Ryan Retail Zones Vendor Community

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The guitar in the corner of Brian Sloan’s office is a symbol of the creative energy that comes out of Ryan Retail Zone in Rogers.
The co-marketing firm is a subsidiary of D.L. Ryan Companies Ltd. of Wilton, Conn., that was rebranded under its current name to work almost exclusively with the vendor community surrounding Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sam’s Club headquarters.
Sloan, vice president and general manager for Ryan Partnership, said 98 percent of his company’s client base is Wal-Mart vendors, who want to elevate their products through specific in-store tactics and promotions.
Ryan Retail Zone has “ongoing business” with 11 clients and generates more than $1 million in revenue from the local office.
The Rogers team (there’s also a Ryan Retail Zone which works with Target Corp. vendors in Minneapolis, Minn.) includes six people who work as account executives and two who are “dedicated creative” art directors.
“I always said I wanted a job where I could have a guitar in my office,” said Sloan, who previously was co-marketing manager for General Mills’ local office. “Our philosophy is that we want to have a very fun office that is really relaxed to help facilitate those creative minds.
“We don’t want to be structured, although we are very deliberate and strategic and focused.”
That focus is centralized on the products and helping clients develop and execute concepts in Wal-Mart’s stores. A majority of the clients have been doing marketing business with Ryan and its subsidiaries on a national level, but need a firm that specializes in engaging specifically with Wal-Mart.
An idea that may work for Target in Minnesota may not fly with Wal-Mart stores in other regions.
Ryan, which has nine offices across the country, also has a branch in northern California that deals exclusively with Safeway Inc., one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America.
“That was really the reason for being here was to engage with the local vendor’s sales offices where they can go into Wal-Mart and actually be successful,” Sloan said. “Whether your brand is Tide or Pringles, one of the primary ways your engaging with consumers is in the store, so what can you do to elevate that? And what can you do to enhance that experience?
“It’s all about offering a true shopper experience engagement.”
As a company that has worked with Wal-Mart for nearly six years, Sloan said Ryan Retail Zone “can speak the language” to help build a relationship with Wal-Mart’s marketing department.
Most of the larger clients have their own marketing departments, but may need help developing a concept and executing it in the stores. Ryan comes up with the ideas and the client can either perform the creative side on their own or engage Ryan for its creative services.
“We don’t want to bring the customer the same thing over and over,” Sloan said. “We really strive to be remarkable. Let’s do something that really makes a difference. There’s enough mediocrity in the world, how can we do something that’s really special?
“The task at hand is to be more successful and sell more of X product. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re not.
“But we definitely have a lot of fun doing it.”

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