PHOENIX — There's nothing old school about GMDC.
The Colorado Springs-based trade association will reveal a new look and a new name for its respected education and research program when it meets here this weekend for its annual General Merchandise Marketing Conference. David McConnell, president and chief executive officer of the group, briefed SN on this and other changes in a pre-conference interview.
Besides transforming its educational efforts, GMDC also will announce a new name and programming changes for its fall health and beauty care conference, and two new staff executives, McConnell said.
Earlier this year, the association dissolved the GMDC Educational Foundation as a separate operating entity within the organization, and established the Education Leadership Council, he said.
“The GMDC board of directors is more committed than ever to providing cutting-edge training and best practices to our industry,” McConnell said. “We felt we could more efficiently achieve that goal by rolling the foundation into the GMDC financial umbrella and free the thought leaders of the Education Leadership Council to develop exciting new programs and enhance existing ones.”
The council will have the same board of directors as the foundation, now chaired by Joe Bivona, vice president, customer development, Time/Warner Retail Sales & Marketing, New York. Two recent additions to the GMDC staff will lead the effort: Laurie Spindler, director of business development, who reports to Keith Wypyszynski, vice president of business development and chief member officer. They in turn report to Dan Nelson, senior vice president, marketing and development, and chief operating officer, and McConnell.
In the first half of 2007, GMDC has three mini-studies planned, including an update on 2005's “Jump-Starting Top Level Growth,” and an “e-learning/distance-learning program,” he said.
Quick response to the industry's information needs will be a top priority, he said. “This is a very exciting time for our educational efforts as we transition to a philosophy of moving quickly to identify needs in the industry by either doing our own original research or partnering with the very best alliance partners available to ensure we are the industry's thought leader,” he said.
“The upshot of these changes is that we'll be able to react much more quickly to the changing marketplace. I like to think of this move as enabling our Education Leadership Council to provide what our members need, when they need it. Long lead times on some of our past studies have slowed down implementation of terrific programs.”
Two major changes are planned for GMDC's fall HBC event, scheduled for Sept. 7-10 in Palm Desert, Calif. It has been re-branded the Health Beauty Wellness Marketing Conference, and will include a half-day Health and Wellness Awareness educational track. “This will feature industry leaders providing our members insights into how to capture more than their fair share of this huge consumer opportunity that the emerging health economy offers,” McConnell said.
“We are very committed to leading our industry into a more robust health and wellness platform that puts our supplier, wholesaler and retailer members at the forefront of the marketplace.”
These changes are part of “a constant process of self-evaluation,” he said. “One process that we are wrapping up now is a thorough analysis of the GMDC brand and what it needs to stand for as we move forward,” he said.