Corporate Insight
 Marie-Helene Sicard, 
Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Planning
Corporate Services, Sodexo North America

How has your marketing approach evolved within the last five years?
Consumer needs are ever-changing, and so is our marketing approach. Millennials now account for the largest demographic in the workplace, surpassing the Baby Boom generation. This generation is redefining work/life balance and what flexible work means. Organizational ethics and social responsibility have taken on increasing importance for this consumer. Consumers across all generations have become more health-conscious. For our marketing efforts, this has spurred the development of new products and innovations to support enhanced transparency, local connection, and creative ways of producing and delivering our services.
In order to remain competitive for top talent, our clients are placing a high value on the customer experience as a key differentiator. As a consequence, enabling that unique exceptional experience has become a strategic priority in our marketing approach. Leveraging consumer listening and learning tools via social media and technology have come to the forefront to help continually improve the experience. Technology has become embedded in everything we do as it enables access to choice and information that is required by today’s consumer.
How has the advent of social media changed your company’s approach to marketing?
We have been integrating social media as a communications tool into all aspects of our work with clients. It has also become an important consumer research channel to help inform our marketing strategies. We use social media as a customer listening tool that informs new product and service offers. It is also a great channel to leverage for quick feedback on new ideas. The real-time data and information now available via social media has helped us more quickly understand consumer perceptions and feedback which in turn helps us move rapidly with new ideas and innovation to address that feedback.
Where do you see the most opportunity to grow our industry?
We currently see a growing demand for more choices among health-conscious consumers and also a demand for more convenience offerings. We have an opportunity to redefine health in this industry by finding new ways to satisfy our consumers across generational lines and different geographies. Sustainable sourcing of products and food delivery also represent significant growth potential as we work to support our clients in this important area.
Instead of focusing on workplace satisfaction, we see our clients expanding this definition to focus on the holistic workplace experience. I believe there are growth opportunities in building experience design expertise to help companies customize their services according to organizational culture and the behaviors that are valued by the organization.
Enhancing our technology solutions through innovation also represents growth potential.  We have built a number of new technology products that link health and wellness tracking with food nutrition information. Whenever we can add value to our clients through stronger integration of technology, it is a win.
What do you consider to be the most valuable part of doing business with Sodexo for your customers?
What makes Sodexo unique is our focus on the consumer experience through our strategic lens of Quality of Life.  Because we focus on enhancing the Quality of Life for the end-users we serve, we put a huge value on what matters to the customer when designing and delivering our services. Through our global scale, we are able to bring consumer insights to our clients based on the feedback millions of consumers we serve daily throughout the world. We closely monitor consumer trends and shifts relative to food, nutrition, health and wellness, workplace experience, and more. To our clients, we bring these insights coupled with our passion for Quality of Life which in turn directly helps to enhance performance for the clients we serve.
Please share a good story about your early foodservice career that still serves you well today.
I started my career in foodservices more than 20 years ago and the lessons and values this experience instilled in me have shaped the leader I am today. I recall being on the opening team for a new restaurant or at another time, supporting and delivering a large catering event and realizing then that those accomplishments were only possible if done in the spirit of TEAMWORK. I also witnessed how RESPECT and RECOGNITION foster engagement and encourage people to bring their best to their work.
Last but not least, what has truly resonated over the years from having worked in foodservices is an immense sense of PRIDE.  Being of service, of FOODSERVICE, is a privilege and an honor and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to work alongside the most talented and dedicated people in this industry.