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    Industry Conference to Connect Retailers with the 'New Consumer'

    NEW YORK - This year's Store-Specific Merchandising and Marketing Conference -- being held April 10-12 at Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel in Orlando, Fla. -- is entitled, "Connecting with the New Consumer."

    NEW YORK - To be successful in the new economy, retailers and suppliers must understand and connect with the new consumer. While the retail industry has generally understood the importance of merchandising and marketing to specific niche audiences -- particularly the growing ethnic minorities and key age-specific demographic groups -- the actual execution of store-specific merchandising and marketing strategies has been inconsistent. This year's Store-Specific Merchandising and Marketing Conference -- being held April 10-12 at Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel in Orlando, Fla. -- is entitled, "Connecting with the New Consumer."

    As in the previous two years, the conference will present an abundance of demographic data on the changing U.S. population. In addition, there will be many more case studies of successful retail implementation of targeted merchandising strategies and special how-to sessions on execution that will appeal to both retailers and suppliers. Pathmark and Best Buy are among several retailers that will be making presentations and speaking on panels aimed at helping the industry adapt to the changing consumer landscape. James Damian, vice president of visual merchandising, will give a keynote presentation on how Best Buy is adapting its stores to meet the challenge of the 'new consumer.'

    A highlight of the conference will be the presentation on Thursday evening, April 11, of Retail Merchandiser's Retailer of the Year award to Brad Anderson, vice chairman and COO of Best Buy. In addition, sister publication Progressive Grocer will present its Retailers of the Year award to Ukrop's Supermarkets and Stater Bros. Supermarkets, and give out its PG Award of Excellence to Piggly Wiggly.

    This year also marks the inauguration of the first annual Store-Specific Merchandising & Marketing Awards.

    Awards will be presented to the retailer in each channel (convenience stores, supermarkets, mass merchandisers, drug stores, and specialty retailers) that best demonstrates any or all of the following:

    -- Innovation in developing merchandising and marketing programs aimed at multicultural markets, including Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

    -- Innovation in developing merchandising and marketing programs aimed at age-specific demographics of the U.S. population, such as kids, tweens, teens, boomers, and seniors.

    -- Effectiveness in merchandising geographically diverse stores to meet the needs of their local communities, including marketing programs designed for the ethnic makeup of the surrounding trading area.

    -- Leadership in steering its industry to be more sensitive to the needs of multicultural markets and/or advocating retailers' need to be responsive to product and service needs of the changing population.

    Retailers may be nominated online. Just go to www.retail-merchandiser and click on the Store-Specific Merchandising & Marketing Conference logo at the bottom of the screen. Nominations may be submitted by retailers, suppliers, manufactures, brokers and industry consultants either using the online form or by printing and completing the downloadable PDF form and faxing to: SSM&M Awards Nominations, Attn: Nicole Bagdanov at fax: 646-654-7491.

    For more information on attending the conference, please call 646-654-7487.

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