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Consumer Knowledge is Key to Avoiding Extinction, Says Ex-Wal-Mart CMO

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --– To avoid being tomorrow's dinosaurs, retailers and their manufacturer partners must understand the voice of the consumer, the former chief marketing officer of Wal-Mart told attendees at the 2005 GMA Merchandising, Sales, and Marketing (MSM) Conference here.

"You need to really learn what customers want and be superior to competitors in order to be dinosaur-proof and grow," said Paul Higham. Convenience is part of that understanding, and amounts to more than just location. "It's about creating an environment where people enjoy the shopping experience," he said, pointing to Wal-Mart, which provided a place where customers could shop for everything at the same time and used its trademark smiley faces and cookie certificates to appeal to children.

In addition to sessions emphasizing retailer-manufacturer collaboration to grow business, the GMA MSM conference featured a charity golf tournament co-sponsored by GMA and the Kroger Co. to address hunger issues in America. Approximately 100 manufacturers, along with their customers, vendors, and other partners participated in the event, which raised money to benefit America's Second Harvest by funding food banks nationwide and supporting the organization's ongoing hurricane relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region.

The three-day MSM Conference concluded yesterday with a keynote speech by Del Monte chairman, president, and c.e.o. Richard Wolford.
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