Q&A: Vision 2026 with NACDS’ Jim Whitman
The energy is just getting started for the upcoming NACDS Total Store Expo. Hailed as the industry’s largest gathering of its most influential leaders, the NACDS Total Store Expo blends the tradeshow and senior-level conference formats into a powerful, appointment-based show, enabling strategic and tactical collaboration across functions within retailer and supplier partners.
This year’s confab, to be held Aug. 22 to 25 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, once again offers a robust agenda comprised of Meet the Market, Meet the Retailer, Vision 2026, the Product Showcase, Insight Sessions and more.
To learn more about this year’s Total Store Expo, Drug Store News recently spoke with Jim Whitman, NACDS SVP member programs and services.
Drug Store News: Can you elaborate on the importance of Total Store Expo?
Jim Whitman: Total Store Expo is a tradeshow and exhibit show, but it’s really much more than that. Obviously, there’s education involved, there’s networking involved, there’s issues and trending analysis and discussions involved, there’s the future involved in it, it is meeting with your peers. It is, again, bringing the entire industry together to take a look at business from all avenues and all sides. When people do that, our industry remains vibrant and strong. That’s the role that Total Store Expo is playing.
DSN: Following the launch in 2014, NACDS has announced the return of Vision 2026. What’s new with this year’s program?
Whitman: We are constantly looking at new companies that have some things that are maybe not quite yet commercialized who are somewhat thought leaders. We are looking at analytics, because that’s obviously a huge area right now. … We are incorporating the product showcase [and] NACDS TV, and health and wellness will be a big focus.
DSN: What role does the web site and other electronic communication play in Total Store Expo?
Whitman: It is really becoming a tool that we’re using to educate, inform and communicate with people throughout the year. There’s an electronic means, whether it be through social media, the website, through emails. … There are various avenues of communication that we can use to accomplish that. In addition, what we want to do is have relevancy available for people. … You have to remain relevant, and that’s the value of our communications. So, you’ll see [on the site] retailer and exhibit resources, which are really critical to people’s success.
DSN: With Total Store Expo about four months away, what can retailers and suppliers do now to help prepare?
Whitman: I think that retailers need to start talking with their supplier counterparts to start identifying the kinds of issues and agenda items they want discussed. No. 2, there’s a big focus now where it’s appropriate for both the retailer and supplier to have some global meetings. What I mean by that is bringing in the front end, the supply, the pharmacy, the health-and-wellness activities and the operations people to have a meeting that is encompassing all avenues of a company or the business with their [supplier] counterparts.
Winning the New General Market consumer
Drug Store News and the Mack Elevation Forum have partnered to create a new, multitiered industry leadership platform that will assemble an intimate group of CPG brands that emotionally connect with today’s changing consumer. The New General Market Leadership Forum will bring together leading companies that have demonstrated commitment to building a strong community and thought leadership with a diverse consumer base.
“We will bring together companies who are very inclusive and that build relationships with consumers based on their aspirations and values — not just their demographics,” said DSN publisher Wayne Bennett. “We are also reaching out to companies who embrace millennials and multicultural consumers, since they are major catalysts of this societal shift.”
Mack Elevation Forum managing director Dan Mack added: “We hope to spark a conversation with the industry — including top retailers — sharing how some of the top brands are building authentic, emotional relationships with today’s changing consumer and the in-store implications associated with that. The focus will include addressing the aspirations of the new consumer, their unmet needs and points of view, as well as how we think about the in-store experience, product groupings and activation.”
The leadership program will consist of a group of special brands that are committed to today’s diverse consumer, “The New General Market.” Sundial Brands, a pioneer in identifying and responding to this cultural shift, has been an essential partner in the development of this platform.
Other leading brands committed — including Sundial Brands (Shea Moisture), Beiersdorf (Nivea), Paris Presents (Eco-Tools, Real Techniques Brushes), Wahl Clippers Trimmers & Massagers, Unilever (Dove, Axe), Fleet (Summer’s Eve), Mentholatum, Hello Oral Care & Kao Brand’s (Biore and John Frieda) — will converge and share unique insights at a special industry forum in May, hosted by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation Forum. Sundial Brands co-founder Rich Dennis and Walgreens GVP/GMM for beauty and personal care Shannon Curtin will discuss their companies’ shared vision for connecting with today’s New General Market consumer. In addition, the one-day forum will focus on eight key pillars:
- Identifying the New General Market — who are they, how do they think and what are their unmet needs?
- More than just diversity of color or race, the New General Market is about diverse views.
- How millennials are influencing and inspiring the New General Market.
- Rethinking the in-store experience, product groupings and activation.
- The future of creating authentic brand communities with the New General Market.
- Building cultural competency and influence in a changing world.
- Creating a holistic brand investment strategy with the New General Market.
- Measuring success with the New General Market.
Participants in the May event will help define the best practices of winning brands that are connecting with millennials and today’s diverse consumer. Collective insights from the forum will be summarized in a series of special Drug Store News reports. For more information on how to participate, contact Wayne Bennett at email@example.com or Dan Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.