Called the Retailer Relations Forum, the new program will feature a road trip of sorts, in which personnel from member companies will engage in a trip together to visit a major retailer. The first event will take place later this year, said CRN president and executive director Steve Mister.
Gap in knowledge of CRN activities at member companies
Mister said in reviewing its contact points with its members, CRN management became aware that a whole part of the conversation was being left out. The sales teams at member companies were out talking to retail partners, but frequently they had heard little about CRN and its initiatives and services. That was the job of their companies’ regulatory personnel, and that’s where the conversation ended.
“We realized we did not have any regular points of contact with the sales folks,” Mister told NutraIngredients-USA.
“We were relying on these other people we were touching to relay what we were doing and what we’re all about,” he said. And not enough of that seemed to be happening.
Mister said this weakness became apparent as CRN started to promote its Supplement OWL effort, in which member companies and others load information about their products into a searchable, unified database.
“Part of the Supplement OWL effort has been to market the idea to the retail community. As we did that we realized how little they are hearing about CRN from our member companies,” he said.
“The sales folk are the ones who are actually calling on Walmart or Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe. They can be ambassadors not only for their company but for the industry at large. But they don’t know about what CRN is doing so they are not talking to the retailers about it,” he said.
In person meetings to offer networking opportunities
CRN said at least once a year, the Retail Relations Forum will offer an “engagement” experience, during which a retailer will host the Forum at its facilities. The in-person meeting will present an exclusive opportunity for retailers to network with CRN member companies’ representatives to the retail trade.
The visit might also include a tour of a model store or offer insights into the retailer’s planogram for the future of the supplement “aisle.”
Jennifer Foley, Divisional Vice President, US Consumer Sales, Abbott Nutrition will chair the Forum in its first year. The first meeting of the forum via conference call will occur in July, CRN said.