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Mack Forum aims to align boardrooms

BY Rob Eder

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. You can say that for some members of the industry, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting came a day early this year.

Though not an official part of the NACDS schedule, for a small group of supplier executives the action really began Friday morning at The Mack Elevation Forum at the West Palm Beach Marriott. The share group — which merged with the Swanson Group last November — organized and coordinated by Dan Mack, the former Dentek marketing executive, brings together executives from non-competing, generally smaller to mid-sized companies to examine critical business issues with the ultimate goal of enabling participants to align their sales and marketing strategies with the broader vision of the retailers they do business with; something Mack calls “boardroom-to-boardroom alignment.”

Costco VP pharmacy Vic Curtis served as a special keynote speaker for the group, setting the table with an insider’s view of how to do business with Costco.

Topics during Friday’s discussions included learning how to thrive in a world of emerging private-label growth, and how a branded manufacturer can develop best practices for playing on both sides of the equation, that is, blending a branded and a retail-brand position.

“A blended branded and retailer brand strategy provides suppliers with a differentiated and synergistic position with their retail partners,” noted Swanson Group principal Rich Swanson, who helped co-moderate the discussion, calling on his three decades of consumer packaged goods experience to help move the dialogue along. “The winners are providing broad brand solutions to the category — including both branded and retailer brands.”

“You must learn to tolerate failure when you play in the private-label arena,” added Vic Mazzacone, CEO for the retail division of Drive Medical. “A retailer brand position creates moments in which you could lose your position due to the bidding process. You have to be willing to [take a] risk, to create a winning partnership.”

Coming back to the overarching theme of aligning the supplier’s objectives with the retailer’s boardroom vision, Elevation Forum founder and Swanson Group VP Dan Mack offered: “Suppliers must ensure full corporate alignment prior to moving forward with a branded/retailer brand strategy. This includes ensuring internal alignment with operations, management and marketing. Winning companies bring forward their assets, differentiated capabilities and emerging insights — not just their products.”

Microlife director of marketing Mark Boufford agreed, “Better positioning doesn’t just focus on product improvements; it includes packaging innovations, in-store experience and positioning advancements.”

Other participants included David Kobel of Celsius, Darrick Blinoff of Traditional Medicinals, Bruce Montgomery of Fleet Laboratories, Jim Doyle of Sunstar Americas, Geoff Belz of GOJO Industries, Ron Yutrzenka of U.S. Nutrition, Mike Barna of First Boston Pharma and Mike Matulis of Pacific World.

The next Mack Elevation Forum is scheduled to coincide with NACDS Marketplace in San Diego in June.

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Genentech seeks expanded approval for Herceptin

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. Genentech hopes to get one of its breast cancer drugs approved as a treatment for stomach cancer, the biotech company said Friday.

Genentech, part of Swiss drug maker Roche, applied for Food and Drug Administration approval of Herceptin (trastuzumab) plus chemotherapy as a treatment for adenocarcinoma of the stomach that includes the protein human epidermal factor receptor 2, or HER2, which Herceptin is supposed to inhibit. Cancers that include HER2 tend to be more aggressive than those that don’t.

“This application reflects our commitment to developing more personalized medicines for people with cancer,” Genentech EVP global development and chief medical officer Hal Barron said. “By using diagnostics to help identify the right patients for our medicines, it is our hope that Herceptin used with chemotherapy will become the first targeted option for advanced HER2-positive stomach cancer.”

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Local Hy-Vee earns LEED certification

BY Allison Cerra

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded a Hy-Vee supermarket in Madison, Wis., with LEED Gold certification.

Mike Smith, director of real estate and sustainability for Hy-Vee, said the company is pleased to have earned the second-highest level certification on its first LEED application. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a project meets international standards for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings. The system promotes a “whole building” approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

“Hy-Vee’s long-standing commitment to environmental responsibility is reflected in every aspect of our store operations,” Smith said. “By designing and building stores that meet the highest standards for sustainability, we are fulfilling our company’s mission of making lives easier, healthier and happier.”

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