NEW YORK -- A comprehensive study of efficient store assortments by the General Merchandise Distributors Council is under way. The results will be presented in May at GMDC's annual health and beauty care marketing conference. The event, scheduled May 12 to 17 in Colorado Springs, Colo., will mark the 25th anniversary of the association. Leading wholesalers, retailers and suppliers are expected to be on hand. Last year, 214 brand marketers attended the conference. GMDC officials, who revealed details of the study at a trade press briefing here early this month, said the focus will be on two categories: analgesics and shampoo/conditioner products. A key component of the study will be analyzing variety vs. duplication of products on store shelves. Efficient store assortment is one of the four key strategies of Efficient Consumer Response. Meridian Consulting Group, Westport, Conn., is conducting the study for GMDC's Educational Foundation. At past conferences, the foundation has published the results of studies on category management and prescription to over-the-counter product switches. Copps Corp. executive Wayne Gresl, the 1995 foundation president, said supermarkets have used the information to improve their business. For example, he pointed to the swift action by grocers in stocking Procter & Gamble's Aleve, last year's hugely successful product introduction.
Gresl also said there has been a 31% increase in member contributions to fund future studies by the foundation. Rick Tilton, GMDC president, said the association's first Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented at the May conference. All the past chairmen of GMDC will attend, he added. The Educational Foundation, a wholly owned subsidiary of GMDC, began operation in August 1992. Its goal is to study issues that help the supermarket channel of distribution remain competitive in the nonfood business.
When the foundation began, GMDC's Tilton expressed concern about the erosion of HBC business to other classes of trade. Indeed, this loss of business prompted the association to form the foundation, said Tilton, who last year celebrated his 20th anniversary with GMDC. GMDC is allied to the supermarket trade. Its 138 member companies consist of 85 grocery wholesalers, 46 supermarket chains and seven service merchandisers. The association looks forward to accepting many other service merchandisers as members this year, following the dissolution of the National Association of Service Merchandising last October.