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COVER STORY for good and a force for growth. At P&G, we established three clear priorities. First, protect the safety of our people. Second, serve people with our essential health, hygiene and cleaning products. And third, however possible, support communities in need. Even more so during times of uncertainty, we need to double down on our strategic choices. At P&G, we are focused on our portfolio in categories where performance drives brand choice. We continue to strengthen our innovation across price tiers, with the aim of delivering noticeably superior performance and superior value. We want to ensure that our consumers are able to purchase their trusted brands at the right pack sizes and right price points. We also believe in “constructive disruption” to drive growth and create value. It is our long-term strategy, which includes lean innovation processes to improve speed to market and success rates of new products; disrupting the brand-building ecosystem to enable one-toone mass marketing; and leveraging digitization and data analytics to drive greater efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. During the pandemic, we had to innovate our operations to respond to a heightened need for health, hygiene and cleaning products. An efficient, agile and resilient supply chain meant being able to reach more consumers at a time when they needed these brands the most. Winning in this highly competitive industry requires the willingness to adapt and the ability to create the future. And in this current environment, agility and a mindset of constructive disruption are even more important to serve consumers and be a force for good and a force for growth in our communities.

Joann Marks

CEO, CosPro Marketing The beauty industry traditionally bounces back from recessionary periods. The “Lipstick Factor” is holding true in the case of the current pandemic, although it might be better to call it the “Mascara Theory” because, while lip sales are currently down (likely because of masking), mascara sales are booming. We’ve also seen great increases in nail, skin and hair color/care — anything that has a DIY theme. As our white paper on COVID-19 reports, what brands should do during the pandemic is reach out to consumers on a more emotional basis. Some 83% of consumers surveyed are more likely to support brands that help others during hard times. They will remember these companies and develop lasting loyalty to them. The challenge right now is not being able to interact with customers by touch and testing, and I love how creative many brands have become in response. We have found ways to do no-touch sampling, such as our tutorial coupon book, and added tools to our Beauty Advisor interaction kits that help customers find their shades, using shade charts, online color matching and nail wheels. We will get back to in-store events in 2021-22, but brands need to plan on continuing

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safety precautions for many months to come. We’re seeing the rapid evolution of a new normal, where social distancing mandates are redefining how businesses interact on the human level. Large-scale telecommuting is here to stay, as many Fortune 500 companies have seen that they can do business with lower overhead. COVID-19 is also transforming how people shop. Before, women mostly shopped on their way home from work; now they may opt to go mid-day when traffic is lighter. Working from home also requires less makeup — except for Zoom days — so how do we boost color cosmetic sales? It’s going to require even more demonstration and sampling to keep customers engaged. COVID-19 is proving to be a learning experience for our industry, spurring innovative new ways to interact with customers and a more personal approach to sales. These shifts will remain long after the pandemic has passed.

Greg Farrar CEO, ECRM

The pandemic has caused an inflection point in the industry, speeding up the adoption of tools that keep us connected during a time when in-person options are severely limited. This includes tools for more effectively connecting with supply chain partners, tools for connecting with consumers and tools for connecting with each other. Because, the fact of the matter is, while safety is paramount and restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings are necessary for everyone’s protection, business must continue moving forward. Virtual meetings, which previously took a back seat to meeting in person, have become a critical part of doing business, and consequently plans for adopting virtual tools that were further on the horizon have been greatly accelerated. ECRM is a case in point. We had approximately 100 in-person Efficient Program Planning Sessions, or EPPS, planned for 2020; and all those scheduled for March and later have been successfully converted to virtual. And much like any digital technology, virtual is undergoing rapid and constant improvement. Indeed, the ECRM Connect Platform of today already has evolved with new features that greatly enhance the quality of the experience since we launched it in May. Consequently, even once the pandemic passes, virtual face-to-face meetings will continue to be a part of our service offerings. As an industry, we are only in the early stages of using virtual tools, yet retailers and suppliers alike already have recognized their effectiveness, vast efficiencies and expense-savings they offer. The key to their continued successful adoption will be the willingness to fully embrace the technology, and to continually seek out the best ways to leverage it. Sure, we’re all looking forward to being able to meet in person, however we’re still facing an uncertain future when it comes to the pandemic. But one thing is certain: Regardless of how soon we can meet in person, virtual tech is here to stay.

September 2020 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM

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