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The great divide: Top 10 ideas on creating value during your retail engagements

BY Dan Mack

Warren Buffet once shared: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”  Most people believe they operate with integrity and transparency, but the dirty little secret is that your customers may see you as biased or not as valuable as you think. 

Over the last few years there is a growing expectation that suppliers must provide total transparency to their retail partners.  The belief is that the more open a supplier is, the better a retailer can align with the brand strategies creating a differentiated brand experience for its customers. This mantra is repeated by both buyers and sellers at most industry conferences. Are open organizations the new standard of our industry? 
Our organization recently conducted research with many of the top merchants in our industry, and the findings were very telling.  The great divide between manufacturers and retailers lies in four key areas including:

  • Not truly understanding the most critical priorities (i.e., boardroom priorities) of the customers;
  • Not truly being differentiated versus their competitors;
  • Not bringing the most relevant assets or people to the customer relationship; and
  • Not being hardwired to the customer’s agenda — allowing you the permission to co-author customized solutions.

During a recent Insights Forum conference the members compiled a list of assets and behaviors to improve retailer-supplier alignment, relevance and one’s corporate image and effectiveness with the industry. As I learned from the forum members, if you can do this more consistently, you will become more valuable in your retail customers’ eyes. 

  1. Introduce products or ideas that change the market dynamics and economics of the category.  Some examples are K-cup innovation in coffee, Swiffer, Purell and 5 Hour Energy.
  2. Understand the consumer dynamics better than others within a complicated category that is not being currently evaluated (e.g., travel trial section, front end, in/out seasonal end caps, Father’s day and Mother’s day events).
  3. Evaluate the overall sales productivity and insights within adjacencies that you do not play in. Since you do not offer items for the category, this allows your company to truly serve as objective validator.
  4. Determine the most current definition of what value is for each of your top retail partners and the consumer within your business.
  5. Build a sales and marketing culture that continually looks to uncover and address retail or consumer problems (i.e., pain points) that no one is aware of. 
  6. Provide video-driven consumer insights that reveal the stated and unstated needs of the consumer.  The video serves as your salesperson — allowing you to listen and respond to the retailer’s reflections.
  7. Utilize an objective moderator to facilitate innovation co-creation or consumer insight meetings.  Again the theme is to move from sales to educator.
  8. Construct and facilitate integrated business management meetings blending guest insights, category management findings, strategy and innovation to maximize engagement and alignment. 
  9. Change the mix in higher indexing stores to optimize overall category productivity.
  10. Discuss and uncover “share of segment” opportunities, isolate leakage to competitive retailers and uncover why the sales left the store.

 
A common theme shared by forum members was this final idea.  Don’t wait to be appointed as the category adviser within your area of expertise. Humbly, but assertively, take the role and demonstrate uncompromising fairness and objectivity.  This is the mantra of companies that know how to close the relational gap between themselves and their top retail customers.  How are you doing?


Dan Mack is the founder of Mack Elevation Forum and a partner of the Swanson Group. You can contact him at (630) 607-2774 or learn more at TheSwansonGroup.com or MackElevationForum.com.

MORE ARTICLES FROM DAN MACK >

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D.WENDLAND says:
Sep-28-2012 08:23 am

Dan, once again you have hit the nail squarely on the head. My hope is that manufacturers and retailers will heed this advice and take action. Without embracing some of these new ideas and approaches, we'll simply continue down the same path expecting different results. And that, as we know, is not an option!

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Rite Aid partners with Valassis in in-store marketing, media deal

BY Alaric DeArment

LIVONIA, Mich. — Rite Aid has signed a deal with a media and marketing firm that the two said would allow the retail pharmacy chain to create a consistent look for its in-store marketing and media programs.

Valassis announced that it had signed a multiyear partnership with Rite Aid to develop and execute in-store marketing and media programs, which they said would create a "shopping environment that directly meets consumers’ needs."

"Valassis has a proven track record of effectively implementing and executing in-store marketing and media programs," Rite Aid VP marketing Craig Riner said. "Selecting Valassis as our new third-party in-store marketing partner will allow us to expand on our vision to create the most meaningful wellness and value shopping experience for our customers."

 

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CVS Caremark survey: Pharmacists say cost is biggest barrier to Rx adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — In recognition of American Pharmacists Month in October, CVS Caremark released results from a new survey of CVS retail pharmacists, which underscored that cost remains a key barrier to medication adherence and reinforced the important role of the pharmacist in helping people take their chronic medications as directed.

While there are many reasons people stop taking their medications, the majority of pharmacists surveyed (62%) said that the high cost of drugs currently is the biggest cause of nonadherence for their patients. Despite this barrier, the vast majority of respondents (89%) said they believed counseling their patients is as important as filling their prescriptions and the majority agreed (88%) that those patients who pick up their medications and receive first-hand counseling from their pharmacist were more likely to be adherent.

"Our own pharmacists confirm what we are learning from our research into medication adherence — that the pharmacist can be one of the most influential voices in helping patients take their medications as directed," stated Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark. "Our pharmacists also believe that while they have an important role to play in helping patients stay adherent to their medications, they can achieve even better results through partnership and close collaboration with prescribing physicians."

CVS Caremark’s Pharmacy Advisor program enables the company’s pharmacists to engage with pharmacy benefit manager members, who are diagnosed with chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The pharmacists counsel their patients about the importance of being adherent to their medications and identify gaps in care that they educate the patient about and can bring to their physician’s attention. A recent analysis showed that after one year in the Pharmacy Advisor program, certain members using CVS/pharmacy retail locations had a 17.2% decline in gaps in care.

When talking about the impact of cost on adherence, 91% of the CVS retail pharmacists who participated in the survey agreed that having cost efficient alternatives to more expensive therapies improves medication adherence. In addition, 89% of the pharmacists that participated in the survey agreed that their patients welcome being offered generic substitutions as a cost savings measure.

"As cost continues to be a barrier to medication adherence, we need to find ways to help educate patients about their options and let them know that generic medications are a safe, effective and cost conscious approach to managing chronic diseases," CVS Caremark EVP and chief medical officer Troyen Brennan said. "For example, our own published research shows that simply educating physicians and patients about the cost impact of requiring that a branded prescription be Dispensed as Written (DAW) instead of filled with an appropriate generic substitution, could save patients a much as $1.2 billion annually and reduce health system costs by as much as $7.7 billion each year.”

IntelliQHealth conducted the online survey and respondents included more than 2,400 CVS pharmacists across the country.


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