BOISE, Idaho — As executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Albertsons Cos., Jennifer Saenz is responsible for national merchandising, marketing, insights, loyalty, data commercialization and Albertsons Cos.’ highly regarded portfolio of Own Brands. She sees her and her team’s mission as bringing people together around the joys of food to inspire well-being.
“When we are able to do this, we know that we create customers for life,” she said in a recent interview. “Some of our customers have been shopping our stores their entire lives. It is an incredible privilege to be part of their special celebrations and everyday needs.”
Prior to joining Albertsons Cos. in her present role in July 2021, she worked at PepsiCo Inc. for 15 years, including stints as global chief marketing officer and as president of global foods, with responsibility for the $30 billion PepsiCo Foods portfolio. Before that, she served as senior VP and chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Foods North America, where she is credited with accelerating growth and driving innovation for the $16 billion snack portfolio.
That experience with one of the premier food companies and marketers in the world provided her with personal development that is reflected in her impressive career track record.
“Early in my career, I was given the advice to think just as much about the manager I was choosing as I was the role I would be performing,” she said. “Wherever I worked, I sought out the people with the very best reputations for developing people and worked hard to be part of their team.
“Having amazing managers made a huge difference in my career. I found people who accelerated my development because they were the very best teachers around. They helped me develop critical thinking skills, encouraged me to take reasonable risks that built my confidence and developed my skills as a leader. When I look back at my career, the biggest highlights have been an incredible set of managers and mentors.”
A recent major focus for Saenz and her team has been revitalizing and modernizing Albertsons Cos.’ powerful portfolio of Own Brands, starting with Open Nature and O Organics and more recently including Signature Select. The refresh has involved updating the brand visual identities with modern logos, updated packaging and marketing campaigns that better communicate what each brand stands for.
“We’ve been making these changes over the last few months and will continue updating the portfolio into 2024,” she noted. “I love the new look and feel of the brands and, so far, it seems like our customers do as well.”
Another recent big initiative is a new advertising campaign dubbed Sincerely, Food. The campaign, built around a narrative told from the perspective of what food could see, is intended to boost awareness of Albertsons Cos.’ high-quality fresh produce, meats and seasonal ingredients and to create a more emotional connection between customers and their local Albertsons Cos. grocery store.
“Sincerely, Food celebrates our purpose to bring people together around the joys of food,” explained Saenz. “It is a campaign that is able to showcase all the delicious foods we have to offer and, at the same time, provide a bit of an uplift to the everyday with a delightful sense of humor.”