Walgreens merchant, savvy supplier vet discuss the art of ‘co-creation’ at Shopper Marketing Expo

CHICAGO — The majority of manufacturer engagements are not aligned with retailers’ core strategic goals, and do not create real value in the eyes of the retailer. Today’s winning companies are able to identify and leverage the unique hidden assets of their brands, and build a business around agile, transparent, retailer/manufacturer collaboration — experts call it “co-creation.”

To help create a roadmap for what co-creation is, how it works and what it means both for brand building and shopper engagement, industry leaders Shannon Curtin, GMM, VP of beauty, personal care and seasonal at Walgreens, and Dan Mack, founder and managing director of strategic sales and consulting firm Mack Elevation Forum, will co-host “Elevating Customer Engagement through Co-Creation,” Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo, here, at the Navy Pier. The session is just one part of a high-impact program of speakers and topics lined up for the event, now in its 19th year.

The reality is that great brands are no longer created — the best are co-created. And, co-creation doesn’t just happen on its own. Curtin and Mack will examine the most common blind spots that hinder a company’s alignment, engagement effectiveness and growth; identify best practices for co-creation and which assets truly matter in designing an effective shopper marketing customer blueprint; and share critical engagement skills and tools to help co-create the customer experience. Co-creation with its vendor partners is a critical growth factor for Walgreens, and Curtin will discuss some cases in which the retailer has helped smaller manufacturers successfully enter the market.

Winning with co-creation starts with relevant innovation, which Curtin describes as “having a vision to see what is missing in the marketplace and then creating a solution to satisfy it.”

Understanding what makes a successful co-creator also is important. While an open mind is critical, one must also possess a mindful of fresh ideas and bring new, emerging insights to the table.

Helping guide the discussion, Mack brings 25 years experience in strategic sales, business development and industry insights, and is the founder of the Elevation Forum series, a high-energy, dynamic share group program that brings together supplier executives from companies of all sizes to expand strategic insights and access, network and gain confidential peer insights into many of today’s industry challenges. An advocate of co-creation, the firm’s Elevation Model is an integrated customer co-creation process that assists industry players in creating profitable new revenue, accelerating growth, escalating customer relations and improving competitive insulation.

Meanwhile, Curtin, a recognized industry leader in retailer-manufacturer collaboration and joint program development, brings her unique vision and vast merchandising experience to the discussion. Prior to Walgreens, Curtin started her retail career with Walmart in multiple merchandising roles and displayed a passion for new product innovation and creating a compelling in-store experience early in her career.

Mack, who also serves as EVP strategic business development for the Swanson Group, is founder and managing director of Mack Elevation Forum. He started his career with GlaxoSmithKline, served as VP sales at GOJO Industries, and is credited with having helped build the Purell brand and assisting in the turnaround of Dentek Oral Care.

The Shopper Marketing Expo is slated for Oct. 8-10, at Chicago’s Navy Pier. For more information, visit ShopperMarketExpo.com.