Leavey Alumna Nicole Biondi Vinson at the Forefront of Shaping the Omni-shopper Experience
Ten years ago, most shoppers entered a retail store, discovered or located the product they were looking for, and then bought that item then and there. Or the same shopper might have just gone to a website, read the item description and reviews, and then ordered it online.
Today, however, the modern shopper has evolved, and the shopping experience has evolved, too. Technology now enables marketers to seamlessly leverage all channels—on-site, online, and mobile—to deliver a fully integrated and comprehensive shopping experience. For example, a customer might discover and research a product on their mobile device, check inventory from a website, purchase it on their tablet, and pick it up from the physical store. These new shoppers are referred to as omni-shoppers, and there is a new subset of marketing professionals dedicated to making sure this more comprehensive shopping experience is seamless and integrated from end to end.
Nicole Biondi Vinson (2004) knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in marketing. Her mother’s two best friends worked in marketing and were happy to bring Nicole to their Take-Your-Daughter-to-Work events. There, Nicole “fell in love with how you can bring brands to life, connect with shoppers to fulfill a need and create a consumer relationship.”
As a Silicon Valley resident with an entrepreneurial mother, Nicole also recognized a passion for innovation, especially in digital marketing which was transforming before her eyes in the early 2000s.
After graduating from the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, Nicole launched her career working for several digital marketing agencies with sophisticated capabilities. She quickly learned the ways that technology enables data-driven personalized communication with consumers that can drive business outcomes. She says, “Understanding the power of digital and how you could build branded connected experiences was really exciting.”
Her natural marketing instincts and interest in technology laid the foundation for Nicole to lead in the multi-channel and omni-shopper space. While pioneering eCommerce capabilities in consumer product goods (CPG) at the Integer Group (Omnicom/ TBWA), Nicole developed early omni-commerce programs and drove conversion at retail point-of-purchase for companies like The Proctor & Gamble Company (P&G), Mars, Incorporated, and Starbucks Corporation. When P&G began selling Pampers on Amazon, Nicole was at the forefront of helping build e-shopper capability from the ground up, including product detail pages, virtual storefronts, the Amazon Mom program (now Amazon Family), and paid search.
Nicole’s team’s work in the omni-commerce space has paved the way for CPG companies to optimize sales wherever the customer could be found. The team “drove a lot of capability building internally and externally to help brand marketers think about the online channel, omnichannel customers, and the economics behind e-commerce investments.”
Then, six years ago, Nicole realized she wanted to understand the brand side of business, so she pivoted from agencies to working directly for CPG companies, ultimately landing her at Kellogg Company, leading Global Digital, Media and Omni-commerce. At Kellogg Company, she is once again driving transformative industry trends, as big data enables deeper consumer insights and personalized inclusive connections with consumers.
“The power of data is opening up so many doors to optimize business and grow more profitably with retail customers and expand capabilities to reach consumers in ways that we’ve never been able to before,” Nicole explains. “Also, emerging tech, such as generative AI, can take large amounts of data and create personalized content at scale in a more economical way, enabling a more relevant and contextual connected full funnel consumer experience. That is phenomenal and what gets me excited to come to work every day.”
Great Power Brings Great Responsibility
Nicole points out that the education she received at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University prepared her to pioneer and excel in leadership positions by helping her develop the values needed to be an ethical marketer in a modern, digital world.
The Jesuit values at Santa Clara fed her own sense of ethical responsibility, making her passionate about data privacy and security in order to protect the trust consumers have in brands, such as Kellogg’s. “Consumers are in charge of their own data, and how we responsibly manage that data is at the forefront of everything.” Her core values benefit consumers as she champions responsible privacy and data policies, procedures, and guidelines in marketing.
In addition to a solid ethical foundation, Santa Clara also gave her the skills to succeed in the evolving digital world. As an undergraduate, Nicole started her marketing career with a multi-year internship at Sun Microsystems. She appreciated the exposure to global marketing communications, media, and sponsorships but knew that “digital was the future and I very deliberately focused on that space.”
As an active Santa Clara alumni community member, Nicole is happy to share her story and lessons learned with the next generation of marketers. When asked what she would have told her 18-year-old self when starting her marketing career, Nicole’s advice is, “Be thoughtful about the type of organizations and groups you are associating with so you are aligning your personal values to the company’s values. When you do this, you can drive your own personal fulfillment as well as your impact on the world.”