Defend Your Turf

"Taking Back the Convenience Edge -- Bold Strategies for Predicting Customer Needs, Creating Unique Shopping Experiences and Gaining a Competitive Advantage" will be the theme of the 2008 Future Forum, scheduled for March 31 to April 2 at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Noted experts and industry executives will gather and focus on how to win the battle for convenience as new competitors -- both foreign and domestic -- enter the market.

Featured speakers include:

-- Todd Hale of The Nielsen Co. on "Tracking the Competition: From Drug Stores to Supermarkets and the New Super Convenience Store Hybrids;"

-- Consumer strategist Art Turock on "Know Your Customers' Needs Before They Know Themselves;" and,

-- Gary Hoover, founder of and CEO of Road Story USA, on "Foreseeing the Future: Watching & Applying the Trends That Matter."

The conference will also feature a panel of retailers discussing how to improve your bottom line. Retailers will present case studies on how they've reduced their credit card costs and energy expenses, how they've improved margins through private label, how they’ve streamlined their inventory ordering and accounting process, and how they've optimized their pricing strategy in-store and at the pump.

Marc Slutsky, chief operating officer of guerilla marketing specialists Street Fighter Marketing, will moderate a panel of retailers discussing creative, and low-cost, advertising strategies, while Elle Chute, principal with noted retail design firm Chute Gerdeman, will lead a panel consisting of many of the winners of CSNews' Store Design competition to show off their stores and discuss how to design store layouts and shopping experiences to gain a competitive advantage.

In addition, concurrent sessions will present CSNews' exclusive sales and volume forecasts for key c-store product categories, including motor fuels, confectionery, salty snacks, tobacco, beer and packaged beverages.

Past attendees have included a who's who of leading convenience retailers and industry suppliers. There will be a special dinner cruise available for all attendees.

The number and variety of sponsors to Future Forum continue to grow and include: Chester's International, Hershey's, McLane Co., Philip Morris USA, Procter & Gamble, Ruiz/El Monterey and Tidel. Association sponsors are the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores and the Neighborhood Market Association.

Future Forum is produced by Convenience Store News, a Nielsen Business Media publication.

For more information on attending the 2008 Future Forum, contact Lois Miller at (526) 868-9563 or [email protected].

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