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International Fresh Produce Association's Joe Watson Discusses Upcoming BrandStorm Retail Panel

International Fresh Produce Association's Joe Watson Discusses Upcoming BrandStorm Retail Panel



SAN DIEGO, CA - BrandStorm is living up to its name, returning this year with a lineup sure to be responsible for a few lightning strikes among our industry’s marketing minds. On deck is a panel of regional and national retail chain perspectives from three leading women in fresh produce.

Molly Tholen, Director of Brand Development for Kroger; Caitlin Tierney, Senior Director of Produce for Local Innovation at Sprouts Farmers Market; and JoAnne Anderson, Director of Brand Strategies for Albertsons Companies, will take the stage together for the breakfast general session on Wednesday, May 18, moderated by Joe Watson, Vice President of Retail, Foodservice, and Wholesale for the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA).

Joe Watson, Vice President of Retail, Foodservice, and Wholesale, International Fresh Produce Association“We had an internal motto when I was in retail: What’s new, what’s next? If BrandStorm leaves us with those answers, I think that would be a win for everybody,” Joe tells me, drawing on his own 30-plus years of buy-side experience. “BrandStorm is an opportunity to discuss branding, but also to learn and hopefully bring ideas attendees are excited about back home.”

This specific time for branding is a unique one, coming out of unprecedented marketing demands amid the pandemic—particularly at retail—into a period of drastic inflation.

“Retail were first responders who had to pivot while being as much, if not more, in demand as ever before, finding out how to strategize and make their brands relevant at warp speed. That is certainly something to note, but we don’t want to look backward too much,” Joe explains. “So much has happened, even since January this year. Everything retail experienced in the past few years was highly focused on branding, now consumers are looking at price even more. This is a very important aspect of the current marketing conversation as retailers move forward in building brand awareness for their own company, as well as those they represent by what is on their shelves.”

BrandStorm is returning this year with a lineup sure to be responsible for a few lightning strikes among our industry’s marketing minds

Certainly a learning experience for those in attendance, but also for those bringing their knowledge to the event by taking the stage. As Joe points out, there are chances here for everyone to walk away with the electric shocks of BrandStorm.

“My hope for this panel is that they hear from each other some compelling things to consider and take back to their teams, either from audience questions or comments, fellow panelists, or even their own answers clarifying something for themselves. I want them to have that moment where they want to run and write something down, something they can’t wait to talk about and wonder if THIS is their next big thing, just as those in attendance might,” Joe shares.

Molly Tholen, Director of Brand Development for Kroger; Caitlin Tierney, Senior Director of Produce for Local Innovation at Sprouts Farmers Market; and JoAnne Anderson, Director of Brand Strategies for Albertsons Companies, will take the stage together for the breakfast general session

In addition to marketing systems getting fired up, Joe sees potential in inspiring passion not only in established produce members, but burgeoning ones as well.

“As we talk about young talent, a majority recently joined us at a critical time over the past couple of years as many veterans retired. The experience level born from what had to be an amazing learning curve for many entering the grocery workforce—quickly understanding challenges, economy, and more—will be amazing to see and is important to nurture. It is on those of us who are more experienced to successfully maintain and build on established brands, including ensuring that young talent has access to the tools, connections, and relationships they need. Their success is fundamental to our success,” Joe concludes.

And this is just one slot of a stacked schedule for BrandStorm 2022, which also includes X-Change Sessions on May 17 and 18 covering an array of topics, as well as a keynote general session with Scott Shellstrom, award-winning Creative Director, Speaker, and Artist. For more information on registering, click here, and I hope to see you in San Diego, California, May 16–18.

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International Fresh Produce Association

The International Fresh Produce Association is the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire...