as shoppers learn to navigate their new and evolving shopping journeys.
What does the future of shopper marketing look like?
Bonner: The speed at which opportunities are developing to reach shoppers in new ways is very energizing. Over the past few years, as our retail partners continue to rapidly evolve their capabilities to influence the shopper experience, we’re able to drive awareness for our brands while tracking results with greater precision. As we see capabilities and data converge in shopping platforms, we’ll see a huge unlock in the ability to intercept shoppers wherever they are and measure the results with better confidence of effectiveness.