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The Shopper Marketing Expo: Executives From Walgreens And Family Dollar Share Insights

Thousands of brand marketers, retail executives and other industry professionals in search of shopper marketing excellence attended the annual Shopper Marketing Expo, presented by the Path 2 Purchase Institute (P2Pi), October 16-18, 2012. The event was sponsored by leading retail companies including Clorox, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s and Johnson and Johnson.

Joseph Magnacca, President of Daily Living Products and Solutions at Walgreens, and Mike Bloom, President and COO of Family Dollar, were among the keynote speakers. In interviews with P2Pi just prior to the event, Magnacca and Bloom spoke about current retail trends such as showrooming, and the mobile and digital space.

Magnacca said Walgreens views each store as a “unique snowflake,” and therefore avoids forcing a uniform product assortment across the business. “Given all the other competitive pressures on the business — whether it’s e-Commerce, whether it’s channel-blurring — every store needs to have some sort of theater or reason for being,” Magnacca said. “We have to give people a reason to come to the store, and we believe we can do that through advanced analytics relative to product mix ― having the right product in the right stores…It really is all about the shopper at the end of the day and making sure we are as relevant as possible.”

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Magnacca Addresses Showrooming Concerns

It’s no secret that consumers search the web for more information on products, including price comparisons. However, retailers know that to drive traffic, the in-store experience must meet consumers’ needs.

That experience also must be different, according to Magnacca. “Categories that play more to a brick-and-mortar model and to impulse sales – like fresh products, or beauty products that require testing or consultation … I will never say that they are not exposed to that concept [of showrooming], but they are less likely to be because there is the excitement of shopping, and the art of shopping still exists,” he said. “But we do understand the value of e-Commerce and the breadth of product, and that’s why we bought Drugstore.com and specifically Beauty.com as part of that because we do believe that [the consumer] will shop the way [they want] to shop, when [they want] to shop; because we play on both sides, we know that the in-store experience needs to be pretty incredible to get people into the stores.”

In July 2011, Retail TouchPoints met with Magnacca during the unveiling of the new Duane Reade flagship store at Wall Street in New York. Click here to view the TouchPoints TV segment.

Is There An ROI For Digital?

As more brick-and-mortar stores develop a digital presence, some executives are questioning the ROI of digital.

While many retailers have acknowledged the impact of mobile devices on sales, as more brick-and-mortar stores develop a digital presence, some are questioning the long-term benefits.

For example, Mike Bloom of Family Dollar shared insights about the mobile and digital space, and how Family Dollar is using these tools to connect with shoppers. “Our customer indexes really high with smartphones,” said Bloom. “We do a lot of digital, we have more than a million Facebook friends, we do a lot of email campaigns, but right now our view on digital marketing is that there’s just not a big return. No one has figured out how to make money at it, so it’s just not a priority for us.”

Instead, to better connect with consumers, Bloom suggested that retailers refocus on loyalty programs. “[Retailers] have to understand the benefit [of loyalty programs], and the benefit has to be worth your while or else you’re not going to do it,” he said. “And so for our core consumer ― who is low-income and does not spend as much money annually at Family Dollar as they do at larger retailer or non-value retailers ― it becomes a challenge to make sure that you have a value proposition. Loyalty is the most efficient spend that you can make with a customer, but there has to be a value for the consumer, so I think it’s something we will first have to clearly understand and then decide where to go from there.”

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