Deana Moore Works as the VP of Marketing at Fairway Market, and recently spoke to Trend Hunter about the emphasis on collaboration that she places in her work.
How does your team generate great ideas?
We tend to constantly pitch ideas to each other. My team has about 20 people right now and we’re always sharing ideas, shooting ideas around, people email me, we’ll joke around and sometimes things come to us just because we’re joking around – and then we realize hold on wait, we can actually do this. We try as much as possible to “shoot for the stars” and then we come back to reality later, but whenever we’re brainstorming we try to get as out there as possible. And then through the creative brief process and the budgeting process it brings us back down to something more realistic.
What are some barriers to innovation and how do you get around them?
Money, time and at the end of the day, the volume of what we do. We can come up with really awesome ideas but the amount of products that we carry in our stores is about 3 times that of your regular food retailer. So we have 3 times the amount of products that most grocery stores carry. And so that’s part of it because we might have one really cool product but we also have 60,000 other products too. So there’s that balance but then the volume of customers that come through the store. I mean we have 3-400,000 people a week coming through the store every week and that’s average, and so anything that we do we want to make sure that it’s something that can target all 400,000 people. When you’re working with that volume the price increases drastically a lot of times.
How do you identify trends?
It’s Manhattan, and I’m still pretty new to the city. I’ve only been here two years and what we found is that we have a tendency to stay ahead of the curve but there’s just some things that are working in other parts of the country that do not work here. So there could be a trend in the entire nation and Manhattan’s not having it.
We’re constantly talking to like-minded people across the country and people that I’ve worked with previously that are now spread all over the place. The same industry and in different industries. But then there’s the opposite effect where you can get away with anything in New York sometimes, especially because it’s the food mecca. There’s a lot of trends that work really well in Manhattan that don’t work so well in our neighborhoods and the only way that we identify trends is by watching our competitors and watching what’s happening in our own lives. So if something is changing in the office atmosphere, like everybody’s buying this one drink but we don’t carry it, we need to research that one drink because it’s on everybody’s desk. So that’s a very obvious one where we notice that everybody is leaving the store and getting in an Uber now instead of in a taxi, and those are really subtle ones that aren’t quite as in your face that you have to pay attention to. But there’s a lot of sharing of ideas and knowledge and, people asking did you see this did you try this app, have you tried this new restaurant. It’s Manhattan and there’s something for everybody.
Has there ever been an instance where another industry has influenced an innovation at your company?
All the time. Architecture is one for me just because that’s what my background is. So seeing the process that they use, because their creative process takes a few years while ours is about if we can get things from idea to out the door in 15 minutes. So seeing the process that they go through, talking with friends and people that I’ve met throughout the years, the amount of detail that they dig into and how they have checks and balances.
Nobody is as heavily regulated as the drug world, and so seeing how they get around the regulations and the way that they advertise themselves to the masses, any time we have to do alcohol, beer or that kind of advertisement, knowing our own set of limitations and applying their strategy works for us.
What do you think your industry will look like in the next 5-10 years?
I think everybody’s mushing together. I always look to the past to see the future, and see how things have happened over the past 5-10 years. 10 years ago the health food industry was a completely different animal and you would never walk into most grocery stores and find a wide selection of organic or natural foods. Or being a vegetarian or gluten-free, or low sodium and sugar or anything like that. So this health consciousness is starting to take place nationwide. I think in New York, people are much more educated about where their food comes from and what’s imported and what’s local. 20 years ago people just knew it was Italian or French, now all this fusion is happening, just like in the grocery store there’s a fusion of the organics coming into what would be a specialty market. You can find it all everywhere now. The same thing in food, now you’re seeing Caribbean Swiss food, and you see Asian-inspired Peruvian food and Japanese-Inspired Chilean food and vice versa, so like all the cultures are starting to meet in the middle.
What's the most unconventional think you have done to get creative inspiration?
March is a really hard month, there’s not a lot going on, people are tired of being locked indoors because it’s so cold, everybody really wants to get outside but they can’t. We were trying to tie Fairway back to the roots of the streets of New York, and we were just joking around about all the things that happen in New York around March and one of them was that they fix the potholes and everybody in the entire room got super excited about potholes for about 30 minutes, and just started complaining about how much they hated them. So we took everybody’s anger and frustration about potholes and we turned it into a “pothole potluck” campaign and we were like, maybe we should just all take our favorite dish and just sit in the middle of a pothole and talk about it for a little while. We took everybody’s frustration and turned it into this campaign to really celebrate the workers who fix the potholes, and got very realistic imagery of construction workers on the street having lunch together and it was pretty different, who would think that a grocery store would be taking pictures of a construction site, but it worked.