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Shoppers look for simplicity in online retailers, research finds

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Online brands that offer less complex return policies, along with ways to easily identify the highest-quality items, earned high marks among consumers, according to new research from global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale.

In the 2011 U.S. Brand Simplicity Index, survey respondents defined brands as simple based on "their ease of understanding, transparency, caring, innovation and usefulness of communications, as well as how complex and complicated typical interactions are in relation to industry peers," Siegel+Gale said. This year, the top three brands were Netflix, Google and Amazon. The list also included U.S. retailers Target, Publix and Whole Foods, which ranked Nos. 4, 5 and 9, respectively.

"This survey demonstrates that brands that put a premium on simpler and more transparent user experiences and interactions inspire confidence and generate customer loyalty," Siegel+Gale chief creative officer and co-CEO Howard Belk said.

Added Siegel+Gale chief strategy officer and co-CEO David Srere, "It is time for brands across all industries to recognize that communicating in a clear, direct and straightforward manner generates a high level of customer loyalty and, ultimately, profit. Consumers are demanding simplicity in all of their interactions, and those organizations that can satisfy this demand will be able to compete — and thrive — in today’s competitive marketplace."

Click here to view the full report.

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Stop & Shop hosts Healthy Kids Summit

BY Allison Cerra

QUINCY, Mass. — Stop & Shop is hoping to inspire families to make small changes to be healthy.

The company on Tuesday afternoon will host its Healthy Kids Summit at the Dana-Farber Field House at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Mass., which will unite the retailer with local community experts who are aiding the fight against childhood obesity.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be comprised of a brief 30-minute panel discussion and a question-and-answer session to provide tips for families to make small, easy, changes to get moving and be healthy, Stop & Shop said. The panel — which will be moderated by Suzi Robinson, community relations manager and spokeswoman of Stop & Shop’s New England division — will be followed by a HOPSports fitness routine inside the Dana-Farber Field House, led by Brandy Cruthird, owner of the Body by Brandy Fitness Studio in Boston.

Other guests slated to appear include National Football League New England Patriots place kicker Stephen Gostkowski; Stop & Shop in-store nutritionist Julie Menounos; Hockomock YMCA president Ed Hurley; and Karen Zangari, registered dietitian at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, R.I.

"Healthy eating choices begin at the supermarket for many families, which is why Stop & Shop is committed to helping customers make informed decisions while shopping," Robinson said. "We are excited to bring together these great community leaders to bring some inspiration to the community. We share a common bond: to help our kids stay active and be healthy."

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Ahold USA’s David Sencabaugh named New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacist of the Year

BY Alaric DeArment

CARLISLE, Pa. — The New Jersey Retail Merchants Association has named Ahold USA director of pharmacy professional services David Sencabaugh the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores 2011 Pharmacist of the Year, Ahold USA said Monday.

Ahold USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Netherlands-based Royal Ahold, operates the Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover and Stop & Shop supermarket chains, as well as the Peapod online grocery service.

"David is an integral part of Ahold USA’s pharmacy team, and this prestigious honor is one that is truly well-deserved," Ahold USA SVP pharmacy and health and beauty care Raymond McCall said.

Sencabaugh currently serves various executive positions in several state pharmacy councils in New England, is a member of the Western New England College of Pharmacy advisory board and is a participant in the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ policy council.

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