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Q&A: Neighborhood marketing

BY DSN STAFF

Drug Store News caught up with J.D. Schulman, CEO of Vesta Retail Networks, to talk about the company’s retailer-exclusive neighborhood marketing networks — a program that reaches affluent shoppers in a unique way by creating advertising opportunities out of the hangers used for dry cleaning. It’s not only an out-of-the-box approach to delivering targeted messaging, but it’s green, too — the “eco-hangers” and attached cardboard advertisements are both created out of 100%-recycled material, and the finished hanger is recyclable to boot.

DSN: What does VRN do for retailers?

J.D. Schulman: Our mission is to drive affluent customers to our retail customers via the affluent shopper networks we operate. Today, securing a scalable, affordable and affluent shopper network is critically important for retailers looking for more customers, new customers and bigger market baskets. … We work exclusively with leading retailers, which license channel-exclusive affluent shopper networks. No other company provides this localized-yet-national approach to reaching affluent customers necessary to drive sales increases in this current challenging environment.

DSN: How is this media vehicle more influential than other more traditional outlets?

Schulman: These leading retailers are licensing our affluent shopper networks to bring their suppliers an extended way to reach the coveted affluent households within the correct drive times around their stores. Our patented in-home billboards [are] hyper-efficient; [they] reach shopper households around our retail partners with nearly 100% view rates and 100% open rates — that’s unlike any other media vehicle that retailers have in their arsenal.

DSN: You’ve set up the Walgreens Neighborhood Marketing Network. How does that work exactly?

Schulman: We have 35,000 dry cleaners in our network that distribute our in-home billboards on our patented eco-hanger product. But you can’t advertise through all 35,000 dry cleaners. If you think of the Walgreens network and their 7,500-plus stores, that’s 7,500-plus neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods, there are four or five dry cleaners around each store. Those dry cleaners are selected to receive these in-home billboards. …

On average, the Walgreens Neighborhood Marketing Network has a household income [demographic] right around $100,000. [This program] reaches the 28% of households that do dry cleaning. Just by the very nature of the program, this is reaching more brand-centric consumers who have the pocketbooks to make purchase decisions not based on price, but based on preference.

DSN: Is this a one-size-fits-all program, or can suppliers manipulate and customize what’s included in the media?

Schulman: An individual supplier, for Walgreens as an example, can find out more about the program on a custom Web page at WAGshoppers.com. There [the supplier] can find out rates, dates, that kind of thing. Not only do the suppliers have the chance for in-home display via the billboards, but also couponing, sampling, promotion and QR code distribution — a number of ways in one single program to activate these affluent shoppers.

For the full audio Q&A, click here.

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Giancamilli prepares to hand off CEO reins

BY Jim Frederick

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Sometimes nice guys finish first. Andy Giancamilli, who has held key leadership positions for drug store and big-box chains in both the United States and Canada, revealed in mid-September that he would retire as CEO of Katz Group Canada on Feb. 2, 2012. His announcement caps a storied retail career that culminated with a highly influential stint as chief executive of Canada’s largest drug store network, where he oversaw the transformation of Katz Group from a diverse collection of local drug store holdings into a unified, rejuvenated Rexall retail brand with national reach and a knack for innovation in merchandising and health care.

The capstone of Giancamilli’s leadership was the unveiling last year of a dramatically upgraded store prototype, dubbed Rexall Healthy Living. The test stores are designed to elevate Rexall’s image as a health-and-wellness destination, while building on its strong links with family physicians.

Giancamilli’s career traces the profound evolution of drug store and mass retailing over the past four decades. In an interview Sept. 26, he cited the growth of white-hot competition in the United States and Canada — and the critical role technology has played — in separating retail winners from losers.

“What I’ve seen over the years, especially with big-box retailing, is the huge increase in competitiveness and sophistication in that industry,” Giancamilli said.

“When I started as a clerk in a drug store, we didn’t have point of sale,” he added. “My job was to price merchandise and put it up on the shelf, and I used stickers to do it. With the advent of UPC and scanning and computers … I saw the entire process.”

That growth in data-driven sophistication, Giancamilli said, was critical to survival. “It was necessary, because the industry got so competitive that it became no longer a case of gross margins measured in dollars, but gross margins in pennies,” he noted.

Giancamilli began his career in 1967 as a stock clerk at SK Drug Mart, part of a chain of seven stores in suburban Detroit. He moved to Perry Drug Stores in 1975 after graduation from pharmacy school, quickly becoming a key member of Perry founder Jack Robinson’s small management team, and rising to president and COO by the late 1980s. After Perry’s sale to Rite Aid in 1995, Giancamilli was hired as VP in charge of drug store categories by Kmart, rising later to general merchandise manager of hardlines, president of all merchandising and, eventually, to Kmart president and COO.

In 2001, he moved north to serve as EVP of Canadian Tire. He joined Katz Group in late 2003. He also served as chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores from December 2008 to April 2010.

When Giancamilli relinquishes his post early next year, he said he plans to spend more time with family. Among his goals: to rebuild his childhood home in Italy, which was damaged in an earthquake several years ago, and finally find the time to pursue cherished hobbies like boating, golf and racing a Ferrari.

“I would like to stay involved in the industry, whether through board work or some other way, and especially in the field of health care,” he told DSN. “I’m also looking forward to spending more time with my two grandchildren.”

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Gerber Graduates will appeal to that nutrition-conscious mom

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. — With all the focus on food and wellness at the pharmacy, this Graduates Yogurt Melts at a Rite Aid in Camp Hill, Pa., ought to appeal to that nutrition-conscious mom. In fact, this Gerber product was awarded the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval for excellence in family products not too long ago.

According to the "Nestlé Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study," about 50% of toddlers (12 months to 24 months) are not getting the recommended amount of vitamins A, D and E; magnesium; and zinc — and many are not getting enough essential omega-3 fats on any given day.

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