NEW YORK — Mass market retailers are heading to Boston this weekend in hopes of finding something revolutionary at the National Association of Chain Drug Store’s Marketplace Meeting, which kicks off Sunday.
But most buyers don’t see much brewing as a weak economy appears to be keeping many manufacturers home. Notable beauty names missing from the roster at press time, according to retailers, include Revlon, beauty officials from Neutrogena and Bonne Bell. The retailers who are attending are shortening their stays, according to an informal poll of chains preparing to hit the road.
Still, many said they do hope to uncover at least one or two ideas that can bring new revenues. Others are using the time to stage face-to-face sessions to hammer out nagging industry issues. One major topic: the timing of planogram resets. Always a costly process, some chains are putting a lid on multiple seasonal updates — at least those paid for by retailers. Buyers also plan to work with vendors to improve store fulfillment at a time when inventory management is paramount, as well as ensure their chains will be first to market with new items. Several pointed out that business is done differently now, diminishing the need for large trade shows.
For its part, NACDS has added new business sessions designed to help merchants and marketers weather the storm. The association continues to scope out ways to ensure the meeting is relevant to a changing industry.
“I am hoping the programs add some meat to my trip,” said one buyer for a major chain about the business program kicking off this year. Called Econ 09, the program includes as session titled Survival Retailing 2010, a presentation by Dan O’Connor of RetailNet Group.
O’Connor will examine economic indicators, forecast where the economy is, discuss the forces that will lead to the end of the recession and tell why this is important and what it means for retailers and manufacturers as they develop plans for the first and second quarter of 2010. The program will explore companies’ strategies for attracting consumers amid an economy-based shift in consumers.
Also part of Econ 09 will be Thom Blischok, president of consulting and innovation for Information Resources Inc., who will present a session titled Discovering the Real Truth about Shopper Behavior. Blischok will introduce a new kind of shopper, the “conservative shopper,” who is more concerned about ensuring on-going financial viability for the long term and who buys less and more carefully.
“Everything NACDS does positively impacts the bottom lines of our member companies, and the presentations by Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Blischok at this year’s Marketplace Conference are no exceptions,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven C. Anderson. “They will assist attendees in their business planning with insights on consumer behavior in these challenging economic times.”
Despite some fears attendance could be lower than usual, NACDS calls Marketplace the epicenter for health and beauty aids and general merchandise buying and selling, representing more than 90 percent of the industry. Bringing together more than 270 retail companies representing over 145,000 retail outlets with 700 manufacturing companies across 12 major categories, it represents over $500 billion in annual buying power. WWD estimates more than 165 retail companies will be attending.