As an invitation-only, executive-level event, Midwinter education programming is designed to provide focus, insights, and discussion on areas of key strategic importance to FMI members.

This year our educational ventures will focus on the diverse ways consumer empowerment is reshaping the role of the retailer. More than ever before, customer trust and loyalty is being determined not only by the value of the products and services offered, but also by the way the company values are being communicated and demonstrated. Shoppers want you to know them, but they want to know you, so they can be assured you share the concerns they hold dear. You will want to be part of this conversation as we explore the new levels of customer connections and what those connections points will mean for you personally and professionally. 

The educational component at Midwinter will be grounded in retail-time specifics and chocked full of substantive and relevant content. It will examine issues through the eyes of both professional subject matter experts from a bird's eye perspective and the more focused lens of the food industry by way of response panels comprising of retail and manufacturing industry senior executives. 


The New Consumer: A 360 Degree View
Doug Stephens
Doug Stephens, The Retail Prophet

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 Who is the "new consumer" we keep hearing about? Experts, analysts and our own instincts tell us that the emerging consumer plans, shops and eats differently than the one we've known and designed our business around for years. But individual data points paint different pictures of the new consumer: she's younger or older, depending on whether you focus on Boomers or Millennials; he's more likely to be Hispanic or Asian, depending on the neighborhood; she's less likely to be loyal to a primary store or specific brand and more likely to use technology as part of their process; he's more likely to be either a value or premium shopper but not a middle of the road buyer. How do all these pieces fit together to reveal a functional picture of who this new consumer is and how is he or she different? In this session, we'll step back and take a full 360-degree look at the characteristics, motivations, and behaviors of the shoppers in our aisles today and who will be driving our business tomorrow. 

Following the presentation, panelists will discuss the new consumer qualities they are seeing in their business today and what they expect in the near future. 

What is one thing about this "new consumer" that food retailers need to keep in mind? Read more from FMI's Voice of Food Retail Blog! 

Beyond the Cash Register: the Societal Impact of the New Consumer

John Zogby
John Zogby, Pollster and Trendspotter
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Six years ago noted pollster and "maverick predictor" John Zogby foretold many aspects of the new consumer in his best-selling book, The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream. His Americans would be living with limits, embracing diversity, seeking spiritual comfort, and demanding authenticity. Today, we see Americans he described beginning to impact every aspect of our society: elections, family structure, business practices, and international discourse. In this session, Zogby will further explore the economic, political and social impacts of the new consumer.

Following the presentation, panelists will discuss how they are responding to the various manifestations of the empowered new consumer.

Built for Yesterday, Facing Tomorrow: Food Retail's Engagement of the New Consumer

Anthony Flynn
Anthony Flynn, CEO YouBar, Inc., Author of Custom Nation
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Food retail is an industry grounded in the delivery of mass-produced goods through bricks and mortar locations. We have a long history of customer service and of striving to provide the best value for our shoppers. Because historically we have dealt in a commodity essential to life, we have felt and been central to the lives of our customers. But the ground has shifted beneath us, Technology now enables consumers to create their own customized supply chains and to require personalized products designed to meet their particular health goals, dietary desires, and cultural values; and the things we once thought were paramount to cultivating customer loyalty may not be so important after all. In this provocative presentation, a cultivator of new models based on the new consumer will suggest that to survive, food retail must make dramatic changes.

Following the presentation, panelists will discuss/debate what should be scrapped, retained or refined in new and old models of food retail and how these can be leveraged to meet the needs of the new consumer.

The New Consumer and the New Political Reality

The trends playing out in our stores every day are simply a reflection of larger shifts in society at large. But these trends also reverberate back to us a second time when the larger movements result in political changes. In this session, we'll review the results of the midterm elections and consider what may be in store as the new consumer becomes the new voter in 2016 presidential election season. What actions are likely from the new Congress? What issues loom largest in the political debate? And how will these impact our business and our industry? Will the new consumer result in a new political party?