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Conference Keynote: Competent is NOT an Option

February 9, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

turock

It seems that every item in the trade press points to retailers and manufacturers making great efforts to use shopper marketing to enhance the shopping experience at-retail. In order to thrive in the post-recession retail reality, chains have to continually cater to heightened expectations. Good enough is simply not good enough. On Monday, April 16th at The Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference, keynote speaker Art Turock will take that notion to the next level. The agenda and registration, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities are available now at the Conference Center on www.narms.com.

In, “Competent is NOT an Option,” Turock tells us that most businesses seem to be managed brilliantly for producing competent contributors, but managed miserably for developing consummate professionals. Stars are not born; rather they are made by engaging in years of deliberate practice. This finding summarizes decades of elite performance research with athletes, performing artists, salespeople, and other professionals. Unfortunately, most businesses have adopted unquestioned performance management practices that reliably produce competent performance, but derail deliberate practice and any possibility of developing consummate professionals. During this session, Turock will answer the pivotal questions for anyone aspiring to great performance: What are the elements of deliberate practice? How can the conditions that foster it be present in my organization?

Turock will also be leading several other sessions during the conference including a Manufacturers Share Group Luncheon; a leaning session entitled, “Can Coaching Help You Attain the Next Level,” and the always popular Manufacturer/Retailer Connection Session.

Turock is an elite performance provocateur who helps businesses translate elite performance research into practices for developing superior talent as a competitive advantage. His presentations, coaching, and consulting efforts disturb his clients sense of what constitutes competent performance and triggers their conceiving and aligning with new standards for elite performance. His ideas have appeared in Success, USA Today, Fortune, Association Management, Bloomberg News, and CNN.

To find out more about The Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference, click here. The event will be held on April 14-17, 2012 at Saddlebrook Resort, north of Tampa, FL. #RMMC542 #RMMC541 #RMMC557 #RMMC560

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Merchandising as the Value Platform

February 2, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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In a week that saw Wal-Mart move the U.S. marketing team under the direction of their chief merchandising officer, SymphonyIRI Group released the latest edition of Times & Trends which calls merchandising the platform to communicate value to the consumer. For members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing services industry, this is more evidence that the importance of in-store is ever increasing in the minds of brand marketers and retailers.

Wal-Mart says that their move is designed to better coordinate communication between the merchandising and marketing groups. They see the two previously separate functions as transforming due to the Internet, social media and mobile technology. SymphonyIRI defines merchandising as displays, feature ads, feature and display combined and price promotion. Their findings may have something to do with the Wal-Mart move. Here are a few of the positive trends:

-Merchandising support is increasing in 47% of categories across CPG channels. Drug channel merchandising activity is outpacing the grocery channel and the industry.

-CPG marketers are focusing their support toward home-based food rituals.

-Merchandising support of private label remains below that of national brands, but the gap is closing.

- Categories seeing the highest lift across merchandising tactics are well-represented by those that cater to recession-driven behaviors.

Times and Trends goes on to reinforce that shopper marketing, an individual level 360 degree view of the consumer, is the most effective current marketing program. Merchandising tactics that have been around for a long time have found new life as a way to support the shopper marketing approach.

The members of NARMS are well positioned to help retailers and manufacturers fully usher in this new age. Price promotions do not work if consumers do not find the products on-shelf. Displays are not effective in the back room. Feature ads need to be met in the store with an equally well executed and consistent message. Great plans can fall apart in the last three feet. You can download the latest Times & Trends report by SymphonyIRI by clicking here.

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The Evolving Store

January 26, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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Today we turn our focus to new survey from Deloitte as reported on by DSN Retailing Today. The survey and the subsequent report listens to what retail executives expect to happen in the next five years both in their physical stores and on-line. As members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing industry, it is imperative that we are in-touch with these views because they represent huge opportunities to be of service to our manufacturer and retailer customers.

These executives say that e-commerce will increase three-fold over the next few years, but most still believe the store will remain the primary point-of-purchase. The increase in on-line sales will change the way retailers use their talent, physical space and store operations to keep pace with increasingly personal customer demands. The study surveyed 39 retail executives in September 2011.

As a result of the study findings, Deloitte offers four recommendations to retailers. The first is to refresh strategy to enable operating models to respond quickly to marketplace changes. The next is to realize that there in nothing more important than the in-store experience. The third is to revisit talent management to allow store associates to deliver the more tailored experience. The fourth is to connect and integrate customers from the store to a multi-channel experience.

All four of these recommendations advocate loudly for the use of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service companies of NARMS. These merchandisers, professional installers, event marketers, national and independent brokers are all about mobilizing quickly and tailoring the customer experience to changes in the marketplace and resulting strategic shifts. Outsourcing key shelf level initiatives can maximize store assets and allow sales associates to focus on their core competency, taking care of the customer.

As the report suggests, the physical store will still be at the epicenter of this multi-channel world. You can download your copy of the Deloitte report by clicking here.

Survey Seeks to Sharpen Services

January 19, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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One of the big takeaways from the 2011 NARMS Spring Conference was how much our manufacturer and retail customers value field representative background screening and certification. They want to know that the people who are going into the store environment to provide at-retail merchandising and marketing services are good ambassadors of their brands. The leadership at NARMS is looking for your participation in a very brief on-line survey designed to help us get a clear picture of member needs in our Background Check and NARMScertifyU program. Click on the link here to participate in the survey. Only one person per company is asked to reply.

In 2005, NARMS teamed with USIS to provide affordable pre-employment screening services. For $8.00 per screening, the USIS/NARMS package included: A criminal records search via the USIS Widescreen National Criminal records database including sex offender data as provided by the various state sex offender files, social security number verification, search of the USMA National Retail Theft Database, wanted persons security screen and a terrorist watch list. USIS is now part of HireRight. USIS will conduct background screening for government accounts and HireRight for commercial accounts including NARMS.

NARMScertifyU is an online learning center offering career-building courses. Developed by industry experts for marketing service representatives, NARMScertifyU provides a valuable learning experience. Online courses can be accessed anywhere and anytime, so the reps can learn at their own pace. It is an opportunity to become an industry expert by earning course certificates. Each certificate earned leads to more exposure and credibility. The increased retail knowledge improves job satisfaction and overall success for all stakeholders.

It is only through your continued involvement as members that we can continuously improve our services, and together, raise the profile and professionalism of what it means to be a member of NARMS. Please take a few minutes of your busy day to take the survey. The data will be used to evaluate and evolve these tools.

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New Products Cater to Smart

January 12, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY writes that consumers want to feel smart, and that leading CPG manufacturers are picking up that trend for their 2012 new product launches. He points out that new products are the life blood of brands, bringing innovation and refreshing image. Getting those new products cut-in on retail shelves is one of the many valuable services provided by the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing community.

Getting new products to the shelf more quickly brings the sales lift sooner and begins to justify product development costs. That is the cold, hard financial truth but there are other benefits to the product being on-shelf and in-stock. The influence of social media on new product introductions is hard to ignore. Horovitz cites one study that says the number of people who turned to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube went from 24% in 2010 to 49% in 2011.

The social media factor seems to be driving quality over quantity. Mintel predicts that U.S. product introductions will shrink in 2012. That continues a trend. The firm estimates there were about 37,600 new product launches in 2011 and 41,000 in 2010. With less new products, more is riding on their success.

People who feel smart tell their friends. Those friends go to the store looking for the product and expect to find it. The means to get the message out is simple and less costly, but the margin for error gets thinner. A product that does not work or one that is not on the shelf will drive the brand message quickly the other way. The sword cuts both ways.

This is where we come in. NARMS members can help keep the manufacturers promise of innovation by making sure a new product makes it the last few feet of the journey, to the shelf. Just as the margin for error is thinner for brand marketers, it is no longer good enough to just have people in the stores. These companies will be looking for in-store service that makes them look smart, the same motivation as the consumer. It is only through industry best practices, training, integrity of field force and innovation that we can take our place in this evolving go-to-market system.

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People Make the Difference

January 5, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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A few days ago, Supermarket News Editor-in-Chief David Orgel wrote about what he believes is still the most crucial factor in the success of retail outlets. In-store interactions between customers and associates, he says, is a fundamental that is often overlooked as we seek to improve the customer experience.

Orgel cites an article in the Harvard Business Review that states customer-associate interactions will become even more important for a couple of reasons. With all of the technology and social networking that we now experience in our day to day lives, a trip to the market could be just what that doctor ordered to help fulfill our fundamental need for human interaction. In a sense, everything old is new again with attention to personal service potentially becoming a key driver in retail success.

The key will be to maintain both a high degree of direct customer interaction with the speed, efficiency and convenience brought by in-home shopping. In effect, the need to execute efficiently at-retail becomes even more important. For a case in point, look at how a professionally staffed and run product sample or demo can greatly enhance both the customer experience and the bottom line.

This argument can be taken to another level. The members of NARMS, at-retail merchandising and marketing service specialists, are in the people business. No amount of shopper data can have the desired effect on retail without the human element of getting boots on the ground to implement the resulting in-store initiatives. Most of this work is done during business hours meaning NARMS member associates are trained to interact with customers because they are often identified as store staff.

The bottom line is that it is harder than ever to get customers in the store, so it is more important than ever to make sure their experience makes them want to buy from you and return often. Great looking stores with well-stocked shelves, convenient adjacencies, strategic displays and well run samples are a means to this end. We all need the human touch.

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A Happy New Year!

December 29, 2011 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

happy_new_year_2012

This being the last column of the year, let us be the first to wish a great big Happy New Year to the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing community. The leadership and staff at NARMS International are excited to move the Association along after a year of contemplation and transition. Here are just a few things to look forward to as you begin to plan your 2012.

Tom Caddell brings a lifetime of experience in the industry as the new NARMS Executive Director. Caddell and the staff are looking forward to bringing a new and strategic direction to build and brand the association name of NARMS in new, valuable and ever exciting ways.

The 2012 new membership drive and membership renewal is right around the corner. Do not forget to look for your renewal notice and take action so you do not miss out on any valuable membership services.

The 2012 Spring Conference is coming up and in its 17th year will feature a new name. The Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference will be held at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa Florida on April 14-17. Conference Chair Stefan Midford, the NARMS staff and the NARMS Board of Directors are putting together a value- packed agenda for our annual showcase event. Look for exciting agenda, registration and sponsorship announcements coming up shortly at the Conference Center on www.narms.com.

NARMScertifyU continues to provide on-line career building courses for at-retail marketing service representatives. NARMScertifyU offers eight courses for $15 each: Mystery Shopping, Retail Visit Excellence, Merchandising Standards, Demonstrations, Event Marketing, Fixture Installation, Train the Trainer and Team Lead Skills. Block pricing is available for member companies to purchase on-line courses for their field reps at a great savings.

NARMS JobBank and the Recruiter database have been experiencing robust levels of activity as at-retail marketing service reps and hiring companies use this original and custom built member resource to bring professional service to their retailer and CPG manufacturer customers.

The New Year brings fresh perspectives and new opportunities. This is particularly true for our Association as several things are converging simultaneously to shape the future of the industry and NARMS. Make a resolution right now to be part of that future.

Reflections on Food 2011

December 22, 2011 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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On Tuesday in Top Shelf , we called your attention to a series of review/preview articles being featured on www.supermarketnews.com. In one quick and easy read, you can get a nice recap on the year that was 2011 and many of the activities that will continue into 2012. All things considered, it was a remarkable year for food retailing with many top players making bold moves to reestablish themselves in a new retailing reality. Today, we will give you a sneak peak at each article and a link for you to read further.

Leading off the series is a look at the return of food inflation and the effects on the marketplace. Author Jon Springer looks at the initial bump provided by price inflation and the resulting anxiety about continuing to pass these costs to the consumer in a time of heavy price promotion.

In his next piece, Springer takes a look at the A&P bankruptcy and the turnaround effort of investor Ron Burkle and his Yucaipa Cos. The plan is to buy A&P out of bankruptcy by this coming February and operate it as a private company.

In the most extensive part of the series, Mark Hamstra reviews merger and acquisition activity for the year. According to The Food Institute, there was a 27% increase in food industry mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2011 over the same period in 2010.

Elliot Zwiebach chronicles the ongoing efforts at Supervalu in their two-year battle to turn the company around. The company is now confident it has the tools and processes in place to do the job right. The company acknowledges that execution across the board has been holding it back.

Mobile and checkout technology continue to make news on both the part of the retailer and consumer. Author Michael Gerry tracks the ongoing debate over self-checkout and the increased use of smartphone apps being released by retailers.

Hamstra, in his next piece, discusses the focus of many food retailers to fine-tune and refine their positioning in the marketplace. These attempts are resulting in revamps and refreshes to stores around the country.

And finally, Zwiebach looks at the changing face of Wal-Mart as it gets its sales back in a positive direction. The company says that merchandising assortment and presentation resulted in a loss of store traffic.

The common denominator in these stories is change. The good news is that the ever-evolving food retailing marketplace is full of opportunity for members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service community. In just about every case, at-retail execution is still a daunting challenge for retailers and manufacturers alike.

Shoppers Have Many Faces

December 15, 2011 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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We have all read endless stories about the changing face of the American shopper. We know that consumers are being conservative in their buying choices and that impulse purchases are down as shoppers stick to the shopping list and hunt for deals. The most recent Times & Trends from SymphonyIRI does a great job of digging beneath the surface of these general trends, helping us to truly understand motivations. They also give retailers and manufacturers some practical tips that we, as at-retail merchandising and marketing service professionals, can look forward to executing in-store.

Despite the relatively negative headlines in the trade press, there are some brand marketers succeeding at retail. We are also coming off one of the most robust Thanksgiving weekends in history with Americans spending $7.4 billion more than last year, according to the National Retail Federation. We can no longer say that the American shopper only has one face. Successful CPG companies have come to realize that there are many. And they are figuring out ways to reach them.

Here are some steps to success for CPG companies according to SymphonyIRI: Trip Management helps to segment consumers using analytical tools to recognize opportunities in the store. Store Level Opportunity Analysis can identify missed opportunities using POS data. Maximize Packaging by focusing on channel and trip type. Understand Channels and focus on growth channels like Dollar and Drug stores. Look at Assortment to determine optimal use of shelf space. Always keep an eye on Pricing in regards to channel, competition, private label and promotion.

The paragraph above only scratches the surface of the Times & Trends report and you should definitely download and take the time to read and digest it. All the suggested approaches for manufacturers and retailers ultimately run up against the same challenge of at-retail execution. As providers of those services, the members of NARMS should stay tuned and be ready with offerings that understand and meet the needs of trading partners.

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Getting Off the Elevator

December 8, 2011 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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Successful salespeople are constantly learning from other salespeople. The art of listening to and learning new techniques and behaviors is important because it mirrors the necessity of listening to and learning from the customer. In a recent guest column in Progressive Grocer, sales consultant and author John Graham challenges the use of the age-old elevator speech and calls it a barrier to true and effective communication. The column is valuable advice for members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry as they seek to help retailers and manufacturers solve problems at the store and shelf level.

It is important to be able to quickly verbalize who you are, what you do and why that is important to a potential customer. According to Graham, that is exactly why so many sales managers insist that their salespeople develop a good canned speech. But in the same breath, sales managers will tell you that salespeople talk too much. The balance, he says, is being able to draw a potential customer into a conversation where there is two-way communication happening.

That is good advice, but how exactly do you do that and still articulate your goods and services? Graham offers several real world examples that you can start using today. It starts with having an intriguing statement when someone asked you what you do. The statement draws people in and compels them to ask for more information. The information in the elevator speech is still important to the conversation, but the need to blurt it out all at once is not.

Even if it is not your job to directly sell, we are all salespeople for our organizations, departments and even our ideas. Great communication at all levels of business involves selling to some degree. Take a few minutes to click on the link and read the story, and then forward it on to a fellow salesperson or colleague. We all learn best when we learn from each other.

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