The 2008 NACDS (National Association of Chain Drug Stores) Marketplace Conference will be held from June 28-July 1 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego. This is the largest drugstore-related trade show in the industry. It's where buyers from most all of the major chains come to attend meetings, network and look at the latest in merchandise to stock their shelves. We were at the show last year and although it's a great show, we won't be going to San Diego in June.
While browsing the NACDS "Facts & Resources" page I saw that sales at "all drug stores" have risen from $50.5 billion in 1986 to $189.3 billion in 2006. In 1986, $30.2 billion of this was attributed to chain drug stores (about 60%). In 2006, chain drug stores' portion of total sales was $144.8 billion (about 76 %). It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that there are far fewer independent drug stores and local chains than there were 22 years ago. Where I live in South Florida I can think of just a few independents that are still around.
That means that there are fewer players to approach with new products and ideas so competition heats up. Add to this the fact that buyers are already overworked and over-stressed and you've got a new product launch landscape that is much more difficult to navigate than it used to be. It doesn't mean though that small businesses don't have a chance at finding success in the mass market. It does mean that now more than ever before, companies need to do their homework and be fully prepared before they approach a buyer.