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Green proves sustainable, even in economic downturn

BY DSN STAFF

The recession has had an impact on sustainability, with such product categories as organic food taking a hit as consumers reevaluate their spending. But not only is it an underlying concern that will reemerge with recovery, it also represents an opportunity in the economic downturn to connect with committed consumers and satisfy those concerned but financially constrained customers by providing products that save money and the environment.

The green store still is the marketplace of the future, and there are those retailers who have been moving forward with environmental initiatives despite the economic times.

Certainly, CVS is committed to going forward in the recession. Centering efforts around energy-saving light bulbs is helping the company ground its program in areas that help consumers cut costs as they go greener, yet it has built from there to establish a comprehensive presentation that makes a statement to shoppers.

“We carry Energy Star CFL bulbs, which are extremely popular among our customers,” said CVS spokeswoman Joanne Dwyer. “In addition, we recently launched a line of paper products and aromatic room mists called Earth Essentials to satisfy the growing demand for practical, green household products. Earth Essentials are affordably priced, eco-friendly products manufactured using an ecologically aware process to preserve the earth’s natural resources while helping customers integrate ecologically responsible practices into their everyday lives.”

The Earth Essentials product line includes natural oils Earth Essentials aromatic room mists, fully biodegradable Sugarcane bowls and plates, Greenpeace-recommended recycled fiber Earth Essentials paper towels and napkins and recycled fiber Earth Essentials bath tissue. Prices range from $3.99 to $8.99.

Today, keeping things inexpensive is important, but certainly it is not the only consideration with sustainable products. In the compact florescent light bulb category, according to IRI, private labels are holding their own, essentially flat in dollar terms and down about 8% in units, while most other products are declining.

A notable exception is the General Electric Energy Smart line, one that has been enhanced by a technologically advanced bulb that’s conveniently shaped like an incandescent and designed to provide a warmer radiance more in line with traditional lighting. Launched as a 15-watt equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent at Target in December, it has since rolled to major mass merchants. A 9-watt, 40-watt equivalent, and a 20-watt, 75-watt equivalent, are rolling out this summer.

Operational initiatives also can enhance a retailer’s green credentials. Walgreens is involved in recycling batteries in two cities—Chicago and San Francisco. In either city, consumers can drop off a used battery at the company’s stores.

“In the Bay [area], it’s been going on for more than six years and started after the Department of the Environment approached us to see if we’d be a drop-off site,” said Walgreens spokeswoman Vivika Vergara. “Now, all customers have to do is bring it to one of our service clerks at the register, and they will take it.”

Walgreens backs its operational initiatives with environmentally and economically friendly merchandising. Among other products, it offers private-label compact fluorescent bulbs. In a New York area store, it offered a CFL two-pack at $6.49 in a display that included branded single bulbs for $5.49, keeping the ring up but offering a multiple-unit bargain for the customer.

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Kroger declares quarterly dividend

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI The Kroger Co. announced that its board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 9 cents per share to be paid on Sept. 1 to shareholders of record at of the close of business on Aug. 14.

Kroger, one of the nation’s largest retail grocery chains, employs more than 326,000 associates, who serve customers in 2,475 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states.

On Thursday, the company announced that its president and COO Don McGeorge was retiring. McGeorge has been replaced by W. Rodney McMullen.

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Walgreens to test diabetes care model

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Walgreens continues to flesh out its revamped strategy to be the nation’s most convenient and accessible provider of pharmacy and health-and-wellness services.

 

The latest plank in that platform is its plan to test a pharmacy-driven outreach and support program for patients with diabetes.

 

Diabetic-care services and product presentations are nothing new in the nation’s chain and independent drug stores; every pharmacy leader knows that diabetes is a major, (often undiagnosed) health challenge and a “gateway” disease that usually subjects its sufferers to a slew of other related conditions involving the circulatory system, the skin and other organs. It’s also no secret that diabetics generate far more in annual drug store sales to treat these related conditions.

 

What makes Walgreens’ pilot program worthy of notice are two things.

 

 

First, with some 6,800 retail pharmacies, 350 in-store and worksite clinics and a network of specialty pharmacies across the United States, the company wields enormous potential power in the healthcare marketplace. If it expands its fledgling diabetes pilot beyond the test stage, it has thousands of “points of care” through which it could offer diabetes support programs and other disease management offerings. It’s a huge potential resource to offer diabetic patients and their employer-based or government-sponsored health plans, not to mention those patients’ overburdened, time-constrained primary care doctors.

 

 

Second, Walgreens is very deliberately positioning its diabetes care offering as a part of a much broader, integrated healthcare platform that links patients in the program to all the company’s health-and-wellness capabilities, said Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson. And it dovetails neatly with the Obama administration’s call for “more preventive care and better access,” in the words of Walgreens’ top manager.

 

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