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New Year revelations

BY Dave Wendland

If you are like a lot of people, hanging a new calendar has inspired you to embrace new beginnings and experimentation. Every January morning begins with plans to put insights into action.

And if you are like a lot of other people, you’re feeling desperate for different outcomes in 2013, while still doing things the 2012 way.

Whichever group you are in, take heart. You have time. In fact, now is the perfect time to set your course based on what you learned last year. While the inevitable naysayers might prognosticate about a grim future, I foresee a very positive 2013. Especially for those who are bold enough to take a chance on educated guesses.

Here are a few of my “New Year Revelations” for consumer health care in 2013:

  1. De-cluttered shelves and refined assortments are in. Retailers and manufacturers must embrace “less is more” in this age of attention spans lasting no longer than the time it takes to send a text message. If shopping is confusing and difficult because of too many choices or ill-conceived merchandising, consumers will vote with their feet.
  2. Ubiquitous communication is in. Your message has to be omnipresent. And consistent. All the time. When a consumer meets your brand, she needs a familiar yet unique experience. Why? Because consumers need reassurance that they can count on your brand. They also need reminders of why they like your brand in the first place.
  3. The price is right is in. Pricing is part art, part science, with a dash of math and a pinch of intuition. A recent survey by Boston Consulting Group found that 53% of global retail executives believed pricing should be a top priority, but only 38% felt that the company was taking measures to get it right. Examining pricing from a consumer value perspective in 2013 is a good first step.
  4. Leather wallets are out. Along with canvas, vinyl, burlap or any other textile that protects your paper and plastic money. This is the year the digital wallet makes a splash. Permitting shoppers to make purchases through the platform of their choice is something you need to start planning for now, before demand grows.
  5. Ignoring the data is out. How many strategic decisions do you make without consulting your mountains of loyalty card statistics, consumer feedback and transactional level data? If you answered “less than 50%,” listen up. Why collect the data if you don’t plan to mine it? Seize the opportunities to optimize operations and product plans with well-sifted data. (And if you really want to, you can still make fancy graphs and pretty charts with it.)

There was a time when revelations like these took years to come to fruition. Today’s pace of business makes it entirely possible that these five priorities could be — or must be — tackled before 2014.

But take note: The train has already left the station on some of these initiatives. Are you on board?


Dave Wendland is VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group, a retail healthcare consultancy located near Milwaukee, Wis. He directs business development, product innovation and marketing communications activities for the company and has been instrumental in positioning HRG among the industry’s foremost thought leaders. You may contact him at (414) 431-5301 or learn more at Hamacher.com.

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Walmart makes merchandising moves

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — More than a dozen executives in Walmart’s merchandising organization, including several with key healthcare responsibilities, will begin the new fiscal year with different responsibilities following a restructuring announced on Thursday.

An internal announcement from Duncan Mac Naughton, Walmart’s chief merchandising and marketing officer detailed the moves involving executives with responsibilities for food, consumables, health and wellness, general merchandise, merchandise execution and private label.

“We’re coming off a strong year and beginning our new fiscal year with accelerating momentum with every part of our business focused on being even more responsive to our customers,” said Mac Naughton said in an internal announcement. “These moves strengthen our merchant talent and capabilities across the globe, and this is a testament to the strength we have in our business.”

Among the notable changes were:

  • In the health and wellness area, Carmen Bauza was named SVP of OTC health and wellness. She fills the roll previously occupied by Scott McCall and will report to Dr. John Agwunobi, president of health and wellness. Bauza currently serves as VP of beauty and personal care.
  • John Aden was named to the new role as EVP of merchandise services. His new responsibilities include replenishment, merchandise execution, small formats and supplier diversity.
  • Assuming Aden’s previous responsibilities as EVP of general merchandise is Steve Bratspies. He assumes responsibility for entertainment, toys, seasonal, sporting goods, automotive, hardware, paint, stationery, crafts and fabric. Bratspies joined Walmart in 2006, initially as a SVP of marketing and most recently served as SVP of dry grocery.
  • Laura Phillips was named SVP of entertainment after previously serving as SVP of toys, seasonal and celebrations, and will report to Bratspies.
  • Moving into Phillips prior position will be Scott McCall. He currently serves as SVP of health and wellness, but earlier in his Walmart career, which began in 1993, he was responsible for toys. He too will report to Bratspies.
  • Rejoining Sam’s Club in a new capacity as SVP of merchandise business services is Seong Ohm. She currently serves as SVP of entertainment, but previously working in Sam’s merchandising and also spent time at Walmart’s Japanese subsidiary Seiyu.
  • Shipping off to Walmart’s Brazilian subsidiary is Steve Breen. He currently serves as SVP of snacks and beverages and will become chief merchandising office of Walmart Brazil.
  • Filling Breen’s roles is Ashley Buchanan who was promoted to SVP of snacks and beverages from his current role as VP of meals, condiments and specialty.

Anytime Walmart begins shuffling the deck within its merchandise organization it tends to have ripple effects and that is the case with the latest round of moves. Accordingly, Mac Naughton said the company is looking to strategically align its fresh categories. That means Scott Neal is being elevated to the role of SVP produce, meat and seafood after previously serving as VP of meat and seafood and will report to EVP of food Jack Sinclair. As a result, of the realignment and elevation of Neal, other executives finding themselves in new roles include:

  • DeDe Priest was named SVP of deli, bakery, dairy and frozen.
  • Assuming Priest’s prior dry grocery responsibilities is Matt Kistler who was named SVP of dry grocery. He currently serves as SVP of merchandise execution.
  • Taylor Smith is being promoted to SVP of merchandise execution to assume Kistler’s responsibilities from his current roles VP of baby. He will report to John Aden.
  • Responsibility for the baby business now falls to Jane Ewing who was named SVP after joining Walmart international last fall after a 20 year career with Diageo PLC.

In addition to the merchandising moves, Walmart also made several changes that are reflective of new sourcing initiatives. For example, Michelle Gloeckler was given new responsibility for a sourcing organization that will focus on U.S. sourcing and manufacturing. She will maintain her current responsibilities as SVP of home. Aiding Gloeckler will be Greg Hall who was named VP of U.S. sourcing and manufacturing. He will report to Gloeckler and most recently served as VP of marketing for Walmart.com.

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U.S. lags other developed countries in health, life expectancy, report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — A new report gives low marks to the United States in the health of its citizens, finding that Americans have higher rates of injury and disease and die sooner than their counterparts in other developed countries.

The report, conducted by the non-profit National Academies with sponsorship from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, found a disadvantage at all ages from birth to age 75 years even among college-educated Americans with health insurance, higher incomes and healthy behaviors.

"We were struck by the gravity of these findings," Virginia Commonwealth University professor of family medicine and chairman of the panel that assembled the report Steven Woolf said. "Americans are dying and suffering at rates that we know are unnecessary because people in other high-income countries are living longer lives and enjoying better health. What concerns our panel is why, for decades, we have been slipping behind."

The report compares the United States with 16 affluent democracies, including Canada, Australia, Japan and several countries in western Europe, placing the United States at or near the bottom in terms of infant mortality and low birth weight, injuries and homicides, teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, prevalence of HIV and AIDS, drug-related deaths, obesity and diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease and disability. Many of these conditions, the report found disproportionately affect children and adolescents, and the United States has had the highest infant mortality rate of any high-income country for decades while also ranking poorly in premature birth and the proportion of children who live to age 5 years.

While the United States has long spent more on health care per capita than any other country, flaws in the healthcare system were not the sole contributor to the problem, nor is the country’s overall disadvantage the result of problems concentrated among the poor and uninsured. For example, the report found Americans more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as heavy caloric intake, and the country lags others in educating young people while showing relatively high rates of poverty and income inequality.

The report recommended an intensified effort to pursue national health objectives, including an outreach program to alert the public about the country’s health disadvantage and encourage a discussion about its implications, while also recommending collection of data and research to better understand factors responsible for the problem.

"Research is important, but we should not wait for more data before taking action because we already know what to do," Woolf said. "If we fail to act, the disadvantage will continue to worsen, and our children will face shorter lives and greater rates of illness than their peers in other rich nations."


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