This month’s Natural Products Expo East  features a keynote speech by a guru of “conscious capitalism,” as well as a revamped educational program geared toward retailers.
Raj Sisodia, co-author with Whole Foods Market  founder John Mackey  of the book “Conscious Capitalism” and founder and chairman of the Conscious Capitalism Institute, will give a keynote speech at the event on Friday, Sep. 27.
The conference, staged by New Hope Natural Media, a sister company of SN under Penton, is scheduled for Sept. 25-28 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
“[Sisodia] is going to be setting the tone of the conference around conscious capitalism,” said Diana Mercer, conference manager of Expo East, in an interview with SN.
She noted that several educational sessions will be geared to that topic, such as one on social media marketing for socially conscious businesses, and another on garnering employee support for such initiatives.
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Among the new offerings geared for retailers this year is a series of educational sessions for novice retailers, led by veteran retailers. Those include Social Media 101, Private Label 101, and Finance and Operations 101, taking place Thursday afternoon, Sept. 26.
New Hope also revamped its paid Retailer Workshop forums for 2013. Those sessions begin on Wednesday, Sept. 25, before the exhibit portion of the show opens on Thursday.
Rather than scheduling them to take place throughout the day, as the conference had done in the past, this year’s Retailer Workshops will begin at 3 p.m. and will include a keynote speaker and dinner.
The three tracks for the workshops include:
• Business Forum: Sessions focus on increasing sales through innovative marketing and events, capturing the special diets market, and utilizing the most effective social media strategies and online tools for natural retailers.
• Food and Supplements Trends Forum: Editorial insight, expertise and recommendations on the latest food, supplements and personal care issues, trends, SPINS data and consumer shopping habits.
• Store Level Forum: Store-level strategies for proving outstanding customer service, employee education and training, and avoiding common retail pitfalls. This track includes a presentation by Robyn O’Brien, founder and chief inspiration officer, AllergyKids Foundation, about meeting the needs of people with special dietary concerns.
The retailer tracks break at 5 p.m. for a dinner and a keynote address by Scottish customer service consultant Alf Dunbar, author of “Just Looking, Thanks!” and the “You Are the Difference” customer service coaching program.
Other retailer-focused educational sessions during the course of Expo East cover such topics as how to prepare a store for GMO labeling, how to use in-store dietitians to boost store sales, and several sessions taking a closer look at healthy, natural and organic ingredients.
Mercer said that as of last week, attendance for Expo East was tracking 25% ahead of last year, with 13,000 people registered. She said New Hope was expecting “upwards of 25,000” attendees.
For the paid Retail Workshop series, she said New Hope expects 150 attendees this year, after selling out 135 available slots for the session last year.
“The energy is building, and the booths are almost sold out,” she said.
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