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New Networking Event Slated for RMMC


The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC), presented by NARMS, has always been a terrific place to network with fellow at-retail merchandising and marketing industry trading partners and peers. The Association has added an event to the 2013 agenda to enhance this already rich tradition. The new Retail Service Exchange will take place on Tuesday, April 30 from 1:00- 4:00 pm. The RMMC will run from April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

This unique event gives you the opportunity to conduct one-on-one meetings with retailers, manufacturers, members and services providers in a professional, speed-networking environment. This is a great chance for all our members to come together, discuss business opportunities and conduct reviews. Take advantage of this face-time with your most valued customers, suppliers and vendors.

There are a limited number of 11 tables available in the Retail Service Exchange. If you would like to reserve a table, email Fiona Lipscomb at [email protected] Tables are on a first come, first serve basis. Once your company has reserved a table, you will be responsible to manage appointments and scheduling. A copy of the latest attendee list will be provided once your table is confirmed. If you would like someone to meet you at the conference, encourage them to register by forwarding this information.

A detailed list of companies, contact names and email addresses will be posted on the website, as the Retail Service Exchange begins to fill up.

But you cannot take advantage of this golden opportunity to Learn-Change-Grow if you are not going to RMMC. Visit our official conference website to get all the information you need to register and plan for your trip to the stunning Valley of the Sun in April. The agenda is building on a daily basis so stay tuned for many more updates and features of this value packed event.


RMMC Speaker to Reveal What Big Brands Know

January 29, 2013 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2013, Top Shelf


What if you could sit in on a meeting when billion dollar brands make their plans to go to market? At the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS, general session speaker Gerry O’Brion will show you how to use big company strategies to grow businesses of all sizes. His strategies work in any business, regardless of their budget. His general session – Grow Any Business Like a Billion Dollar Brand- will be held on Monday April 29th, 2013 at 9:00 am. A follow-up breakout session - What Big Brands Know: The Business Blueprint – takes place the same day at 11:30 am.

These presentations are packed with information, strategies and case studies about companies that are doing it right. It is a fun, thought-provoking dialogue that generates real action by the participants. Among the things you will learn are: the one thing that matters to all business, five things to do before you start marketing, getting customers to choose you, game changers for growth and reinventing your business when things get bad.

O’Brion is a nationally recognized speaker, author and marketing expert who helps companies thrive. He has worked on several billion dollar brands, and has translated his experience into strategies for any business. The sessions will help you develop an action plan to make your business stronger now and over the long term, look at your business from a fresh perspective, reexamine how you are different from your competitors and understand why that matters to your customers.

O’Brion began his career in marketing at Procter & Gamble, working with brands such as Crisco, Tide, Mr. Clean and Spic & Span. Next, he managed Coors Light, and then became VP of Marketing for Quiznos. He was most recently VP of Marketing for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

You can use the same strategies as billion dollar brands to grow your business. The strategies big brands use are not complicated, and you can learn them by attending RMMC. These sessions are a perfect example of the Learn, Change, Grow theme on display at The 2013 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) to be held on April 27-30 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit the official conference website to get more information and to register.

Cleveland Research Conference Call Next Week


Finding retail industry research is not a difficult thing. Understanding and applying research that is relevant to your at-retail merchandising service business is another matter. To get a start down this road, NARMS members are invited to attend a Grocery Conference Call on January 30th at 2 PM EST hosted by Cleveland Research Company. To date, 268 companies are already registered for this high value event. Registration information has been emailed to members.

These 60 minute calls include real-time insights and updates from Cleveland Research Company on the grocery channel and interactions with senior management in addition to a brief question and answer period. The slide deck used during the presentation will also be included for all call participants.

NARMS has started a conversation with Cleveland Research about the importance of research and how our members and association can apply this knowledge into their day to day operations. In addition to this invitation to the members, Cleveland Research led a NARMS Webinar a few weeks back and will host a session at The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC). Dennis Reed, Director of National Accounts, will lead the session on Tuesday, April 30 at 9:45.

Here is a sample of the types of topics that will be covered in the conference call:

Top 3 Takeaways from Cleveland Research this week:

-Walmart sales look weaker over the last 60 days despite strong plans and relatively decent execution.

-Homecenter sales look stronger than expected this quarter, and we continue to see some upside versus expectations and company guidance for Home Depot and Lowe’s to this point in 4Q.

-Strong B2C shipping demand driven primarily by better-than-expected eCommerce volumes.

Key Themes by Company/Channel sorted by Business Fundamentals:

-Homecenters – business stronger than expected, orders improving.

-Pet – good near-term sales momentum, outlook expected to moderate slightly.

-Coffee – one of the strongest performers in retail/foodservice as well as down the grocery aisles.

-Luxury Retail – continued Chinese consumer weakness hurting sales, particularly jewelry and watches.

-Appliances – volumes still soft, early signs that promotional activity is returning.

Your association is in the process of defining what our members need in the area of industry research. Your involvement in webinars, conference calls and educational sessions at RMMC can help shape the future of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry.

SymphonyIRI Report Examines Merchandising Trends

January 22, 2013 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2013, Top Shelf


The consumer definition of value is a moving target. The widespread acceptance of online, mobile and social media marketing has gone a long way to shape the impressions of shoppers before they enter the store. Has this made traditional methods of at-retail merchandising obsolete? The January issue of Times & Trends by SymphonyIRI takes a look at current and emerging trends being embraced by CPG marketers in the ongoing battle to meet consumer needs.

This report defines merchandising activity as those employing feature ads, feature plus display, display only and price only tactics. According to the report, more than one-third of volume is sold with merchandising support across 39 percent of categories. Here are some other key findings:

-The pace of merchandising activity has been mixed during the past year, with 53 percent of categories seeing increased support. Within the drug channel, merchandising activity declined across 60 percent of categories, but support across key health and beauty care categories has risen more quickly versus the grocery channel.

-Growth in display only and price-only tactics has escalated, while combined feature/display activity has slowed.

-Merchandising activity is intensifying across many meal ingredient and meal component categories, particularly in frozen foods and fresh/perishable categories.

-In general, private brands receive less merchandising support versus their name-brand competitors.

-Merchandising programs that begin to impact the shopper in the home are having a powerful impact on sales lift.

-CPG marketers are adopting new strategies aimed at capitalizing on new technologies and building more targeted, impactful relationships with consumers.

Certainly, the merchandising tactics employed by CPG manufacturers and retailers have a direct effect on the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry who often act as their outsourced execution arm in stores. Times & Trends dives much more deeply into these trends than we can share here, so you should download your copy here.

Staying on top of trends that shape the industry is an important mission of NARMS. This commitment will be on full display at The 2013 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) to be held on April 27-30 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit the official conference website for more information and to register.


Affordable Healthcare Information


Special Guest Author: Rob Dooley, NARMS Health Exchange (Note: Dooley will be leading a session on this important topic at The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference, April 27-30, Scottsdale, AZ)

The recent Supreme Court ruling that all Americans must have health insurance or pay a tax is starting to send shock waves from Main Street all the way to Wall Street. Every person will have to have a qualified health plan or pay a tax penalty starting in 2014. But how are they going to find affordable health insurance and how are they going to pay for it? The purpose of this article is to help answer these questions and show how small employers can and will play a major role in carrying out this new mandate.

Today less than half of all small business employers provide one hundred percent free group health coverage to their employees. Many small businesses have dropped group coverage because of the high cost and because it has been too hard to get the younger employees to pay their portion to participate. This has left employees having to go out and buy health insurance on their own with after payroll tax income. Currently there is no tax deduction for individual health plans unless they are purchased through an employer. This was further clarified in an opinion letter by the Internal Revenue Service. I would say most small business owners are unaware that even if they choose not to contribute to the cost of employee health insurance, that they could set up a plan that could save both them and their employee significant money. These plans are called Premium Reimbursement Arrangements (PRAs) or also known as Defined Contribution plans.

How are these plans different from traditional Group health insurance?

First, the employer does not select the plan. In fact each employee could have a different insurance company and a different plan within the same insurance company. All the employer does is set their amount of contribution, called Defined Contribution, if any. This is much like the change that took place in pension plans in the 70s when 401ks were introduced and employers only make a contribution towards an employees retirement account. The only reason group insurance has lasted this long is because it offered a way to guarantee all company employees could qualify for health coverage even if they had a pre-existing condition. Often it was the business owner themselves or a key employee that had the pre-existing medical condition. But the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 requires that all individual health plans starting in 2014 have no pre-existing condition limitations and no waiting periods. These are two items that up until now only some group plans could provide to employees. This major change eliminates the need for group health insurance where the employer tries to select one or two plans that meet the needs of all their employees. The days of one size fits all health insurance is coming to a quick close.

How will the Main Street employer play a role in the new world of health insurance?

They will continue to make a contribution for those employees who they want to recruit and retain by offering them health insurance. However these plans will be individual plans selected and paid for by the employees. The employer will set up a Premium Reimbursement Arrangement (PRA) and make a contribution toward the cost. The employer then will assist employees with before tax deducting their portion of the health insurance cost. This will save employees 20 to 40 percent on their income taxes for every dollar they use to purchase health insurance with. They then will give the employees this pre-tax money each month to pay for their individual health insurance premiums. The up-side of this approach for employers is they save the 7.65 percent Social Security tax and un-employment taxes, making this approach a real win-win arrangement. So for an employee who has a family plan with a wife and two kids if the plan cost around $700 a month the employer would save approximately $70 a month just by putting in a PRA plan. Even if a small employer was unable or unwilling to contribute to the cost of employee health insurance, they would be crazy not to put in a PRA for their employees because of the tax savings to both them and their employees.

The plans are also completely portable and can go with person when they change jobs. For the employer, they are out of the health insurance selection business, which they all hated to begin with. You can hear small business owners celebrating all around the country! They are also not faced with annual rate increases every year because they can set their contribution once and that is it. Even with the cost of hiring a third-party to handle the administration of the individual premium distribution the small business owner would actually save money on those employees who purchase health insurance where they do not contribute.

How does the Affordable Care Act affect the cost of health insurance?

The Affordable Care Act may be a great name for a bill, but the effect of the bill will be to raise cost, not make health insurance more affordable. The removal of underwriting and the requirement that all Americans be covered even with pre-existing conditions, though a good thing, will come at a health insurance cost increase. Part of the health insurance rate increase is suppose to be offset by the requirement that all Americans must have health insurance in 2014 or pay a tax. This is the part of the Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court just up held. The issue is the tax is so minimal in 2014 many young healthy people will opt to just pay the tax. For example, the tax in 2014 is $95 for an individual for the entire year or about the cost of one month worth of premium for a young person. The tax penalty goes up to $325 in 2015. Another tax built into the law is for employers with more than 50 employees who do not provide their employees with health insurance of $2,000 per employee per year. There is no such tax for employers with less than 50 employees. The tax is much less than the cost of providing a minimum qualified plan, so the feeling is many employers will drop group health insurance and just opt to pay the tax. Also many company employees will qualify because of their household income for what is being called Premium Credits. The states have been given the responsibility of administrating and implementing the Affordable Care Act but the above tax revenue will not be enough to fund the laws mandated subsidies for working people who fall below the 400 percent of poverty level. For example, a family of four who earns $80,000 a year cost of family coverage is capped by the law at 9.5 percent of income or $7,600 a year. The cost of that qualified family plan under the Affordable Care Act is estimated to be approximately $24,000 a year, which means a Premium Credit of $16,400 a year. The question is where is this credit funding going to come from? Most experts believe the above taxes will not be enough to support the law. However, if unchanged the money will have to come from somewhere because the Affordable Care Act has made these subsidies the law of the land starting in 2014. Many feel the amounts of Premium Credits will have to be reduced before 2014 or the new law will require additional federal funding to fully implement. No matter where the Premium Credit line falls, many more low income workers will be getting a Premium Credit than currently exists for health insurance. They still will want their employers to pre-tax deduct the remaining portion of their individual health insurance premiums. These plans will be 100 percent portable and go with them from job to job.

How can Main Streets help their employees understand and adapt for the changes in how health insurance is purchased on an individual basis?

National Trust Insurance Services has teamed up with Choice Strategies to provide preferred pricing on Premium Reimbursement Arrangement management. This takes the burden of administration off the Main Street employers for less cost than the tax savings. For example, if a single health premium averages $200 a month the employer tax savings is over $15.30 a month. The cost of administration is only $10 per participating employee per month. We have our own private Health Exchange or quoting site to assist employees in finding the best option for them. We can link the quote site to the Main Streets website to offer to their members as a service at no cost to them. Please e-mail Robert Dooley at [email protected] or call him at 1-800-638-9202 if you are interested in learning more.

Your Association on the Trade Show Trail

January 15, 2013 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2013, Top Shelf


In addition to all the excitement building over The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC), NARMS announced last week that it will exhibit at three prominent industry trade shows in 2013. As a service to the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry, the Association is offering members an exclusive opportunity to join us and kick the tires of these big retail events without a huge risk or financial commitment.

Marketing your company at a trade show always comes with the uncertainty that you will get return on your investment. NARMS will have a booth at each of the following events and we encourage you to use it as a home base for your business meetings and to promote your affiliation with our Association. Participation will allow you to determine for yourself if you want to market your company at these events in 2014.

Here is some information on the shows:

NGA (National Grocer’s Association): February 10th – 13th at The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV. The NGA Show offers something for everyone. Trading partners from retailers, manufacturers and suppliers will all find a wealth of good ideas and new information in the educational workshops and the NGA EXPO floor. The EXPO Floor is completely sold out, the earliest date in the history of the Show.

Expo West : March 8th – 10th at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA. The Natural Products marketplace is growing. As a result, Natural Products Expo West is growing as well. More retail buyers are walking the show floor at Expo West than ever before, looking for the newest quality products to bring back to their stores. Over 60,000 industry members attended Expo West this past March.

GlobalShop : April 16th – 18th at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL. GlobalShop is the largest annual event for retail design and shopper marketing. It is the only show in the world where you can find the largest, most comprehensive array of store fixture companies and more in-store solutions than any live event in the nation.

Click here to download an informational flyer and learn more about these special opportunities. These are high traffic events so you will want to act quickly as these shows do sell out. We hope you will join us as together we display that NARMS members provide valuable, innovative and necessary services to the retail industry.


RMMC Keynote Will Address the New Rules of Retail


The retail industry is tough and getting tougher. Driven by constantly evolving technology, globalization and a saturated marketplace, consumers now have total and instantaneous access to whatever they desire, creating an unprecedented level of consumer power and expectations. The impact of these changes is so profound that all traditional strategic success factors, and the business models necessary to execute them, will become extinct. To help the members of NARMS to Learn, Change and Grow, keynote speaker Robin Lewis of The Robin Report will present The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace at the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS.

The annual at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry get together will take place on April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale. Lewis will take the main stage at 3:30 on Sunday, April 28.

Using profiles and case examples of industry giants, Lewis will reveal why some retailers are tremendously successful at reaching increasingly elusive and demanding consumers, and explains the new mandate, essentially the new rules for retailers.

Lewis is the founder and CEO of The Robin Report. He is an author, speaker, and consultant for the retail and consumer products industries. He is frequently requested by C-level management for advice, consultation and strategic presentations: among them are Kohl’s, Bloomingdale’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, Liz Claiborne, VF Corp., Charming Shoppes, Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren, and Sara Lee. Previously, he was Vice President at Goldman Sachs, where he developed and launched a global retail consulting practice.

He is the co-author of The New Rules of Retail, published by Palgrave- McMillan Publishing in 2010, and is often quoted in various trade and consumer publications such as Women’s Wear Daily, Time Magazine, Chicago Sun Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Brand Week, and Advertising Age, as well as on CNBC and MSNBC.

The Lewis keynote address is just one example of the value-packed agenda being put together for RMMC. This is a chance to not only take in some valuable information, but also have your voice heard as the Association prepares to meet the challenges of the future. You can find out more about RMMC and register by visiting the official website. Group rates are available so you can bring your whole team.

NARMS Health Exchange Enables Learn, Change, Grow

January 8, 2013 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2013, Top Shelf


The New Year is a time to make resolutions. NARMS and the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing industry are resolved to live by the theme Learn, Change, Grow in 2013 and beyond. These three words are also the theme of The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) set for Scottsdale on April 27-30. Addressing the Affordable Health Care Act and its business tax provisions starting in 2014 is an opportunity to start fulfilling those resolutions now.

Rob Dooley with the NARMS Health Exchange, along with Bob Plante, will be expanding on the issue as they present a breakout session on the Affordable Care Act at RMMC. The duo will also be available at the conference in the exhibit area to meet and consult on how you can create a Safe Harbor Plan for you and your employees. If you recall, Dooley hosted an installment of the NARMS Webinar Series on this important topic back in October. For those members who were unable to attend the webinar, an audio playback and the companion slideshow are available by visiting the Members Area on

Dooley has set up the NARMS Health Exchange as part of the solution and an outstanding benefit to our members. The Exchange is a value-added service provided at no cost to NARMS members. It can be found online at

The NARMS Health Exchange is an information source and a quote engine for health insurance offered through a defined contribution income tax exempt approach. There is a short video on the website under the employer tab that will further clarify the program and how it works. You can save thousands of dollars in taxes with less than 10 minutes a month in administration, help attract and retain good employees and save those employees thousands of dollars in tax and premiums.

The NARMS Health Exchange is another example of how the members of our Association can work together for the mutual benefit of all and is a vivid example of the benefits of membership. Register for RMMC by visiting the official conference website and start down a path of preparation for the Affordable Health Care Act.

Webinar to Explore Importance of Holiday and Event-Based Store Audits

November 29, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, RMMC2013, What's in store


The next installment of the highly popular NARMS Webinar Series is on tap for next Thursday, December 6 at 11:00 AM CST and could not come at a better time. With the frenzy of the holiday season already upon us, Bob Bahramipour will present: The Importance of Holiday and Event-based Store Audits - Why Speed, Courage and Flexibility are so vital and how Mobile Technology achieves it. This webinar is sponsored and presented by Gigwalk, and brought to you through the technology of ReadyTalk. You can register for this event by visiting the Members Area on

During this hour-long session, Bahramipour will instruct attendees about store presence, the sales patterns and the effect of poor retail execution, and how mobile technology is making audits more effective during the busy holiday season. As always, there will be an opportunity to interact during a question and answer session via the ReadyTalk chat function.

Bahramipour brings 15 years of digital media experience to his role of CEO at Gigwalk. Prior to Gigwalk, he served as vice president of advertising products at TRUSTe. Before that he was vice president of business development at venture-backed YuMe. He was a senior member of the Yahoo! Search team and managed the Yahoo! search toolbar business and oversaw all search distribution and partnerships.

The webinar series is a complimentary service to the members of NARMS. Register today and join the many at-retail merchandising and marketing industry professionals who take advantage of this value added educational opportunity. While we are on the topic of learning, do not forget to register for The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS to be held April 27 – 30, 2013 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. You can find out more by clicking here.

SymphonyIRI: National Brands Strike Back

November 13, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2013, Top Shelf


We all know that the recession and a slow economic recovery have given rise to a strengthened effort on the part of private label merchandise and store brands. In the November issue of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI revisits how the private label explosion is playing out, and how national brands are digging in and protecting their turf. There are strong at-retail merchandising and marketing implications on both sides of this battle for market share.

The overall finding is that the lines are solidifying. Both sides are finding areas to score some impressive gains, but it is not a winner take all contest. SymphonyIRI says that national brands and private labels must complement each other and put the needs of the consumer first. There is room for both to succeed in-store around the globe. Here are some key findings from Times & Trends:

-Although dollar share continues to grow, private label unit share of CPG products has slipped. Meanwhile, national brands are gaining volume share in 40 of the top 100 CPG categories.

-Consumers are continuing to see value in terms of cost and benefits of store brands. There is growing feeling of acceptance helped by innovation and improved quality.

-Private label continues to score big points in the grocery sector in terms of growing share. However, share has slipped within the important drug and c-store sectors over the last year.

-In spite of the impressive gains, even the most ardent private label buyer only spends one out of every four CPG dollars on store brands.

-Store brands receive below-average levels of merchandising support and there is evidence to suggest that the level of support has been declining during the past several years.

As is the case with every issue of Times & Trends, there is way more valuable information than can be represented in this column and you should visit SymphonyIRI and download your free copy today.

Keeping you up to speed on the trends shaping the retail marketplace is an important function and value of your trade association. That commitment will be on full display at The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS. The event is scheduled for April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza resort. Visit the conference website for more information and to register.

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Calendar items for NARMS:

Feb 10, 2013 - Feb 13, 2013
2013 NGA Show
Feb 10, 2013 - Feb 13, 2013
2013 Toy Fair
Feb 19, 2013 - Feb 22, 2013
87th Education & Trade Expo
Feb 20, 2013 - Feb 22, 2013
Global Pet Expo
Feb 26, 2013 - Feb 28, 2013
2013 Commercial Construction & Renovation Summit
Mar 02, 2013 - Mar 05, 2013
International Home & Housewares Show 2013
Mar 03, 2013 - Mar 06, 2013
Distribution Management Conference & Technology Expo 2013
Mar 07, 2013 - Mar 10, 2013
Natural Products Expo West 2013
Mar 07, 2013 - Mar 10, 2013
2013 CHPA Annual Executive Conference
Mar 17, 2013 - Mar 20, 2013
See all Events


NARMS-hosted Webinars: