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Walgreens taps two from Walmart, third from Kraft for key merchandising roles; promotes Van Howe and Watts to new posts

NEW YORK You can expect to see more changes in the look and feel of the Walgreens drug store.

 

As three key front-end merchants left Walgreens’ in early May amid a major staff shakeup, three new replacements have since walked in from Walmart and Kraft Foods.

 

 

Coming to Walgreens from Walmart are Shannon Petree and Eddie Frail, to the positions of DVP/GMM beauty and personal care, and DVP/GMM seasonal and general merchandise, respectively; additionally, 14-year Kraft Foods veteran Maurice “Moe” Alkemade will join Walgreens, assuming the position of DVP/GMM private brands. Frail’s position became effective on June 15; Alkemade starts June 22; and Petree will start July 13.

 

All this adds up to long-term changes for both the way product is displayed and signed at the front end, and the actual products customers will see on the shelves, endcaps and freestanding in-aisle displays.

 

Going forward, it seems certain the product mix at Walgreens will be more trimmed-down and condensed, and geared more to the “affordable essentials” and Walgreens has indicated that it must do a better job of offering the nation’s consumers in a time of economic belt-tightening. In light of this, it is interesting — but perhaps not surprising —that Walgreens tapped two former Walmart executives to join its management team.

 

 

Walgreens inevitably is looking to strike differentiation in these three categories that are clearly so deeply connected to the overall shopping drug store experience.

 

 

Think about it — Rx and OTC are need-driven purchases; but beauty, seasonal, consumables, that’s where the impulse shopping starts, the market basket fills up and the dollar ring climbs. Those are the truly “experiential” categories in the drug store; that’s where you get your wow factor and strike differentiation.

 

Walmart recently introduced a new interactive “Virtual Mirror” technology in two of its stores that allows customers to try on cosmetics virtually; the kiosks are located along the beauty wall, lining up against the L’Oreal, Revlon and CoverGirl brands. (For more, see the June 29, 2009 issue of Drug Store News — coming soon.)

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