Overcoming Blindspots and Identifying Demand Signals with Conagra Brands’ DeLu Jackson


BRAVE COMMERCE - EP 052 - DeLu Jackson (1)

On this episode of BRAVE COMMERCE, hosts Rachel Tipograph (Founder & CEO of MikMak) and Sarah Hofstetter (President of Profitero) sit down with DeLu Jackson, the Vice President of Precision Marketing at Conagra Brands, to define Share of Stomach as a metric, how to find and understand demand signals, and lessons learned on global diversity in Tokyo.

Overcoming Blindspots via Share of Stomach

“The latest census said there are 330 million people in the U.S. and 130 million households,” DeLu posits. “How much do they eat?” Whatever the answer is, a brand’s or collective portfolio’s share of it is its Share of Stomach. 

“I call it Share of Stomach because that's an actual combination of a purchase metric and a consumption metric,” DeLu explains. It’s the broader understanding that humans have limited consumption capacity, and thus brands should be striving to maximize their Share of Stomach rather than market share. While DeLu’s team still looks at purchase and consumption metrics separately, this combined Share of Stomach framework offers a more holistic view that eliminates blindspots.

Here’s an example. “If McDonald's and Starbucks are growing Share of Stomach [via All Day Breakfast offers],” DeLu says, “then any breakfast brand has to recognize, regardless of the product you sell, that your share is changing.” Recognizing this will not only affect how brands go to market, who they define as competitors, but also how they appeal to the consumer. “It requires us to rethink what we consider to be important with the consumer,” DeLu explains. 

In another instance with Healthy Choice and Duncan Hines, DeLu challenged his team to think beyond audience types when it came to targeting. Just because health centric consumers buy Healthy Choice doesn’t mean they don’t eat cake, and so they shouldn't be excluded from cake communications. “By thinking about the portfolio holistically against Share of Stomach, and obviously share of wallet and basket, we're looking at how consumers build their total eating behavior,” DeLu shared. “That allows us to actually flex to where those opportunities exist. The same households that buy Healthy Choice, also buy Duncan Hines cake.”

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Using Demand Signals to Create New Products and Opportunities

As a precision marketer, DeLu and his team are always focusing on demand signals. It is a constant, iterative, and agile process of following data points and making real-time modifications, from product innovation to identifying new audiences and creating marketing content. One of Conagra’s successes when it came to following demand signals was with the launch of kits, such as holiday baking kits or pizza kits. With Duncan Hines, DeLu and his team put together components that they saw consumers buying collectively and consistently. “There are lots of different ways to think about price, pack architecture, and how we build new products,” DeLu reflects. “There's also tremendous opportunities within existing portfolios to really take advantage of. Sometimes they're trends; sometimes they're lasting behaviors.”

Appreciation for Diversity on a Global Scale

DeLu was working for Audi in the U.S. when he was recruited into a global leadership role to be the Chief Digital Officer for Nissan in Tokyo. It was right after the Fukushima earthquake, and DeLu recalls moving himself and his young family to Tokyo to be his bravest memory. He “had to really start to function in Japanese,” and while he had a translator at work, it was difficult to integrate himself and his family into a place that spoke a different language. “It gave me, even as a person of color, a new appreciation for the concept of diversity on a global scale,” DeLu reflects. Once there, he led an international team of 85 people who were spread across the world, and had to learn to harness these disparate teams to deliver global scale solutions. Nevertheless, he found this to be “was the most rewarding experience in [his] career.” 

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