What is the Forum of Merchandising Executives (FME)?

Hare: The Path to Purchase Institute has assembled a biannual gathering of industry leaders to explore best practices, key issues and current obstacles to creating, distributing and measuring merchandising – as well as to explore the future of merchandising and the shopping experience. The goal of this group is to drive debate, discussion and learning in a one-to-one environment to advance the members’ knowledge, enhance their relationships and shape the future of the industry. The retail landscape is changing, and changing rapidly. Merchandising or in-store activation is vital to the success of the vast majority of shopper marketing and promotional initiatives. 

Who are the FME’s members? Are there roles for brands, retailers and solution providers? 

Hare: There is absolutely a role for everyone in the merchandising ecosystem to participate. We have a robust membership comprised of industry leaders from leading retailers, solution providers, POS manufacturers and brands. For instance, we have directors of visual merchandising; leaders in display and special packs; VPs of operations; merchandising leadership from retailers; and directors of retail innovation.

Are there speakers at FME events? If so, how do they secure speaking spots?

Hare: Our speakers are a combination of guest lecturers and FME members. We follow a format of 19-minute “Lightning Lecture” presentations that are an instrumental format used to explore critical industry topics. Members of the FME provide suggestions for topics they feel are the most critical, the most important or the most compelling. Members review these recommendations to help develop content and discussion points. And members are invited to submit a presentation proposal for any of the topics to present at the upcoming meeting. Small breakout discussions supplement the learning and interaction surrounding the chosen topics for a given meeting.

FME meeting agendas include powerful introductions and connections, access to key business contacts, strategic discussions on the future of the industry, and advance knowledge of research, trends and best practices that will help your business grow.

What is on the agenda for the July 25-26 meeting in Chicago?

Hare: We are in the process of finalizing the agenda and speakers. These are the four topic areas we are planning to address: metrics for ROI on merchandising and display; case study successes and failures; how to break down merchandising and marketing silos at retail; and the restructuring of retail and what is “in store” for the future.

If someone wants to be a part of that meeting, what do they need to do?

Hare: For brands and retailers, the FME membership fee is $700 per year, which covers the entry fee and all meals for up to three people at two meetings annually. Solution providers and suppliers pay a different membership fee. Please contact me if you are interested or have any questions.

Patrick Hare is director, member development, at the Path to Purchase institute. While working at Kraft Foods in 2009, he was inducted into the Shopper Marketing Hall of Fame. He can be reached at [email protected] or (773) 992-4465.