Q&A: Neighborhood marketing

J.D. Schulman, VRN

Drug Store News caught up with J.D. Schulman, CEO of Vesta Retail Networks, to talk about the company’s retailer-exclusive neighborhood marketing networks — a program that reaches affluent shoppers in a unique way by creating advertising opportunities out of the hangers used for dry cleaning. It’s not only an out-of-the-box approach to delivering targeted messaging, but it’s green, too — the “eco-hangers” and attached cardboard advertisements are both created out of 100%-recycled material, and the finished hanger is recyclable to boot.

DSN: What does VRN do for retailers?

J.D. Schulman: Our mission is to drive affluent customers to our retail customers via the affluent shopper networks we operate. Today, securing a scalable, affordable and affluent shopper network is critically important for retailers looking for more customers, new customers and bigger market baskets. ... We work exclusively with leading retailers, which license channel-exclusive affluent shopper networks. No other company provides this localized-yet-national approach to reaching affluent customers necessary to drive sales increases in this current challenging environment.

DSN: How is this media vehicle more influential than other more traditional outlets?

Schulman: These leading retailers are licensing our affluent shopper networks to bring their suppliers an extended way to reach the coveted affluent households within the correct drive times around their stores. Our patented in-home billboards [are] hyper-efficient; [they] reach shopper households around our retail partners with nearly 100% view rates and 100% open rates — that’s unlike any other media vehicle that retailers have in their arsenal.

DSN: You’ve set up the Walgreens Neighborhood Marketing Network. How does that work exactly?

Schulman: We have 35,000 dry cleaners in our network that distribute our in-home billboards on our patented eco-hanger product. But you can’t advertise through all 35,000 dry cleaners. If you think of the Walgreens network and their 7,500-plus stores, that’s 7,500-plus neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods, there are four or five dry cleaners around each store. Those dry cleaners are selected to receive these in-home billboards. ...

On average, the Walgreens Neighborhood Marketing Network has a household income [demographic] right around $100,000. [This program] reaches the 28% of households that do dry cleaning. Just by the very nature of the program, this is reaching more brand-centric consumers who have the pocketbooks to make purchase decisions not based on price, but based on preference.

DSN: Is this a one-size-fits-all program, or can suppliers manipulate and customize what’s included in the media?

Schulman: An individual supplier, for Walgreens as an example, can find out more about the program on a custom Web page at WAGshoppers.com. There [the supplier] can find out rates, dates, that kind of thing. Not only do the suppliers have the chance for in-home display via the billboards, but also couponing, sampling, promotion and QR code distribution — a number of ways in one single program to activate these affluent shoppers.

For the full audio Q&A, click here.

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