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SAN DIEGO — The ever-shrinking drugstore industry at times made attendance at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Marketplace meeting, held June 24-27 here, appear poor. But statistics from NACDS reveal that the number of people flocking to the San Diego Convention Center numbered 3,900 — about even with last year. That breaks down to 3,150 manufacturers representing 600 companies and 750 retail buyers from 210 retail companies.

A successful show required pre-booked appointments, said one vendor, responding to those exhibitors who said it was hard to get buyers to their booth. An executive from a top drug chain added, “I don’t like when people complain about attendance at this meeting. At no other meeting do you get the level of attendees as Marketplace.”

High-level executives such as Revlon’s Karl Obrecht, Maybelline’s Steve Lutz, CVS’s Chris Bodine, Kerr Drug’s Anthony Civello, Wal-Mart’s Yale Martin and Rite Aid’s Gerald Cardinale were seen walking the show floor. Among them were smaller players, such as Lotta Luv’s Steph Fogelson and Styli-Style’s Grant Berry.

Keeping attendees busy prior to show floor business meetings were sessions on various topics, including one on the characteristics of the loyal drugstore shopper, and another on how to increase purchases during a customer’s “quick trip” to the drugstore. One of the best attended sessions was Teen People’s Trendspotters, where attendees got to ask teens about what they thought of the products they saw on the show floor, as well as what drives their own purchases. This year’s teen panel included three African-Americans (two girls and one boy) and one Caucasian (girl). Among the revelations:

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  • The teens usually visit mass retailers for their purchases first, then drugstores.
  • Between Target and Wal-Mart, all four prefer shopping Target due to its organization, clean aisles and decor. One teen, however, liked Wal-Mart’s lower prices.
  • When shopping trips aren’t planned, the teens tend to be interested in items that catch their eye, due to in-store promotions.
  • Each teen said they have about $20 each week to spend on purchases.
  • Some standout items at the show were Jane’s Makeup in a Box, Max Factor’s Lash Perfection Mascara and Neutrogena’s Mineral Makeup.

  • Department stores and specialty stores (namely Bath & Body Works) are where the female teens usually buy face and color cosmetics, whereas drugstores were ideal for eyeliner and mascara.
  • All the teens said they prefer a body spray to a fragrance for day, and reserve perfume for nighttime or special occasions. The girls buy their fragrance at department stores or Victoria’s Secret.
  • Not one teen uses a loyalty card, yet one said she has a CVS loyalty card.
  • Not one teen used coupons but each said they would be encouraged to purchase a product if a coupon were on the item’s package.

Next year’s NACDS Marketplace meeting is planned for Boston.

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