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NACDS Annual Meeting | Monday, April 29, 2019

Campaigning for Change


chieving results on relief from direct and indirect remuneration, or DIR fees; fair pharmacy reimbursement; opioid-abuse prevention; and enhancing pharmacies’ scope of business are the four most crucial issues that the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is tackling in its campaign-style approach. This was the message delivered Sunday morning at the first Business Program of the NACDS Annual Meeting at The Breakers. Mark Panzer, NACDS chairman and Albertsons senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness, and NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson outlined NACDS’ continued focus on waging creative, proactive and increasingly sophisticated campaigns on crucial issues. Both leaders detailed NACDS’ advocacy for an approach to DIR fee relief put forward by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar that would help close a loophole that leads to unpredictable reimbursement for pharmacies and that increases patients’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

Panzer: Fair Compensation Benefits Pharmacists, Patients

“We are battling for our present,

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Mark Panzer, NACDS chairman and Albertsons senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness at Sunday mornigs’s Business Program.

because we believe mightily in our future,” Panzer said, noting that pharmacies are being asked to do more without being adequately compensated for their work



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and patient care. “We need to continue to highlight this every chance we get,” he said. “We need to work toward solutions that enhance patient care and outcomes, while at the same time compensating retail pharmacy at rates that are fair and equitable.” For more than 10 years, NACDS has been putting more points on the board, Panzer said. “But over the past couple of years, we all knew that we had to kick it up a notch or two. The stakes always seem to rise.” Panzer also reflected on his year as chairman as he prepares to hand over the role to Wakefern Food executive vice president Chris Lane on Tuesday. He highlighted the role NACDS plays as an organization that makes consensus on industry issues possible. “Without that, we could not send a clear message to the government. We would not be able to comment on issues with the level of detail and with the specifics that actually move the needle,” Panzer said. He also encouraged attendees to see NACDS as a boon to their businesses and the entire industry. “Commit to your company’s success. Commit to the industry’s success. Commit to your success. Commit to the success of the customers and patients we serve together. Definitely commit to NACDS because NACDS is committed to you,” Panzer said. “Together, we are empowering pharmacies to make an even bigger difference in our patients’ and customers’ lives.”

Anderson: Action on Policy Is Crucial

p Steve Anderson, president and CEO, NACDS

broader NACDS reimbursement campaign comes in, and the NACDS scope of business campaign. They are tied together.” Anderson and Panzer were both introduced by Colin Mackenzie, GSK Consumer Healthcare region head of the Americas and area general manager, North America, who also provided key industry trends — including the rise of self-care, and emphasized knowing one’s consumers. Historian Doris Kearnes Goodwin concluded the program with a discussion of elements that distinguished the leadership of four presidents — Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson — who led in turbulent times. dsn p

In his remarks, Anderson touted NACDS’ advocacy campaigns to drive change on key issues. “The campaigns bring a new approach — a better approach. It’s an even more sophisticated way to set the strategy, to ‘whiteboard’ everything NACDS does, to engage the membership, to lead the team, and to measure the results,” Anderson said. The campaigns are a way for NACDS to tackle the interconnected issues the industry faces. “We need to keep focused on this fact — relief from DIR fees is one part of the reimbursement issue. It’s a critical part, but it’s one part,” he said. “That’s where the

“The campaigns bring a new approach — a better approach. It’s an even more sophisticated way to set the strategy, to ‘whiteboard’ everything NACDS does, to engage the membership, to lead the team, and to measure the results.”

Doris Kearnes Goodwin, historian

Commit to your company’s success. Commit to the industry’s success. Commit to your success. Commit to the success of the customers and patients we serve together.



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Taking the Low Price Approach Whole Foods’ lower price structure will continue a price war among retailers. Will anyone win?


got the email around noon on the first Wednesday of this month. It was from the folks at Whole Foods Market, informing me and likely millions of other consumers that it was lowering prices on produce at its stores around the country. It said the goal was something about getting what I love to eat for a little less money. In the media that same day, articles and news segments discussed the fact that Whole Foods Market had just announced that it was cutting prices by 20% on more Seth Mendelson than 500 of its more popular products, which included Editor in Chief the above-mentioned produce items. It was big news in retail, though it should be mentioned that after price checks, some media reports said that the chain’s prices significantly overall still are higher than most competitors. And, in the long run, I think, this will end up being much ado about nothing.

Digital, lower price points and same-day shipping upset the retail apple cart a lot, but nothing can be done to alleviate the need to squeeze the melons, smell the meats and check the cans that a visit to the local food store offers. Even still, to me, it was another sign that, which purchased Whole Foods Market a few years ago for a nifty $14 billion or so, is mortal just like every other retail business across the country. Amazon was right to make its foray into traditional supermarket retailing. It is one of the few retail categories where consumers still need to get off their couches and go to the store to get the best selection of the freshest foods, as well as many nonfood products, for that evening’s dinner. Digital, lower price points and same-day shipping upset the retail apple cart a lot, but nothing can be done to alleviate the need to squeeze the melons, smell the meats and check the cans that a visit to the local food store offers. In other words, if you can’t beat the likes of Walmart, Target, Kroger and Albertsons — not to mention such regional powerhouses as Wegmans and H-E-B — you might as well join them. But this was not the usual journey for Amazon. No, the digital retail company was moving outside of its sweet spot and it quickly hit a couple of bumps in the road. Most noticeably, Amazon is known for three things — price, assortment and convenience — and, at the time, Whole Foods Market was known more for high prices and good quality. Often, those things just don’t jive. Something had to give and, not surprisingly, it was the pricing structure at Whole Foods Market. For a company so in tune with building traffic as Amazon, the company’s top officials quickly have figured out that Whole Foods Market’s out-of-whack prices were not bringing more people into its stores for the quality merchandise it stocked. Also, they know that Whole Foods Market is locked in a brutal battle with some of the nation’s largest retailers — specifically Walmart — to control the pricing perception on food items across the country. The eventual winners — and there will be eventual winners, despite the pain the industry is going through — will be the retailers that can offer consumers the perceived best value, along with the best quality in a reasonably convenient fashion. If nothing else, Amazon just took another well publicized step to gain on the competition in this never-ending struggle to win the war for the consumer’s attention and acceptance. Don’t be shocked when traditional retailers fire back with their own salvos. While consumers ultimately could be the big winners here, I fear that only the most nimble retailers will be able to adjust to the changing times. dsn 6

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Facing a ‘VUCA’ World Elevation Forum focuses on entrepreneurial mindset needed to thrive in today’s uncertainty By Dan Mack


ack Elevation founder Dan Mack kicked off the most recent meeting of his Elevation Forum by highlighting the speed at which knowledge is compounding. “Until 1900, knowledge doubled every century. By 1950, knowledge doubled every 25 years. In 2000, knowledge doubled each year. Now, knowledge doubles each day,” Mack said. “Those who get ahead in this century will be those who dance with uncertainty and find danger, rather than comfort, in the status quo.” The event, which took place April 26, began with a group discussion on the effects of increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, or VUCA, within the industry and how companies can thrive in such an environment. Mack said that research shows the buying process has changed, trust in the buyer-seller relationship has diminished and the No. 1 challenge for salespeople is communicating value. “Sales leaders must become domain experts, and must unlock new value by pausing more often, investing in new outside voices, and offsetting ambiguity by testing and experimentation,” he said. The forum featured a panel about thriving in a VUCA world, featuring Chris Dimos, McKesson’s president of retail health; Ankit Patel,’s director of merchandising; Alex Hurd, deputy COO of ClarusONE Sourcing; and Sandy Katz, vice president of sales and marketing for agency 113 Industries. “Our industry has oceans of data, and puddles of knowledge,” Dimos said. Katz similarly noted that companies need to know the limits of their data. “Companies typically rely on internally-generated research that is based upon the company’s understanding of their brands and the consumer. These approaches have value, but typically are not the source of major breakthroughs.” Katz said, noting that 113 listens social conversations around brands to help guide insights. The afternoon discussion focused on what elite engagements looking, with Mack offering an example. “The best engagements are highly experiential, adaptable, and filled with ‘moments that matter’ for all participants,” Mack said. “How you show up in meetings matters more than you think.” dsn 10

The pre-NACDS Annual Elevation Forum meeting asked attendees to confront their business approaches at a time of increased stress, tested relationships and uncertainty.

The event included a panel discussion about how to thrive in a hyper-competitive world.

“Companies typically rely on internallygenerated research that is based upon the company’s understanding of their brands and the consumer. These approaches have value, but typically are not the source of major breakthroughs.”


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Brands Across America The Consumer Goods Forum pioneers a platform for collaboration in the industry and beyond By David Salazar


ne of the keys to shaping the future of the industry is collaboration on different levels. That’s according to Alex Hurd, deputy COO of ClarusOne, who co-chairs the health-and-wellness pillar of the Consumer Goods Forum. Working with a steering committee comprised of 30 companies that includes retailers and manufacturers in the food and OTC space, the Consumer Goods Forum launched the Collaboration for Healthier Lives platform. The platform focuses on manufacturers, retailers and communities — including local providers and nonprofits — working together to build awareness around healthier products, exercise and health-and-wellness in an engaging way. Efforts include healthy store tours led by local organizations. “What we’ve tried to do is drive this culture of collaboration and experimentation within a community by inviting local government, healthcare providers and the nonprofits that are active locally in the community to coordinate a different way of delivering health & wellbeing,” Hurd said. “We want to do that in a way where we’re creating shared value, improving the health of the community we serve while and driving our businesses.”

The platform offers an opportunity to help create interest in healthier products — particularly healthier foods — that consumers might not yet be familiar with in an engaging way. This year, the platform entered into an even deeper collaboration with Healthy Washington County, Maryland, by coming together around a set of metrics that examine the impact community collaboration activities, including in-store events, have on community health. For manufacturers, the platform offers an opportunity to help create interest in healthier products — particularly healthier foods and OTC — that consumers might 12

not yet be familiar with in an engaging way. “You’re introducing healthier brands to customers, and that experience is reinforced by a nutritionist or pharmacist,” Hurd said. “it’s a unique model to engage and influence.” In [Hagerstown], Maryland, the collaboration includes Martin’s, Walgreens, Walmart and local nonprofits — which Hurd said offers a lesson in industry-wide collaboration to drive future growth. “If we are going to help our customers in

new ways and change an entire industry, we may benefit from collaborating and learning by using new and different approaches.” Partners involved in the collaboration in Maryland are Ahold-Delhaize (Martins), AARP, Barilla, Campbell’s, American Chamber of Commerce, Colgate, Danone, General Mills, Healthy Washington County, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Merck, Meritus Health, Numerator, Nestle, Oliver Wyman, PepsiCo, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and the YMCA. dsn


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Rich Scoza with Beth Potere and George Pintea of Piping Rock Health Products

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Brian Bradley and Randy Sloan of Lornamead with Rick Wellinger of The Emerson Group

Chip Phillips of Anda with Bob Stewart and Andy Boyer of Amneal Pharmaceuticals

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Bryan Donaldson, Dave Larson, Andrea Theodore, Skip Aldridge, Tony True, Tom LeLoup and Dave Schwendimann of Pharmavite

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Laura Gaughan of Higi SH and Jeff Bekos of PrescribeWellness at the NACDS Opening Celebration event at The Breakers Palm Beach on Saturday evening

Mike Holz, Tom Skelton and Joe Montler of Surescripts

Stacey Feldman, Kyle and Lorraine Stenzel, and Keech Combe Shetty of Combe

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James Ellington and Jeff Schwartz of Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare



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Greg Kell of Crossmark with Stacey Howe and Ryan Myers of Hallmark Cards

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Steve Hodges and Nancy Erickson of Coty Consumer Beauty at the Crossmark Dinner on Friday night at Bice Ristorante

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Matt and Jennifer Bell with Jeff Henderson and Jolyn Henderson, all of Edgewell Personal Care, at the First Night Party on Friday night

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Cardinal Health Acquires mscripts Cardinal Health is growing its patient engagement solutions portfolio with its latest buy. The Dublin, Ohio-based company recently announced that it has acquired mscripts, a company that delivers patient adherence and engagement solutions through a mobile and web-based health management platform. Mscripts provides a digital communication platform to help patients stay on track with their healthcare by delivering targeted messages through mobile and web applications tied directly to the pharmacy dispensing system. The personalized support delivered through mobile pharmacy reminders encourages patient adherence to prescription medications and delivers cost savings directly to patients. Engaging patients through this experience supports overall health management. “Cardinal Health is excited to broaden the capabilities we deliver to our customers that serve to strengthen the relationship between healthcare providers, payers, pharmacies and patients,” said Debbie Weitzman, Cardinal Health U.S. pharmaceutical distribution president. “We understand the importance of reducing healthcare costs across the continuum of care. The capabilities we gain from the acquisition of mscripts support patient adherence to prescriptions and improve overall health results.” Mscripts CEO Mark Cullen said, “We are excited to join Cardinal Health, and we share in the company’s vision to provide inventive and meaningful solutions to improve patient outcomes and decrease the cost of care”.

Functional Remedies Partners with Market Performance Group Vertically integrated hemp company Functional Remedies has inked a partnership that it said would help boost its growth into mass retail. The Denver-based company is partnering with independent strategy consulting and sales management services company Market Performance Group, which specialized in helping CPG companies grow their distribution into major retail channels. “MPG has done their homework in the hemp oil/CBD space and understands the market from all aspects — consumer and retailer needs and the ever-evolving regulatory environment — which sets them apart,” said Functional Remedies chief revenue officer Matt Poli. “This partnership will allow us to accelerate our retailer partnerships and our commitment to category growth. We look forward to collaborating on the right plan to educate consumers — key to carrying out our mission of bringing lives into balance with products that consumers and retailers can trust 100%.” The CBD industry currently has few third-party validators, which leaves retailers to develop their own requirements — which the companies said MPG is familiar with. “We know what retailers are looking for in new products and the types of hurdles to clear for CBD and hemp oil products,” said MPG founder and managing partner Marc Greenberger. “Functional Remedies is one of the few brands that check all the boxes for retailers including vertical integration, making our jobs easier. We are excited to work with them in carrying out their consumer mission and lead the category growth of hemp oil.” 30


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TherapeuticsMD Intros Bijuva TherapeuticsMD recently announced the commercial availability of Bijuva (estradiol and progesterone) capsules, 1 mg/100 mg in the United States. Bijuva is the first and only Food and Drug Administration approved bioidentical hormone therapy combination of estradiol and progesterone in a single, oral daily capsule for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, commonly known as hot flashes or flushes, due to menopause in women with a uterus. The product offers a balance of bioidentical estradiol to reduce moderate to severe hot flashes combined with bioidentical progesterone to reduce risks to the endometrium, the company said. “We are excited to offer women, healthcare providers and pharmacists an answer to their desire for bioidentical hormone therapy,” TherapeuticsMD co-founder and director Brian Bernick said. “TherapeuticsMD is proud to offer Bijuva as an important new option to help manage the moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms experienced by up to 80% of menopausal women.” As of April 19, Express Scripts, Anthem and Aetna were adjudicating Bijuva in the commercial health insurance channel for the majority of their formulary designs. “The momentum we have seen early on with the payer community is encouraging and indicates recognition of the need for an FDA-approved combination bioidentical option,” TherapeuticsMD chief commercial officer Dawn Halkuff said. “I am proud to work for a company committed to advancing women’s health with new treatments for women and their healthcare providers.”

Sabra Unveils Salsa Verde Hummus Sabra is bringing some heat to its hummus offerings. The White Plains, N.Y.-based brand, known for its refrigerated dips and spreads, has launched its new limited-edition Salsa Verde Hummus, which the company said was inspired by the traditional flavors of Mexico. Topped with roasted tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro and lime, the hummus is vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified and certified kosher. “We’re really excited to bring the Salsa Verde Hummus to market,” said Grant Cowherd, Sabra’s brand manager. “The combination of Sabra’s hummus and salsa verde is extremely delicious — the flavor experience is different than anything else in our product line, and we are confident that consumers will love it, too.” Available in a 10-oz. size, Sabra’s new Salsa Verde Hummus can be found on the shelves of grocery stores and supermarkets nationwide for the suggested retail price of $4.29.

L’il Critters Expands Children’s Vitamin Lineup Children’s gummy vitamin maker L’il Critters is expanding its lineup. The Church & Dwight brand has introduced the L’il Critters Organic Complete Multi with 11 vitamins in a natural mixed berry-flavored gummy. “With an increasingly integrated approach to nutrition and wellness, organic options are becoming commonplace when it comes to health and dietary options,” said Bruce Weiss, vice president of marketing at L’il Critters. “L’il Critters brand was created over 10 years ago to offer supplements that not only prioritize the nutritional needs of kids, but made it both fun and delicious, too. We are proud to continue supplying parents with the tools to promote a healthy lifestyle for their children and offer the best ingredients possible.” The gummies are organic and NonGMO Project Verified, as well as free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, fish, and sugar coating. The multivitamin includes vitamin D to support calcium absorption and vitamin C plus zinc to support children’s immune systems, the company said.

FDA Approves Teva’s Generic Narcan Nasal Spray The Food and Drug Administration recently gave the nod for Teva’s naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray, commonly known as Narcan nasal spray, a life-saving medication that can stop or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Opiant Pharmaceuticals is the brand manufacturer of Narcan nasal spray. The agency also said it is planning new steps to prioritize the review of additional generic drug applications for products intended to treat opioid overdose, along with the previously announced action to help facilitate an over-the-counter naloxone product. “In the wake of the opioid crisis, a number of efforts are underway to make this emergency overdose reversal treatment more readily available and more accessible,” said Douglas Throckmorton, deputy center director for regulatory programs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. It is the first generic naloxone nasal spray for use in a community setting by individuals without medical training, but the FDA said generic injectable naloxone products have been available for years for use in a healthcare setting. 32


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Putting a Premium on Pets The `humanization’ of the pet industry has given rise to more specialty merchandise in grocery, drug and mass By Debby Garbato


early three decades ago, the pet industry began applying the term “pet parents” to baby boomers, a generation characterized by high disposable income and indulgent spending. Their pets were no exception, with higher-end food, fancy collars and even doggie apparel filling shopping bags. Now, millennials are making even higher demands, with food and treats expected to follow human nutrition trends. In toys, they want interactivity and engagement. This has spurred a new movement at mass retail, with natural, organic and meatrich foods (including free-range) gaining shelf space, along with products containing such “superfoods” as blueberries, cranberries and sweet potatoes. Millennials also want food without GMOs, corn or fillers. “We’ve seen high-protein foods with little-to-no grain become very popular,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations at Lakeland, Fla.based Publix Super Markets. “We’re seeing premium brands like Rachel Ray and Blue Buffalo grow share, while value and private brands decline. Natural and organic foods have been increasing. Consumers are willing to spend more. As premium brands become available, slower moving items are discontinued more rapidly to make room.” Products with meat as the primary ingredient accounted for 46% of pet foods, according to Nielsen. About 64% contained multiple proteins, including novel ones like quail and rabbit, representing what pets would hunt in the wild. Fresh foods also have grown, with many food, drug and mass chains’ pet


“While millennials are putting off having children, they’re obtaining pets at a younger age and buying all the trinkets and toys. There’s even soup for pets. It’s great for pet industry growth.” sections now containing cold cases. Bob Vetere, the recently retired president of the American Pet Products Association, or APPA, said that millennials’ attitudes toward pets are driven largely by economics. Frequently, their incomes do not rival those of boomers at the same age. Hence, many millennials have postponed childbearing, rent their homes and cannot afford cars and other “luxuries.” Pets fill these voids, taking indulgence to another level. “Millennials’ love of pets is somewhat different than boomers,” Vetere said. “A pet is a substitute child, so many consumers [look] to humanize products. Look what humans are buying — wait two months and you’ll see it with a pet slant. They’re using social media to get up to speed on which products are good or bad. This is causing a new awareness level for anyone selling pet products. It’s a different

landscape.” By 2019, the APPA estimates there will be 73 million millennial pet owners in the United States.

The Impact of Acquisitions

Premiumization began in e-commerce and specialty channels. Though several acquisitions by large companies have propelled some upscale, smaller food brands into grocery, drug and mass. This gives retailers and suppliers broader offerings, higher sales per square foot and a sharper competitive edge against increasingly powerful online and specialty players (see Omnichannel Marketing sidebar). One of the most significant acquisitions in the space was General Mills’ $8 billion purchase of Blue Buffalo in early 2018. All-natural Blue Buffalo contains deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley and oatmeal, but no corn or by-products. During General Mills’ fiscal 2019 second quarter earnings call in December, Jeff


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Siemon, vice president of investor relations, said Blue’s household penetration has reached 26%. “Blue is the fastest-growing brand in food, drug and mass, and has become the No. 1 dog food in some chains,” he said. “There’s progressive share gains each quarter, with sales increasing by triple digits last year across food, drug and mass.” During General Mills’ July investor conference, Billy Bishop, group vice president of the company’s pet segment and co-founder of Blue Buffalo, said the brand over-indexes with young consumers. General Mills plans to expand offerings and distribution by introducing treats, increasing wet food options and ramping up two new plants. It also wants to maximize in-store execution with permanent overhead signage and brand messaging. General Mills has an advantage in that human food trends drive its core business. The same goes for Mars, which acquired Iams, Eukanuba and Natura from Procter & Gamble and Nutro. Another human food giant, J.M. Smucker, purchased Rachael Ray Nutrish in April 2018 and Big Heart Pet Brands in 2015, which includes Natural Balance and other labels. Following a 40% increase in sales of non-GMO human foods between 2012 and 2016, Mars launched Nutro’s first non-GMO pet food for grocery, drug and mass, Chris Mondzelewski, vice president

of customer development at Mars Petcare North America, said. Smucker’s assorted pet brands and price points meet varying needs. Bobby Modi, vice president of pet growth and strategy, said consumers are buying premium products more frequently. “Before, they may have been reserved for special occasions. [Now], many pet parents view these as an everyday means of pampering furry family members.” Acquisitions and popularity of premium products in food, drug and mass have prompted some companies to introduce channel-specific offerings. Jones Natural Chews, purchased by a private equity firm in 2016, debuted the Country Butcher and Grass Valley Farm treat brands last year. Recently, it added Country Butcher Pure Premiums, made with alligator and other choice ingredients. “Humanization, along with 100%-single ingredient products, super mixes and exotic proteins, are driving up the `price per pound,’” CEO Joe Wallington said. “Millennials are more health conscious than boomers.” Another company, Red Barn, offers Chewy Louie for food, drug and mass. Red Barn emphasizes clean labels, natural, limited ingredients and transparency in food and treats. “There’s been a progression of knowledge around health and wellness,” Rashell Cooper, marketing director, said. “Today’s pet parent is on the go, seeking deals without sacrificing quality. While willing to make a trip to the pet specialty store if necessary, the idealistic scenario is finding a nutritious, safe and affordable treat while running errands in grocery or drug.”

Upgrading Traditional Brands

Premiumization also is impacting traditional non-specialty labels. Purina One, which features meat, poultry or fish as primary ingredients and contains no fillers, claims its cat and dog foods can improve pets’ health within a month, evidenced by brighter eyes, firmer stools and shinier coats. To prove it, it is staging the Purina One Challenge. After registering online, consumers receive a coupon for a free bag of food. “What’s in the bag is just as important as what’s not — no wheat, soy or corn,” Joe Toscano, Nestle´ Purina North America vice president of trade and industry development,

said. “There’s even an online graph indicating which weekly changes you’ll see.” Another new product, Dentalife Active Fresh treats, attacks dogs’ bad breath at its source.” Pedigree, a grocery, drug and mass brand from Mars, has been infused with higher protein, “meat first” options, Mars’ Mondzelewski said. “Changes in pet trends are driving innovation across the mainstream. While premiumization of pet food is growing, there’s still significant demand for value and mainstream products. We make sure there’s high-quality options at every price.” In a similar vein, Smuckers is expanding Milk-Bone treats with Gnaw Bones and Wonder Bones, embracing the “engagement” trend of keeping canines busy when owners are away. “[This] is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in younger generations,” Modi said. “Treats that keep dogs engaged meet physical and emotional needs.” Gnawbones are an easily digestible rawhide alternative. Wonderbones have a unique shape and offer a satisfying “chew challenge.” Both provide longer chewing time, keeping dogs occupied, Modi said.

More Than Food

The trends toward better ingredients and engagement extend into cat litter and pet toys. World’s Best Cat Litter, a clumping, corn-based product, recently added Attraction Action. Its natural scent attracts cats who often relieve themselves outside the box. Cats may do this due to lack of odor control, cleanliness and soft texture, Jean Broders, the company’s senior brand manager, said. “Consumers want safe, healthy products for themselves and their pets,” she said. “They want problem-solution litters. They

“Today’s pet parent is on the go, seeking deals without sacrificing quality. While willing to make a trip to the pet specialty store if necessary, the idealistic scenario is finding a nutritious, safe and affordable treat while running errands in grocery or drug.” 36


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won’t settle for litter that doesn’t perform to their standards, which are becoming higher.” In a similar vein, Purina launched Free & Clean unscented litter under its Tidy Cats banner. “It’s doing extremely well,” Toscano said. He also cited popularity in lighter-weight litters, including a 17.5-pound, dust-free product in a 35-pound pail. In toys, Omega Paw is embracing the all-natural and engagement trends with several cat scratchers, including ones with toys attached, ones that attach to doors and a higher-end model made from sisal, a natural material resembling burlap that does not stretch. Another, the Ripple Board, is made from catnip-infused cardboard. It produces a feline-friendly ripple sound when scratched. When a layer is scratched off, a new one appears. Omega also offers various sizes of Tricky Treat balls for cats and dogs. Owners fill

the perforated balls. Animals work to get treats out, keeping them occupied. It is one of the few toys with recognizable brand awareness, CEO Terry Hannaford said. In treats, Omega will unveil a dog bone containing chicken, sweet potato, quinoa and a natural preservative later this year. “Consumers know these things are healthy,” Hannaford said. “Often, you see inert ingredients or starch. But there’s a trend towards limited ingredients.”

Looking ahead, the trends of premiumization, humanization and engagement show no signs of slowing. Plus, the speed at which human trends are translated into pet products continues escalating. “While millennials are putting off having children, they’re obtaining pets at a younger age and buying all the trinkets and toys,” Toscano said. “There’s even soup for pets. It’s great for pet industry growth.” dsn

Stepping up Omnichannel Marketing Online-dominant companies are presenting formidable competition for physical retailers as consumers seek broader assortments and home-delivery convenience. This is particularly true for heavy, frequently purchased items like cat litter and dry dog food. In addition to eroding profits and market share, e-commerce decreases destination purchasing and eliminates many of the impulse buys that drive categories like toys and treats in stores.


In 2017, said online pet sales grew by about $3.4 billion, compared with growing by about $317 million in physical stores. Much activity came from Amazon and PetSmart’s Momentum continued into 2018, with Amazon generating nearly $800 million in pet products sales during the first half alone, a 30%-plus increase over the same 2017 period, One Click Retail said. “This puts everyone in a market share battle,” Jim Okamura, partner at McMillanDoolittle, said. “It’s forcing retailers that can’t compete on broader selections to choose categories and effectively use space. That’s why they’re going towards higher margin specialty items and private label. It’s not unlike what’s happening in other retail categories.” Astute retailers are fighting back. In addition to offering premium products, they are improving bricks/clicks integration and partnering with Instacart and others to promote and efficiently deliver online offerings. “Lines between physical and online shopping continue blurring,” Jean Broders, senior brand manager at World’s Best Cat Litter, said. “Retailers are stepping up their game by improving websites, offering easy online ordering and in-home delivery or in-store pickup. They’re becoming more sophisticated in their capabilities and with service partners.” Some, including Publix, Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, CVS Pharmacy and

Kroger, offer two-hour online home delivery powered by Instacart, thus catering to the convenience factor. Yet retailers are challenged in making consumers aware of expanded online offerings. Kroger runs online and TV ads; Publix promotes products across channels. Still, few have cross-channel programs targeting customers with specific offers. Hence, the in-store customer who sees cat bowls in five designs may be unaware that the chain’s website features 12. “It’s about driving traffic efficiently across channels,” Okamura said. “The old big-box model doesn’t suffice. Consumers don’t shop nice, linear paths. How do you place yourself where people get the message?” The key could involve better use of big data, CRM systems, AI and other technologies that pinpoint and target individual buying patterns. “The beautiful thing for food, drug and mass is their very rich data and insights, be it loyalty or other rewards programs,” Jon Weber, managing director at LEK Consulting, said. “There’s lots of information at their disposal and much you can do to understand consumers with a rich CRM system. They must also market extended online offerings at shelf or via digital and circulars. Otherwise, consumers won’t get it.” But for now, Okamura said, “every retailer is at a different stage of digital transformation.” dsn


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