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GMDC, Nielsen and Radian introduce new GM data hierarchy at 2013 GM Conference

BY Michael Johnsen

PHOENIX — Following a presentation from Nielsen’s SVP consumer and shopper insights Todd Hale on Monday, Nielsen hosted a panel of six executives — three retailers, two suppliers and Stuart Taylor of Nielsen — to discuss a new hierarchy Nielsen has applied to general merchandise items to bring clarity to a number of front-end categories. 

With partners GMDC and Radian, Nielsen this summer generated the database that is now serving as the foundation for the new reports — to date more than 800 syndicated reports have been generated by Radian for GMDC members to be made available Dec. 1. 

More than 20 million UPC codes were part of the new hierarchy. "This new hierarchy, it’s interesting how it was built based on how many retailers think about how categories are defined [and] more importantly how consumers think about the general merchandise categories," Hale, who moderated the panel, said. 

"We’re really interested in getting to know who the consumer is, what they’re looking for, what they’re shopping for, what they’re shopping behaviors are," noted panelist Cheri Taylor of Kinney Drug. "These reports are going to help us to get to where we need to be," she said. "We are in markets in a lot of areas where we are the only store in town. So we have to make sure that we offer the products that everyone is looking for."

"Anything that puts us closer to our customer, that’s really crucial," added John Gehre of H-E-B. "At H-E-B, we really believe that we want to know what the customer is doing, we want to see what is in her basket, we want to understand what we’re missing in the shop and what’s going on with her."

"Now that we can compare our retailers’ GM performance on a category by category basis against the marketplace, that will help us to analyze where there are issues," noted Bob Zekis of Imperial Distributors. "Poor performance might indicate assortment issues, promotional issues, merchandising issues, opportunities with space allocations, there may be operational issues within the stores or even organizational issues," he said. "Now that the data says this is what’s working and this is what’s not working, what we want to ensure is we capitalize on what is working and take remedial action against what isn’t working."

"I don’t want to say the sky’s the limit, but we’re just starting," noted Nielsen’s Taylor. "We’re scratching the surface and as the questions come in from the GMDC membership as they start to review the data, there’s going to be a lot of good, creative working coming out of that."

The panel consisted of Semon Cull of Bi-Lo Holdings, Gehre, Bob Richardson of Clorox/Burt’s Bees, Taylor (Kinney Drug), Taylor (Nielsen) and Zekis. 

According to Hale’s presentation earlier, getting to know the consumer better across any category is crucial because of the financial headwinds and associated consumer angst. 

Shoppers are more value-driven today, as evidenced by the drop in median household incomes (in 2011 inflation-adjusted dollars) from $54,489 in 2007 to $50,054 in 2011 — the lowest its been in the previous 10 years. 

There is also a more pronounced divide between the haves and the have nots. As many as 71% of shoppers with annual household income of less than $25,000 reported rising food prices has forced a change in their shopping habits. And 65% reported rising gas prices has forced that change. 

Conversely, as many as 58% of those who are generating more than $200,000 in annual household income reported that overall cost increases — in addition to food and gas to include rising utility bills, rising healthcare costs and the hit from the payroll tax increase — have had no impact on their spending.  

By generation, baby boomers are most impacted by rising food costs (60%) and rising gas prices (55%). For those Americans still feeling the pinch from a slow economic recovery, this means more restrictive budgets and fewer purchases. 

The future looks muddled, too. While the economy is still the chief concern among consumers, more and more are identifying job security, debt, health and food prices as some of their greatest concerns.


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Albertson’s LLC to acquire United Supermarkets

BY Antoinette Alexander

BOISE, Idaho — Albertson’s LLC announced today that it intends to acquire Lubbock, Texas-based United Supermarkets, which operates 50 retail stores under the United Supermarkets, Market Street and Amigos banners.

In addition, its United Express brand has seven convenience stores and 26 fuel centers. United operates two divisions: RC Taylor, which distributes tobacco, candy and general merchandise, and Praters, which manufactures prepared foods, including meats, side dishes and fresh tortillas. It also has a subsidiary, Llano Logistics, which operates two distribution centers in Lubbock and Roanoke, Texas.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to be complete by the end of October, subject to customary government approvals. 


Upon completion of the transaction, United will operate as a new business unit under Albertson’s LLC’s company structure. Robert Taylor, current CEO, will continue to lead United in his new capacity of president, reporting directly to Bob Miller, CEO of Albertson’s LLC.


“United has built an exemplary operation in Texas, complementary to our own go-to-market strategy in many respects,” Miller explained. “The family and leadership team have done a tremendous job in establishing and perpetuating a remarkable service culture and commitment to fresh, quality foods throughout their stores, even as they’ve grown. They’ve also developed strong community programs that have engaged team members and given back tremendously to their Texas communities, just as our Albertsons stores do every day. Our team feels there is an exceptional opportunity to invest in and grow their brands.”


The chain, which had been family-owned since 1916, will continue to operate much as it does today following the acquisition. United will continue to make decisions locally, similar to the other operating divisions in Albertson’s LLC.
 
“United has an entrepreneurial spirit, just like Albertsons,” Miller continued. “We’ve learned over the last seven years that our decentralized operating strategy empowers local management to build stronger brands across diverse market areas. United has operated much the same way in their acquisitions of R.C. Taylor and Praters in 2007 and 2009, respectively. It’s a great fit between two great companies. United runs a fantastic operation, and will maintain its own unique identity.”


Albertson’s LLC currently operates 76 stores in Texas, the majority of which are in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and has just more than 600 stores company-wide. After the acquisition is complete, Albertson’s LLC will operate approximately 650 stores and 11 distribution centers in 16 states.

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CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation launches new website, software

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation has launched a new website and customer relationship management software program, the group said Monday.

The foundation — which is affiliated with CancerCare, a provider of free, professional emotional and financial support services for people affected by cancer — said that along with the implementation of the software, DiseaseTrak, it could provide same-day determination and conditional approval and allow for a higher standard of care for cancer patients by allowing faster access to co-payment assistance.

"This tool will drastically improve patient access to treatment," director Michele McCourt said. "The process is easy, fast and seamless. You never have to wait because you will always know the same day whether you’re approved."

Patients also will have real-time knowledge of their status, eliminating the usual wait and uncertainty, the group said. Patients and healthcare providers will experience an enhanced level of customer service because the site closely monitors each individual’s unique treatment regimen, dispensing history and medication usage. The website provides reminder tools and an interactive calendar to assist patients in managing their care and allows for tracking of grants and payments.

 

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