Articles
March 17, 2022

MEG conference to converge on Chicago

Restaurant marketing professionals will 'ReGather' to hear trend experts and fellow marketers map the coming year.

MEG will focus on how consumers’ buying habits, preferences and expectations have changed and how marketing should continue to evolve.

The National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executives Group returns to Chicago in person for the first time in three years for the 2022 MEG conference, May 18-20, just in advance of the National Restaurant Association Show. 

The conference focuses on lessons learned during the pandemic, how consumers’ buying habits, preferences and expectations have changed and how marketing has and should continue to evolve. 

Retail and Consumer Futurist Doug Stephens will kick off the conference with a keynote on “The Future of Consumerism,” in which he’ll show how shifts in economics, demographics, technology, and media are transforming how consumers buy, and where and why they shop. He will share case studies about what smart brands are doing to reimagine their businesses and capitalize on these changes.

“This will be really important for all marketers to hear,” says 2022 MEG chair Kaffee Hopkins, director of Brand Marketing for Atlanta-based Sterling Culinary Management. “Mobile technology, social commerce, virtual reality, and many more developing technologies are changing the way everyone thinks, behaves and buys. We have to know how and where they get their information, and how they decide where to eat and what to buy. Doug will give our attendees more tools and a better understanding of how the landscape has changed and how to apply these takeaways in their own restaurant businesses.”

In addition, Katie Wallace, New Belgium Brewing’s Chief ESG Officer, and Nelson Griffin, Red Lobster’s Chief Procurement & Real Estate Officer, will discuss ESG marketing—the promotion of a company’s environmental, social, and governance attributes—and the significance of promoting its impacts to various stakeholders, including customers and employees. The two will address how it helps build brand equity and drive business value.

A panel of restaurant execs—Bruce Skala, senior vice president of Marketing for HOA Brands, the parent of Hooter’s/Hoots; Jack Gibbons, president & COO of Front Burner Restaurants; and AndrĂ© C. Vener, founding partner of Dog Haus Worldwide—will share stories on how their brands survived the pandemic, and how their marketing strategies helped them during the last two years.

Julia Stewart, former president and CEO of Dine Equity Brands, parent of IHOP and Applebee’s, and now founder and CEO of Alurx, sits down with food-and-menu trends expert Nancy Kruse (and current contributor to Restaurant Business) to talk about her restaurant industry experiences and the rewards of entrepreneurship. 

In a series of three 25-minute roundtable sessions for restaurant marketing professionals only, a moderator will pose key questions and ask each table’s members for solutions on hot topics and issues.

This year’s conference is sponsored by DirectTV for Business. Get more information and register for the event here.