Mintel: Cough-cold remedy sales on the rise
NEW YORK For this season at least, retailers and suppliers of cough-cold products should have plenty of revenue to bank come March 2010. And that’s a stark contrast to more recent seasons — seasons that saw revenues decline both in part because illness rates were down and the fact that retailers were stocking less cough-cold supplies at their warehouses as a result.
This will also likely to shape up to be the tale of two seasons — H1N1 and seasonal flu. The H1N1 season has struck sooner, driving influenza-like activity to record highs this early in the season. Meanwhile, there’s nothing to suggest that the seasonal flu won’t begin picking up in December and peak in late January/ early February as is typical.
The only wild card that may influence the number of people who actually come down with the seasonal flu later this season is the awareness around and demand for a seasonal flu vaccine this year. Couple with that increased awareness around flu prevention (coughing into sleeve, washing/sanitizing hands, etc.), and you may have a mild seasonal flu season, even as compared to the mild seasons of recent history.
Be that as it may, the arrival of H1N1 this year and the expected arrival of higher seasonal flu incidence in December ought to contribute to a situation that cough/cold purveyors haven’t seen for quite some time — heightened demand for symptom relievers that remains relatively steady throughout the entire season.
Walgreens confirms departure of Van Howe
NEW YORK If any retail observer still doubted the determination of Walgreens’ top managers to shake the company to its foundation, recharge its merchandising mix and rejuvenate customer traffic and interest, the pending departure of David Van Howe should resolve any lingering doubts. Walgreens is serious about doing business in a new way.
Van Howe was one of the last of the remaining merchants whose drive and creativity guided the company’s traditional front-end strategy and product presentation. He had emerged as one of Walgreens’ top merchandising gurus by 2007, when he was promoted to VP purchasing reporting to George Riedl, formerly EVP marketing and merchandising.
Both men exemplified the talented “old guard” that drove Walgreens’ long-successful approach to merchandising and buying, and both of them — along with many of the other product category managers whose activities they oversaw — have either left the company or, in Van Howe’s case, soon will. Riedl, the architect of many of the front-store retail concepts that drove Walgreens’ customer appeal and retail image since the 1990s, is already gone after a brief stint as head of pharmacy “innovation” and purchasing. Van Howe, who helped shape those concepts and put them into practice over the past nine years, will exit at the end of the year.
In their place is a new breed of relatively youthful merchants and consumer marketing experts. Those newcomers — including Walmart and Tesco veteran Bryan Pugh as Walgreens’ personable and hard-driving top merchant, and Kim Feil, who forged a 26-year career with Sara Lee, Kimberly-Clark and market research powerhouse IRI before joining Walgreens as its first chief marketing officer — bring a set of world-class portfolios and a fresh perspective to the 7,000-store drug chain.
In an interview earlier this year, Pugh outlined the company’s revitalization strategy under the customer centric retailing initiative. The goal, he told Drug Store News, is “trying to leverage [our suppliers’] resources and expertise in understanding how the customers shop, and utilize that in the…planograms and adjacencies” at the front end. To that end, he said, “Every three-foot section is worked tediously hard to get the best possible result.”
In a separate interview, Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson described CCR as a process of “streamlining assortments and reworking promotions,” as well as “prioritizing categories and items within categories.”
Walgreens’ sweeping transformation process is likely to continue for some time, and the personnel shift in middle- and upper management may not be over. But Van Howe, like Riedl, can rightfully lay claim to a place of honor among the storied retailer’s distinguished alumni. Both men played a major role in the company’s remarkable success as the nation’s most profitable drug store chain, and both helped lay the groundwork for the renewal effort and merchandising overhaul now underway.
Hy-Vee thinks pink with donation to breast cancer awareness
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A Midwestern retail chain has marked National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a donation to fight the disease.
Hy-Vee announced that it had donated $135,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure at the end of the organization’s Komen Des Moines Race for the Cure, which took place in Des Moines, Iowa, on Oct. 24. The chain will also donate $25,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation on Nov. 22 at halftime during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hy-Vee is title sponsor of the Chiefs’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign.
“Our stores went all out this year for the fight against breast cancer,” Hy-Vee assistant VP media relations Ruth Comer said in a statement. “It’s an issue that affects many of our employees and customers on a very personal level, and that personal connection was evident in many of the displays created and events held throughout the month.”
The donations come from proceeds from a special pink-themed advertisement and the sale of pink Hy-Vee reusable shopping bags featuring a breast cancer message. The chain’s 227 stores in eight states sponsored a series of events throughout October to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including sale of pink “Cookies for Komen” sold at Des Moines stores and participation of store employees in the Race for the Cure, for which Hy-Vee stores donated fruit and worked with General Mills to supply Yoplait yogurt.