As part of an evaluation of how the association presents itself to the industry, GMDC is looking at restructuring and probably renaming its Educational Foundation, putting out a weekly e-newsletter, hiring a director of business development, and possibly renaming the association, the group's top executives told SN during GMDC's General Merchandise Marketing Conference here this month.
"We are doing a thorough evaluation of what our brand stands for in the industry today," said David McConnell, GMDC's president and chief executive officer. "We think it is a recognizable brand, but you have to verify that. As the world changes, so do associations. You have to make sure you are understood and perceived correctly out in the marketplace."
The process was initiated last spring and many details were approved by the GMDC board prior to the GM conference. Most aspects of the plan will be in place by the fall, said Dan Nelson, senior vice president and chief operating officer.
Besides its well-attended GM and health and beauty care conferences, the association has identified its Educational Foundation as one of the strengths it can build on. The foundation, under the direction of Roy White, vice president of education, based in Pelham, N.Y., has put out a long string of well-regarded studies, such as last year's "Multicultural Marketing" and "Seasonal Best Practices," which was first presented at the GM conference.
"The output of the foundation is more robust than it has ever been and we've got even more aggressive plans to continue that," Nelson said.
A goal is to produce more of these smaller reports on a "just-in-time" basis, McConnell said. That is, addressing pressing information needs with a fast turnaround compared to the lengthy process needed for the big reports.
The new director of business development will be charged with working with White to come up with topics and funding for the research, as well as forming new alliances. This person, who will be based in Colorado Springs, also will handle the association's media relations. The position and job description were approved by GMDC's board prior to the GM conference, and McConnell hopes to make a hire by early fall.
Founded in 1970 by grocery wholesalers, GMDC has long been open to supermarket chains, and has recently opened to other classes of trade. It has also added suppliers to its board of directors. Last year, the group changed its name to the initials familiar in the industry from the longer and increasingly less representative General Merchandise Distributors Council.
A more drastic change in the association's name is under consideration, but at this point seems unlikely, Nelson said. "With 36 years in the business, GMDC is well known, it stands for something, and a lot of people understand what it stands for. We want to make sure that it is the right name for us going forward."
The e-newsletter is a definite plan and will launch by fall, Nelson said. It will take the form of timely topics and GMDC members commenting on them, he said.