By: Cynthia Brazzel, Director, Member Relations and Advocacy for the Western Region, Food Marketing Institute
In 2017 FMI welcomed food retail University and College programs to become full-fledged members so they could access the research and resources of our association. At the same time, our University and College members offer our retail and wholesale members an important opportunity—access to career enhancement and life-long learning opportunities as well as access to an incoming talent pool of graduates. We are profiling each of our University and College members to showcase their programs and how they can help advance food retail industry professionals.
A few years ago, local and regional industry partners approached Niagara University in Buffalo, NY about the need for strong young professional talent in the food retail and consumer products goods (CPG) industry. The result of these initial discussions is Niagara University’s Food and CPG Marketing program, which in its third academic year is already the third largest program of its kind in the United States. I recently discussed the program with Alan Stock, director of the Food Marketing Center of Excellence and Niagara University faculty fellow. Stock shared that Niagara’s program, “Combines cutting edge classroom lecture and discussion with practical industry application, to develop students that are ‘day one’ ready to make a positive contribution to an organization.”
Niagara University’s Food and CPG Marketing program has a progressive focus on modern marketing. “Marketing career growth continues to explode in the areas of social media and digital marketing,” shared Stock. “We give students the skills to succeed in a range of food marketing careers, including brand management, social media, category management, marketing research, marketing agencies, and sales.”
Some of the relevant coursework in Niagara’s program includes Search and Digital Metrics, Big Data, Social Media Planning, and Interface Design. “We allow our graduates to develop cutting-edge skill sets to help them gain employment in the hottest careers in social media and digital marketing,” said Stock. Furthermore, programs such as the Food Marketing Center of Excellence Annual Food Innovation Summit on May 2 provide an opportunity for students and retailers to interact on sustaining customer loyalty in the digital age.
Stock noted, “Students from Niagara University have been successfully placed into careers or internships with organizations such as The Clorox Company, Rich Products, Wegmans Food Markets, Rosina Foods, Acosta Sales and Marketing, North American Breweries, and many others.”
So, what makes the Niagara student so able to hit the ground running? According to Stock, food retail and CPG industry engagement is part of the success, “Students are afforded opportunities to participate in industry case competitions, attend trade shows, obtain industry accreditations, and network at Food Marketing Center of Excellence events, which helps enhance and round out Niagara University students for successful outcomes upon graduation,” said Stock.