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Having fun … and kicking ass doing it

BY Rob Eder

“Why do we always have to be so damn serious; why can’t we have a little fun once in a while?”

That’s what Roger Friedman, the owner of our company, has been asking me a lot lately. And he’s right. People who have fun doing what they do for a living tend to be more engaged in their work, and it shows up in the results of the operation. These companies tend to lead their competitors in areas like employee retention, customer loyalty and profitability.

Take a company like The Container Store. For me, a 45-year-old male, who enjoys lowbrow comedy, his bulldog and lifting heavy weights, a trip to The Container Store is like doing penance for my sins.

But for my fiancée — who, by the time you read this, will officially have become Mrs. Eder — a visit to The Container Store is like going to Disneyland. For the record, I hate Disneyland, too. She loves The Container Store, which I find somewhat concerning because she says she loves me, too.

Why?

The Container Store is solving problems everybody has — namely, where to put all our stuff, so that we can organize it neatly and efficiently, therefore allowing us to go out and get more stuff. Forget about baseball and apple pie; the never-ending acquisition and accumulation of more stuff is the great American pastime. Its store associates — trained experts in the fine art of harnessing steel and plastic to facilitate the putting away of any and all stuff — enable us to live the dream.

“What makes it so great?” noted Fortune magazine of The Container Store, which ranked No. 28 in the 2014 edition of its annual 100 Best Companies to Work For rankings — the second-highest retailer on the list after Wegmans. “When this storage retailer geared up for its IPO last year, it reserved an unprecedented percentage of shares (14% of the total offered) for employees to purchase. A quarter of them did — and they watched in wonder as the share price doubled on the first day of trading, from $18 to $36.”

Part of it is compensation and benefits, no doubt; part of it is the values and the culture of the company. Part of it is an investment in training and systems.

But I believe there is a simpler reason The Container Store associates are so good at what they do. Call them a bunch of storage geeks, but they enjoy what they do and they seem to love being at work. It shows up in employee engagement; it shows up in customer loyalty; and it shows up in growth. As of its most recent earnings report in January, third-quarter sales were up 7.3% overall, up more than 10% in the retail stores. And last year, it added 7.9% new jobs.

They’re kicking ass and having fun doing it.

Roger’s right. Why the hell do we have to be so damn serious all the time?


Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News and DSN Collaborative Care magazines. You can contact him at reder@lf.com.

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National brands gain ground on store brands

BY DSN STAFF

The introduction of store-brand products over the past decade changed the competitive landscape in most categories, with year-over-year growth outpacing national brands. Given this, it is critical that manufacturers and retailers utilize analysis and insights to maximize opportunities for growth and anticipate an increasingly dynamic marketplace. There are clear trends emerging across many segments, with a strong store-brand presence. While store-brand market share in general is on the increase, both the rate of increase in market share, as well as actual market share, is beginning to plateau. After five years, national brand OTC products experienced positive growth relative to store brands in 2013. This was driven primarily by gains in distribution, innovation and increases in media spend. In some cases, store brands have begun to cede ground as national brands once again emerge. To be clear, store brands show no signs of going away, but the past is not a prologue in the story of market share gains or losses.

DSN has partnered with Competitive Promotion Report and IRI to create a series of exclusive reports. This month the analysis explores the market trends around the major national brands and store brands in the drug channel for the cold-allergy-sinus tablets category over the past two years, highlighting important trends for establishing sound retail strategies. The following are just a few of the key findings from this study:

  • Between 2012 and 2013, the category has seen a 4.3% market share change (weighted) in favor of national brands. Some brands fared better or worse than the average; however, the net effect benefits national brands.
  • Using the gross average to get a general picture of what happened period by period, store-brand products experienced negative growth (i.e., loss) of 5.4% while the national brand counterparts averaged 4.7% market share growth each four-week period.
  • The emerging leaders in market share growth are Alka-Seltzer Plus (35.9%) and Benadryl (18.9%).
  • Reckitt Benckiser’s successful introduction of Mucinex Fast-Max contributed to national brand growth by achieving a 3.9% market share within the first six months of material presence (i.e., all period average of 2.4%).
  • Average retailer margin percentage for national brands ranged from 23% (Claritin) to 38.2% (Alka-Seltzer Plus), with Zyrtec leading the pack in actual cumulative retailer margin dollars at $78.3 million over the 28 four-week periods studied.
  • While Alka-Seltzer Plus maintained the highest average margin percentage among national brands, it also led in market share growth by retail sales dollars. This was the case despite having average promotional volumes lower than other national brand competitors.
  • Store brands have continued implementation of very aggressive promotional strategies with frequency and depth of promotions greater than national brands.
  • Store brands and national brands have increased the percentage of units sold on promotion year-to-year by 2.7% and 2.3%, respectively.
  • The increase in promotional activity for store brands, coupled with the decrease in market share, indicates a need for analytic review of promotion strategy by national brand manufacturers and retailers.

For the full report, including charts, click here.

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ABC News to host live Twitter chat on pain management

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — ABC News will be hosting a live Twitter chat focusing on pain management on Tuesday, April 22, at 1 p.m., as part of the news agency’s next ABC News National Tweet Chat. ABC plans to cover a range of topics related to pain management, including chronic pain and palliative care.

To join in on the conversation, click here

ABC news chief health/medical editor Richard Besser hosts a weekly twitter chat (#abcDRBchat). Find him on Twitter at @DrRichardBesser.

 

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