Inside This Issue - News
Marketplace is where it all comes together
July 20th, 2009
BOSTON – Despite attracting fewer attendees than in previous years and a smaller number of suppliers showing their wares, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace Conference remains a critical part of doing business in the 21st century, those at this year’s show said.
“Marketplace continues to be the place that brings the retailers and suppliers together in an atmosphere that encourages dialogue and discussion,” Doug Jones, head of corporate communications and public relations at nutritional supplements maker Pharmavite LLC, said during one of the event’s nightly social receptions.
Jones was one of several suppliers at the conference who countered growing criticism that Marketplace is becoming redundant because suppliers and retailers see each other several times a year to discuss virtually the same issues that they talk about at the annual trade show.
Jones and other suppliers say their ability to fully convey their message cannot always be accomplished in those other meetings.
“What’s different about this show versus a visit to the company is that here we can show our brand at its best and let the buyers see the full planogram rather than just a picture of it,” Markwins International senior vice president Shawn Haynes said as he stood in front of a large display that the company will unveil for 2010.
“Every half hour at this show was booked, and we accomplished business objectives in each meeting.”
For the most part, suppliers and the buyers and category managers roaming the floor during the four-day show said this year’s Marketplace was marked by serious-minded people looking for ways to work together in tough economic times.
“From our perspective of meeting retailers and moving product, it has never been better,” Hyland’s Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Jay Borneman said during a break between meetings.
“The overall number of exhibitors may be down, but we’re doing business.”
For buyers and category managers, the show offered the opportunity to find new and unique items that could help drive traffic into their stores.
Rite Aid Corp. vice president of health and beauty Bill Bergin, for instance, noted that he was excited by four items he saw at the show for the first time — Hemostasis LLC’s BleedArrest blood clotting technology, International Product Solutions Inc.’s Hygiene Heros hand sanitizer for children, Ubimed’s Cleanoz single-use saline nasal solution and Good Health Natural Products’ bar soap.
Category managers at the show said that although new and different products were being displayed, it was not always easy to find them.
“There seems to be a shortage of new and different GM products,” Kerr Drug director of general merchandise Ken Patterson said as he walked the floor. “We have to work harder to find the new items.”
For the most part, the representatives from suppliers said the way NACDS has structured the Marketplace programs was extremely helpful in enabling them to come away from the conference with a better understanding of how to deal with chain drug retailers.
“The meetings we had with the retailers [at the show’s “Meet the Retailer” sessions] helped us understand what they are looking for and what they want from us,” explained Christine Hoy, vice president of sales at Crunchkins Inc., a marketer of rawhide greeting cards for pets that was showing at Marketplace for the third consecutive year.
“That will definitely help us as we go forward,” she said.