An inside look at Altria

Though it was a Friday and there were no classes, many of us still arrived at Miller Hall bright and early.  Miller Hall served as the perfect meeting point before our caravan of cars headed to Richmond.  It was April 14, 2011 and the ultimate destination of the MBAA Marketing Club was Altria and our host was Brian Schuyler, Sr. Director of Marketing Compliance.

MBAA Marketing Club visits Altria in Richmond.Upon arriving at Altria, Mr. Schuyler escorted us to a large conference room, where we quickly began a discussion about current events and branding.  Mr. Schuyler led the discussion and asked our opinions about certain brands and the various strategies that are employed in branding and marketing them.  As a group we highlighted many popular brands and questioned the reasoning and effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

After our discussion about brands, Mr. Schuyler began his presentation on Altria and the companies that are incorporated under the Altria name.  He told us about Altria’s values and mission statement, detailed Altria’s business strategy for an industry that has been shrinking in recent years.

Clearly Altria has to market differently than Nike or Adidas, and it was interesting to hear Mr. Schuyler explain how they do this.  He outlined Altria’s distribution channels, which brought back fond memories from our marketing and operations classes.

Our site visit ended with a lunch and a new guest speaker.  John Pope, an Associate Brand Manager for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco joined us to highlight some of the marketing strategies that his division uses.  The session was very interactive and gave our group the chance to ask a wide variety of questions. 

Lastly, both Mr. Pope and Mr. Schuyler highlighted the qualities that Altria looks for when hiring employees and the skills that they felt make a good marketer. 

Visiting Altria was a valuable experience for all of us, and it provided each of us with the opportunity to hear a first-hand account of the strategies and challenges that are part of marketing on a day-to-day basis.