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Mondelez Int'l tackles shopper challenges in next-generation mobile innovation program

Mondel?z International is rolling out the next generation of a program responsible for driving innovation in the marketer's mobile efforts by pairing entrepreneurs and retailers to transform consumer retail initiatives. 

The Shopper Futures program, which is a direct follow-up to the previous Mobile Futures initiative, aims to team up Mondel?z?s many brands with companies from across the nation and Canada who focus on developing mobile-enhanced solutions to bolster approaches to retail challenges. Mondel?z International has long been attempting to cement its status as a leader in mobile for consumer packaged goods brands, and may further highlight its contribution to the sector with this program.

?We?re looking to explore a wide-range of solutions that will help us transform the shopping experience,? said Laura Henderson, head of U.S. media and communications at Mondel?z International, New York. ?We will learn more about areas of opportunity when we hear from our selected start-ups on at our pitch event on August 5-6.

?At this early stage, we?re excited about the possibilities and can see rich opportunity within areas like image recognition and mobile check-out, beacons/proximity marketing, and ecommerce/omnichannel marketing, among many others. Shopper Futures will seek to utilize a wide range of technology to solve pressing retail issues.?

Building on the past
Mondel?z International is building the new program as a counterpart to its original 2012 Mobile Futures initiative that teamed up its brands with select start-ups to fuel existing mobile innovations and spur the formulation of new and innovative ventures.

?I remember when Bonin Bough handed out the Mobile Futures brief to the international MDZ executive team in NYC late October, 2012,? said Gary Schwartz, CEO and president of Impact Mobile, New York. ?What he called the future in 90 days.

?Bonin and his team have done an incredible job over the past few years crowdsourcing innovation globally and making MDZ a partner in the process. By backing solutions, MDZ has effectively grown the solutions and reaped the rewards as some of these technologies became mainstream.?

The program was officially announced yesterday in New York City and in Toronto today. This particular round aims to focus on shopper challenges in its snacking categories, which include brands such as Oreo, Nabisco, Ritz and Chips Ahoy!

Mondel?z hopes to tap early-stage innovators in an effort to learn from them, and in turn provide these start-up firms with access to in-market case studies as well as the ability to work with retailers and brands.

The snacking conglomerate will host a pitch event for startups in East Hanover, New Jersey on August 5 and 6, where nine finalists will be selected to receive funding to work directly with a team of marketers. Participating brands include Ritz, Halls, Cadbury and Oreo, with retailers also in the mix.

The startups will collaborate with these professionals to create a 90-day pilot execution.

?Mobile is critical to our success,? Mondel?z?s Ms. Henderson said. ?As consumer behavior continues to evolve, mobile allows us to follow audiences where they?re consuming media.

?It is also a necessary tool in reaching consumers at the point of buying. In a world where the majority of our purchase decisions for snacking categories are made impulsively in-store, mobile is a valuable tool in helping us to reach consumers at the right time.?

Redefining retail
The retail innovations that emerge from the Mobile Futures program have the potential to seriously disrupt the mcommerce space and offer other retailers and brands an idea of what mobile may offer their industries in coming years.

?Brands such as Coke, MDZ and P&G have thrown innovation budget towards the startup community made themselves part of the future of mobile engagement and not a wait-and-see passenger,? Impact Mobile?s Mr. Schwartz said. ?The Shopper Futures program is a continuation of this proactive stance in a disprupted economy.?

Start-ups interested in participating must be U.S. or Canada-based, have been active for under four years and offer technology with the ability to go live in the marketplace. Submissions are being accepted on shopperfutures.com through June 27, 2015.

Mondel?z is also foraying into marketing directly to consumers via mobile methods.

Maytag and Mondel?z International are among brand marketers upping the ante in the chase for direct-to-consumer sales as mobile disrupts the traditional model of selling solely to wholesalers and retailers (see story).

?Mobile is a critical part of all of our plans,? Mondel?z?s Ms. Henderson said. ?We look at it as a seamless part of the overall mix. Shopper Futures will help us to build on and support our mobile efforts and bring new ideas to market.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York