SAN DIEGO — In addition to retailer/manufacturer meetings, NACDS attendees and exhibitors had the opportunity to partake of several educational conferences scheduled before the trade show floor opened each day.

This story first appeared in the July 2, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

One session, on Wednesday, focused on international companies selling to U.S.-based retailers. The conference, led by CVS senior vice president of merchandising Mike Bloom, and Costco vice president and general merchandise manager Joe Basse, discussed how Marketplace retailer meetings can better serve international companies if suppliers follow several guidelines.

Bloom instructed all international attendees to get to know the needs of the retailer they are courting. For example, manufacturers interested in selling to CVS should know that the Woonsocket, R.I.-based drugstore chain does not really focus on the teen or male consumer. Rather, about 85 percent of its sales are attributed to women. Bloom explained the drugstore chains’ three different core women consumers, each of whom is a different demographic with various shopping needs.

Bloom stressed companies must have “a sense of urgency around” meeting a retailer’s needs, specifically CVS’ “item business,” meaning each product CVS carries stands on its own merit.

Costco’s Basse talked about his supercenters’ 450 stores and $50 billion in sales. Despite Costco’s limited selection, Basse told the audience, including companies from Brazil, France, Italy and Australia, that the chain can buy in small quantities to test how well certain products will do in stores. Basse explained how Costco appeals to a more upscale consumer, and that it is the number one seller of Dom Perignon in the U.S., the leading seller of salmon in the world and that Costco accounts for 25 percent of all U.S. olive oil sales. Basse reminded foreign suppliers of its “open buying days,” which the company has held for the past four years in order to meet new companies.

The attending suppliers seemed grateful for the special conference dedicated to them, but thought that next year even more efforts be made. One supplier suggested that next year Marketplace executives institute a set time where only international companies are seen by buyers. Another said each chain should designate a buyer to explore international opportunities, a process that would alleviate any miscommunication between what a foreign company considers a set category versus how the U.S. segments a category.

Other conferences, such as a session called “The Missing Beauty Customer,” hosted by Glamour Magazine, discussed how new lines could help mass merchants create a new store look. Revamping a store section could be one key to driving shoppers back to drug-stores for beauty products, according to panelists. Panel moderator Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail, showed research proving shoppers haven’t given up on drugstores, but have migrated to specialty and direct marketers for many nonbeauty categories. “They are going into stores for other categories, why not cosmetics? The shopper didn’t go away, she just went somewhere else,” she said.

William Wackermann, vice president and publisher of Glamour Magazine, said the publication is specially positioned to help build mass beauty sales and will continue to partner in programs with retailers to bring more shoppers into mass stores. Among the ideas emerging from the panel of women of various ages were to have more fragrance testers, more trained staff in stores and liberal return policies.

Also at the session, the magazine announced its annual Glammy award winners in the beauty, health and retail categories. Among the retail winners were Stop & Shop for best regional beauty retailer; CVS for best large beauty retailer; Duane Reade for best regional health retailer, and Wal-Mart for best large health retailer.

— Andrea Nagel and Faye Brookman