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Meet the Market creates opportunities for retailers, suppliers

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SAN DIEGO — For many suppliers at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ recent Total Store Expo here, one of the most critical opportunities to connect with retail buyers happens before the show floor even opens. The Meet the Market program has emerged as a particularly vital platform for helping retailers and suppliers connect, engage in one-on-one discussions and explore collaborative opportunities.

“The Meet the Market program has become a critical element of the show for us,” Lifelab Health managing director Lou Machin said. “It allows us to see the critical people that we came to the show to see.”

The Meet the Market program operates through a structured schedule of prearranged meetings.

Retailers and suppliers specify their areas of interest and are then matched accordingly, with NACDS handling the bookings. Retail buyers have their own table, and exhibitors move to meet with the retailers based on the schedule they are provided. The appointments themselves last for 10 minutes, with two-minute breaks between the appointments for exhibitors to get to their next retail appointment.

“A lot of other shows don’t have this kind of setup, and sometimes you can miss a buyer in your category because shows are so big,” said Joey Braha, vice president at Copper Compression, which offers a line of athletic support products made with copper. “The buyers have their own appointments and their own hit lists of who they want to see and what they want to do. So it’s great to have a scheduled time with them. Ten minutes is pretty brief, but if you work on the presentation and get right to the point, I think the buyers appreciate and respect that.”

Braha added that the meetings can be productive and can deliver real results for exhibitors.

“Last year we met with Walgreens at Meet the Market, and this November we’re going into stores,” he said. “So I would say that just on the basis of that it’s been a huge success. And then there are some people we see that we’re already doing business with it, and this format provides a great way to touch base in person.”

Machin noted that Lifelab Health also had some important Meet the Market appointments that will lead to new business for the company, whose product lines include NuFiber, a corn-based clear prebiotic fiber supplement, and HoneyWorks cough syrups and sprays, which are made with U.S.-sourced, USDA-certified organic honey.

“My schedule was nine to five, and it was full,” Machin said. “It was busy and it was a good, productive kind of busy.”

Osman Mithavayani, vice president at the family-owned health and beauty company Xtreme Beauty International/OKAY, also counts himself as a fan of the Meet the Market program at NACDS Total Store Expo. He points to another strength of Meet the Market, which is that it takes place at a show that includes an exhibition floor with booths, and social events that provide additional opportunities to forge connections and network.

“Meet the Market sets in place a possible relationship that can continue,” Mithavayani said. “Ten minutes is not enough time to develop a plan behind the brand or product, but 10 minutes is more than enough time to introduce each other and network and communicate in the hopes that that same buyer can come visit us and spend more time with us on the show floor. Meet the Market is instrumental in creating an experience that gets a relationship started.”


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