WSL Future of Health Event

GMDC hones winning formula

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Global Market Development Center (GMDC) enjoys a unique position as the sole trade association that is entirely focused on fostering the general merchandise and health, beauty and wellness businesses of its members.

The Global Market Development Center (GMDC) enjoys a unique position as the sole trade association that is entirely focused on fostering the general merchandise and health, beauty and wellness businesses of its members.

The organization’s activities are centered on three pillars. The first, connectivity, primarily involves its two annual conferences, one devoted to general merchandise and one focused on health, beauty and wellness.

The second pillar, thought leadership, finds expression in GMDC’s outstanding research studies, which have long been distinguished by their unsurpassed focus on best practices in marketing and merchandising GM and HBW.

The third pillar, execution, is relatively new. According to Mark Deuschle, vice president of business development and chief marketing officer, the GMDC board decided last year to initiate a pilot project with the consulting firm Radian Group, working with member companies that have chosen to participate.

The project will explore such areas as how to improve execution of category strategies by establishing standard processes that can enhance the mutual understanding of retailer and supplier partners and ultimately produce better sales.

The upcoming HBW Conference will once again be centered primarily on its two meeting formats: the 10- to 20-minute Controlled Casual Conference (CCC) meetings between retailers and distributors on one hand and suppliers on the other, and the newer 40-minute Senior Executive Conferences (SECs), which typically bring together high-level executives who have mutually agreed to meet.

"The SECs have grown in importance every year since their introduction in 2005," notes Keith Wypyszynski, vice president of business development and chief member officer at GMDC. "Retailers and suppliers use them in different ways. Some suppliers will use them to discuss a future product launch, for example, while retailers may want to discuss something like revamping their beauty care department or integrating their pharmacy with the front end more effectively."

Jerry Brown, vice president of industry and customer development at Unilever, notes that his company uses the conferences in several ways. "First, it’s an opportunity to see how well our innovation and programs are working with our customers," he explains. "Secondly, it’s an opportunity to hear from our customers where we can improve. Thirdly, it’s an opportunity to see and hear what’s occurring in the industry. We find both the meetings and the social events great business ­opportunities."

While the SEC meetings have added a whole new dimension of value and connectivity to the GMDC conferences, the CCC tables continue to accomplish an enormous amount of business within a tight time frame. GMDC has also greatly increased the functionality of the CCC meetings with technology enhancements in the form of scheduling tools that have extended the connectivity potential year-round.

For example, GMDC tools allow users to set questions or discussion topics and attach related materials in the four weeks preceding each conference. This year GMDC has introduced a new tool, a mobile application that, in effect, can serve as a paperless conference guide.

"The SECs are strategic in nature and help us collaboratively develop our future plans with our business partners for the long term," says Louis Donadio, director of sales at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. "The CCCs are a great way for our team to connect with our retail partners and focus on tactical opportunities. We’ve been able to close distribution gaps and work with our partners to identify solutions to drive profitable retail sales."

In addition to the one-on-one CCC and SEC meetings, the GMDC conferences offer a range of business sessions, including roundtable discussions and retail focus sessions. According to Wypyszynski, the roundtable discussions are typically moderated or facilitated by a retailer or distributor who has recommended the topic.

The retail focus sessions, says Deuschle, provide retailers an hour to present background information on the company, its strategic direction and what is required to do business with it. Each session is open to all attending suppliers.

In addition, the conferences usually serve as a forum for the presentation of the latest round of research from one of the GMDC studies. This year’s HBW Conference will be no exception: The Hartman Group, which has been conducting a major study launched in 2009 on wellness and environmentally conscious lifestyles, will present its latest findings in Phoenix.

Finally, the Showcase feature allows suppliers to present anything from a single product to an entire 4-, 8- or even 12-foot section for retailers to examine. Retailers have prescheduled time in their schedules to view it and are given scanners to scan items that catch their interest.

"GMDC offers a good value proposition," Donadio sums up. "Our team is able to connect with industry experts, thought leaders and decision makers. In addition to the conferences, GMDC continues to provide ongoing business solutions, to study and understand trends and to look at ways to connect with consumers."


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