Walgreens merchant, savvy supplier vet discuss the art of ‘co-creation’ at Shopper Marketing Expo

BY Antoinette Alexander

CHICAGO — The majority of manufacturer engagements are not aligned with retailers’ core strategic goals, and do not create real value in the eyes of the retailer. Today’s winning companies are able to identify and leverage the unique hidden assets of their brands, and build a business around agile, transparent, retailer/manufacturer collaboration — experts call it “co-creation.”

To help create a roadmap for what co-creation is, how it works and what it means both for brand building and shopper engagement, industry leaders Shannon Curtin, GMM, VP of beauty, personal care and seasonal at Walgreens, and Dan Mack, founder and managing director of strategic sales and consulting firm Mack Elevation Forum, will co-host “Elevating Customer Engagement through Co-Creation,” Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo, here, at the Navy Pier. The session is just one part of a high-impact program of speakers and topics lined up for the event, now in its 19th year.

The reality is that great brands are no longer created — the best are co-created. And, co-creation doesn’t just happen on its own. Curtin and Mack will examine the most common blind spots that hinder a company’s alignment, engagement effectiveness and growth; identify best practices for co-creation and which assets truly matter in designing an effective shopper marketing customer blueprint; and share critical engagement skills and tools to help co-create the customer experience. Co-creation with its vendor partners is a critical growth factor for Walgreens, and Curtin will discuss some cases in which the retailer has helped smaller manufacturers successfully enter the market.

Winning with co-creation starts with relevant innovation, which Curtin describes as “having a vision to see what is missing in the marketplace and then creating a solution to satisfy it.”

Understanding what makes a successful co-creator also is important. While an open mind is critical, one must also possess a mindful of fresh ideas and bring new, emerging insights to the table.

Helping guide the discussion, Mack brings 25 years experience in strategic sales, business development and industry insights, and is the founder of the Elevation Forum series, a high-energy, dynamic share group program that brings together supplier executives from companies of all sizes to expand strategic insights and access, network and gain confidential peer insights into many of today’s industry challenges. An advocate of co-creation, the firm’s Elevation Model is an integrated customer co-creation process that assists industry players in creating profitable new revenue, accelerating growth, escalating customer relations and improving competitive insulation.

Meanwhile, Curtin, a recognized industry leader in retailer-manufacturer collaboration and joint program development, brings her unique vision and vast merchandising experience to the discussion. Prior to Walgreens, Curtin started her retail career with Walmart in multiple merchandising roles and displayed a passion for new product innovation and creating a compelling in-store experience early in her career.

Mack, who also serves as EVP strategic business development for the Swanson Group, is founder and managing director of Mack Elevation Forum. He started his career with GlaxoSmithKline, served as VP sales at GOJO Industries, and is credited with having helped build the Purell brand and assisting in the turnaround of Dentek Oral Care.

The Shopper Marketing Expo is slated for Oct. 8-10, at Chicago’s Navy Pier. For more information, visit



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Design of the Times offers “Academy Awards” of shopper marketing industry

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Call it the Academy Awards of the shopper marketing business.

The Shopper Marketing Expo, scheduled for Oct. 8-10, here, at the Navy Pier, will once again host the Path to Purchase Institute’s annual Design of the Times merchandising display competition.

In mid-August, 50 judges convened at the Path to Purchase Institute headquarters, here, in Chicago, to pick finalists in eight different retail channels, including drug, food, mass, consumer electronics, convenience, home center/hardware, sporting goods and specialty stores. More than 100 finalists were selected, and final judging will take place on site at Shopper Marketing Expo on Tuesday, Oct. 8., with official winners announced the following evening during the Design of the Times Awards reception, with gold, silver and bronze winners, as well as one platinum award winner in each retail category, and one overall “Best of the Times” winner selected across all retail channels.

Here, DSN examines the 17 finalists in the drug store channel. For the complete list of finalists, visit:

Palmolive Coconut & Cotton Glorifier

Colgate-Palmolive Colombia sought to introduce shoppers to a variant of the brand with its display that appeared in 100 drug stores in Colombia over an eight-month period. The display depicts the coconut converting into a natural soap. Also part of the display, a cotton stem conveys a sense of softness associated with the product.

Rimmel ‘London Look’

In promoting its Rimmel Cosmetics, Coty put together a display that was featured in more than 4,000 Walgreens stores. The objective was to lift sales, build Coty’s Rimmel brand and launch two exclusive-to-Walgreens’ lines of lipstick and nail polish while promoting top seasonal foundations and a new mascara. The combination delivers plentiful stock and one-stop shopping for the "London Look."

Someday by Justin Bieber

Elizabeth Arden put together this display in 5,000 Walgreens stores to drive awareness and trial for the new fragrance, Someday by Justin Bieber, at drug and mass retailers, and to obtain prime, high-visibility placement at Walgreens on its étagère fixture. According to Elizabeth Arden, incorporating fragrance tester-bottles to display vehicles is critically important in mass retail. Testers perform as a "silent" sales associate in this environment, providing an authentic sampling of the fragrance and bottle to shoppers.

J&J Medicine Cabinet

Johnson & Johnson fielded a number of brands within this display that ran in some 2,600 Walgreens stores. The display’s primary objective was to use high introductory Balance Rewards point offerings and unique graphics to draw consumers to the endcap and generate incremental sales. The design leverages three insights of successful promotion:

  • Surprise — The design must be unexpected to draw the shopper to the display;
  • Relevance — Once attracted to the display, the products must be relevant to the target; and
  • Information — The offer must be easy to spot and quickly explained.

J&J Neutrogena endcap

Johnson & Johnson rolled this display into 5,000 Walgreens stores. The objective of the in-store activation tactic was to drive the Neutrogena brand with a unique endcap coinciding with a national Neutrogena FSI drop (May 5), a Neutrogena SaturDate (May 18) and the Neutrogena "Night at the W" (May 22). The goal was to encourage shoppers to purchase more than one product across Neutrogena skin care, cosmetics, bath, and sun care brands, and the display allowed J&J to bring all of the categories together in one place.

belVita countertop display

Kraft Foods rolled this display out across 300 drug, convenience and grocery stores in Puerto Rico. The objective of placing the belVita breakfast bars at the cash register in a single-serving size was to introduce shoppers to the new, healthy, on-the-go breakfast option.

L’Oreal new items tower

L’Oreal Cosmetics unveiled this display of L’Oreal Cosmetics across more than 6,000 Walgreens stores to increase consumer awareness for its newest product offerings, and to create an innovative, interactive buying experience for the shopper. The tower needed to fit within an enclosed three-sided Walgreens space and draw the shoppers’ attention.

SensatioNail Island Fever counter unit

Pacific World promoted its gel nail supplies in an effort to leverage its leadership position in the gel polish category and showcase its vibrant array of summer shades. SensatioNail’s target shoppers are women, ages 18 years to 54 years, with household incomes of more than $50,000. When shopping, they expect to see what’s new and want to be delighted.

ZzzQuil ‘Snoring’ shelf tray

Procter & Gamble featured this promotion of its new ZzzQuil Sleep-Aid across more than 6,000 Walgreens locations. The objective was to drive trial of ZzzQuil and subsequently grow the overall sleep category. “We knew that our shopper’s trust in NyQuil to rest when she has a cold was paramount, so we used the iconic bottle visual the two brands share and emphasized the ZzzQuil logo to drive brand recognition of the ‘Quil’ line of trusted products,” P&G noted.

CoverGirl ‘What’s New’ 2013 displays

Procter & Gamble sought to promote its new 2013 CoverGirl products in more than 7,000 Walmart, CVS/Pharmacy, Target and Walgreens stores. Development of a new sleek “beauty case” to launch the first CoverGirl Gold new item initiatives would prove to be a win-win for logistics and in-store execution excellence, the supplier noted.

Duracell ‘Mini Tower’ floorstand

Featuring Duracell Duralock batteries, Procter & Gamble helped to disrupt the consumer-shopping pattern to stop and look at this display. Batteries are typically an impulse purchase, and the display is meant to draw the consumer’s focus.

Pantene Expert Collection floorstand

In this Pantene Expert Collection display, Procter & Gamble helped to drive awareness and trial outside of the hair care aisle for an entirely new, premium sub-brand across some 5,000 Walgreens locations. The language used helped communicate that the line was geared toward the youth-seeking hair care shopper — with the claim, "For hair that acts up to 10 Years Younger."

P&G Tim Gunn and the People’s Choice Awards endcap

Procter & Gamble promoted a number of products in this endcap, including Pantene, Crest, Olay, Cover Girl, Secret, Always and Tampax, in Walgreens and Duane Reade stores. The People’s Choice Awards was looking for a vehicle that would help its image, to regain its “cool,” to be taken seriously and to get people to participate and watch the show again. To help drive the point home, P&G invested in celebrity spokesman Tim Gunn, who delivered a call to action to shoppers to “make it fabulous.”

Axe Apollo Astronaut floorstand

Unilever featured its latest Axe product, Axe Apollo, in this display to drive awareness and encourage participation of Axe’s contest to go to space camp. Because the majority of Axe purchase decisions are made in store, the display needed to be disruptive in nature and command the shopper’s attention, Unilever noted.

Vaseline Spray & Go countertop display

In this display, Unilever’s new Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer helped to highlight the uniqueness of the product’s new breakthrough lotion and spray format/delivery system. The campaign’s eye-catching, premium-looking Spray & Go counter display helped to stop the shopper and allowed the breakthrough innovation — “absorbs in seconds…no waiting” — benefit to initiate trial.

Walgreens Taylor Swift endcap

Walgreens successfully designed a “store within a store” featuring all items Taylor Swift timed to the debut of her "Red" album in Walgreens stores across the United States. According to the retailer, the product exclusive drew a younger demographic — girls and young women ages 14 years to 24 years — and provided an opportunity to capture their loyalty.

Walgreens Bus/Haunted House floor displays

Walgreens sought to drive multiple purchases and boost market share during the highly competitive back-to-school and Halloween shopping season with this unique display. Walgreens wanted to give shoppers one-stop shopping with attractive price points for seasonal, core drug store and household products, recapturing their core business from competitors.

For more information on the Shopper Marketing Expo, visit

To view a slideshow of the Design of the Times finalists in the drug store category, click here.


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CRN Foundation report makes the case for dietary supplements as healthcare cost containment mechanism

BY Michael Johnsen

A report funded by a Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation grant made the case for supplementation as a key component in any healthcare cost reduction strategy. It’s not news to those in the industry who already know the health benefits associated with supplementation. But for the consumer media so quick to run a negative headline, this may come as a bit of a shock. 

Here’s the secret. Dietary supplements are not only a part of a healthy diet, they also beget healthier behaviors. And America is at the precipice of becoming a whole lot more interested in healthier behaviors. After all, the cost burden shift from the employer to the consumer will only continue. And as consumers assume more and more of those healthcare costs, reports like this will help make the case that supplementation is worth a look as a cost containment tool. 

Then you won’t need the Internal Revenue Service (which oversees flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts), or Congress for that matter, to pass rules or legislation making supplements a tax-subsidized expense. You won’t need that because private insurers will begin to see the wisdom in supplementing a consumer’s good supplementation habits. 

However, this may be a double-edged sword for the dietary supplement industry who play in the mainstream retail space. As interest in supplementing grows, so too will interest in regulating industry outliers. And while that helps to put illegitimate supplement companies out of business, it also serves up some tantalizing headlines to the mass media, who necessarily do not distinguish between outlier supplement companies that nobody’s heard of and established, responsible supplement companies that distribute through food, drug and mass outlets. 

That may only be a short-term consequence, though. For the longer term, there is a great opportunity for pharmacy retailers to help educate the public as to what supplements can and cannot do. It’s a great opportunity to justify inclusion of supplements in any medication therapy management or disease-state management counseling sessions. 

Specifically, the report encompasses coronary heart disease and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using omega-3 fatty acids, three B vitamins (folic acid, B6, and B12), phytosterols and psyllium dietary fiber; diabetes-attributed CHD and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using chromium picolinate; age-related eye disease, specifically age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using lutein and zeaxanthin; and osteoporosis and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using the combination of calcium and vitamin D or when using magnesium.




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Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?