August, 2015 | Mays Impacts

Blue Bell did three things right as a business of integrity.

To bedrhoustonheadshotgin with, I quote what one of my best friends recently posted to Facebook: “When it is back on the shelves, I’m going to eat my body weight in Blue Bell!” I start with that reaction because it is indicative of the deep passion for Blue Bell that is playing a big part in their ability to recover from a disaster on a scale that would have destroyed many businesses. Even with such strong brand devotion (“Blue Bell is part of my family”), a company facing a recall that involves consumer harm has a very short period of time to make some key decisions – and they have to get them right.

First, with the speed with which information spreads today – and consumers who increasingly value authenticity – a firm cannot appear as if they are trying to hide anything. Research on many product recalls suggests that you have to acknowledge the scale of the problem, accept responsibility and declare the specific actions you will take to make it right for those harmed and to make sure that the problem does not reoccur. Blue Bell was, for the most part, very transparent – they communicated through traditional advertising channels, but also worked with retail partners to post signs on the ice cream shelves that explained, apologized sincerely, and announced steps to continue to investigate the sources and to fix the problem.

Second, as the full scale of the problem becomes clear, it becomes critical to make sure that the response adapts and is big enough to matter. In my recollection, there were a few waves in which it became clearer that the problem was not isolated to just a small niche of product lines or one machine in one plant. Although there was some negative reaction among consumers and business writers as the problem seemed to continue to grow for a period, I thought Blue Bell reacted with a level of candor that is pretty rare. But it was interesting to me that the majority customer opinion seemed to be one of “hoping an old friend would quickly get well” instead of wondering what else the firm might be hiding. This only happens if customers are devoted to the brand (beyond simple positive feelings) and if they have a high level of trust in the integrity of the firm and its management. Researchers refer to these factors as a firm having high “social capital.” Blue Bell will still have to get the “re-launch” right, as I’m guessing there will be some supply shortages—they will have the chance to hit the right tone of expressing appreciation to customers while re-emphasizing their commitment to product safety and quality.

Finally, I think financial partners and channel partners recognized that Blue Bell’s social capital would, more likely than not, result in customers welcoming Blue Bell back rather than being afraid to resume using the product. So these partners, who faced tough decisions of their own, appear to have recognized the value in remaining committed to Blue Bell and helping the beloved brand regain their footing in the marketplace.

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Mark B. Houston is department head and professor of marketing at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, as well as the inaugural Blue Bell Creameries Chair in Business.

He can be reached at mhouston@mays.tamu.edu

 

Categories: Centers, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School will host its 30th Retailing Summit conference Oct. 8-9, featuring Bluemercury co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Barry Beck.

Barry-Beck-for-Retailing-Summit

 

The two-day conference at the Westin Galleria in Dallas aims to join more than 300 executives as they deep dive into macro-industry trends, disrupting retail models and discussions on future predictions about “big-picture” retailing concepts.

Bluemercury, recently acquired by Macy’s for $210 million dollars, is a high-growth luxury beauty and cosmetics chain. The partnership provides the company access to omnichannel technology, supply chain and retail operations to continue its expansion efforts next to Macy’s national operation network of over 850 department stores.

“This year’s Retailing Summit theme of ‘Redefining: Retail’ is particularly exciting to me given the recent acquisition of Bluemercury and the innovative vision we have for the future,” Beck said. “I’m looking forward to sharing key insights from this rapid growth period and learning from some of the Industry’s leading executives.”

Beck has appeared as a speaker for the Showcase on Great Consumer Brands at NASDAQ, the Future of Bricks-and-Mortar Retail at the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Mobile Payment and Omnichannel Retailing at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and has spoken on the subject of entrepreneurship and innovation at Cornell University and Columbia University’s Lang Center for Entrepreneurship’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Making their way to Texas, the company has “plans to expand our footprint throughout [the state], including Southlake Village in September and in the near future at one of the first Macy’s stop-in-shops at Memorial City in Houston, with additional free-standing heritage stores following in 2016 and beyond.”

As well, the Retailing Summit will welcome JCPenney’s Marvin Ellison, one of the most-watched retail CEO’s across the country.

Texas A&M University former student Chris Valletta ’01, a contestant on The Apprentice, also joins the group as the co-founder of Mission Athletecare. Its distribution expanded nationwide within the first year to more than 5,000 locations, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Sports Authority, Hibett Sports, Brookstone, HSN, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Kroger.

“As a university-hosted event, the Retailing Summit is about genuine sharing knowledge, not sales pitches. The conference gathers retail leaders who are willing to discuss best practices (or lessons learned from failures) that improve business,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies. “Attendees will hear stories from the trenches of retail about improving the customer experience, elevating the role of the store, rewarding loyalty and leveraging technology to drive sales.”

Joining Beck, Ellison and Valletta are Gautam Gupta, CEO of NatureBox; Erik Medina, Vice President, Head of U.S. TRU Youth Monitor at The Futures Company; Sarah Quinlan, SVP and Head of Market Insights at MasterCard; Bryan McCormick, Vice President of Human Resources at PetSmart; Jeff Donaldson, SVP of GameStop Technology Institute at GameStop; Steve Brill, SVP of Corporate Communications at UPS; Scott Emmons, Enterprise Architect and Innovation Lab Manager at Neiman Marcus; Karyn Maynard, Recruiting Director at The Container Store; Michelle Bogan, Partner at Kurt Salmon; Craig Ceccanti, CEO and Co-Founder of Pinots Palette; and, Karla Waddleton, Division Vice President at ALDI.

BDO, Reflect Systems, Salesforce, Brierley + Partners, Kurt Salmon and PetSmart will serve as corporate sponsors of this year’s event.

Funds raised by the annual conference support retail curriculum and scholarships for students pursuing retail studies at Mays Business School by educating the next generation of retail leaders and providing executive education to the industry.

For more information or to register, visit retailingsummit.org or call 979.845.0325

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR RETAILING STUDIES

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) was created in 1983 to meet the demand for highly-educated innovators in the fast-paced world of retail. Since its founding, the Center has become a renowned source of industry knowledge and a pipeline for developing leaders in the retail sector. We work in collaboration with the Mays Business School to provide an excellent repertoire of coursework, internship and leadership opportunities for professionals interested in all facets of the retail experience.

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, business, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

 

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

Mays Business School graduate Denise Byington ’86 and her husband, Bert Garcia, have committed $30,000 to establish a scholarship for her area of interest, the Denise Byington ’86 and Bert Garcia ’81 Endowed Scholarship in Finance.

Their preference is that the students who receive the scholarships have a financial need and be pursuing a degree in finance degree or supply chain management – their daughter’s major. Byington graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance, while Garcia’s degree was in engineering.

“It’s important for us to give back after a couple of successful careers,” Byington said. “And as the parent of a college-aged child, we understand how difficult it can be to pay for a college education. If we could help some future Aggies, we would love to do that – especially if it is for a deserving business student.”

Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School, said he appreciates it when former students provide avenues for future students to attend college. “This is an example of the Aggie spirit at work,” he said. “These two former students could have done so many things with their money, and they are choosing to help boost the future students of Mays. Such dedication is what keeps our programs alive and ensures our legacy as a top-notch business school.”

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, business, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Alumni, Departments, Donors Corner, Former Students, Mays Business, Texas A&M

Mays Communications Specialist Courtney Bosquez has been selected to join Cinemark’s new Chairman’s Advisory Committee. The newly created committee will help provide innovative input and feedback to Cinemark’s management team.

Bosquez has beeCourtney Bosquezn with the Center for Retailing Studies since May 2014. There, she promotes the center across Texas A&M University and to a national audience of retailers through visual, print, e-mail and social communications. She is also responsible for all of the design and marketing efforts for the annual Retailing Summit in Dallas along with providing communications support for the Dallas/Fort Worth Retail Executives Association.

She was selected for the Chairman’s Advisory Committee through a competitive application and interview process. The committee members, who are not employed by Cinemark, will represent the 10 best and brightest young leaders in the DFW area and beyond.

Cinemark founder and chairman Lee Roy Mitchell created the committee with a vision that, “the program will be mutually beneficial to both Cinemark and our committee members.”

Committee members will serve two-year terms and meet five times a year, to work alongside Mitchell and other members of Cinemark’s management. “The committee members will have the opportunity to work with me and learn how to conduct business in today’s corporate environment in an honest and ethical manner,” Mitchell stated in a news release.

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, business honors, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

 

Categories: Departments, Mays Business, News, Staff, Texas A&M

David Cordani ’88, president and CEO of Cigna Corporation, will speak at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School Sept. 18. The program will be in Wehner 113 from 12:40 p.m.to 1:30 p.m.

No American university has turned out more Fortune 100 company CEOs than Texas A&M, according to a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking. Now Mays is bringing one of those CEOs home. Cordani graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and earned an MBA from the University of Hartford. He is an accomplished athlete, having competed in more than 125 triathlons.

Cordani will share his perspective on improving health care, now and for the future. He believes that today’s health care dialogue is too narrowly focused on lowering health costs. This focus, he says, inevitably results in an emphasis on an old model based on financing “sick” care. Rather, he believes, our dialogue should place greater emphasis on building a more sustainable health care system that better engages individuals in their own care management. This can be accomplished, he says, by focusing on three foundational elements: 1) Aligning the incentives for everyone involved in the health care process; 2) Embracing value-based payments and rewards and 3) Executional excellence, aided by information and insight.

James Benjamin, head of the accounting department at Mays, remembers Cordani as a student. “David Cordani’s relatively quick rise to be one of the leaders in the health care field is particularly remarkable,” Benjamin said. “I am confident he will continue to make important contributions to this very important field.”

In 2009, Cordani became president and CEO of Cigna, a company he has worked with for more than 24 years. He has spearheaded its transformation into a leading global health service company, doubling the size of the company in five years. He is a prominent voice addressing key health challenges, such as empowering individuals to manage their own health, innovating new health delivery models focused on patients’ health improvements and partnering with physicians to focus on wellness and improving clinical quality.

Cordani leads Cigna’s more than 37,000 employees in more than 30 countries in improving the health, well-being and sense of security of the more than 88 million customer relationships.

Prior to joining Cigna, Cordani was with Coopers & Lybrand. He actively works with the March of Dimes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Achilles International Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, and is a charter board member of ChildObesity180. Cordani was named to the General Mills Board of Directors in 2014 and to the U.S.-India Business Council Board of Directors in 2015.

For information, contact Diane McDonald at dmcdonald@mays.tamu.edu or 979-845-0193.

*Registration is not required for current students and faculty

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master and doctoral students in accounting, business, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Alumni, Departments, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M