Vox: Leaders & Champions: Andrea Collaro, Senior Director, Walgreens

This is the next in a series of interviews Christopher Durham, founder of My Private Brand, will conduct with private brand leaders around the world. Today’s interview is the first of 2017 in it he discusses retail-owned brands with Andrea Collaro PharmD, is senior director, brand management and product development for owned brands health & wellness (OTC/Advancecare/Wellness) at Vertex Award winner Walgreens. Andrea Collaro PharmD, is senior director, brand management and product development for owned brands health & wellness (OTC/Advancecare/Wellness) at Walgreens, which is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. In her role, she is responsible for product development and brand management for all products under the Walgreens and Finest Nutrition brands.

Collaro joined Walgreens in 1997 as a pharmacist. In 2001, she became disease state manager and 2002-2010 she was a buyer in merchandising for diagnostics, diabetes, vitamins, cold, cough and allergy. In 2010, she was named manager of generic pharmaceutical strategy and global sourcing of pharmaceuticals. Then in 2011, she joined the owned brands team as director of product development for health care categories.

Collaro received a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (PharmD) from University of Illinois College of Pharmacy in 1997.

CD: What is your first memory/experience with Private Brand?
AC: When I was a pharmacist in our stores, I remember educating our patients every day about available prescriptions and OTC alternatives that were more cost-effective and were the same quality as National Brands.

CD: How did you get into the private brand business?
AC: I started recommending private brands as a pharmacist in the stores and once I moved to the support office, I worked on developing and sourcing private brand healthcare products as a buyer.

CD: What does the future of retailer owned brands look like?
AC: I think “sky is the limit,” it can be as big as your company wants it to be.

CD: What keeps you up at night?
AC: Staying ahead of trends is one of the biggest topics that keeps me up at night.

CD: Is private brand a strategic priority for your organization?
AC: How important is strategy to the success of private brands? An organization needs to determine the role of private brands in their company and then develop strategies that bring that role to life.

CD: What advantages does private brand have over national brands?
AC: Private brands offer a value to the consumer while preserving quality.

CD: What disadvantages?
AC: Private brands do not have the media spend that large CPG’s have.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.