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Letters to the Editor

BY Dan Mack

Dear Editor,

Upon reading your June 7 cover story, “7 Deadly Sins of SKU Rationalization,” we at The Swanson Group/Mack Elevation Forum have identified 10 ways that a small- or mid-sized vendor can avoid being SKU-rationalized. Respectfully, we have offered them for fellow Drug Store News readers.

1. All new items must hold a unique job description. If your item does not, then proactively reposition or rationalize yourself out.… Always be improving and solidifying your overall base product offering and consumer value. You must always be innovating in every area of your product portfolio.

2. Create differentiated brands while innovating in “white spaces.” Growth must occur in emerging growth segments where current needs are not being met.

3. Provide unique consumer insights validating that your product is truly unique while providing industry context on emerging societal trends in new growth segments.

4. Contract with the category manager on the role your product plays in the section (i.e., is it a profit contributor or a traffic builder?). Gain insight into the minimal threshold to stay on the shelf.

5. Demonstrate that your brand aligns with retailers’ core consumers; then provide significant profit contribution to the category.

6. Take the time to always understand what your competitors are offering and their role in the segment. Ensure you have positioned yourself uniquely in the category.

7. Provide both tangible (products) and intangible (insights—networks and knowledge) assets to your retailer partners. Your intellectual property is as valuable as your brand.

8. Utilize transparent co-creation as you develop your next generation of innovation with the retailer. Create the future with your top retail partners.

9. Create and leverage a vibrant “optin” consumer database of brand advocates. Demonstrate how you can deliver this passionate consumer to the retailer.

10. Assume the role of category validator—even if not appointed this role. (Provide fair and balanced category and competitive insights.)

Kudos again on “7 Deadly Sins!” It’s a message the industry needs to take to heart.

Dear Editor,

I read with interest your June 7, 2010, cover story, “7 Deadly Sins of SKU Rationalization.” In fact, I have recommended that all of our clients, associates and retail friends read it!

Having been quoted a few times, I have had the opportunity to speak to several buyers and retail executives that have taken this article to heart. It’s well-written and talks to a different point of view where smaller, niche and specialty brands are concerned.

Good stuff! Fantastic job by Antoinette Alexander and Michael Johnsen, and the entire DSN team! Very worthwhile reading!—David Biernbaum, David Biernbaum & Associates

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FDA advisory committee shoots down Vivus’ Qnexa

BY Alaric DeArment

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. The possibility of a new drug for treating obesity suffered a setback Thursday as a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted against recommending its approval.

The FDA Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 10 to 6 against recommending approval for Vivus’ drug Qnexa (phentermine and topiramate), citing safety concerns such as the possibility of psychiatric problems and birth defects.

“We appreciate the advisory committee’s recognition of obesity as a significant health crisis and the challenges associated with the treatment of this disease,” Vivus CEO Leland Wilson said. “We are disappointed with the advisory committee’s vote.”

The company said it would attempt to address the committee’s concerns. An advisory committee vote is a recommendation, and while the FDA will take it into account when deciding whether to approve a drug, it is not bound to follow it.

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Post-it launches Shopping Genius widget

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON 3M has developed a bargain-shopping widget with the help of its Post-it brand.

Inspired by usage of the classic Post-it note as a shopping list, 3M has developed an evolution of the shopping list for the digital age called Post-it Shopping Genius. How it works: Post-it Shopping Genius sits on your computer desktop, keeping an eye on the price changes for you, locating the cheapest price, and letting you know when it changes. The customizable application enables you to choose from thousands of electricals, durables and other consumer goods, and track up to five at a time.

The application — which can be directly downloaded from http://bit.ly/Post-itGenius and is available on iGoogle, Mac OS X desktop and Windows 7 / Vista desktops — displays up-to-date prices on many thousands of products, which are searchable within the tool.

In related news, 3M announced that it is offering a monthly monetary prize of 1,000 GBP ($1,542) or the value of a user’s shopping list if less as an incentive to those who refer the Shopping Genius application to a friend.

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